Race of the Week 2017
HRN Original Blog:
From Coast to Coast

A Super Top Ten

Beholder wins 2013 Zenyatta Stakes.
Photo: Benoit Photo
As soon as Super Saturday’s action was over and done with, I began to agonize over this vote. With the abundance of Grade 1 races, all of which were “Win and You’re In” championship series races, I knew there would be a lot of movement within my Top Ten. What I did not anticipate, however, was how difficult a time I would have deciding which wins held more weight. Obviously a Horse of the Year winner would also have to win their division, but which divisions hold more weight? That depends on who you ask, of course. As it stands, for the most part, I gave more weight to horses I felt were most likely to win their division, but there were a couple of exceptions.
Game On Dude—(5:5-0-0) Though he watched from the sidelines this weekend, when the dust settled, he had nothing to fear in terms of losing his spot atop the polls. The East Coast older males continued to take turns beating each other, and as much as I love Mucho Macho Man, he just doesn’t have the credentials to crack the top 10, much less climb all the way to the top.
Wise Dan—(5:5-0-0) Like The Dude, Wise Dan also watched all the action from a comfortable spot in his barn. He remains safely ensconced in the #2 spot and will likely remain there when he wins next weekend’s Shadwell Turf Mile.
Princess of Sylmar—(7:6-1-0) I must say that I got a great deal of satisfaction, not just for myself but also for HRN’s managing editor Brian Zipse (who has been on board the Princess bandwagon all year) out of watching this 3-year old filly better two-time champion Royal Delta. The fact that Royal Delta probably wasn’t fully cranked for this spot takes nothing away from that victory. Should the connections of Princess changes their minds about Santa Anita and their filly ship west and win the Distaff, a case for why she should be Horse of the Year could be made despite the fact that she has not faced and beaten Grade 1 males.
Royal Delta—(6:3-2-0) So she was beaten by a 3-year old upstart? I think it hardly makes any difference in my ranking of her from last week to this week. We all know that Pletcher and Mott approach individual races very differently, and come the first weekend of November, Royal Delta will be ready to roll.
Big Blue Kitten—(7:4-2-1) Last week I left this 5-year old son of Kitten’s Joy out of my Top Ten because I felt that Point of Entry was still atop the division despite his absence due to injury. This week I have included Big Blue Kitten, which probably seems strange because he lost the Joe Hirsch. Though he lost, he only missed by a nose, and I felt that he was much the best, especially since he had his momentum checked while weaving through the traffic. Stablemate Real Solution hung pretty badly during the stretch drive, which may have had something to do with the overland route he took. Unless Little Mike continues to regain form or Point of Entry is able to pull and Animal Kingdom, I think Big Blue is the U.S.’s best hope for a Turf repeat.
Sahara Sky—(4:3-1-0) I said after last week’s vote that after further reflection, this is the one I regretted leaving out of my initial Top 10. Private Zone’s performance in the Vosburgh intensified that regret as it flattered Sahara Sky’s Palos Verdes win earlier in the year. With so many top notch sprinters, this year’s BC Sprint is going to be super. A Sprint win likely won’t get him Horse of the Year or Older Male, but it should earn him Male Sprinter.
Graydar—(3:3-0-0) Perfect for the year, the only thing Graydar has done wrong this year is have an ill timed injury. He has been one of the more consistent older males on the East Coast and has proved that he can do both one-turn and two-turns. His Kelso win Saturday earned him a berth in the Breeders’ Cup Mile where he is sure to meet up with 3-year old middle distance specialist Verrazano. As good as he is, Game On Dude, Wise Dan, and Big Blue Kitten would have to completely tank in order to give Graydar a chance at any year-end hardware.
Beholder—(6:4-2-0) There was no way the West Coast star filly was going to let Princess of Sylmar outdo her this weekend, and she followed up her East Coast’s rival’s win over elders with a score of her own under similar conditions. Unlike Princess, however, Beholder is on her way to the Distaff. Since The Princess owns the head-to-head win, it will likely take a win in the Distaff by Beholder in order to snatch 3-year old divisional honors away from her foe.
Palace Malice—(9:2-3-1) And then there was one. One 3-year old colt in the Top 10, that is. He didn’t win the Jockey Club Gold Cup, but at least he tried and finished second, unlike the others in his division. Will Take Charge hasn’t tried his elders yet, and Orb ran a perplexing 8th and last in the JCGC. So for now, that leaves Palace Malice atop the division.
Laughing—(4:4-0-0) She has had every race all her own way and has beaten some very nice turf fillies and mares. In terms of winning times, she has covered the spectrum. She won the 8.5 furlong Eatontown in nearly record time, but her winning time in Saturday’s G1 Flower Bowl was hardly impressive. That is not entirely her fault as she was let get away with an uncontested lead while setting pedestrian times, but I was impressed that she was able to stretch her speed out to a classic distance. She isn’t likely to run in the Filly & Mare Turf, however, because she isn’t Breeders’ Cup nominated and is notorious for being a bad shipper.
The Also Rans
Last week Groupie Doll and Dance to Bristol made my Top Ten because up until then, a lot of the divisions were either so steeped in mediocrity or so competitive that it was hard for me to make a case for why anyone but those two should be included. This week, thanks to Super Saturday, things became a lot clearer across the board, which meant new additions and some drop-offs. Don’t get me wrong, I still think one of these two will win the Eclipse for Female Sprinter, but neither deserves to be ranked above this week’s Top Ten at this point.
I had a difficult time choosing between Laughing and Tiz Flirtatious, especially since the former isn’t likely to go to the Breeders’ Cup. However, the balance eventually tipped in favor of Laughing because she has two Grade 1 wins to Tiz Flirtatious’ one.
Verazzano will end up being the bane of my existence. I like to think outside the box, and Verrazano is outside the box in his division. He has 4 graded stakes wins, two of them Grade 1s, but he doesn’t have a win at the classic distance and he hasn’t tried his elders, yet. Honestly, I just don’t know what to do with him.
Cross Traffic gets a pass for that horrendous stumble at the start of the JCGC, but I still stand by my previous analysis of him. 


