Point/Counterpoint: Havre De Grace vs. My Miss Aurelia

Another Take on HOTY
Handicapper's Corner blogger Jasen Mangrum has a unique take on Horse of the Year - My Miss Aurelia. Meanwhile, Managing Editor Brian Zipse says Havre de Grace already has HOTY in her back pocket.

Dead Heat Debates

Jasen Mangrum:

There’s is no question that the race for the 2011 Eclipse Award for Horse of the Year is one of the most contentious in years. No 2-year-old filly has ever won the award since its modern inception in 1971, not even Ruffian or Eliza, but there isn’t the presence of Forego or A.P. Indy this year. The landscape is so muddled that it’s time to change the trend.  My Miss Aurelia is the most deserving of 2011’s HOTY award.


In fact, this year’s race for HOTY is just as wide open as the last time a 2-year-old won the sport’s top honor, Favorite Trick in 1997. That year, champion sprinter, Smoke Glacken and champion 3-year-old, Silver Charm did not compete in the Breeders’ Cup. Skip Away won the Breeders’ Cup Classic, but the Older Male division was a virtual dead heat between he and Formal Gold. Granted, Amazombie won the BC Sprint and will be champion sprinter in 2011, but I’m starting to get a little déjà vu… In my opinion, Animal Kingdom is this year’s 3-year-old champion, but didn’t race in the Breeders’ Cup, and the only win of significance for Drosselmeyer was his Classic victory, and the rest of the older males (Game On Dude, Tizway, Flat Out, First Dude, etc.) have taken turns beating each other throughout the year.


My Miss Aurelia was the only horse to dominate her division all year, AND win on Breeders’ Cup weekend. She thoroughly trounced her competition in all races by winning her 4 starts by a combined 10+ lengths, leaving no doubt that she is the clear cut champion of her division. I will concede the fact that she ran against restricted competition (2-year-old fillies), and Brian will try to convince you that Harve de Grace is just as dominant, but that just isn’t the case.


In her 6 races this year leading up to the Breeders’ Cup Classic, Harve de Grace only ran against 2 horses, Switch and Royal Delta, who hit the board Breeders’ Cup weekend. Admittedly, that might have changed had Blind Luck had not been retired. Even after she defeated males in the Woodward, Flat Out failed to hit the board as the Classic favorite in the Classic, when a disappointing 5th and then followed that performance with a subpar 3rd place finish in the Clark Handicap.


There’s no denying Harve de Grace had a nice year, but she wasn’t dominant like other “fairer sex” Horse of the Year winners. Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta aside, other female HOY winners were Azeri (2002) and Lady’s Secret (1986). Both of them had truly dominant seasons AND won Breeders’ Cup races. To help their causes, back in ’86 and ’02 longshots (Skywalker and Volponi) captured the BC Classic. This is also very reminiscent of 2011 with Drosselmeyer’s upset BC Classic victory.


The fact of the matter is Harve de Grace didn’t impose her will like previous female HOY winners, all male nominees are Swiss cheese with all the holes in their resumes, and My Miss Aurelia is the most deserving horse for the award male or female. Though she may not be as fast as Ruffian or Eliza, Favorite Trick wasn’t as fast as Skip Away, but he was the most dominant. And this year, My Miss Aurelia, without question, has been nothing but dominant.

Brian Zipse:

There’s is no doubt that the race for the 2011 Eclipse Award for Horse of the Year is one of the weakest in years … as far as contentious, I’m not so sure. Havre de Grace stands a bit for me. While many of the candidates that popped up through the year, fell by the wayside as the season went on, there was only one horse that was able to sustain her perch at, or near, the top of America’s racing landscape throughout all of 2011. She may have fallen a bit short in the Classic, but there is no doubt in my mind that she had the best overall year. While, I am not opposed to having a two-year-old filly as HOTY, they would have to prove themselves very special to overcome the lack of competition faced. Let’s be clear, in no way did My Miss Aurelia have the type of year of star juvenile fillies of the past such as Ruffian, Landaluce, or Princess Rooney.


