Race of the Week 2017

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Zipse At The Track

Is Point of Entry Horse of the Year material?

Point of Entry was nowhere to be found in the Horse of the Year discussion just a few short months ago, but oh how things have changed. Three powerful wins in grade 1 races in New York will tend to do that. These consecutive victories have catapulted him right into the discussion, but the question remains, can he really take home the whole ball of wax? Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of his argument.
Pro – With a win in the Breeders’ Cup Turf, Point of Entry would become the only horse in America with victories in four grade 1 races.
Con – Going into the Breeders’ Cup, Point of Entry lacks a win over real topnotch competition, with Treasure Beach, who has finished out of the money in every start but one this year, and Little Mike, who is very suspect at the 1 ½ mile distance, being the classiest horses he has faced.
Pro – His wins are fresh in the mind of voters as each of his grade 1 wins has come in the past three months. Momentum like this could be important in a tight year-end vote.
Con – The Horse of the Year voter should consider the entire year, and being a relative unknown for much of the year while starting the year by splitting a pair of allowance races could be considered a negative.
Pro – Point of Entry may dominate his division, or specialty of distance racing on turf, more than any other single horse in America.
Con – There is a real question though whether or not he is even the top grass horse in the nation considering the way Wise Dan has been tearing through the middle distance races. Not to mention that only two horses in the modern era have won the HOTY award while running exclusively on turf.
Pro – Distance racing is a real mark of quality in the minds of many, and no horse has excelled in races of longer than 10 furlongs this year like Point of Entry.
Con – While it is this author’s contention that distance racing should be more celebrated in the United States, the simple truth is that it is not. This fact leads to less depth of quality in the long distance races run here, at least before the Breeders’ Cup.
Pro – Point of Entry is not only winning grade 1 races, but he is doing it in New York, and in front of the largest concentration of Horse of the Year voters.
Con – Winning in New York is nice, but it is not the only thing. Point of Entry needs a signature win outside the Empire State to bolster his credentials. He will get that chance in the Breeders’ Cup Turf.
Pro – Point of Entry is winning these races in dominant fashion.
Con – So is Wise Dan, and for the most part, Game On Dude.
So where does all this leave Point of Entry on his quest for the Horse of the Year award? I believe his selling points are strong enough to swing the vote to him over I’ll Have Another and the Classic winner with a win in the BC Turf, provided that Classic winner is not Game On Dude. I also believe that Game On Dude takes leadership of the race with a win in the Classic. If he does not win, Wise Dan can become the horse with a win in the Breeders’ Cup Mile. If neither of them win on November 3, then the ball is in Point of Entry’s court.


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Older Comments about Is Point of Entry Horse of the Year material?...