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Older Comments about A Super Top Ten...

Hey Jay! Sorry I didn't see this sooner. In regards to Will Take Charge dropping off the list, I left him off because he hasn't yet faced his elders. Will Take Charge and Palace Malice are even in terms of head-to-head finishes, so I had to give credit where credit was due and give the nod to PM for his 2nd place finish against his elders.
I really should not knock him Sullivan, he gave me my only good winner winning the 4th. He is capable rider. But when it comes to going against the best,if i had my druthers. I would look elsewhere,and in many directions.
Maragh seemed to have no trouble getting mounts Super Saturday
That is the one Florida,where we agreed Mott should tackle the boys. I root for Groupie Doll.She is really great,she overcomes the amateur (Maragh) on her back.Scary to think how good she would be if she had anyone competent. I always thought.The perfect rider for her was Ramon Domingueez at his best.The softest hands and most patient jock since Jerry Bailey.
Hey Ashley, if you gotta second...what were your thoughts on Will Take Charge this week?
I think I was in that conversation, too, Tom. The one about Reneesgotzip, that is. I don't know that I blame her for ducking Groupie Doll, though.
It probably is tom! :) Love that flip phone. Cost $0.97 at Wal-Mart with an upgrade to my plan. True statement.
Must be 1 of the 3 remaining flip phones only SSILENCE ,YOU AND I STILL HAVE.
@AndyScoggin. I don't know why it's like that. Mary Z's shows-up the same way. I don't remember seeing anyone else's that does. I'm beginning to think its because I'm the last person on the planet with no facebook or twitter acct. I created a set of silks, but they've never appeared.
Funny,i agree with you 1000% percent.When Groupie Doll is right ,she just may be the best sprinter in America(male or female) Yesterday i was singing the praises of trainer Miller running his filly against the boys in the Sprint. After further review,he is taking the easy way out and ducking The Doll(LOL)
No worries, Tom. I knew that wasn't directed at me. POE certainly is deserving of the Top 10, but not in place of another than has raced more and performed just as well. It's kinda the same with Groupie Doll, though in her case all the female sprinters have been trading blows (much like the older males). Groupie Doll is sensational, and when she brings her "A" game, she's nearly unstoppable.
Florida, i hope you know that this is definately not directed at you.It is to the other voters ,who have kept P.OE.,in the top 10 all year. Last i looked Florida and New york and 1 G1 race are on the East Coast. See ,a little of that N.Y.C. cockiness is coming out of you.I love it when you prefacethe statement. 'WHEN GROUPIE WINS.. As i told you, i had no problems with your list. So when she wins ,she will be a deserved pick for the top 10 list. As a matter of fact.Assuming both are right.She and Wise Dan are most likely the 2 surest winners on B.C. Day, with my new hero Game on Dude a distant 3rd choice.
I can only speak for myself, Tom. As good as Cross Traffic has been, the fact still remains that he has only one graded stakes win, and he has been doing most of his racing on the East Coast. The older division in the East has been solid but there hasn't been a stand out. For me, however, if and when Groupie Doll wins this week, she's going back in my Top 10.
