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Breeders' Cup 2017

HRN Original Blog:
Zipse At The Track

Team Havre de Grace is not the only one to blame

Havre De Grace top story
Photo: Lou Hodges Photography
The connections of Havre de Grace have come under a lot of heat the past few days since the news came in that the defending Horse of the Year would not run in the Grade 1 Apple Blossom on Friday due to unfavorable weight assignments. While I will not argue with anyone who is less than pleased with the decision, I would like to offer the possibility that there is more to this story than owner Rick Porter and trainer Larry Jones being poor sportsmen.
Last summer I wrote a blog entitled, A Weighty Issue in the Delaware Handicap, in which I questioned the racing secretary of Delaware Park as to why Havre de Grace was giving the defending 3yo filly champion, Blind Luck two pounds in the Delaware Handicap. Now I realize two pounds is not much, but then again, neither was the margin of victory for Blind Luck in the big race, as it turned out. Why was that weight decision made? I believe it to have been nothing short of racing secretary Pat Pope pandering to Blind Luck’s trainer, Jerry Hollendorfer. He threatened if the weights weren’t right, Blind Luck would not make the trip. Pope obliged, and Delaware got the marquee match-up. At the time I thought Pope was setting a very dangerous precedent. Now I’m sure of it.
Flash forward nine months later, and the simple answer as to why Oaklawn Park will not be able to showcase Havre de Grace in the Apple Blossom can be found in a blog on the Fox Hill Farm website. Rick Porter says, “Larry and I really wanted to defend our title in the Apple Blossom. We were expecting fair weights and when they were released today, Larry called me and we were flabbergasted at the weights. Plum Pretty was the most unexpected but a lot of them were very unfair.”
Seems pretty simple, if not rather lame … The Horse of the Year will not run because she has to give six pounds to last year’s Kentucky Oaks winner, Plum Pretty. But alas, nothing in life is that simple.
Porter went on to say, “We love the competition. Havre de Grace took on Blind Luck six times and ran against the boys in the prestigious Woodward and we didn’t bat an eye at running in the granddaddy of them all, the Classic.” 
It occurs to me that what Porter saying is true. Havre de Grace has not made a career by ducking anyone. Her connections have continually placed her against the top possible competition. That is, until now. There must be more to this decision.
Porter continued, “We have decided one thing though, we will take on any horse and take our defeats when we get them but we won’t let the racing secretaries decide who is going to win the races.”
Now we are getting somewhere. Guess who the racing secretary at Oaklawn Park is? None other than Pat Pope, the same man who made the questionable weight assignments in last year’s Delaware Handicap.
Porter goes on to call out Pope by name a few times later in the blog entry, with no real attempt to mask his distaste for the man’s skill at assigning weights.
I am left to conclude one thing from all of this. Havre de Grace’s connections are not ducking anyone in the Apple Blossom. Nor are they skipping Oaklawn’s big race because she has to give Plum Pretty six pounds. Rather it’s a case of them being upset with a racing secretary pandering to their rival last summer at Delaware Park, and then not returning the favor this spring in the Apple Blossom.
In this case, two wrongs result in only one thing ... nothing but disappointment for the racing fans at Oaklawn Park. 


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Older Comments about Team Havre de Grace is not the only one to blame...

looks to me to be a duck over a petty issue. c'mon larry......stop wussing out!!!
Rates Ruffian a 3 and gets off on the big mare's be-hind.
bellesforever1- the racing secretary is supposed to weigh the horses to finish together. I think he gave them the correct weight spread. If they want to complain that they should have been weighted so they would win, then that is different. But the racing secretary did his job. He is not the one who did not do his job. They were mad that she didn't win. Period. That is why I don;t like their constant whining about it. .
I received his F/B report and do know that all along they have talked about last's years race in DE. I don't believe they are ducking anyone as they have never before but this is personal and they ain't letting go of that bone.It was a whisker win and Pope should not have given in but he did and now HDG folks are saying WTH you did it for BL but you won't do it for Grace.I don't know if it's two wrongs but I do know they can't let it go..and to be honest I don't know if I could either.
Keep in mind that my thesis was not that the Apple Blossom weights were bad or wrong. What I am saying is that Pope was pressured into making questionable weights last summer, and now a grudge is being held.
  • bellesforever1 · I agree..that hurt last year as we can see because never have I heard Larry or Rick become so vocal on weights. · 2017 days ago
If you put your insane ear to the wall of your padded cell, you might hear the faint scratching of your fellow homophobe inmate signaling to you his early release due to hid knowing anything at all about horse racing. Cry me a "stop liking your own comments".
If you put your ear to the wall, you can hear the sewing machine (in the adjacent room) making dresses for the both of them. Rick Porter and Larry Jones, Cry me a river...
Troy Taylor referring to HDG as "the bitch" gets another F-OFF.
2010 Cotillion has zero to do with the grudge or any decisions about the Apple Blossom.
Just Z on his fb page, his bedroom walls, ceiling, wallet photos.
He rated Ruffian a 3.. So Its official hes a tool!
Who is this Troy Taylor.. Pretty annoying. Porter and Jones are playing some games but there real agenda is beating the boys again over the summer and taking another crack at the BCC I think they are just flexing there weight with the HOY to get whats best for her in order for her to peak during her important races
Toy Taylor=Zister and ass.
This jag-off can't take a hint. F-OFF, Troy Taylor. Was that plain enough? And the homophobe liked his own comment. Surprising that his hand would obey that command since it usually refuses him.
Rick Porter is right..
I don't understand the constant nit-picking by Porter over assigned weights. Just accept it and go out prove that you have the best female horse in the U.S. without the drama.
Doesn't Larry Jones occasionally gallop HDG...that's hauling a lot more than 124 pds :D but seriously I agree that 6pds is not extreme given her form and status and those of the other entries. I am interested in hearing how Pope came to his decisions though.
A lot of handicappers will tell you that weight doesn't matter. It does to me, and I do well at the game, and I wouldn't bet Havre de Grace carrying high weight.
What's Porter thinking, they're going to run at equal weights, yeah right? She was horse of the year, has already won this year & Plum Pretty has been struggled a little the last part of the year. 6 pounds seems fair to me.

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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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