06/25/2011 6:00PM

Six Months of Grade 1's Down...


The Mother Goose Saturday afternoon was the final Grade 1 race in the United States for the first six months of 2011, and the 33rd of 112 such races slated for this year, meaning we're halfway through the calendar year if only 29 percent of the way through the Grade 1 schedule.

Here's the midseason scorecard, but before you peek, can you name the only horse to have won two Grade 1 races so far this year?

The 33 races have been won by 32 different horses, with only Get Stormy (Maker's Mark Mile, Woodford Reserve Turf Classic) winning two.

The results have not been quite as scattered among trainers and jockeys, with seven trainers having won more than one Grade 1, accounting for a combined 16 of the 33 races: Bob Baffert (Game On Dude/Santa Anita Handicap, Midnight Interlude/Santa Anita Derby and Plum Pretty/Kentucky Oaks) has won three, as has Dale Romans (Sassy Image/Humana Distaff, Shackleford/Preakness, C.S. Silk/Just a Game). Five other trainers have won two each: Tom Bush (Get Stormy's two G1 wins), Graham Motion (Toby's Corner/Wood Memorial, Animal Kingdom/Kentucky Derby), Todd Pletcher (Awesome Maria/Phipps, Buster's Ready/Mother Goose), John Sadler (Switch/Santa Monica, Zazu/Las Virgenes), and Nick Zito (Dialed In/Florida Derby, Morning Line/Carter.)

Pletcher, who led all trainers with 14 Grade 1 victories last year, got his first two of 2011 the last two Saturdays at Belmont. John Velazquez rode both to pull even with Joel Rosario at four Grade 1's each this year among jockeys.

The wide distribution of Grade 1 victories among horses is in part a reflection of the lack of multiple victories by the current 3-year-olds, which dates back to the crop's performance at 2. It seems unusual for an entire crop to have produced only two dual Grade 1 winners from 28 opportunities going back almost a year, but Uncle Mo and Turbulent Descent remain the only 3-year-olds of 2011 to have won two Grade 1 races in their careers:


