When the news came in that Point of Entry would not be headed to Dubai, and would instead stick with an American campaign highlighted by the Arlington Million and the Breeders’ Cup, as reported by Mike Welsch of DRF, I all at once had several conflicting emotions.
Like many, I suspected last year that Point of Entry might be something special, and that notion was only strengthened by what he did on Saturday. He may not be the absolute most accomplished horse in the country yet, but I truly believe he is the most dominant. Despite his topnotch performance to defeat Animal Kingdom at nine furlongs, I think he is even better going longer. At 1 ½ miles, I consider him one of America’s best grass horses in many years, with the potential to be our absolute best since the days of John Henry and Manila. As such, I was really looking forward to the day when he travelled overseas and took his best shot against a field of international superstars. Honestly, the prestigious Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe would be my first choice for the Phipps Stable powerhouse, but I figured a big performance in the Dubai Sheema Classic would be a great start. What a feather in the cap of American racing it would be to see Point of Entry coming out on top over the likes of Cirrus des Aigles and Orfevre. On the other hand, as a fan and supporter of Arlington Park, I am happy to see that the Arlington Million is one of his major goals. It will be wonderful to see a horse like this come to my local track to compete in the biggest day of racing in Chicago. Shouldn't fans all over America have this chance? Furthermore, when I relayed the news of Point of Entry staying in America, the opinions were very one-sided. It seems that most commenters were quite pleased that the Shug McGaughey star would not be leaving the United States anytime soon. I cannot really blame them – they want to see him run in America, where they can keep a close eye on him and enjoy his abilities.
I believe the majority also see staying at home as better for the horse. More travel translates to more things that can go wrong, even if that just means wearing the big horse down. Again, I cannot argue with that. It goes without saying that I would like nothing better than to see Point of Entry run to the top of his potential for as long as he can.
There is no right or wrong answer here, and I certainly believe his connections have full right to do whatever they want with their star. But as a fan, I cannot help to wonder what might have been.
I’ve already seen excellent horses dominate a series of races within our borders. And I’ve certainly seen too many good international horses come to the U.S. and win many of our most important races on grass to count. What I really haven’t seen is an American go abroad and take it to the world’s best on their surface of choice – turf.
In the end, I guess it boils down to taking the slightly easier path to become a great American horse, or taking the more difficult path to do something historic. Like I said, there is no right or wrong answer, but truth be told, I was rooting for the latter.