Dani I avoided the Zenyatta Horse of the Year debate for 4 years and I don't want to start now, the point I am trying to make is that neither Blame nor Zenyatta had a record that would have won Horse of the Year in the past when horses ran more than 5-6 times. And I believe you can say the same about this years HoY no matter who wins. To me this is a big problem, we need horses to race more and stay sound. The older male handicap horses and 3 year old classic horses are the glamour divisions of racing and there has not been a really good older horse since Curlin and the best recent 3 year old male, Ill Have Another, didn't make it past June.
Mike the mare that beat him only raced 6 times. Most older horses in the Classic division do not run all that much anymore. MMM has run five times so far, RTG has run five times, GOD I believe has raced 5 times, Wise Dan has run five times. Fort Larned is the only main contender who has raced more and he has run 7. So as you can see it is not like Blame was a great exception to the rule of racing, when it comes to number of times run. Also as i noted, he ran against the best. Whitney he took down Quality Road and in the Classic he became the only horse to deny Zenyatta. However as icy said she was given HOTY based on the belief that she was the best running, not on who had the better year.
Voting for his is akin to Academy Awards: there is mucy background political maneuvering that we never know about.
Blame, didn't win HOTY because many people myself included felt Zenyatta was the best horse running for the past three years of her career but in 2008 they gave it to Curlin, and I mean gave it. In 2009 Rachel had a year for the ages and even though I felt Zenyatta was the better horse it was nearly impossible to deny it to Rachel because she had a better year. In 2010 Blame deserved HOTY simply on the basis of having a better year and beating Zenyatta. I guess it comes down to the fact that many people felt Zenyatta to be among the great ones especially myself. With that in mind you can't let her walk away without being acknowledged. Life isn't fair. That is as sure as death and taxes.
Deadheat, Blame probably would have been Horse of the Year if he had run more than 5 times and won more than 3 Grade 1 races. In the past 3 Grade 1 wins doesn't make you HoY, his record is almost exactly the same as Awesome Again, who was undefeated, 3 grade 1 wins and winner of the Breeders Cup Classic. But he was not Horse of the Year. losing to Skip Away with 5 Grade 1 wins. I am tired of our best horses racing 4-5 times and awarding a Horse of the Year with 3 or 4 Grade 1 wins.
Mike, I wouldn't say there is something wrong with racing. Just because females have taken the spotlight recently doesn't mean there is something wrong. Last year was a weak year, true. Rachel's year had some nice three year old males. Summer Bird, winner of the Belmont, Travers, and JCGC. Three grade ones all at the Classic distance. Typically in a year with the older males so evenly matched he would have won, but he lost to Rachel and Zenyatta that year. You also didn't mention that Rachel beat males three times. Ruffian never did. Had she beaten them, she may have been HOTY, we never know. I'm not going to get into 2010, because there was a dominant male horse and his name was Blame. He finished second once and won a total of three grade ones, including the Classic against the best horses in racing. The older males were not weak that year. Now, Wise Dan has won on dirt. A grade one, in fact. He didn't win it this year, but what most people see is he nearly won the grade one Stephen Foster, he lost by a short head and most believe him to have been the best in the race. Other than that race he's won all other starts, all of them were stakes and he's done so impressively. His ability to handle any surface goes a long way too.
If you look at past Horses of the Year the vast majority were either older males who won at a classic distance or 3 year old males who won Classic races or races at the classic distances. The years when Turf horses or females won were marked by weak older males and 3 year olds. Look at the last three years, Rachel was one ot the greatest 3 year old fillies to race, probably the best since Ruffian. but Ruffian was not Horse of the Year, losing to older male Forego and Zenyatta was one of the greates mares to race, probably the best since Personal Ensign, but Personal Ensign was not Horse of the Year, losing to older male Alysheba. Havre de Grace was a deserving winner last year, but she was one of the least accomplished winners in memory. Something is wrong with racing today. What has happened to the good older males and 3 year old males? This year one of the leading candidates for HoY, Wise Dan, has not won on dirt, never won at a Classic distance. 20 years ago a horse with this record would have little chance at Horse of the Year. Racing needs to figure out why there has been such a decline in the quality of older and 3 year old males or why they can't stay sound. It is killing racing.
POE has faced weak competition in all of his races as has GOD. A win by either is a vote for IHA. No brainer. Only RTG and Fort Larned are deserving to be considered to have faced stiff competition successfully with enough wins in tough company to even have an outside chance at IHA. Why waste time give it to he now. He got the Japanese vote and while were decling their ascending, hint.
Horses limited to the turf do not win Horse of the Year....One has to show good adaptability to other surfaces and that's why Wise Dan has a much better shot at it.
A "fact" that is super depressing. Again, like Brian pointed out, Americans just don't put as much stock in classic distances anymore, and turf horses get little to no respect.
Im with Florida F.. If POE gets HOY it would be because GOD WD or RTG etc completely bomb out.
I would point out that wins in BC races would give 2-3 other horses 4 G1 wins for the year, also. And again, as you said, winning in NY is nice, but a horse has to be able to win elsewhere, too, something I can't overlook given how much I have dogged Stay Thirsty and Alpha for that very reason. I would love to see him win HOTY simply for being a distance turf horse, but I think GOD would have to completely bomb in the Classic in order for most voters to even consider Point of Entry.
GOD can win the BCCllassic and still not win HOTY, Wise Dan has to overhaul Obviously in the BC MileTurf so he's not a sure thing and even if he wins he miggt not get HOTY, now there is Point of Entry who has won 3 G1 victories in a row in dominating fashion and we still haven't seen his best, with a victory in ths BC Turf against the best Turf will notch his 4th G1 victory in a row and being the only horse to achievd that makes him HOTY in my eyes and most likely sway the HOTY voters his way due to his achievements in G1's and makes it very hard to deny him his xues as America's HOTY.
If GOD doesn't win the Classic, and POE wins a BC race, then it's very likely
Like you said in your article, only two horses have won HOTY exclusively on turf. He looks more of a Eclipse Ward older male or male turf winner. I doubt Point of Entry can beat the best Euros in the BC Turf to begin with. Last but not least, I'll have another accomplished much more in the first half of the year than Point of Entry ever dreamed of.
Now POE or Acclamation as top turfer?
Point of Entry's HOY depends on the performance of others. WIse Dan and Game On Dude must lose their BC races, and Point of Entry must win his race to become a contender.
I think he is HOY material, but I don't think he'll win it even if the rest of them all flounder; turf bias and such.
Agree, Game on Dude is in the drivers seat. If he doesn't deliver, things will get interesting as Wise Dan and Point of Entry will have a realistic shot if they score in their divisions. In fact, I agree with travel_vic , a sizeable margin of victory for Wise Dan or Point of Entry will be needed because IHA has the advantage going into the BC.
If Game on Dude overwhelms them or runs a close second in the big race, there is a chance, BUT it the last big one of the year produces little dominance, the "almost" Triple Crown will be very big on voters minds.

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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, and American Pharoah. 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. 

The Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, Brian authored a daily column as Zipse at the Track, or ZATT for short, 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 co-hosting the popular racing show, 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.


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