• Multiplier (4-1) kicks it in late to get past Hedge Fund in the Illinois Derby.Posted 12 hours ago
  • Collected (3-5) rolls home much the best in the Californian.Posted 12 hours ago
  • Imperative (5-1) surges past Matt King Coal for his second win in the Charles Town Classic.Posted 14 hours ago
  • Itsinthepost (5-2) proves best in Keeneland's Elkhorn.Posted 14 hours ago
  • Inordinate (5-2) surges to victory in the San Juan Capistrano.Posted 14 hours ago
  • Twisted Tom (5-1) is a game winner of a sloppy Federico Tesio Stakes.Posted 15 hours ago
  • Classic Rock (6-5) rolls in the Roar, the Preakness could be next.Posted 1 day ago
  • Unbridled Mo (2-5) holds on to win the Doubledogdare at Keeneland.Posted 1 day ago
  • The champion Tepin, not showing an eagerness to train this year, has been retired.Posted 4 days ago
  • Classic Empire (9-5) comes through with a hard-earned Arkansas Derby victory.Posted 7 days ago
Breeders Cup 2015
Kentucky Derby 2017

It's [not] a man's world

I did not grow up in a horse racing household, so I never had anyone teaching me the ropes or instilling a “this is how it should be because that’s how it’s always been” mentality in me. Everything I know about this industry, I taught myself, which gives me a unique perspective. Couple my unique perspective with the fact that I’m a young woman and you can see how the way I think may be cause for shaking things up. In a sport dominated by men, it is easy to see how that would cause quite a stir. Even though men do still dominate the Sport of Kings, women have been making inroads into the industry, but the more things change, the more they stay the same. However, the last time I checked, the calendar read 2013, not 1913.
Times have changed, but the mentality of some has remained stuck in a different century, a century in which the “Old Boys’ Club” way of doing things was perfectly acceptable. Bearing all this in mind, it should have come as no surprise that there were a few out there that did not like the Top 10 choices I selected for my first NTRA Poll. Comments ran the gamut from “two female sprinters in top 8. Wow. Unbelievably bad” to “hate the voter not the poll” to “Listing Dance to Bristol & leaving Cross Traffic out says to me you're treating poll as a personal popularity contest” to “No hate for her, she just isn't qualified to have a vote at this point in her racing career.” Ah yes, the Old Boys’ Club mentality is still alive and kicking and rearing its ugly head…even in the 21st century.
It’s not easy to compile a Top 10 that encompasses every division rather than restricting a poll to one division. As a voter, I tried to be as objective as possible, but sometimes it is the subjective qualities that decide a vote, especially when there are so many factors, in this case horses, involved. The task becomes even more difficult when there is not a clear cut leader in a division (That is why both Groupie Doll and Dance to Bristol along with three 3-year old colts were in my Top 10). Voters all look for different things when deciding their Top 10, and not all voters will think or vote alike. I tend to think outside the box, and some of my selections reflected that tendency.
Being a classic winner is obviously still the crème de la crème of American racing, but because I did not grow up being instilled with that mentality, I give as much credit to brilliant sprinters or milers as I do to classic winners (just ask me who I thought should have gotten 3-year old honors in 2011). Furthermore, the guidelines state that the NTRA Poll should be “indicative of who may be crowned a divisional Champion in their respective divisions and ultimately reflect Horse of the Year.” I explained in yesterday’s piece why I voted the way I did, but I find that it may also be helpful to explain why I left off some of the horses others felt I should have included.
