Mubtaahij and Maftool are both nominated to the KY Derby, and the UAE Derby will be handing out 100 points to the winner, or 40 to the second place finisher, so conceivably, both these horses could wind up at Churchill Downs May 2.
Should be "Dirt" for the surface. Meydan no longer has synthetic
Based on his phenomenal success he has had over the past several months in the desert at Riyadh, Joe Kristufek and Pat Cummings on one of their handicapping shows a couple weeks back indicated he will likely get an invitation to the World Cup, and the new dirt surface likely will suit him well..
CA Chrome doesn't deserve to be in the conversation? Duh! What turnip truck did you come in on? Bayern was a dud until June. 9th in the Preakness? A complete dud in two of the biggest races of the year. If he doesn't wipe out his competition at the start in the BC Classic, he isn't in this conversation. Chrome has 4 Grade 1 wins, including 1 on the Turf. Two Classic wins trumps anything else that Bayern has done. Bayern only has 2 grade 1s. He is the one that shouldn't be in the conversation. Another turfer with 4 grade 1 wins and no Classic wins does not get HOY, turf champ, yes, and that's it. It may be close, but CA Chrome will be Horse of the Year.
No other horse this year has won 4 Grade 1 races, including a Grade 1 on the Turf. He ran and won from January 25 thru November 29 with only Bayern his closest competitor for HOY, won only his maiden and allowance early and then bombed out until late June. He was 9th in the Preakness. He only has 2 G1s. I don't think it will even be close. Too many were frustrated with the stewards' non-call in the Classic. And, like others in the past have done in the BC, in defeat, California Chrome looked like the winner he is.
Hannah, first, we need to remember there are no written qualifications or rules that apply to any of the Eclipse awards, other than the gender and age limitations for the awards for those specific categories. Azeri was Horse of the Year in 2002. She did not race against males until after she was HOY. (She never beat males, with 2 of her 3 only out of money finishes being against males after 2002). Her HOY year campaign was similar to Zenyatta's: Azeri raced mostly in California, traveling to Oaklawn for the Apple Blossom, and to Arlington for the BC Distaff. She totally dominated her division, though, winning 8 out of 9 races in 2002, including 5 Grade 1s.
Of course it's the distance! In the U.S., we don't respect middle or long-distance capabilities, more's the pity. I wish we did. I watch a lot of races overseas and eagerly await the flat season in Great Britain because half of the races are of the long-distance variety. It also has to do with the surface: Main Sequence is a wonderful horse, and I wish him well, but he demonstrated no versatility whatsoever. I have not analyzed his competition.... what was the quality of horses he won against? Just curious. I'm not badmouthing the horse or his accomplishments, just don't agree that a turf specialist running the longer distance races on Turf deserve anything more than winning the Eclipse for his specialty. Older Male is for dirt horses, traditionally. I also disagreed when Wise Dan won the trifecta Eclipse.... I was fine with the HOY and his Turf award, however, I felt it did a disservice to the versatile horses of the past that did run on dirt and grass and deserved the Older Male award, along with the Turf, and HOY. As I said, it has been traditional that the Older Male award is for dirt horses, most especially since there is already a separate award for Turf. When I think of horses who actually did qualify on dirt and Turf, names like Round Table, are who I think all three awards actually applied to. Just my opinion, and I sure am not a qualified voter, so anything I say means nothing,
Both Chrome and Bayern were "durable", especially by today's standards. However, I would argue the quality of Chrome's campaign was much more demanding and consistent than Bayern's.
Chrome had nine starts in 11 months for 2014 (He ran his first race 4-26-13, and his last on 11-29-14. That's 16 races in 19 months, which is not typical nowadays.) More importantly, he wound up as good as when he started the year, another unusual aspect to his campaign. Then there's Chrome's Triple Crown run, with two Classics and winning all his pre-Derby races, when Bayern was nearly a total no-show. Chrome's Belmont was a valiant effort in the face of his injury out of the gate. Bayern did not win (or even place) a single TC Trail race, and other than his MSW and an Allowance, he didn't do much until June! By June, Chrome had won three Grade 1 races, including two Classics. When Bayern is good, he's very, very good, but, when he's bad, well, you know.
Bayern can have extra points for defeating Chrome twice, but for me, at least, this doesn't make up for his miserable two performances in Grade 1 races, or the fact that he only has 2 Grade 1 wins, to Chrome's 4. Chrome danced every dance, and did so honorably.
The Classic was a mixed bag, and some would argue, it didn't settle much, asking the important question of whether it was a legit win or not for Bayern, since he knocked out his major competition and pace. A win is a win, fine, but that just doesn't make up for the lack of doing anything of any consequence the first 6 months of the year, something most seem to give him a pass for. For my money, he gets a 1/2 credit for the Classic, as many felt he should have been DQ'd. Chrome's 4 decisive Grade 1 wins top the 2 by Bayern by a mile.
I understood the stewards' ruling, and don't disagree, but, most Eclipse voters I think will break that race down and come up with giving Chrome more credit for his narrow loss than credit for Bayern for his win. Then, Sherman's calling an audible and letting Chrome run one more time was absolutely a class move on his part. Showed his confidence in his horse, gave the fans a nice Christmas present, in addition, while the competition was not sterling, the presence of the multiple Grade 1 winner, Lexie Lou, gave legitimacy to the race. To me, you have to almost be a Scrooge to not give the HOY and the Three Year Old honors to Chrome. Not even a tough call. And I predict he will win both awards by a wide margin.
I want to know why Main Sequence 4 G1 wins on the Turf at 11 or 12 furlongs is better than Untapable's 4 Grade 1 wins including 6 graded stakes wins out of 7! She did try outside her comfort zone, at least, and though 5th in the Haskell, she had a couple of excuses including being bumped.
He only ran 4 times all year! Duh!
Sorry, but you must not be able to count. None of those others comes close to accomplishing what Chrome has done this year. Seqence is a grass horse and deserves the Turf award, that's it. Bayern, according to most turf writers (the ones who will be voting on the HOY and Eclipse honors) nearly all thought that Bayern should have been DQ'd, so I don't think he will get enough votes for HOY. It's Chrome, and he's a popular choice. He's done more for the sport this year, as well. He raised the handle, brought fans to the track, and brought viewers to TV. A HOY should have broad appeal, and he definitely has that.
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