08/07/2014 10:48PM

Giwner: Sweet Lou is tops in my book

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Each week from May through the end of November the sport puts out a Top 10 poll. This unscientific and opinionated survey asks 35 industry insiders to rank their top 10. Ultimately each horse is assigned a point value based on their rankings to produce the final results.

Judging by the poll and simple common sense, top trotter Sebastian K and top pacer Sweet Lou are the leading contenders for Horse of the Year honors. Sebastian K has 31 voters convinced he is the best horse in the country while four remain loyal to Sweet Lou. Although the discrepancy in numbers appears large, “Sebastian” only leads “Lou” by a 344 to 307 margin.

[DRF HARNESS: Watch Sweet Lou in the Dan Patch and the entire Hoosier Friday card - LIVE on DRF!]

While it may seem odd since I seemingly have picked against him during every one of his current run of eight consecutive wins, if the year ended today Sweet Lou would receive my vote for Horse of the Year. Yeah, it is premature to be handing out awards, and quite frankly I’m not sure he can continue at his current torrid pace and win the prestigious honor, but all things remaining equal I’m in Sweet Lou’s corner.

Why?

Let’s start with the obvious. Sweet Lou has won more races and earned more money. But more importantly, the 5-year-old son of Yankee Cruiser has won every major stake he has entered this year. Four races worth north of $100,000 and four wins. Sebastian K has been in an equal number of rich races and gone three for four.

There is no doubt that both Sweet Lou and Sebastian K are both currently deserving of being recognized as the best Standardbreds currently in training. That being said, I truly believe that come December when members of the United States Harness Writers Association sit down to sort out the cream of the crop, Father Patrick will win the award.

How can I say that after he lost the most important race of his career?

We live in a “what have you done for me lately?” world. While I respect both Sweet Lou and Sebastian K, I have a hard time believing that each will be able to keep their form through the end of November. I give Sebastian K a better chance because he won’t have to continue to go insane speeds to win like Sweet Lou has accomplished. “Lou” already has paced five straight sub 1:48 winning miles. How many of those can he have in the tank? How will he handle Foiled Again and some of the other top pacers once the winning times drop to a more manageable 1:48 and change?

Despite his Hambletonian loss, I still see Father Patrick as the best 3-year-old trotter in the sport. Considering his easy workload this year, he is undoubtedly fresh and has at least a reasonable chance of sweeping the five to six races he may have left on his plate.

Are there other horses which have a shot for top honors, certainly! Let’s see how the next four months pan out and we’ll take it from there. But for now, I’ll buck the trend and stick with Sweet Lou.

[DRF HARNESS: Watch the EBC Finals and entire Sunday Tioga card LIVE on DRF!]