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Breeders' Cup 2017

HRN Original Blog:
Dueling Down The Stretch

Stay Thirsty - still playing Rodney Dangerfield

He can beat two Triple Crown race winners and the Haskell winner in one race. He can beat the horse that went on to win the Wood Memorial. He can beat the winner of the Dwyer Stakes. Stay Thirsty is not the Rodney Dangerfield of the Pletcher barn, he is the Rodney Dangerfield of racing.

Here is a horse that has beaten the Kentucky Derby winner, Preakness winner, and Belmont winner in one season and gets no respect. Instead, two of the very horses he beat are being considered the top of his division, while he is not. Animal Kingdom has one grade one win and a grade three. That gives him a total of two graded stakes. Stay Thirsty has a grade one, a grade two, and a grade three to his credit. This gives him three graded stakes to his credit. Edge, Stay Thirsty. Both have finished ahead of the other and both have a grade one win at a track that is prestigious. Tie. Overall Stay Thirsty gets the edge because of the number of graded stakes wins.

Shackleford and Stay Thirsty have faced off four times, in the Florida Derby, Kentucky Derby, Belmont, and Travers. Shackleford finished ahead of Stay Thirsty in the Florida Derby and Kentucky Derby, but later down the road Stay Thirsty edged Shackleford in the Belmont and Travers. Head to head match ups ends in a tie. Now we go to performances in graded stakes. Both won or placed in five graded stakes, so again, a tie. The final tie breaker goes to number of wins in graded stakes. Shackleford has one, the Preakness. Stay Thirsty has three, the Gotham, Jim Dandy, and Travers Stakes. Edge goes to Stay Thirsty.

Amazing that Stay Thirsty has the best merits of any Classic winning three year old, but merits no respect from the racing public. Steven Crist wrote that the award of Three Year Old Male was between Caleb’s Posse and Animal Kingdom, when Animal Kingdom has the least credentials of the three Classic runners.

Caleb’s Posse, who Crist mentioned, is a two time grade one winner and has won or place in six graded stakes races this year, as opposed to Stay Thirsty’s one grade one and five graded stakes placings. The two never met head to head, so one would believe it would be Caleb’s Posse who gets the edge. He has the edge over Stay Thirsty in graded stakes wins, graded stakes placings, and grade one wins, but there is one problem. Racing has a stigma. Caleb’s Posse has never won a graded stakes beyond a mile, and that may cost him the championship.

Is it right that there is that stigma? No it’s not, but unless racing changes drastically, it will always be there. So, with these facts in mind, why did Crist name Animal Kingdom over Stay Thirsty, when the latter has the best credentials? Is it that he only was able to dominate in New York? If so, I must ask, did any other horse dominated in the division the way that Thirsty did? Did they dominate in another state or in multiple states? The answer is no. No other horse could dominate in just one state or multiple, giving Thirsty the edge, despite dominating in just one state.

So, with those final thoughts, I’ll conclude by saying Crist is dead wrong. The award is not between Animal Kingdom and Caleb’s Posse. If Caleb’s Posse does not win the award then it should go to Stay Thirsty. He raced and dominated the tracks than more than any other classic runner. He has been in the shadow all year long. It’s time to let him out and give him the respect he deserves.


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Older Comments about Stay Thirsty - still playing Rodney Dangerfield...

