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Breeders' Cup 2017

Delaware Handicap Point - Counterpoint

Havre de Grace and Blind Luck duel in the Delaware Handicap
Horse Racing Nation bloggers Joe DePaolo, maestro of Fast Times at Belmont Park, and Laura Pugh, the mistress of Dead Heat Debates, slug it out over which filly will be tops in the Delaware Handicap!

Dead Heat Debates

Joe DePaolo:

Blind Luck is a wonderful filly. She’s got incredible heart. She’s won two consecutive races - including a Grade I in her last start. Her closing kick does not quite rival Zenyatta’s, but it is potent enough to evoke memories of that all-time great. She has beaten top competition on both coasts over the past two years, and has ducked no one. There is nothing about her that isn’t truly admirable.


Blind Luck doesn’t stand a chance on Saturday. My outstanding, knowledgeable colleague is sure to use a good portion of this piece’s first paragraph in an effort to discredit its second. She may also cite Blind Luck’s triumphs in last year’s Delaware Oaks and Alabama Stakes as reasons why she’ll prevail this weekend in the Delaware Handicap. In both the Oaks and the Alabama, Blind Luck conquered her chief rival - Havre De Grace - and in the former, she did it over the very same track where the two will once again  meet this Saturday.


That’s all well and good. Because Blind Luck still doesn’t stand a chance on Saturday. 


Havre De Grace, over the course of the past six months, has become a bona fide monster. In March, she took the measure of Blind Luck by nearly four lengths in the Azeri Stakes at Oaklawn Park. This was an eye-opening result, given that the previous battles between the two had always been so close. “Grace” followed up that highly impressive score by capturing a Blind Luck-less edition of the Apple Blossom Handicap, also at Oaklawn, back in April. She beat a stubborn, determined foe in Switch, and she also did it coming from behind over a track that appeared to be favoring speed.


Havre De Grace’s final times in those Oaklawn races (1:42.03 and 1:42.19 respectively) were sterling. The Beyer speed figures she earned for both efforts exceeded 100. She owned Oaklawn this spring, and she owned Blind Luck. Her four year old season has seen her mature. She was a horse who tended to be a little green in the stretch a year ago. She would look around as she was bounding down the lane. This year, she has become a pro. Under new trainer Larry Jones, Havre De Grace has worked out the kinks, and become a superstar. She stamped those two top efforts at Oaklawn with an easy jog in last month’s Obeah Stakes, a race in which jockey Gabriel Saez didn’t move a muscle. 


The ease with which Havre De Grace captured the Obeah suggested that if she were to lose on Saturday, it wouldn’t be for a dislike of the local strip. No need introducing such hypotheticals. She won’t lose. She’s that good. She’s the best horse, of either gender, in training right now. She’ll show it on Saturday.

Laura Pugh:

I have made it quite public on HRN that when it comes to the possible Blind Luck vs Havre de Grace match up, in this weekend’s Delaware Handicap, I firmly believe that Havre de Grace will be the one to emerge victorious. Today, however, I play the devil’s advocate and say to you that Blind Luck can indeed vanquish the superbly talented Larry Jones trainee.


Blind Luck was a force to be reckoned with in 2010. The small chestnut lass may have been lacking in stature but she made up for that with an incredible will to win. She won all of her races in 2010 while making her incredible, nail-biting stretch rallies. First was her debut in the Las Virgenes, where shenosed Evening Jewel in the shadow of the wire. She also denied that rival the Kentucky Oaks by the same scant margin.


It was to be in her next start, the Delaware Oaks, where Blind Luck and Havre de Grace would first meet. That was the beginning of a rivalry that saw Blind Luck the narrow victor in three of their four meetings. This season has been far different for the two fillies. Havre de Grace has won their only meeting this year, beating Blind Luck soundly in the Azeri Stakes. What I wonder, is how much that win really means?


