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A New York State of Racing

Is I’ll Have Another the best horse in America?

Each week the NTRA conducts two “Top Thoroughbred Polls”. One poll is exclusively for three year-olds and the other poll is open to all divisions.
The voters are given no specific guidelines to aid in the voting process.  Thus, we all have created our own criteria for the polls.  For instance, I decided not to vote for any horse that had not yet run, so Acclamation has not appeared in my top tens and I waited to include To Honor And Serve until he won the Westchester on April 28th.
Alternation rallied to defeat a very strong field in the Pimlico Special for his fourth win in as many starts and his first victory in 2012 away from Oaklawn Park. I'll Have Another powered past Bodemeister to win the Preakness and give him a chance at becoming the 12th Triple Crown winner.

The subjectivity of the voting process led to some debate about the poll results for May 21stI’ll Have Another was the unanimous number one selection in the three year-old poll, but in the poll for all divisions he was ranked in second behind Alternation. Even though I’ll Have Another received 24 first place votes, Alternation 8, Wise Dan 8, To Honor and Serve 3, Awesome Maria 1, Shackleford 1, and Game On Dude 1; Alternation got the top spot because he accumulated 358 points to I’ll Have Another’s 331 points.
{View the NTRA poll results on the front page of America's Best Racing}
I asked six turf writers to comment about this week’s poll results and the reasoning that they used as they decided for whom to cast their ballots.
"Right now I believe I'll Have Another is the top 3-year-old in the nation but I don't believe he's the best horse in the country. Currently, he is competing in restricted races - races limited to just 3-year-olds. If he were to face older horses, he'd be getting weight from them. He could turn out to be the best horse in the nation but right now, at this moment, I believe he's not."
--Jerry Bossert, New York Daily News
“Until 3yo's face elders and prove themselves superior, top handicap horse(s) get a slight nod to my way of thinking. Is I'll Have Another better than Wise Dan right now? It's close and by Travers, Jockey Club Gold Cup or Goodwood he and/or Bodemeister may be, but for now I'll side with the elder. Looking at the Preakness v. PIM Special, it's pretty clear the top pair from Saturday would have bested everyone that ran Friday. It's just great to have what feels like an actual glut of rock solid horses in most every division this year.”
--Steve Byk, host of At the Races on Sirius satellite radio
“I view the overall poll as a measure of who I think is the best horse in training. Since I'll Have Another has yet to face elders I didn't want to rank him among Wise Dan or Successful Dan, but he's clearly the best three year old.”
--Ed DeRosa, Director of Marketing for, blogging for
“I’ll Have Another seemed like an obvious choice to me. He's just won two of the three or four most important races in the country and is one win away from immortality. There are plenty of good horses out there, but considering his accomplishments, which also include the Santa Anita Derby, this seemed like a no-brainer. He has won three grade I’s this year, while the horse in first place has won none. Go figure.”
--Bill Finley, co-host of Down the Stretch on Sirius satellite radio, columnist for
“Four consecutive graded stakes wins (three grade I’s) at four different distances at three different racetracks. I’ll Have Another won two classics. Racing's star attraction. It was a no-brainer for me.”
--Steve Haskin, senior editor, The Blood Horse (via Twitter)
"I've voted I'll Have Another #1 overall since the Derby, and after the Preakness, how could you not? He's undefeated this year in four graded stakes, including the two most important races run in America so far. If the year ended today, I consider him an easy choice as Horse of the Year, and if he wins the Belmont, you can pencil him in as the 2012 Horse of the Year."
 --Brian Zipse, Managing Editor,
There is no doubt that there are more top quality horses racing in 2012 then we have seen in many many years. Which horse is the best? Let the debate continue!


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Older Comments about Is I’ll Have Another the best horse in America?...

And just think, we have two more weeks to debate the merits of, fun!
I'm just not convinced that Alternation is the best horse
Best 3 y/o for sure... The 1 1/2 mile Belmont will suit him best... it will be a race for the AGES!!!!
will finish 3rd or 4th in belmont , Union rags will win , with mark valeski, and dullahan
not yet
The Belmont's 1 1/2 M contest fits I'll have anothers running style perfectly! Mario = EDDIE D
I'm not hard to please... just realistic. Everyone here is so hungry for a Triple Crown that they have already convinced themselves that IHA will win it. We'll see on June 9th.
I guess I'll Have Another is going to have to win the Belmont by at least 15-20 lengths before he gets any real respect! Jeeeeeez! Some people sure are hard to please!
It take a truly oustanding horse to overcome a horse like Bodemeister given the fractions he set in the Preakness. If IHA wasn't in that race it would have just been another Arkasas Derby type romp. Brad Free has selected this horse in every race since the San Felipe 100% isn't bad. Luckily for me I follow his picks. At one time fairly recently one of his books was selling for $700. now they are all gone and I wanted that one badly. Best handicapper I've come across and I've been riding his coatails for many years.
Best horse in America? I don't know? Time will tell when start getting into the part of the season where you see the 3yr.old's able to take on the older horses. But I think best 3yr.old in America is certainly a fair description. When a 3yr.old's won a G1 Santa Anita Derby, G1 Kentucky Derby, G1 Preakness, and is staring racing immortality right in the face if he can win the G1 Belmont Stakes, it's no fluke. That horse has real ability. JMO.
He's run in seven races, won five, and has YET to be favored in any race. Looks like he likes to overcome the odds.
I am going to say at the moment he is the best horse in America, having said that... I will not crown him the Horse of the Year until the year is over. The year is not even half over yet... Remember 2004, the year Smarty Jones almost won the Triple Crown, then was retired b/c of chronic bruising before ever running again? So much can happen between now and the end of the year to crown him HOY right now. And honestly I still have some reservations saying he is currently the best.
I agree with Zipse and Haskin.
I agree with Haskin, a no-brainer. I'll Have Another
I'm on the fence here. Logically speaking, I have to agree that horses in the handicap divisions have a slight edge because they are facing their elders and are being weighted, but given the circumstances surrounding Alternation and I'll Have Another, I would argue that you have to throw logic out the window. I'll Have Another has accomplished a lot so far this year, and Alternation just threw his name back in the mix. For me, I'll Have Another would have to be #1 right now.
Thanks for the inclusion with such an esteemed list, Matt ... and to Matt B, No horse clinches the Horse of the Year in May, but they certainly can with a Triple Crown. I am rooting for him!
I beg to differ, Brian. As of right now, I don't see how I'll Have Another hasn't already won Horse of the Year, regardless of what happens in a few weeks at Belmont. Unless an older horse like either of the Dan's goes undefeated (especially Wise Dan if that 117 wasn't an outlier), I don't see what any horse can do to surpass what I'll Have Another has already accomplished, and it's only the end of May.
  • MattBernier · Beg to differ may have been the wrong way to put it - I would change "pencil" to "etch him in stone"... · 2466 days ago

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Meet Matt Shifman

Matt Shifman has been on the Horse Racing Nation staff since 2011 and currently serves as Assistant Editor. Matt covers Aqueduct, Belmont Park, Monmouth Park, and Saratoga in his two HRN blogs, Racing at the Jersey Shore and New York State of Racing.

Since 2012, Matt has been a voter in the NTRA weekly polls for the Top Thoroughbred and Top Three-Year-Old.

Recently, Matt helped launch Derby Day Racing, a new 2-year-old racing partnership, that just purchased a promising Lookin At Lucky filly named Sooner Schooner.

You may also know Matt by his Twitter, Facebook, and HRN screen nameAndyScoggin.

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