Is Acclamation the Horse of the Year?

November 06, 2011 11:28am

Only minutes after the string of upsets concluded at the 2011 Breeders’ Cup, the first topic of conversation that radiated through both Churchill Downs and the expansive world of Social Media was, who would be Horse of the Year now? The Breeders’ Cup Classic included several horses that could have clinched racing’s biggest yearly award with a victory. But one by one, they were denied by Drosselmeyer, a horse with no real chance at the award. Of the most likely candidates, Havre de Grace ran fourth, Flat Out was fifth, and Stay Thirsty could do no better than eleventh. Only the gutsy Californian, Game On Dude, was able to make a big run in the Classic, before succumbing late to the stretch running, long shot winner.


Maybe if the great Goldikova had won her fourth consecutive Breeders’ Cup Mile, she would have taken home Horse of the Year in a lifetime achievement nod, but even she could not withstand the rush of 64-1 chance, Court Vision. The upsets left nothing but questions. Did Havre de Grace do enough yesterday to retain her leadership role? Perhaps Game On Dude finally earned the respect that he seemingly never quite had before yesterday. Maybe, but what about the horse that handed Game On Dude his lunch in the Pacific Classic.

Acclamation was a horse that no one would have wagered a plugged nickel on to even be mentioned in the Horse of the Year race after a tenth place debacle in a sloppy Charles Town Classic back in April. Since then though, the five-year-old California-bred son of Unusual Heat may have put together a winning streak that carries him be called America’s best of 2011.

Doing most of his damage on the grass, Acclamation won the Grade 2 Jim Murray, the Grade 1 Charlie Whittingham, and the Grade 1 Eddie Read on the grass at distances ranging between nine and twelve furlongs in succession before finishing the year by capturing his fifth straight graded stakes, the Grade 2 Clement L Hirsch Turf Championship at Santa Anita on October 2.

Those victories proved without question that he was the cream of the West Coast turf horse crop, but it was the victory before the Hirsch that may just put him over the top when voters make the decision at year’s end.

When Acclamation won the Grade I Pacific Classic, over horses like Twirling Candy and Game On Dude, on Del Mar’s Polytrack, he proved that he was more than just a turf horse, but rather a legitimate Horse of the Year contender. He proved that he is a horse that could beat top competition on different surfaces and on multiple distances. Considering the results at Churchill Downs yesterday, that may be enough to collect the most coveted trophy at the Eclipse Awards.



comments powered by Disqus

Older Comments about Is Acclamation the Horse of the Year? ...

I think Calebs Posse deserves 3 year old and some consideration for H.O.Y..
caleb's posse won't even get hoy consideration.
Well, I know Caleb's Posse is up for 3yo, but why not horse of the year!
Acclamation's last five races were amazing. I believe his competition was tougher than HDG's. I liked him for the BC classic. Too bad.
I think it will probably be Havre de Grace, but Acclamation should get a lot of votes. This year has been a very weak year for racing, whoever wins the award will be the least accomplished Horse of the Year in history in my opinion.
HDG or Calebs Posse
BUCKPASSER hansen no way!!
No, I changed my mind today. He should not be an accidental HOTY. His year doesn't seem to have been planned out with year end honors as a goal from the beginning of the year. More like trying different options, some which were inappropriate for him, in order to achieve some measure of success as he had fallen into somewhat of a bad slump before starting his win streak in May. The experimentation continued after the streak began with the gr.1 9f. Read instead of the perhaps more fitting in length but lower grade Sunset, and the synthetic risk that paid off in the PC. But he had all of his turf wins in CA which has lower purses which do not attract top nationwide competition, and he did not make a BC appearance. So, in 2012 he can go after top turf male/HOTY from the start, which that goal stated as the intention. And he can embark on a campaign in which he takes on the best. If that means the streak ends, fine, as long as he is challenged at top level so there are no questions as to the quality he faced. HDG year was planned with top older female honors and then HOTY as goals. She didn't duck top competition. I thought of the Obeah as a Del Cap prep, maybe others don't. She was not disgraced in her BC appearance. I'd be happy if she won and I could not enjoy anything but very temporary happiness over Acclamation winning because truly, he left too many questions this year. I will love watching his speed that lasts 9,10, 11, and 12f. this coming year, if we are all lucky enough and he is still running..
The will probably have co HOY: Hansen and Acclamation or hdg. They did this with Moccasin and Tom Rolfe
Agreed, boxersdaddy ... Surprised to see that Acclamation is rated only #6 on the latest NTRA poll, he's rated #3 of the Americans on the HRN fan poll.
For a horse like Rapid Redux, there should be an Honorable Mention Eclipse given out.
Amazombie for HOY? Why not? No horse has come farther, from his lack of breeding to his one-time value of $0, to get where he is today.
My vote would be with Game on Dude. I know Acclimation beat him in the Pacific Classic, but he's a 2 time Grade 1 winner on dirt, 2nd in the Classic & the Hollywood Gold Cup. Even though Acclimation beat him head to head, it was only poly & I just think Game on Dude's total body of work is better.
Grace deserves the HOY award..Acclamation is a very good horse but not HOY..Grace has gone outside the box maybe she lost by a whisker to Blind L uck and she managed a fourth in the Classic but with a 4wide trip by 4 lengths..well I say she earned it baby!!
I think it is a possbility. Yes, Acclamation!
Havre de Grace. Acclamation is a great horse, but I think Gracie's win at the Woodward against the boys trumps Acclamation's win on S.
I just put up a new HoY poll on the Zipse at the track blog ... vote now!
simple answer:NO
Great to finally hear people recognizing Acclamation! He and Cape Blanco were quietly assembling impressive resumes while everyone was too busy obsessing over Tizway. I still think HDG deserves some recognition, but Acclamation has my vote..
I think it's between HDG and Acclamation at this point.

Related Pages

ZATT's Star of the Week

Meet Brian Zipse

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat, Forego, and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, American Pharoah and Justify. Before coming to the Nation, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. His new racing partnership venture, Derby Day Racing, invites more fans to experience the thrill of racehorse ownership.

The Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, Brian authored a daily column as Zipse at the Track, created the popular racing show, HorseCenter and added his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. Now a Senior Writer for HRN, Brian continues to contribute his thoughts on racing, as well as hosting HorseCenter. A big supporter of thoroughbred aftercare, he serves as the President of The Exceller Fund.

Brian's work has also been published on several leading industry sites. He has consulted for leading contest site Derby Wars, is both a Hall of Fame and NTRA poll voter, and is a Vox Populi committee member. 

A horse owner and graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives just outside of Louisville with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra.

Best of the Blogs

Top Stories