Blind Luck was coming into the Azeri off of two straight losses that even I would agree, were due to a super-souped, newly installed dirt surface at Santa Anita. It was after those two failed attempts that Blind Luck was sent to Oaklawn where she would be defeated by Havre de Grace. My question is was Blind Luck truly prepared for that meeting? I understand that she was entering off of two previous races, but on a track like Santa Anita’s new dirt surface, how much fitness can a horse gain?


The argument must also be made that Blind Luck was simply a rusty horse. After such a tough campaign in 2010, she received a brief freshening that spanned from early November to mid-January. Even the mighty Curlin, showed some signs of rust when starting in the Haskell Invitational, after a rigorous Triple Crown. However, after a second move, this time to Churchill Downs, she seemed to regain her form. She recovered from a stumble out of the gate to nail the Ladies Classic Champion, Unrivaled Belle, by a neck in the La Troienne. She then shipped back to California to take the Vanity Handicap, giving her competition up to 10lbs.


Shipping back to Delaware Park, where the rivalry first began, one can say Blind Luck now holds the edge. She has a win over Havre de Grace over this very track and at this distance. Blind Luck is back on her game and will be looking for revenge.



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Older Comments about Delaware Handicap Point - Counterpoint...

Larry Jones is Delaware-based. Come to my house, is where he's coming from. Let the battle begin.
Hey guys and gals, the owners of these find young ladies are giving us what Rachel and Zen's owners didn't. So let's not turn this East vs West rivalry into the charade that happened with R and Z. I love BL, i think she has a huge heart in such a small frame and also has a rags to riches story that began in a Calder maiden claimer. I don't have no reason to knock HDG. She represents the east just fine. One sticking point: Why doest the western horse always have to ship east and not vice versa?
Bllind loves to ship accross the country! I read a story where Hollendorfer says she gets real excited when the horse van pulls up, kind of like a dog gets when he knows he's going for a ride in a car.
They are both Fillies of Excellence...My choice is Havre de Grace!
I say either one can win. Blind Luck looked great in her last outing. Wondering if she can pull a repeat. Neither one is better than the other.
I'll be rooting for Blind Luck even though I think Havre de Grace is in the best shape of her life right now and has the advantage. Go Blind Luck!!
I have a feeling Blind Luck just might win this one. . . .
i would like to see these 2 horses battle it out on 3 different types of surfaces......turf, synthetic, and dirt. it is kind of a touch of ali-frazier.
I'll root for the REAL underdog--Life at Ten! Come back safe all...
I think that Havre de Grace may be the better horse. But I like to root for the underdog, so I'm going with Blind Luck.
Excellent arguments in favor of each! ...But I'm still a Blind Luck devotee!
I love them both but Ill take HDG for the win
I'm going for blind luck.
Something tells me this is Sunday Silence/Easy Goer all over again. No matter how many times Blind Luck has finished ahead of Havre de Grace and no matter how many more Eclipse Awards Blind Luck gets there will always be people that think that HdG is the superior horse.
  • dubby30 · You are correct NYV, Blind Luck losing by almost 4 lengths last out to HDG shows everyone that BL is the superior horse, makes absolutely no sense, but its funny to read. · 2294 days ago
you're right fdf47, Life At Ten is also an excelent runner... But I just love the "game" that those girls make...+.+ Blind Luck comes from the back to try to catch the awesome Havre de Grace... Can't wait to see if she does that again! Hope soo (:
I'm so torn between these two mares I don't know which one I'd rather see win!! Let's not forget Life At Ten is in there too, with a feather light impost...this may become HER breakthrough race this year...if racing was perfect, we'd see a dead heat between BL and Grace with Life at Ten just a neck in 3rd...but racing isn't perfect, so I beleive I'll be rooting for the mighty mite, Blind Luck...I love that Gomez is aboard her now, and beleive his strong way of finishing is jjst what the little mare will need on Saturday.
Havre de Grace!
Gonna be a SHOWDOWN!!!

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