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Gisser: Discussing divisional honors
My ballot has been mailed, but that does not mean I have picked the winners, or that we can’t still talk about the divisional races . Hey, I voted for John Anderson and (once) for Ross Perot and I still talk about them. Okay, not as much as I talk about Anndrovette and Put On A Show, but you get the idea.
I actually think the veteran pacing mare division is the most interesting of those we have to discuss, since we dissected the three-year-old pacing colts last month. Put On A Show had a great season and has raced an extensive schedule as she wraps up her career before heading to the broodmare barn. She is 12 of 24 with nearly half-a-million dollars on her card, while lowering her lifetime mark to 1:47 3/5. But the inexplicable decision to try her against the boys in the Breeders Crown, where she was non-competitive, may hurt her in the voting. Anndrovette won just seven times in 23 starts, but made $200,000 more than Put On A Show and won the Breeders Crown in 1:50 1/5, which would have beat Put On A Show by six lengths. (I know, not a valid comparison, but one that I will make anyhow.) Had Put On A Show’s connections simply gone the conventional route and beaten Anndrovette, the award would be a slam-dunk. But now, I am not so sure. This one is too close to call.
I voted for Foiled Again for Aged Pacing Horse, but he is not a lock and legitimate arguments can be made for several others. I have seen him race with so much heart, so many times that I personally could vote no other way. Bettor Sweet was faster and came on strong late, but won just three times this year, including the Breeders Crown and those two basically split their meetings. Golden Receiver was the best of the bunch for much of his campaign as he won 13 of 25, as compared to seven of 24 for Foiled Again and he beat Foiled several times. Call my vote a lifetime achievement award if you must – I certainly will understand anyone who voted for Golden Receiver. Based on stats alone, he should win the honors. Bettorthancheddar was nine of eleven and was no worse than second all year. But his season-ending injury in September costs him. But he is another one for whom a case can be made and I will not begrudge anyone who votes for him.
For the distaff veteran trotters, Frencfrysnvinegar has made the most money and she was second in the Breeders Crown and, in her only two U.S. Starts, she won the Miss Versatility Final at Delaware and the Allerage Farms at Lexington’s Red Mile. Will two U.S. wins be enough to earn her a Dan Patch Award to go with the divisional O’Brien that she is all but guaranteed? Well, Peace Corps won divisional honors three times with a total of just four United States starts at ages four, five and six. In 1990 and 1991, she won her only start on U.S. soil, while she was two for two in 1992. What about Tamla Celeber S, the Breeders Crown champ? Well, she was just one of four in North America and failed to earn a check in the United States. Pembroke Heat Wave was good early in the year, taking the Armbro Flight, which accounted for 60% of her $310,000 bankroll this year, but she won just five of 29 starts. Beatgoeson Hanover earned $230,000 and won the Muscle Hill, but was six of 19 on the season. It will be an interesting vote, but I think Frenchfrysnvinegar will get the call.
American Jewel has wrapped up the three-year-old pacing filly division and Check Me Out has clinched things on the sophomore filly trotting side. Or has she? Maven beat her in the Breeders Crown and there might be backlash over her scratching from the final of the Kentucky Filly Futurity, a race won by Win Missy B in straight heats. Check Me Out was 11 of 15 on the year and ended the season just shy of a million dollars, a plateau she would have most likely eclipsed had she raced in the Futurity Final. Win Missy B was eight of 20 and over $800,000, while Maven made $750,000 while going eight of 15. On the numbers alone, this is Check Me Out’s award. But the voters may see it differently, especially with the way she ended her season.
Two-year-old pacing colt and filly honorees should be pretty obvious, but you never know. I think Somwherovrarainbow should be a lock on the filly side, as should Captaintreacherous on the colt side. But The Captain got beat by Rockin Amadeus in the Breeders Crown, ending his eight race win streak. And there is Odds On Equuleus, who beat Captaintreacherous in his first career pari-mutuel event and who won twice at Lexington during the Grand Circuit meet, despite what the Red Mile judges say. Captaintreacherous earned twice as much money as any other horse in the division, though. Somwherovrarainbow finished the year with six wins, including the Breeders Crown and the Matron after that. She was also her division’s leading money winner and is as regally bred as anything our sport has seen in along time.
The freshman trotters? I will be honest, I have not followed them as closely as I have the others, but the filly division seems to be a two-horse race between Bee A Magician (10 wins in 13 starts) and To Dream On (eight of nine). I loved the filly Frau Blucher, if just for her name, but she is a step behind these two. The top pair was separated by $40,000 in earnings. To Dream On took the Breeders Crown and the Merrie Annabelle, while Bee A Magician won the Peaceful Way. The two raced against each other just twice and split those two, with Bee A Magician handing To Dream On her only loss. Flip a coin. On the colt side, there simply was not a dominating standout, although Wheeling N Dealin won the Breeders Crown and the William Wellwood en route to the money winning title. And, while he was a perfect nine for nine, he did not set foot on U.S. soil, which, in theory creates a problem for voters.
At the end of the day, or the end of the ballot, I voted Captaintreacherous as Pacer of the Year. He and American Jewel were the only two true standouts. Chapter Seven got my Trotter of the Year vote. Shocking, I know. He also was my pick for Horse of the Year.
So, as we wrap up 2012 (and assuming the Mayans are wrong), best wishes for a merry Christmas, happy Chanukah, joyous Kwanzaa or fine Festivus, and for a happy, healthy and prosperous new year. See you in 2013.