Is Vekoma the top older horse in the country?

Is Vekoma the top older horse in the country?
Photo: Sue Kawczynski/Eclipse Sportswire

Vekoma moved from eighth to third and received number one votes for the first time in this week’s NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll following his victory in the Grade 1 Met Mile at Belmont Park.

The day after that win by Vekoma, which was his second consecutive Grade 1 score, co-owner Randy Hill said, "I think he's the best older horse in the country."

When it came time for me to send in my ballot for the July 7 NTRA poll, I decided that I agreed with Hill.

Each week voters in this poll have to strike a balance between what the horses have done on the track, thus far in 2020, with their potential to become Horse of the Year. When I placed Vekoma at number two in my top 10 list I was making a statement that I thought his two Grade 1 victories make him the top older male horse in the country as of July 7.

However, the overall poll results say that
Tom’s d’Etat is the best older male over Vekoma by a small margin of total points, 333 to 302, although those two were well ahead of the others. Tom’s d’Etat got eight first-place votes, but on nine ballots where Vekoma was voted second, he was ahead of Tom’s d’Etat.

In my view Vekoma’s past performances this year give him an edge over those of Tom’s d’Etat who has two wins with only one Grade 2 victory. More voters probably felt that the Stephen Foster winner has a significant chance to become Horse of the Year.

Down the road, it is unlikely that Vekoma and Tom’s d’Etat will meet on the racetrack as their long-term goals appear to be different. The Stephen Foster victory gave the 7-year-old Al Stall Jr. runner a "Win and You're In" spot in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. The wins in the Carter and the Met Mile gave trainer George Weaver the choice between the Breeders’ Cup Sprint and the Dirt Mile.

Before the Breeders’ Cup, both appear to be headed to Saratoga for their next starts with Vekoma in the
Forego (G1) on August 29 and Tom’s d’Etat in the Whitney (G1) on August 1.

However according to the latest rankings, Vekoma and Tom’s d’Etat are far behind
Midnight Bisou who kept a strong-hold on the number one spot in the poll. She clearly had the most first-place votes (25) and total points (390). I assume that most voters thought she had the best race results in 2020 and was most likely to be named Horse of the Year.

 Consensus Top 10

 Matt Shifman's Top 10

 1. Midnight Bisou (24)

 1. Tiz the Law

 2. Tom’s d’Etat (8)

 2. Vekoma

 3. Vekoma (2)

 3. Tom’s d’Etat

 4. Mucho Gusto

 4. Midnight Bisou

 5. By My Standards

 5. Honor A. P.

 6. Tiz the Law (2)

 6. Code of Honor

 7. Code of Honor (1)

 7. By My Standards

 8. Zulu Alpha

 8. Improbable

 9. Maximum Security (3)

 9. Newspaperofrecord

 10. Instilled Regard

 10. Raging Bull

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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