After a slow beginning, things are finally beginning to heat up as horses begin to stake their claims in their respective divisions, turning in dominating performances left and right. The once muddled Three Year Old Male and Older Male divisions are finally starting to fall together with the likes of Tizway and Stay Thirsty putting together consecutive wins in stakes like the Jim Dandy/Travers and Met Mile/Whitney. However, one division, the most important division, Horse of the Year, still remains up in the air. Many horses from all divisions have their eye on the crown and all of them have strong merits to back up their claim. The question is who has the strongest?
1.) Tizway- The son of Tiznow made us wait, but the six year old stallion is finally starting to assert his dominance, in 2011. Tizway ran well in his first two starts of the season, garnering a pair of third place finishes, after not running for five months, but ever everything finally came full circle in the Met Mile. Tizway stalked Tackleberry through a hot opening half of 45.57 before cruising past that rival before continuing to open up down the lane. He won the contest in a final time of 1.32.9, not for shabby for a six year old. Tizway followed that up with another impressive score in the Whitney Handicap. It was a double that had not been achieved for 20 years and with that performance Tizway put himself at the head of the division and race for Horse of the Year.
2.) Havre de Grace- The bay miss proved what the entire nation was thinking when she soundly beat her male counterparts in the Woodward, that the females once again are right there with the leading males and perhaps even better. She started off her year with a dominating win in the Azeri Stakes, beating her arch rival, Blind Luck, by over three lengths. She followed that up with a scintillating performance in the Apple Blossom and an impossibly easy win in the Obeah. She the suffered her first loss of the season in the Delaware Handicap, but only a nose to Blind Luck.
After the loss, while still considered a top performer she was an outsider looking in on the Horse of the Year debate. So trainer Larry Jones and owner Rick Porter decided to take a step out of the box and test their filly against males in the Woodward. In a race that was supposed to gut her, Havre de Grace won in dominating fashion toying with Whitney runner up Flat Out. With that type of performance, she vaults into the discussion once again, with only Tizway keeping her from the top.
3.) Acclamation- He may be a turf star, but a win in the Pacific Classic paired with back to back grade ones scores in the Charles Whittingham Memorial and Eddie Read, cannot be ignored. Before those two he won the Grade two Jim Murray. He now has four wins in a row, with three being Grade ones, which is better than what any Older Male on dirt has put together. The only reason he is at number three is because of the lack of respect his surface gets. If turf racing were number one in America, he would be your leader, no doubt about it.
Others that have thrown their hats in the ring are Stay Thirsty, Cape Blanco, and with a in the Goodwood, Twirling Candy could have a solid shot. However, as of now those the three above are at the head of a hotly contested race for Horse of the Year.