Ashley/Floridaf. Hope all is well. A question for your fellow voters(more tongue and cheek,with a dab of serious thought) With the news of Crosss Taffic having a legitimate excuse this past Saturday) Does this mean that in next weeks Top 10 List, he will be reinstated ahead of Point of Entry.They are finally on a level playing field.
1967 American Racing Manual states: " Anually the DRF (Chicago, LA, Miami, Seattle and Toronto) and the Morning Telegraph poll their experts- editors, handicappets, trackmen and columnists- to determine the best horse in each division as well as Horse of the Year. The consensus in 1966, with 39 men voting, was as follows: Buckpasser etc."
previous to the unified poll around 1970, Participating in the CONSOLIDATED ballot were members of the Daily Racing Form, the board of selection of the Thoroughbred Racing Associations and the National Turfwriters Association. There were regional differences that were pretty much left as is.
Thanks Goblin,still no nws from our south of the border amigo
Tom, The Horse of the Year and other Eclipse awards are voted on by designated people from the NTRA, DRF, and the National Turf Writers Association at this time. Years ago it was a different voting body, but someone like Buckpasser probably knows more about that than I do.
Terrible news to the Phipps family(just kidding)
Some of them may also be Eclipse voters, but an NTRA vote does not equal an Eclipse vote.

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Meet Ashley Tamulonis

Despite growing up in a non-horse racing state, Ashley has been a fan of the sport since a young age. Her love for horse racing was fostered through the kids’ book series Thoroughbred by Joanna Campbell, and it was her love of reading and horses that led her to educate herself on the ins and outs of the sport. Since becoming actively involved in the industry just a few short years ago, Ashley has had the opportunity to meet many important players in the industry, attend the Eclipse Awards, see personal favorite Mucho Macho Man race twice in person, and get to personally meet and befriend many of the fantastic fans and horsemen involved in the sport.


Before joining Horse Racing Nation, Ashley created her own blog Wired with Ashley Paige. The idea to venture into the world of blogging came to her when she realized that she had much to say about horse racing and no one to say it to at the time. Ashley began her time with Horse Racing Nation blogging as The Florida Filly. Using that moniker, she mainly covered racing in South Florida but also blogged about nationwide racing, industry issues, and from time to time offered her opinion on how various changes could be beneficial to the industry as a whole. A move north to New Hampshire began both a new chapter in both Ashley's personal life and professional life. She currently pens the new From Coast to Coast blog for HRN, which is simply a revamped version of The Florida Filly. Don't let the new look and name change fool you, though. Ashley still brings to the table the same great coverage as From Coast to Coast as she did for The Florida Filly. Ashley also participates as a voter in the NTRA Top Thoroughbred Polls.


An alumni of Macon State College, Ashley is from Central Georgia but is currently living in New Hampshire with her husband Chris and their two sons Charlie and Michael. A stay-at-home mom, Ashley juggles parenting with blogging and her other passions. Aside from horse racing, Ashley is a fervent football fan, enjoys reading and studying history, and hopes to someday author a historical work covering the Tudor period as well as biographies of horse racing’s stars, equine and human alike.

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