A few interesting comments below and such on horses, and their place in history. And so on.
On this blog, one thing I have never done is cheerlead for the sake of cheerleading. There are plenty of sports stories and websites that do, but I never have prescribed to it. I guess it does not fit my personality. When Ken Warkentin (the horse not the race caller) went undefeated at two there was a lot of cheerleading. I was not one, simply because he did not look like a World Champion to me, and we often see two year old trotters win almost all their starts (in fact we have seen this many times at three as well, including last year). You will not find any posts about those type horses on the blog.
Last year when Always a Virgin and Tell All were winning some races I thought their "battle" was not worthy of speaking of. They were two decent horses, and one of them (Tell All) was clearly better than the other. It was a non-story to me. We leave these things to the harness press to promote.
I only get excited about horses that capture imagination, and are generational.
For those who think I am "too hard on Dewey" I hope that explains it. I have seen horses like him before - virtually every year in the 3YO trotting division - so to me he is a non-story.
I guess this is explained in last years post about the '07 Horse of the Year voting.
When I wrote about that, my philosophy is the same today:
I think 2007 was one of the best years in recent memory to watch harness racing. We truly had some super horses to watch. The short list for HOY candidates is outstanding: Deweycheatumnhowe, Snow White, Donato Hanover and Somebeachsomewhere all provided us with thrills and dazzling performances. It is rare to see such quality horseflesh in several divisions nowadays.
We often see 2YO colt trotters go undefeated or near it, like Donato, Tom Ridge, Cantab Hall, or even this years other 2YO trotting force, Lear Jetta. They seem to be simply more mature than their counterparts and can toy with some fields. Dewey fits that mold. He won with authority, but not eye-popping authority making me think he is an all-time great. I like him and loved watching him, but he didn’t give me chills.
Somebeach might be another story. He crushed his competition unlike any 2YO pacer of recent memory. In the Metro final he scorched to the half in 54.2 and the three quarters in 121.4, in a display of speed rarely seen. He came home strongly and demolished quality animals like Moon Beam and our 2YO Breeders Crown champion Santanna Blue Chip. HOY should be reserved for greatness, and he fits that mold. If you believe that Mohawk is close to a second slower than a rock-hard Woodbine surface, he might have gone 48 and change and been close to setting an all-age track record at the Toronto speedway. This doesn’t happen every day. He is an amazing animal and worthy of getting the nod in Canada.
Donato had a great season. He was 11 for 13 and he made a whopping $2.35M. He started off the year looking good, but perhaps not great, and some were left wondering if he could dust competition like a great horse should. He delivered. The Canadian Trotting Classic elim was a thing of beauty. His world record in the Futurity was dominating. Late in the year, however, he faltered and lost twice to Arch Madness. His 13 starts were fairly light in terms of historical trips to the gate for a 3YO trotter. Glidemaster and Majestic Son last year for example raced more. Overall a very, very good year.
As for Snow White, what can you say? She might be the greatest trotter – not filly trotter, not two year old trotter – but trotter that has ever graced the track. She accomplished in 13 starts what many horses can only hope to accomplish in a lifetime. In her 11 wins, she won by a combined 60 lengths. She set a 152.4 record in Lexington, and she did it by ten, with a three wide move under a death grip. She came her last three panels in 123.3. To borrow a phrase, all year she moved like a "tremendous machine”. We are not judging a 2YO like Tom Ridge, or Donato, or others who dominated. This filly is out of their league in terms of 2YO performance, in my opinion.
On Breeders Crown night, she came to play yet again. She trotted in 155.1 off a 57.1 half. The very next race, Deweycheatumnhowe trotted 157.2 off of the exact same half. How many times do we see a 2YO trotting filly race go two seconds faster than the colts? Later on that evening, we saw Pampered Princess and Southwind Serena battle in a 155.2 clocking, or one length slower than Snow White’s mile. It is not unreasonable to assume that she would have won, or been close in the 3YO trotting filly division! Remarkable! That would be tantamount to Donato Hanover, last year, beating Glidemaster and Majestic Son as a 2YO.
"Doesn't happen every day" is the comment that hopefully explains how I judge the greats of this game. It is not that I do not like Dewey, or Donato, or Glidemaster. Not at all, they are fantastic horses within their divisions. But I will not cheerlead them because I have seen the movie several times this decade, and to me they are simply not special. There is a good chance that we will see another Dewey or Glidemaster next year, or the year after. We might not see another Somebeachsomewhere for a quarter century.
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