You make an interesting comparison, Jasen, but let me remind of the type of season that Favorite Trick put together. Like My Miss Aurelia, he was an undefeated winner of the Breeders’ Cup; however, he won eight races compared to the four of My Miss Aurelia. He won seven stakes, while she only won three. I think comparing her season to his is a bit of a stretch. I would have been more agreeable if you had compared her to say War Pass or Vindication (nice juveniles who really had no shot at an HOTY award.)


I am in total agreement that My Miss Aurelia is the clear cut juvenile filly champion, but I am not sure why you say she dominated her division “all year,” when her first race was not until July 22, and all she had done until early October was a maiden win and a photo finish victory in the Adirondack. By that time, Havre de Grace had already won four graded stakes, including becoming only the second female ever to win the Woodward, and lost by a nose to a champion in her other start. As far as the relative dominance of each, I’m not sure Grace needs to be as dominant, given that she ran in many of the year’s most important races.


I hope you are not comparing the horses that each of these fillies faced this year, because it is strictly no contest. You only need to see what Grace did when she got a perceived breather in the Grade 1 Beldame, dismantling Royal Delta to the tune of 8 ¼ lengths. We all know what Royal Delta did in the Ladies’ Classic without Havre de Grace to worry about.


Havre de Grace is not as good as Lady’s Secret, Azeri, Rachel Alexandra, or Zenyatta … but this year she does not need to be. All she needed to be was the best of 2011, and with a season full of running in topnotch races, while winning 5 out of 7, with a narrow 2nd, and a very respectable 4th in the Classic, she was just that.


Clear cut best juvenile filly does not get it done in most years, and I’m afraid that is true once again this year. No BC race of 2011 was given a lower Beyer number than the victory of My Miss Aurelia, and the Ragozin numbers agree. Where do you think she would have finished in the BC Juvenile against the males? No better than 4th is my belief. Meanwhile, the only knock against Havre de Grace is that she finished 4th in the Classic, but at least she tried to win the biggest of races, rather than taking the easier road in the Ladies’ Classic. For the majority of the 2011, Havre de Grace was successful in those big races. She’s your Horse of the Year.


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Older Comments about Point/Counterpoint: Havre De Grace vs. My Miss Aurelia ...

