Saturday, July 18, 2009

How Good is Muscle Hill?

Muscle Hill won the Dancer last night at the Meadowlands with a statuesque Brian Sears in the racebike, in 152.1. This race will serve as a prep for the Hambo elims in two weeks.

For this, and any race when speaking about a horse's place in history, we have to look at the past, and what others have done thus far into their careers. One of the things that the public tends to overlook is the final result - wins and losses - rather than how a horse wins and loses, and what competition he is beating, or being defeated by.

Muscle Hill's record is clearly defined. He has only lost once, and it was in his first start:

M $39,750 6 7/11H 7°/8 6°/5H 4/2 2/NK 1:58.4 27.3

He went to the back, the field crawled, and he stormed home in 27.3 with a fast last half, where he had to go around traffic. He had no shot, but still almost won. When he won the following week with a 55.4 back half (pretty much unheard of for a 2 year old trotter in July), handicappers were not surprised.

He has won every race since in dominant fashion, and by my count has seen the whip about three times since last July.

Other trotters have been undefeated, and with a hype machine in full-force, have gotten as much or more press than Muscle Hill. But those trotters were not Muscle Hill. Not even close.

Last night's Dancer represents the early season for trotters. Let's check what two undefeated types did versus Muscle Hill.

Donato Hanover:

3 2°/1 1/1H 1/1H 1/3H 1/1 1:54.2 28.2

He won in 54.2 with a last quarter of 28.2 under the whip.

Deweycheatumnhowe:

1 1/1T 1/1T 1/2 1/2T 1/3 1:53.2 27.4

From the rail he took an easy lead, had an easy half, and came home in 27.4 under urging.

Muscle Hill last night:

1 1/2H 1/1H 1/2 1/3Q 1/6 1:52.1 27.3

As easy a win as one would ever see, and done so under no urging. Not even a chirp from driver Brian Sears. In fact, as the picture above shows, the lines were tight.

In addition, Muscle Hill is not beating up on everyday competition. Federal Flex (who he is yet to meet this year), sold for a huge sum last year and looks to be at this point comparable to a lot of the trotting stars the last few years. Explosive Matter's trainer called him the best trotter he has been associated with. There are others capable of 153 speed, where almost every year at this point there are but one or two.

How good can he be? He has clearly not shown us a bottom. When Dewey and Donato went to the midwest on the red dirt, or at Duquion, they cut about two seconds off their times at the Meadowlands. If that holds, Muscle Hill should be able to shave perhaps a second off the world record. That would mean a 149 and change mile.

It is all in the future and as we know as race fans or horse owners, it can all change tomorrow. However, for the question "How good is Muscle Hill?" at this point in racing history it might not be premature to call this horse the most talented sophomore trotter of the modern age.

3 comments:

Pacingguy said...

Muscle Hill is truly the big trotter this year though I will wait until he meets Federal Flex before I crown him the king.

The reason Muscle Hill has not gotten the credit is that before last night he had only two starts this year and that was in NJSS company.

I think Muscle Hill is a standout this year because the 3yo colt trotting division is so weak (IMO). Quite honsetly, the 3yo trotting fillies are a very deep and competitive division, but unfortunately, since they can't cover 120 mares a year, they get little coverage.

Pull the Pocket said...

Weak?

There were three world records set by two year old trotters last year. Six colts trotted in 155 and change and quicker. For comparison, Donato Hanover trotted in 155 flat for a mark, a horse who almost won horse of the year as a 2YO with no one quicker than 56, Cantab Hall, trotted in 156.1, with one trotter faster than 157.

This is a fabulous group of talented trotters if you look at independent measures. Greg Peck is absolutely right. If it was a normal year Mr. Cantab would probably be the Hambo favorite with a 53 mark. This year he is not even a footnote.

PTP

ITP said...

Crazed wouldn't even be in the top 10 3yo trotters this year.

Muscle Hill -800 vs Dewey

Muscle Hill -1500 vs Donato