Wayne 80 More than 1 year ago
Does this mean Get Stormy is the leading contender for Horse of the Year at the halfway point?
csk More than 1 year ago
All-Weather haters - watch the replay of the Hollywood Gold Cup does it get more exciting?
Barry More than 1 year ago
Minnesota budget stalemate shuts down Canterbury Park. :(
johnr More than 1 year ago
Steve - Congress now has their sights on "fat cat" horse owners. Your next column might want to address this. As a lobbyist here in DC, I know you could have an impact and if you want to discuss off-line, please be in touch. John
Mary More than 1 year ago
I don't know where else to report this and it's bugging me - the article posted about weekend stakes, in discussing a Saturday stakes race at Belmont, states that "Rodman closed fast to win the Met Mile." TIZWAY won the met mile. Rodman 2d. I wish they would fix that. Thank you.
Barry More than 1 year ago
Walt, you want a Triple Crown for the ladies when we have not had a Male winner in, What? 33 years? What difference would it have made if Zenyatta or RA won it? Would they have received any more notoriety for the sport? We have a shortage of horses in this country and you want another reason to keep quality females on the track instead of in the breeding shed? The general public recently witnessed triple crown tragedies like Barbaro and Eight Belles and you want to stretch the ladies out to a mile and a half?
Lesley More than 1 year ago
@ Barry, A shortage of horses or a preponderance of racing? Year round racing is doing as much damage as anything.
Walt P. More than 1 year ago
Posting this to both your blog and Mike Watchmaker's: In the video you did (http://www.drf.com/news/video-fillies-deserve-series-3-year-olds), you both touched on something that I've felt has been needed for a long time: A true, national equal of the Triple Crown for fillies, that like what the NYRA series (which I believe in 2011 is the Acorn, Coaching Club American Oaks and Alabama) could be called the Triple Tiara. Unlike what was said in the video, I think it could be done at three different tracks if all arrangements could be worked out. While for many years it was not the true equal of the Kentucky Derby like it is now, The Kentucky Oaks has certainly become the premier race in the sport for three year old fillies. With the purse finally reflecting that at $1 Million and a possible move of the Oaks to prime time (and if so, possibly airing on NBC for the first time ever) in 2012, this may be the time to put such a series together with the Oaks at the main linchpin. One thing I would do in association with such a move, however, is to lengthen the Oaks to 1 1/4 Miles from its traditional distance of 1 1/8 Miles, making the fillies run the same distance their male counterparts do. The middle leg to me has two options, in either case scheduling such race in most years for the Memorial Day Monday holiday, making for in most years a three and a half week (24-day) gap between the first two legs (except in years where Memorial Day falls on May 31, in those years, the middle leg would be nine days earlier on Saturday, May 22, 22 days after the Oaks). This leg would also be in the mid-Atlantic Region, but not at Pimlico. My choices for the second leg would be either the Delaware Oaks at Delaware Park or the Cotillion at Parx Racing (formerly Philadelphia Park). While both are currently Grade 2 stakes, if either or both races continue to get the fields they currently do, they could be looking at Grade 1 status for 2012 anyway (especially the Cotillion, which last year attracted Blind Luck and Harve de Grace, arguably the two top fillies in the division), in the case of Parx, if so it would be the first Grade 1 stakes event in the history of the track. Either race would also have to be lengthened in my version from 1 1/16 Miles to 1 3/16 Miles, the same distance the boys go in the Preakness. The purse for this race would be $1 Million, which Parx could do be simply cutting the Pennsylvania Derby to $750,000 or Delaware could do by cutting the Delaware Handicap to $250,000 (from $750,000) and perhaps finding the other $250,000 by shaving other stakes events a bit. The final leg would be the Coaching Club American Oaks, which would be scheduled for two weeks after The Belmont Stakes and returned to its former distance of 1 1/2 Miles and would also be increased to $1 Million, in this case using funds that will be coming in from the VLT revenue that should start flowing later this year to pay for the increase. Returning the CCA Oaks to 1 1/12 Miles mean the fillies would have to face the same "test of the champion" distance two weeks after their male counterparts do. There would be other residual changes from this as well. The most notable as I would do them would be for the Acorn and Mother Goose to both be moved to Aqueduct and run early in the year: The Acorn lengthened to 1 1/16 Miles and becoming the first Grade 1 race of the year in New York and first Grade 1 ever on the inner track in March, eight weeks before the Oaks and the Mother Goose run at 1 1/8 Miles on the main track as part of the Wood Memorial program. These two races can serve as the main New York preps for the new series. The Comely (Grade 3), which has been run at Aqueduct could be moved to the Belmont Stakes program and beefed up in purse value to replace the Acorn on that program while the Gazelle (Grade 1) could be taken out of its exile late in the fall meet at Aqueduct and shifted to replace the CCA Oaks as the opening Saturday feature at Saratoga and primary prep for the Alabama. If NYRA wants to have a big late-season race for three year old fillies, it could revive the Rare Perfume, which used to be a significant late-season race for three year old fillies (that was a Grade 2 as I remember when it was disbanded in the early 1990s) and have that replace the Gazelle on Thanksgiving weekend at Aqueduct. These changes to me would allow for a solid companion to the Triple Crown that can keep interest in the sport high during and after the Triple Crown series, especially with the CCA Oaks run two weeks after the Belmont Stakes.
Jim C. More than 1 year ago
"Here's the midseason scorecard, but before you peek, can you name the only horse to have won two Grade 1 races so far this year?" Well, Zazu should have that distinction. She was a winner of the G1 Las Virgenes, and then won the Hollywood Oaks (G2) Saturday, defeating Plum Pretty, the winner of the G1 Kentucky Oaks. The Hollywood Oaks had the winner and place fillies of the Kentucky Oaks entered, but is only a G2. Yet the Mother Goose had zero G1 winners entered, yet is considered a G1. Yes, I know the grades are designated well in advance of the known fields, but the system makes no sense whatsoever. There is no rational basis for the 2011 Mother Goose to have been a G1, but the Hollywood Oaks to have been a G2.
Marc More than 1 year ago
Well an old handicapper from the form once told me that in cases like this ," you make the judgment.. either they are all champions or they are mostly dogs. Which do you think is most likely?"
Dave or Divot80 More than 1 year ago
Sorry, but I needed to comment on your Lasix article from the other day. First of all I agree wholeheartedly. The assumption(s) that lasix and the medication situation , in general is a major reason for the waning interest in horseracing is the MOST RIDICULOUS reason I have heard yet. My four horseracing buddies and former horse owner partners of mine also agree. We have been horse racing fans for more than fifty (50 ) years. We sat around talking horse the other day, as we usually do. We talked about the problems causing the dwindling interest of the racing industry. We must have cited more than a dozen reasons - NOT ONE of those reasons had to do with medication. Who in their right mind ever came up with the MEDICATION reason for killing horse racing? It completely blows our minds. SHEEZ !!!!! Divot80