I think it ridiculous to even consider My Miss Aurelia for HOY. Both Acclamation and Havre De Grace did more on the race track. While she won't win, I think Stephanie's Kitten is a very worthy contender vs. Aurelia. The only 2 year olds to win HOY in my lifetime were Secretariat and Favorite Trick and both had vastly superior years than My Miss Aurelia.
if you are going to give horse of the year to a two year old give it to hansen. i don't think either girl deserves it.
No disrespect to Blind Luck intended i'm sure and it does not read that way either. Based solely on this year it is stil IMO edge Blind Luck on head to head based on her win at HDG's home track over the American Classic Distance of 10F. I do believe 10F is important for an American champion, but in defense? of HDG, while defeated, she did race 10F VS Blind Luck, not merely survive at the distance ala her BC effort. Personallly, i felt the Woodward was a wholly uninspiring painfully slow race. That said, felt her effort in the Beldame was a stylistic thing of beauty, geared down, ears pricked, good horse in her wake. Not my flavor of the week, but still an pretty elite talent.
A 2y.o. as HOY? Nah!
2YO Filly winning HOTY would be a shocker. She would need a remarkable year... Aurelia is talented, and she had a good year... but remarkable? Also, don't forget Havre de Grace did win after her Woodward score. She beat a nice filly in Royal Delta too.
That got cut off somehow. It gets embarrassing for all to keep pointing out that HOTY is for one year.
shadow, Hope you don't take this as disrespect towards Blind Luck, but any award for this year should be based on this year's races, in which BL and HDG each won one race over the other. It'
a 2yr old that has not gone through a campaign yet against a one that has and has proven her worth are you kidding,but Blind Luck is the best that was out there.lind
a 2yr old that has not gone through a campaign yet against a one that has and has proven her worth are you kidding,but Blind Luck is the best that was out there.lind
Havre De Grace for HOTY..her win in the Woodward and Game on Dude losing the Classics makes her the choice for me..
HDG would have a much easier case for HOY if it was conclusively determined that she was even the best older mare in America, much less the best horse. Obviously, the year did not end well for Blind Luck but she held a 4-2 career head to head advantage and beat HDG twice at her home track where HDG had every possible advantage in Same stall, same routine, same track she trains on every day. While she may not be an uber controversial winner, due diligence requires all angles be considered and IMO, the Blind Luck rivalry is convieniently getting swept under the rug.
There is nothing "hands down" about any of this. There is no particular absolute standout. HDG did well, although nothing like Zenyatta or Rachel in the previous seasons, but her competition for HOY doesn't run as deep. Acclamation finished the year in the west with an impressive run, beating the likes of Bourbon Bay, Champ Pegasus, Caracortado, Jeranimo, and Twirling Candy. Cape Blanco took his share G1's while beating the likes of Dean's Kitten and a tired Gio Ponti. My Miss Aurelia? Why not, even though Hansen, Union Rags, and Creative Cause ran the same distance in a much faster time in their BC race the day after. Just to reiterate, there's nothing hands-down about any of it.
I have said for a while, Acclamation won’t win HOY because he won’t even win his division eclipse award, that will go to Cape Blanco easy, his races on the east in the TOP turf races in American vault him way above Acclamation who defeated the likes of Falcon Rock and Haimish Fly on his way to being another regional Champion. On the flip side HDG took on all comers, I find it interesting that Ann Maree makes comments without even having indication of facts before posting, but some people just post things I guess just to post things, but for the records the Personal Ensign is a 1 ¼ mile race, but considering the fact that 1 horse from the West only took on the 1 ¼ distance twice in her career while winning 50% of those races I am not sure there should be a knock against any horse that runs primarily in 9 furlong races considering that horse from the west ran in 8.5 furlong races the majority of her career. And while we’re on the topic of running and hiding, let’s keep in mind the races that were consistently contested by that mare, the Santa Margarita, Vanity, Clement L. Hirsch, and Lady’s Secret were allowance type races that her connections entered her in 3 straight years, while ducking the more important, S A Handicap, HW Gold Cup, Pac Classic and Goodwood. Rachel on the other hand ran in the Preakness, Haskell, Oaks, and Woodward. Hard to knock the filly asked to do it all compared to the older more mature mare who ducked and never ran in 1 top California race during her career. Bring facts to the table and we can talk, but as long as misguided opinions are posted all the rest of us can do is laugh. At You!!!
  • Show All 3 Comments
  • medomoreno · Saying that Acclamation "defeated the likes of Falcon Rock and Haimish Fly" [sic] is akin to saying that HDG "defeated the likes of Tiz Miz Sue and Sweet · 2173 days ago
  • medomoreno · Saying that Acclamation "defeated the likes of Falcon Rock and Haimish Fly" [sic] is akin to saying that HDG defeated the likes of Tiz Miz Sue and Sweet N Sour Nina; although accurate, it is purposefully misleading, which does seem to fall in line with the tenor of your post. · 2173 days ago
brian.........havre de grace was 0 for 3 at the classic distance, whereas dude was one for 3, and beat better horses. and, in case anyone forgot, he also thrashed her head to head. he had the best of her that whole race. she never threatened him. she had an admirable campaign, but she lost to him. sorry, but she has never come close to winning a breeders cup race. if and when she wins or comes close in a bc race, she can be argued. otherwise, imho, it's more east coast bias.
Havre de Grace is the 2011 HOY, hands down. I like My Miss Aurelia, but did she beat the colts in a race? Havre de Grace did, in the Woodward!! So, according to the HOY guidelines, Havre de Grace is the winner.
Harve de Grace is Horse of the Year in My Opinion and pretty much everybody elses, and I do not htink that My Miss Aurelia is a "Clear Cut" Winner of her division as many say. She was the most dominant on "Dirt" which is the dominant surface in this country, but Stepahnie's Kitten Won Two Major Races on Two Different Surfaces to put her in contention for the award as well. While I do know that My Miss Aurelia will win the Award, I just don't believe Stephanie's Kitten should be disregarded and forgotten at what she has accomplished this year as well as Wemissfrankie in California.
I agree with you Brian..she did more than most and did step out of her division and win..She also went to the Classic and did not exactly run up the track.My Miss had a great year too but not like Grace..just not enough there yet.
Just click on your username to find all of your past comments at your profile page, as long as none were deleted for being unacceptable.
I see one you made 15 hrs ago...it here.

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