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Harness Polls and Thoroughbred Polls

There are many differences in Harness racing and Thoroughbred racing. One of which, is the polls, which start to signal how people feel about Horse of the Year voting.

In the runners, Game on Dude and his 5 for 5 record lie atop the poll, while last year's Horse of the Year Wise Dan is a close second. Princess of Sylmar, an absolutely brilliant filly who beat a top older mare in her last, toils in third. If you ask ten people if Princess of Sylmar should be considered for Horse of the Year, the answer is usually no, accompanied by "she has to beat the boys" or something along those lines. Being brilliant for her age and sex, and beating the best older mare in training, simply is not enough for many.

Conversely, we have the Hambletonian Poll in harness racing. This week, as in the previous several weeks, the poll topper is three year old trotting filly Bee A Magician. Bee A Magician has not been beaten, but she has not tried the best at all times, nor has she beaten boys, or older mares. But like Princess of Sylmar, a lot of people think she could, and could've won the Hambletonian this year. As well, like Princess of Sylmar, she looks a lot better than many three year old fillies the sport has seen, barring a few freaks.

Thoroughbred racing rewards colts, and have for some time. If Game on Dude wins out, no matter if his division is good or bad, with short fields that are cakewalks or not, he will probably be Horse of the Year. If Wise Dan, who a lot of people think is putting the word cake in cakewalk this season wins out, and Game on Dude loses a race, he'll likely win. They both can win Horse of the Year doing absolutely nothing special, or beating no one special. Princess of Sylmar has to do something doubly, or near-impossibly special (like win the Breeders Cup Classic - something that only one mare has ever done in its history) to somehow vault those beasts who have the apparent edge of being born with testicles.

I am on the fence that Bee A Magician should be ahead of Captaintreacherous in the harness poll, but in a way I am glad she is. Rewarding brilliance in an age, sex or gait, and using it as a measuring stick when looking at others in different divisions is a good part of the sport.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Look to Blame as evidence colts are the be-all-and-end-all. It was a close vote with Zenyatta.

Blame is on no one's top 25 list of the best handicap horses the last 20 years. He even lost to his own kind in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. Meanwhile, Zenyatta is on every one's top 3 or 4 list of the last twenty five years, never lost to her own kind, and almost beat Blame in the Classic, where anyone with a modicum of handicapping chops could see Blame got a perfect trip.

There are still dozens of turf writers who think Blame was robbed. Why..........because he is a colt, and voting for colts for horse of the year is what is expected.

RR