Friday, June 01, 2012
Mid-year Night’s Dream
By Brendan O'Meara/@BrendanOMeara
Hard to believe it, but 2012 is halfway done. Half empty? Nah, let’s go with half full … though it is half empty if you were to look at it literally. Nonetheless, it’s one of those times where it’s fun to see who are our mid-year MVPs.
This could, in and of itself, be premature. If I’ll Have Another wins the Triple Crown in little over a week, he’s Horse of the Year. There cannot be an argument against it, though I’m sure there will be. What scenarios could be in place to unseat the 12th Triple Crown winner in the history of horse racing?
He has three more starts and finishes last, last, last? Bodemeister wins the Haskell, Travers, and Breeders’ Cup Classic?
Since I’ll Have Another hasn’t won the TC yet, I’d go with Shackleford for the mid-year Eclipse. After his electric win in the Churchill Downs Stakes on the Derby undercard, he followed that up with the Grade 1 Met Mile setting Fabulous Strike-fractions. Shackleford is proving tough to beat due to his classy front-end spend. Nothing cheap about this speed at seven-eighths to a mile. I’d like to see this horse keep sprinting with races like the Forego, Vosburgh and the BC Dirt Mile.
I wrote back, “!”
The combined losing margin for Caleb’s Posse this year could fit into a Snickers wrapper. The problem with deep closers is traffic and not staying close enough to a speed ball, especially when that speed isn’t cheap. Still, it must be irritating to be second best with speed figures like that leaping off the page.
“These two have had a good rivalry,” trainer Dale Romans said. “It’s their fourth time against each other, and they’re 2-2. Caleb’s Posse is a great horse, and it’s a good rivalry. Let’s see each other again. It was the race of the year, and it’s exciting to have been part of it, win, lose, or draw, with all of those good horses. And it lived up to its billing. To be a nose apart at the wire, I think it lived up to the hype.”
And it was the race of the year. It proved that even a six-horse field makes for an outstanding sporting event.
Even beaten favorite To Honor and Serve’s trainer was eloquent, long-winded, and not the least bit sour after the race, “I don’t think the inside post helped us, that’s all.” That’s Bill Mott for you. That’s just how he rolls.
(That inside post is a killer in a six-horse field when you have the known-pace setter sitting to your immediate right. That’s all.)
The only older filly and mare I know is Havre de Grace and Royal Delta and the former retired and who knows what’s up with the latter (still recovering from Dubai). I’ll Have Another is a lock for champion three-year-old today, irregardless of the Belmont Stakes (unless Bodemeister does what I mentioned above).
For now the colts and horses have seized the reins back from the fillies and mares of the past three years and they look good, damn good, and fun as hell to watch.