Big Blue Kitten—As good as this Ramsey Kitten has been in winning two consecutive Grade 1 races, Point of Entry’s superiority is such that I feel Big Blue Kitten will need to do just a little bit more to dethrone him. However, if this year’s Eclipse voting goes the way it did last year, it won’t matter what Big Blue Kitten or Point of Entry do or do not do because Wise Dan will sweep all the awards for which he’s eligible.
Obviously—The reason I left off the West Coast’s top turf miler goes hand-in-hand with why I left off Big Blue Kitten. Obviously has dominated the West Coast, but Wise Dan has been better. The Titan of the Turf has 3 Grade 1 wins this year to Obviously’s 1, plus he set a course record in the Woodbine Mile and did so while hardly breaking a sweat.
Cross Traffic—I took a lot of flak for leaving Cross Traffic out of my Top 10, even more so when I stated that I just hadn’t been wowed by him this year. That is not to say that I don’t appreciate what he has done. He just began his career this year and has amassed a 5:3-2-0 record, including a win in the Grade 1 Whitney. He lost two heartbreakers at Big Sandy, but by all accounts he should be at the top of the division. However, it is hard to see anyone else at the top of the older male division when Game On Dude has been so dominant on the West Coast and all of the East Coast’s top players have been trading blows.
Sahara Sky—The 5-year old son of Pleasant Tap is one that I am actually beginning to regret leaving out. The more I think about it, the more I am beginning to believe he will end up being the one to beat in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint should he go that route. He has raced primarily on the West Coast, but he did travel east and ran a very solid second in the G1 Carter Handicap before winning a nail biter over Cross Traffic in the G1 Met Mile. Plus, he beat some very good sprinters while racing on the West Coast.
Graydar—The health troubled son of the late Unbridled’s Song is perfect this year, and he beat two very good fields in his wins. If not for being sidelined due to having an ankle chip removed, it is quite possible that he would be giving Game On Dude a run for his money. However, as talented as he clearly is, he still remains a question mark for me due in large part to his relative newness to the division.
Flat Out—The “Baron of Belmont,” as HRN’s managing editor Brian Zipse calls him, is just that. He is superb at Belmont but not quite as good at other tracks. A third consecutive win in the Jockey Club Gold Cup would put him in elite company, but his losses to other movers and shakers in the division caused me to pass over him, again in large part due to Game On Dude’s West Coast dominance.
Verrazano—I believe Verrazano to be the most polarizing three-year old at the moment. Much like Tim Tebow, people either love him or they hate him. Those that love him think he should be included because he is a dual Grade 1 winner and has six wins this year. However, with so much emphasis on winning at the classic distances in the 3-year old division, I left him off my list because he does not have a classic distance win. Furthermore, when he faced the Triple Crown winners, he finished behind them, and he only beat Oxbow in the Haskell because the Preakness winner exited the race with an injury and was not pushed to run his best during the race.
Discouraging as harsh criticism might be, I will continue to vote the way I see fit. Contrary to what some seemed to believe, I didn't just pull names out of a hat or choose one horse over another because they were a personal favorite. This vote is something I took (and will continue to take) seriously, and I provided sound reasoning for why I voted the way I did. People don't have to agree with my vote to respect it. I stand by my first vote, but I will be the first to admit that how this week’s vote and next week’s vote look will likely be vastly different in light of the huge weekend of racing coming up. Things change so quickly in this industry that by next week, this week’s vote will likely be forgotten.


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Older Comments about It's [not] a man's world...

