Western Wars

Why is it that every time you have two horses from either coast that develop a rivalry, the fans on the West Coast go completely insane? In 2009 in were Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta. The fans of Rachel Alexandra, whether they be in the East or West were in awe of the Champion filly’s ambitious campaign that saw her run a perfect eight for eight with three grade one wins, all over a mile, against males. Many of Rachel fans, while also in awe the sight and ability of Queen Z, could not bring themselves to call the mare a great because her campaign paled in comparison to that of Rachel Alexandra. We said that we would like to see the owners of Zenyatta take more risks to test her greatness, and because of that many people were verbally assaulted.

In 2010 another rivalry began to develop between two three year old fillies by the names of Blind Luck and Havre De Grace. The former, from California proved her superiority, even though the finishes were close. There was no doubt in anyone’s mind that last year Blind Luck was the better of the two. She traveled to where the competition was and showed up with her best every time. Even though a rivalry brewed  Blind Luck was getting praised and because of that many of the West Coast fans never made a peep. This year is a whole different story.

This year Blind Luck did not get off to the running start everyone expected. When asked to close over the new Santa Anita speedway that they call dirt, she was unable to reproduce the same devastating kick. After two failed attempts at Santa Anita, Blind Luck was taken to Oaklawn Park, where she was to use the Azeri Stakes as a final prep for the Apple Blossom. The game filly fired her best shot, but was no match for her now more mature rival, Havre De Grace. Then, for the first time in her career, the connections of Blind Luck opted for the easier route, in skipping the Grade one Apple Blossom that featured Havre De Grace and Switch, another classy California shipper.

It was not as easy as the Azeri, but Havre De Grace proved her ability when she flipped on the afterburners to soar past Switch late in the stretch. Now, as more and more people begin to recognize Havre De Grace as the division leader, with Awesome Maria in second, the tension begins to build in the West once again.

As some begin to express their opinions that Blind Luck may be at a disadvantage running against Awesome Maria and Havre De Grace over a tradition dirt course going 9f, the distance of the Ladies Classic, many Blind Luck fan jump to the offense. I’m here to say do not get your panties in a bunch. Quit accusing people of noticing how the other two fillies have improved tenfold. Quit trying act like we do not respect Blind Luck, when in fact we do! We appreciate how she has been given the chance to show her ability and hardiness that makes her so unique in today’s world.

The only thing me and many others are saying is that her style, over a dirt surface does put her at a disadvantage. There is no doubt that a field running on synthetic is more bunched than one on dirt. With a horse like Awesome Maria who has the ability to carry her speed, Blind Luck would be at a disadvantage. This year with a good sized filly with excellent tactical speed, like Havre De Grace, Blind Luck would again be hard pressed to close a substantial amount of ground.

Again, I say do not get your feathers all ruffled. I never said that Blind Luck was not in the same class, that she didn’t belong with the horses on the east coast, or that she was facing weak fields. She is still a great filly. It just so happens that she is dealing with a couple of other fillies who are pretty awesome too.

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 2002. At 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 Virginia Intermont College and then again at Delaware State University. Unfortunately, after back and shoulder injuries, she had to hang up her saddle. 

In 2010, Laura began writing for Horse Racing Nation and has also contributed to Lady and the Track, TwinSpires and USRacing. She currently works at a local newspaper as a community reporter.

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