The Breeders’ Cup may be over, but the important racing
of 2012 is not. One race above all others that I’m looking forward to
post-Breeders’ Cup will take place this Saturday at Aqueduct Racetrack, when
that marvelous sprinting filly, Groupie Doll takes on a field of males in the
Grade 1 Cigar Mile. A victory by the Buff Bradley star would not only mark the
first female to win in the history of the race, but it would also mean the
four-year-old filly would have scored in the two most important races of her career
in succession to close out her excellent season. It’s a season that has
captured the imagination of racefans throughout the nation, but today I ask,
would it be enough to secure her a legitimate chance to become the 2012 Horse
of the Year? Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of her argument.
Pro – With a win in the Cigar Mile, Groupie Doll would
send her resume off to the voters on a most impressive roll. Victory on
Saturday would mean that she ends 2012 with six consecutive wins, including
four grade 1’s, (more than anyone in America) and a pair of grade 2’s. In this, what have you done for me
lately world in which we currently live, momentum like this could be important
in a tight, year-end vote.
Con – Winning the Cigar Mile would be a big feather in
her cap, but for some voters, the big decision may have already been made. The
Breeders’ Cup is thought of as the end-of-year World Championships, and
anything that happens afterwards may be only a small blip on their radar.
Pro – Considering the way Groupie Doll has manhandled
her competition in each of her last five races, including at the Breeders’ Cup,
I believe it is safe to say that she dominates her division more thoroughly
than any other single horse in America.
Con – Dominant in her division yes, but unfortunately
for her, the female sprinter division may be the furthest removed from the
glamour races of males running classic distances on the dirt.
Pro – While some of the other Horse of the Year
contenders did not leave their comfort zones to finish off their seasons, Groupie
Doll’s connections are thinking outside of the box with entry in a late-season,
big race against males at one of the most important distances in American
Con – Going into the Cigar Mile, Groupie Doll lacks a
win over real topnotch competition, with fillies like Dust and Diamonds,
Switch, and Musical Romance, being the classiest horses she has defeated yet
this year. Saturday’s win would help, but even a victory over the likes of Stay Thirsty, Hymn Book, and Jersey Town might not look good enough compared to her
Pro – Despite coming from a less glamorous division,
Groupie Doll holds the advantage of girl power. The Horse of the Year voters
are all human, and the popularity that comes with a girl taking on the boys may
be a factor. See the last three HOTY winners for proof of this.
Con – With three straight female winners of the big
award, the novelty or good feeling from selecting a girl over the boys, might
have come and gone. Having another female candidate, in Royal Delta, might also
lesson any thought of the popularity vote swinging towards Groupie Doll.
Pro – Groupie Doll is not only winning grade 1 races in
spectacular fashion, but with a victory on Saturday, she has done it in
America’s most important places, including Kentucky, New York, and Southern
California. Having demonstrated her dominance, for a majority of voters to have
seen in person, cannot hurt her chances.
Con – Winning in all the major racing markets is nice,
but unless you win a Triple Crown race, or the Breeders’ Cup Classic, there are
some who will not consider her the best of the best.
Pro – If Wise Dan is indeed the Horse of the Year
favorite, it can be said that he also suffers from a lack of racing in
America’s classic races.
Con – Wise Dan does have one major advantage over
Groupie Doll, though, in that his season was about as close to perfect as could
be. Only a somewhat unlucky, and narrow loss in the Foster, stopped him from
being undefeated this year, while Groupie Doll has no real excuse in her first
three races this year, other than the equipment change to blinkers since.
So where does all this leave Groupie Doll on her quest
for the Horse of the Year award? First things first, she needs to continue her
excellent racing in the Cigar Mile. Her attempt in the race is unique and
should be appreciated. Personally, I hope we see her best on Saturday,
culminating with another impressive win. After that, let the Horse of the Year
chips fall where they may.