Winplacsho, I have to disagree. The Travers has more prestige and hold more value in the year end votes than either the Preakness or the Belmont. People favor it because it's Classic distance of 10f, a distance Shackleford never won at. Also, while Shackleford is a gutsy and admirable horse, he did not "take his show on the road." He has two wins this year, on in allowance company, the other in the Preakness, and he never could return to that winning form. He was well beaten in his last three races, as he was in the FOY, The Derby, and Belmont. He was at every dance, but like First Dude last year, there are two many beats to be a champion. Caleb excelled mainly at Saratoga, however his big win at Churchill demonstrates he is probably not just a Saratoga freak. Based on merits, it's Caleb's award. However, if the stigma comes out, and he should not receive the award, Stay Thirst did the most of the Classic runners.
I think Caleb's Posse deserves the Eclipse, but Stay Thirsty is a clear second.
Travers not a classic? In what realm of reality is your value system Not a classic! The 1930 is my favorite. The previous two yaer champ Whichone and the leading three year old Gallant Fox scared away all but two others on that rainy course and eveyone one KNEW it would be a match race. No one told Jum Dandy who passed them both in the lane..Not a classic?
Stay Thirsty has 4 career wins, 3 at Saratoga & 1 on the Aqueduct inner track. He has 4 starts outside NY with his best finish being 5th in last years BC Juvenile. He's obviously a New York specialist, if not just a Saratoga specialist. If I had a vote, I would lean toward AK, but at least Shackleford and Caleb's Posse can take their show on the road. I just don't know how a horse that didn't win a 3 year old Classic "dominated" the division. The only horse that didn't win a classic to "dominate" the division would be Caleb's Posse based on his 2 grade 1 wins.
The Travers is the "mid summer derby", and a very important race, but its no classic.
The Travers is the "mid summer derby", and a very important race, but its no classic.
footlick, without the bad knee and providing he wanted to run, hust like native Dancer. @ Cugel personally I love the milers but I believe in the old way, speed and distance, you make execellent points as you usually do but on this one I respectfully disagree as there has to be a separation point.have a nice day all
icy - nobody is saying to rate greatness ONLY at a mile - all some of us are saying is that great milers should be given more respect and those that dominate both in speed and graded stakes should be considered on an equal footing with the dominant 9-10 furlong specialists at awards time. For example, given the consistent quality of her opposition and dominance during her prime, I think Goldikova should rate as one of the best thoroughbreds of all time; but she won't, because the traditionalists will dismiss her as a "miler".
DeadHeat-very true on both points.
icyhotboo- I think Buckpasser would have given the good Dr a race of it at 8 furlongs, as long as his knee wasn't bothering him.
winplacsho, The Travers has been around longer than the Classic itself and is one of the tests three year olds must pass and he did. If that is not considered a classic then I don't know what is. Footlick, I agree, it is sad that a mile has no home when it is truly one of the best distances. It is almost like a middle ground for sprinters and routers, and IMO for a sprinter to be able to carry his speed over a mile that shows some greatness, and the same goes for a true router being able to shorten up to a mile and compete and dominate.
correction-I was going from memory as I usuallydo but SA was just as fast. Not much different from Belmont or Arlington
By the criteria of rating horses at a mile you can throw out, Secretariat , Man o War, Citation and everybody else for #1 horse of all time, do the math and it's Dr. Fager. I've always favored the classic n/a 1 1/4 in determining greatness but as was pointed out by various people "the mile makes for an exciting race."Before somebody comes back with Spectacular Bid's 1:57.4/5 1 1/4 as an exhibition of speed at hollywood park I would like to point out that up until they installed the cushion/synthetic/whatever It has always been 1-2 seconds faster than any track anywhere!
Mike in SB said "The ability to carry speed over a distance of ground is what defines the Thoroughbred". There is absolutely no reason to disqualify CP based on this criteria. A mile should be considered every bit as much of a qualifying distance as 9 or 10 furlongs. You don't see quarter horses racing 7 or 8 furlongs - distances at which CP is the undisputed 3yo and probaly all-age champion. This, and his superior graded stakes record as compared to the competition, should give him the 3yo Eclipse award. If winning at distances over 8 furlongs were the only mark of a great thoroughbred, then why is the BC Marathon only worth $500K? Why don't we see more 12, 13, 14, 15 furlong races in North America?
  • Mike in SB · There are few races at 10 furlongs and longer because horses today are bred for speed and not stamina. More races at the classic distances and fewer races at a mile and 1 1/8 mile is exactly what the sport needs and it would improve the breed as well. · 2128 days ago
sadly in this country a mile is in the netherland- not a sprint and not a route. It is too bad.
"Amazing that Stay Thirsty has the best merits of any Classic winning three year old"......which Classic did he win again?
I agree with Ann. You certainly make a great argument for Stay Thirsty, Laura. I really hope Caleb's Posse isn't overlooked on account of the stigma against sprinters, which is just ridiculous anyway. Brian, I also cannot fathom how Smarty Jones did not get the Eclipse for his division. Seriously makes me question what exactly the voters are looking for.
  • Mike in SB · Smarty Jones was 3 year old champion, he lost Horse of the Year to older Ghostzapper who won the Breeders Cup Classic. · 2129 days ago
I like Stay Thirsty and think he had a great year, but the Eclipse voting will be led by Animal Kingdom and Caleb's Posse. My vote would go to Caleb's Posse.
When a horse does not perform well over a particular track I'll give them a pass. AK missed many of the most important races this year and Shack while he ran never won them, finishing worse than 3rd three times. I believe that is the same for Thirsty. One horse dislike the track the other the distance. Travers, Jim Dandy, 2nd in the Belmont, beating every one of the three TC race winners is best resume put together this year.
In the two most important races of the year he finished 12th and 11th respectively ... I'll pass.

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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, TwinSpires.com, 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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