I was thinking the same as Sully Florida. I didn't think about twitter. Your points are valid and you gave your opinion. That's what this blog is all about. Keep up the good work.
Sully, the posts referenced in this piece were never on HRN to begin with; they were on Twitter. Aside from the horses in this piece, nothing I said had anything to do with any comments posted on HRN. All of you have been so supportive of me, and I really appreciate it. The horses I chose for this piece were selected based on questions posed as to why I left [insert horse’s name] out of my top 10. Some of those questions were on the thread of my previous blog (i.e. the Big Blue Kitten conversation), while some of them were on Twitter. As for the title to my blog, it stemmed more from the subtle mentality of some of the comments rather than any overt sexism.
I just went back and read the thread, and I don't see a single comment that implies anyone attacked your choices of any "female" horses on your list. You must be furious that no one said Laughing was missing from your list because no one brought up a female missing from it? http://www.horseracingnation.com/news/Game_On_Dude_tops_my_first_NTRA_Poll_123. I now call your headline sexist. Thanks for playing.
  • Sully · Please disregard this post, Ashley, because those posts you quoted were probably deleted. I overlooked the fact that my posts (and many others on here) disappear when even nothing vulgar was said. Since you felt pretty strongly about this to write another article, I'd have to imagine what you quoted were stupid responses you encountered. Sorry if I jumped the gun. · 1305 days ago
And TV, good job (sarcasm). That comment was crap and uncalled for.
I just hope listing Big Blue Kitten first was not a reference to anything sexist as your headline imposes. If you reread my comment, it was to Ambitious D that Big Blue Kitten as a turf runner was left off compared to Obviously whom s/he was inquiring. I apologize for idiots that attacked you in a sexist manner, but I hope that's not what you were implying of me. You would know if I was being sexist. On the internet or in person. That's just who I am. Freedom of speech is a right instilled upon us all, but a right that is protected only by a few.
  • Sully · And before that last sentence gets twisted, MANY women protect that right. · 1305 days ago
Ashley, I have to tell you that I completely disagree with you're decision to leave Cross Traffic off your ballot, since he's won the best race of the year thus far. That being said I really appreciate the thought that you put into your ballot. I think its safe to say that at least a handful of people with the privilege that you've been given just "mail it in" and don't put 2 seconds thought into it.
you have NO IDEA what women hating is until you encounter some of the STUCK in the 12th century religions of this world!
I see nothing wrong with the horses you picked. Cross Traffic benefited from a speed-favoring track and the poor break of Fort Larned for his Whitney win, which he was staggering at the end of. I would have left him out too. Dance to Bristol was 2nd last out on a track that had a souped-up rail, which Cluster of Stars took advantage of. So, boo on all of them!
Great post but hate the fact you felt the need to respond to "haters" Keep up the good work and keep up expressing your own opinion
Hi Ashley, I know we've had disagreements in the past, and most likely we will in the future. That being said, I've never for a moment had any doubt about your integrity during our discussion's, as you don't just state an opinion but give the reasoning behind it. As for who you like and don't like, that's a small thing in comparison to the rude remarks you receive. My mother always used to tell me "there's an excuse for everything in this world, except rudeness." As for this being a man's world, I have a daughter and grand daughter who think differently, and I believe along with others like yourself, will make a difference. Have a nice day Ashley, and disregard anyone who is rude to you, as they're not worth your time.
Ashley Congrats !!. Keep up the great work!
U have to give credit to Flat Out for doing as good as he has at belmont. If u understand that before the 2012 Donn Handicap he had a much worse trainer in Charles Dickey. Since he got Bill Mott he has been a completely diffferent horse. A much better one too. So i disagree with ur analizing of Flat Out u need to look more in depht
Ashley, take it from someone who has given his shots and also taken them , all anyone can ask is that you state your opinion for how you really feel.Once you accomplished that and you can look yourself in the mirror and be satisfied.Who cares about the critics have to say . If you took 10 random people and had them make a top 10 list , i would venture to say that at least 40 % of the lists would vary .But to the haters with the nasty comments. Get a life.
People easily spout their "opinions" on the internet and just like our political climate these days think it's OK to harass and ridicule someone who has an opinion different from their own. Try not to let "those" people get you down, in the short or long run, it's doesn't matter a hill of beans what they think. They are absolutely irrelevant to your life or opinions.
Ashley, I said in my comment on your NTRA voter thread that I find your list to be well-reasoned and objective! You are that way in all your HRN comments. You are entitled to your opinions/votes and you are not "wrong" about anything!
I absolutely agree with you! You should continue to vote the way you see fit! But in the end, dont be like others! Admit you was wrong!
Ashley, you are one of the most passionate and dedicated people I know (and I'm not just talking about in the world of racing.) Frankly, I would not give the people that harshly criticized you a second thought.

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