Race of the Week 2017

Handicapping the Horse of the Year Race

Does Havre de Grace have what it takes for score Horse of the Year?

Havre de Grace (3-1) – Anyone who still does not believe that she is the current Horse of the Year leader, needs to recognize. This marvelous 4-year-old daughter of the ill-fated sire St. Liam, is so close to joining her father as the winner of the ultimate yearly award, she can taste it in her morning oats. A win in the Classic will clinch a win, but obviously that will be her toughest test yet. Even a good losing effort at Churchill Downs could be enough if none of the other top contenders gets it done at the Breeder’s Cup.

Uncle Mo (5-1) – Considering that he has only two wins in four starts this year, it’s hard to imagine that he is one race away from becoming Horse of the Year, but that is exactly what will happen if the son of Indian Charlie wins the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Fresh off a 118 Beyer in winning the one-mile Kelso, Uncle Mo is prepping for the Classic in a most unusual way, but then again his talent is anything but ordinary as well. The only two losses of his career are easily explained considering what he has gone through this season, and if he can handle ten furlongs, he could prove best in America.

Tizway (5-1) – It looked like he was on his way to putting the Older Male division into a stranglehold with impressive wins in the Met Mile and the Whitney, but a recent fever has put all of that in jeopardy. Now questions abound: Will he be ready for the Classic of such a long layoff? Can he carry his speed the 1 ¼ miles at Churchill Downs? If the answers are yes, and as good as he was in those two big wins, you have to consider one of the major threats to win the Classic which would make him Horse of the Year.

Game On Dude (8-1) – He’s by no means at the top of things right now, but with game wins in the Santa Anita Handicap and Goodwood, he is close enough to the leaders in both the Older Male and Horse of the Year race to jump on top with a win in the Classic. He is not the most likely winner of the big race in my estimation, but I have great respect for any horse who can thrive at the taxing distance, has tactical speed, and comes equipped with a heart as big as downtown Louisville.

Flat Out (8-1) – On the one hand he has run very impressive races to easily account for the Suburban and Jockey Club Gold Cup. On the other hand he was clearly unable to handle either Havre de Grace or Tizway in big races at Saratoga. A mediocre effort this year at Churchill also raises concerns, but in the end he has proven to be one of the top older males in the nation, has already won at the distance, and has a stretch running style that has won many a Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Acclamation (8-1) – You would think that five straight graded stakes wins should be enough to have him lower than 8-1 on my board, but I am afraid he may be up against things in Louisville. I suspect his connections will wisely choose the BC Turf over the Classic, and in which case, even a win may be not enough. How well he does should decide Turf Champion between him and Cape Blanco, but he will need help in the Classic if he is to become the winner of both awards.


Cape Blanco (12-1) - Nothing beats perfection, and that is exactly what he did this year in America. Impressive wins in the Man O’ War, and the Arlington Million, and then a courageous victory in the Turf Classic placed him firmly in contention for both the Turf Championship, as well as, Horse of the Year. An injury and subsequent retirement has dropped his chances for the big award to slim, however. Only a meltdown of all the other top contenders would leave him on top, considering his retirement.


Stay Thirsty (12-1) – Was thrust into the lead of the 3-year-old male division with solid scores in the Jim Dandy and Travers, both at Saratoga. Back on a muddy track at Belmont, he was competitive but not quite up to the task of beating older horses in his first try against them. Like all the rest above him, a Classic win, in addition to what he has already done, should be enough to wrest the Horse of the Year title away from his competition. He likes the distance and improvement on the JCGC performance is not out of the question.

Twirling Candy (20-1) – Is undoubtedly one of the most talented horses in the nation, but time is running out on his chances for a 2011 Horse of the Year award. If he does go to the BC Classic, and that seems to be a big if at this point, a victory would probably be just enough to win the big award. If he runs in a different BC race, like the Dirt Mile, then I would say his HoY opportunity will be gone. Regardless of which race his connections choose, he is an exciting horse who is eligible to come up big at the Breeders’ Cup.

Goldikova (20-1) – Her career achievements are nothing short of spectacular, but I do not believe even an unprecedented fourth consecutive Breeders’ Cup Mile win will be enough to take down an American Horse of the Year award.


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Older Comments about Handicapping the Horse of the Year Race...

it will be interesting after the breeders cup weekend. but, don't overlook game on dude in the classic. he can definitely get 10f. and chantal has come into her own as a premier jock.
Havre de Grace is a very nice horse, but she couldn't win against her own sex on her home track, I just don't see her getting 1 1/4 in the BC Classic. It looks like Mo is coming back into form, but 2 1-turn races to prep for the BC doesn't thrill me either. I'm still leaning towards Flat Out, but one horse I'd like to see in the race is Gio Ponti. He's bred for the dirt, 1 1/4 miles is within his scope & he has nothing else to prove on turf, so why not give it a shot!
  • Show All 4 Comments
  • PomDeTerre · I guess you weren't at Saratoga to see her Woodward. She was still cranking into gear at the finish. · 2240 days ago
  • CraigBradshaw · game on dude is one of the few horses here that has run 10f and 2 turns and won. chantal has come into her own on this horse, and could very well end up winning this event. · 2239 days ago
Cape Blanco should definitely get Turf HOY. He beat all comers.
Havre de Grace whether she wins or loses...overall consistent for entire year. No three year old has been a consistent campaigner and winner.
Uncle Mo!
If Frankel comes over for the BC- like Goldikova has done for the past three years- and wins, he's a contender. Otherwise it's solely between Tizway and Grace.
I think they will run Acclamation will run in the classic and he should get more respect for what he has done already. The classic will decide who is horse of the year, let them settle it on the track.
I don't understand why the pull Acclamation out of the Goodwood which had better competition.
Even if Uncle Mo wins the Classic, he will still not win HOY. He just hasn't done enough this year and wouldn't deserve it. Havre de Grace & Acclamation have already done more than he has even without a BC Classic win. However, if Flat out, Tizway or Game On Dude win the Classic, there is your HOY.
There is no arguing that Acclamation has done more than Uncle Mo this year, but if Acclamation runs in the Turf, like I think he will, he is completely at the mercy of what happens in the Classic, as far as the horse of the Year race.
Uncle Mo 5-1 over Acclamation???? come on now thats BS
Ramon, Horse of the Year is voted on by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, Daily Racing Form and the National Turf Writers Association.
Agreed Rossington
is there like a page somewhere cuz i dont know where to do that!
how do u vote for horses to be horse of the year?
Because of his unexpected retirement on Monday, Cape Blanco's not gonna gone get his chance to pursue 2011 HOY in the BC Turf. But I believe he would've won the BC Turf if he had got to run, and would've been at the top of all the Eclipse Award voters list for 2011 HOY. As it still stand's, I firmly believe Cape Blanco should at the very least win the Eclipse Award at 2011 Turf HOY. Shipping across the Atlantic from Ireland to America and winning the G1 Man O' War, Arlington Million, and Joe Hirsch read a lot stronger than Acclamation's G1-G2 turf win's against softer competition, having never left California, IMO.
If Havre De Grace should win the BC Classic? I don't think there's any question she'd be named 2011 HOY.
I'd rank them as Havre de Grace - Acclamation - Tizway - Game on Dude - Cape Blanco - Flat Out - Uncle Mo as of today
I think your odds are about right, although I don't think Stay Thirsty or Twirling Candy would be Horse of the Year even with a Classic win, and Uncle Mo might be the best horse in the country, but I am not ready for a Horse of the Year with only one Grade One win.
This year a filly's going to get it done in the dirt.

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