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Who's Horse of The Year? We Should Decide!

November 10, 2011 · By Terry Finley · Share

MOUNT LAUREL, NJ. – When the Breeders’ Cup is over, our focus turns to Eclipse Awards and the battle for Horse of the Year. We usually rely on the season finale to clarify year-end honors, but as many have written, the picture seems to be more muddled than ever coming out of this year’s World Championships.

This was the first time since 2006 that West Point Thoroughbreds was not represented by a Breeders’ Cup starter, and only the second time we’ve missed participating since 2005. I have to say, it was a really enjoyable experience to be a fan and spectator for the three days that we were at Churchill Downs. We definitely contributed to the figures that came in from across the world when the event was done – almost $190 million wagered on the 15 races.

After watching the Classic, I think it’s fair to say that Awesome Gem would have had a shot to be in the mix, knowing that Game On Dude ran so well and considering we ran second to him by just half a length one race before in the Goodwood and whooped him in the Lone Star Park Handicap in May. Game On Dude’s performance against Drosselmeyer really flattered our runner. That said, we know we did the right thing by our horse in giving him time off from racing. We think he’ll come back fresh and enthusiastic like he always does, and we look forward to his 2012 campaign.

I don’t have any clue who should be Horse of the Year. Usually you’d like to see one or two that have kind of separated themselves from the pack, but nobody’s really done that this year, and that’s what will make it difficult to choose. We’ll see some of these horses come back and run one more time in an attempt to solidify their credentials. The way it stands right now there are multiple candidates, but if you had to pin me down for a vote today, I’d give it to Havre de Grace.

Here’s another point that’s been mentioned before, but bears repeating – I think we should have some way for fans, owners, and trainers to have a say in voting for the Eclipse Awards. I think it’s unbelievable that the owners and trainers who put up all the money and “sweat equity” have no say in the voting. And let’s face it, the fans are an integral part of the sport.

People say “What about the conflict of interest?” where owners and trainers are concerned, but there are conflicts in every part of business, it’s just how you deal with them. When it comes to the Eclipse Awards, aren’t there conflicts with writers who are based in certain locations or conflicts with racing secretaries from one place or another? So make rules that the owners or trainers can’t vote for their own horses – just like in the NFL, where you can’t vote for anybody on your team for the Pro Bowl. But at least give three major contributing bodies a voice.

What’s your take?

Terry    

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