Female race horses are generally not as fast as their male counterparts, especially at the longer distances needed to establish themselves in the handicap division. In recent years we have seen a streak of unusually talented females in Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, and now Havre de Grace.
It is certainly not outside the realm of possibility now that Havre de Grace has beaten older males in taking the Grade 1 Woodward. She still needs to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic to distinguish herself from formidable rivals such as Tizway and even up and coming three year old Stay Thirsty.
If Tizway wins the Jockey Club Gold Cup, it may be hard to deny him Horse of the Year as long as he runs respectably in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. The Gold Cup is a prestigious and coveted Grade 1 race, and a win will give Tizway his third Grade 1 of the year.
Suppose Havre de Grace wins the Breeders’ Cup Classic by a length over Tizway who gets second. Then Havre de Grace will have two Grade 1 wins over older males, and Tizway will have three and one second place finish in a Grade 1. It will be harder to make the case for her than if Tizway finishes up the track and just has a bad day. Even if that ends up being the case, a strong argument can still be made for Tizway as the frontrunner for Horse of the Year.
Sometimes second place finishes are overlooked but let’s not pretend that seconds don’t count for anything. A second or even third place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Classic is a noteworthy accomplishment, so Tizway only needs to win the Gold Cup and finish in the money in the Breeders’ Cup to get my vote.
This should be kept in mind when weighing Stay Thirsty’s credentials as well, as we need to take into account his second place finish in the Belmont Stakes earlier this year. If Stay Thirsty takes the Gold Cup he probably only needs a second place finish to be a strong contender for year end honors (provided Tizway doesn’t finish first)
We cannot extol the talents of Havre de Grace without talking about Blind Luck. These two are clearly the two best older females in racing this year. The margin of victory in their previous meeting in the Delaware Handicap was so close that to say that one is better than the other is pure speculation. Blind Luck has finished ahead of her four out of six times they have faced each other, each time the distance between them being very narrow.
It looks as if these two will not renew their rivalry come Breeders’ Cup time as Blind Luck is being targeted toward the Ladies’ Classic and Havre de Grace toward the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Havre de Grace has to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic and convincingly with the winner of the Gold Cup, be it Tizway or Stay Thirsty finishing well behind her, in order to take Horse of the Year.
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