HRN Original Blog:
Dueling Down The Stretch

Should Havre de Grace be Just One of the Boys?

So, it seems that even after a narrow loss to Blind Luck in the Delaware Handicap, the owner Rick Porter may still be pointing his star filly, Havre de Grace, to the Woodward Stakes. Is this a wise choice or will it become a setback for the nearly unbeatable 4yr old? Porter also has the 10fl Personal Ensign Handicap to consider, a race where he would likely meet their nemesis, Blind Luck. Both races have high risk/reward factors and both could make or break her case for Horse of the Year. So what does she do? Does she want to be one of the boys? Or does she go for round seven in the never ending rivalry?

Saratoga mentioned doubling the purse of the Personal Ensign, if the connections of Havre de Grace do indeed decide to run and extend the rivalry. That would mean the purse would be a lucrative $600,000, enough to make any owner of a promising filly/mare consider running against the two titans. However, that may be the only plus of running her in the Personal Ensign.

The cons are small but stack up to a height that may sway the connections of Havre de Grace towards the Woodward. First of all, while it is widely thought that Blind Luck and Havre de Grace will share equal weights if they run, one can bet the weight spread will be up to 15lbs plus. That means either Havre de Grace will have an impost of 128 or slightly above or the others will be carrying feather light weights of 108lbs, at most. I’m more inclined to think that the weight will be packed on rather than have a jockey starve themself more than they already do, especially during a heat wave like this. Secondly, if the weight were to cause her to lose to a horse that is not even near her class level, it would weaken her chances for any Eclipse award immensely.

Now, if Havre de Grace were to run in the Woodward one can easily see that even a narrow defeat would not hurt her as greatly as it would as a loss in the Personal Ensign, and that a win would most likely move her to the head of the division and the race for Horse of the Year. If she were to run in the Woodward she would get the 3lbs weight advantage, instead of getting saddled with a high impost. She would be running 9 furlongs, not 10, the latter being Blind Luck’s preferred distance and that of the Personal Ensign. She would also be racing for a richer pot of $750,000, which is still higher than the Personal Ensign if doubled.

Cons are very minimal. She would be racing colts for the first time, which is never to be taken lightly. The only filly to win the race was Rachel Alexandra, who won as a 3yr old. Havre de Grace is four, which should help ease her task slightly and put her on a more level playing field than what Rachel Alexandra had. The race will likely sport the winner of the Whitney Handicap and should that winner be Sidney’s Candy, Rail Trip, or Tizway she will have her work cut out for her. However, that statement could go the other way as well. Should the Whitney sport yet another upset winner who is coming into the Woodward with questions over their head, it makes it much easier for her to assume command.

So, what does Porter do? Both races would be wonderful for the sport should she partake in either. I mean what is better than an Ali vs Frazier match over and over and over? What is better than seeing a girl take on the opposite sex and prevail? This writer says go for the Woodward. What do you say?



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Older Comments about Should Havre de Grace be Just One of the Boys?...

I think both would be equally as exciting. I mean, it was exciting when RA attemped to do it even though many were of the thought the older division was softer than normal and she had already faced males twice. If the Whitney results are formal the Woodward would not by any means be any easier than the PE.
I'm all for the Personal Ensign. A re-match with Blind Luck is far more exciting to me than seeing her against the males in the Woodward when none of them have proven to be standouts this year.
Annmatt, if you would be so kind as to post the link to which article Porter said that? As far as i know he said he would condsider running if the purse were doubled. And even if, it's fun to debate where we think where she should go. Just because Zenyatta had a pre planned schedule didn't keep many from saying whether they thought it was a good spot or not.
Porter is already on record saying that "It's on" if the purse is doubled for the PE, so don't know what the debate is about. She needs to run against and beat Blind Luck if her Eclipse award fortunes are to rise. Just MHO.
If HDG does run in the Woodward the possibility of a Beldame match up is also very possible, which is why i would sugest that she go the Woodward.
I vote for the Personal Ensign, just because I have tickets. I think you are right though, lot more to gain in running in the Woodward and not much to lose and another loss to Blind Luck would make it hard for her to win the Eclipse Award.
I want to see her run in the Woodward.
As a fan my answer is the Personal Ensign. This rivalry is just too good not to want as much as possible. If I were her owner however, I agree with you, the Woodward makes a whole lot of sense.

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Meet Laura Pugh

Laura Pugh got her first taste of Thoroughbred Racing when she watched War Emblem take the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in 2001. After that point, she fell in love with the sport, reading every piece of news and information she could get her fingertips on.

Laura has a long history with horses in general, taking her first ride on her fifth birthday, with her first official riding lesson when she was eight years old. Both years she attended college she joined her school’s equestrian team, first at the now closed Virginia Intermont College, then again at Delaware State University. Unfortunately, after back and shoulder injuries, she had to hang up her saddle. 

In 2010 Laura came to Horse Racing Nation, but soon branched out to other media outlets, such as Lady and the Track,, and USRacing. She currently works at a local newspaper as a community reporter, while making a return to Horse Racing Nation, where she will once again feature her opinionated columns on the latest in horse racing. 

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