California Chrome won at Del Mar yesterday, trying turf for the first time. He was very impressive.
In the TVG, Sweet Lou - the sport's most dominant pacer - won easily, as dominant has he has been for some time.
California Chrome lasted the entire year at a high level, winning early fast, and late fast, on a new surface. He was only a couple of lengths from a Triple Crown, which makes his late season fitness and sharpness something not seen very often. As o_crunk put it on twitter, usually early season three year old stars are only found late in the year "on milk cartons." He won six races in nine tries in what can be described as a throwback type season.
Sweet Lou has won 11 of 19, set track record after track record, won ten in a row at one point, all in the hardest division to win races in - the older "handicap" division. It's not 1990 anymore, you have to go fast every race, and there are no easy ones for older pacers. O_crunk's words fit well here too, because a lot of older pacers are only found on milk cartons at the end of the year. 11 of 19 in this day and age is spectacular in this division.
In thoroughbred racing, Grade I's mean everything to many, and perfection is often trumpeted. Main Sequence, the talented turf horse of Graham Motion, has won four of four races, and they were big ones. Right now he feels like the favorite, especially with the east coast crew.
In harness racing, right now Lou is not the favorite either. The fans and some see the perfect two year old record of Jk She'salady and say "she has never been beaten, while Lou lost some races, so she's a slam dunk". The voters may agree, despite this sport, and thoroughbred racing, almost never giving Horse of the Year to a two year old. The division is not deep, two year olds can get on a roll. We've seen in both harness and the thoroughbreds, many, many two year olds go undefeated or near undefeated. Great two year olds like Artsplace and Somebeachsomewhere barely even registered a vote.
What we have here is two horses who have raced often, put their record on the line, have taken on most of the best horses in their midst, and have won many races, but weren't perfect. Against them are a thoroughbred horse who raced an abbreviated schedule - a more modern type season - and won out, and a two year old who was undefeated, like several before her were. In both sports', perfection is always something that captivates voters, especially if done at a high level.
That might be somewhat curious. Fans of both sports' lament that horses do not race enough nowadays, but then we give abbreviated schedules the hardware. A mixed message at best.It will be very interesting to see which way the votes in both sports' go.
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