12/05/2016 11:04AM

Gisser: Just a small leap from President Trump to Hannelore Hanover

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Hannelore Hanover won an impressive 17 races in 2016.

The battle for Horse of the Year certainly looks like it will come down to Always B Miki and Wiggle It Jiggleit. So why does my gut tell me neither one will win and that we will see the biggest electoral upset since November 8? Because neither of the Free For All Pacers, as great as they are, have dominated their division due to the presence of the other.

You can make a solid case for both Miki and Wiggle. Wiggle has earned about a quarter million dollars more than Miki, but he has done it in 24 starts, while Miki has gone postward 18 times. Miki is averaging $11,000 a start more in earnings. Miki is clearly faster, with his 1:46 world record.

Wiggle It Jiggleit has won 15 of 24 and has been top three in every start. But that still means he has lost nine races this season. Miki has lost six, including one where he was off the board. Miki has been the better horse of late, but if you compare them head-to-head, they have faced each other eight times, with each coming out ahead four times (including the U.S. Pacing Championship where Wiggle It Jiggleit beat Always B Miki, but both lost to Shamballa). In the four races Miki came out on top, his total margin over Wiggle It was 4-1/4 lengths. Wiggle It was 4-5/8 lengths better than Miki in the four stats he came out ahead.

Yes, they finished one-two in the top ten poll, with Miki taking the top spot after his Breeders Crown win. Wiggle It topped the poll for the first six weeks this year and then was displaced by Miki for six weeks. The son of Mr Wiggles then topped the poll from early summer until the Breeders Crown. If you look at the entire body of work for the season, he is the better horse.

But the poll is just 35 voters. It is much different than Horse of the Year voting. Let’s remember how that vote works. There are typically 125-135 voters annually. Voters pick their divisional champs. Then, from those divisional champs, they select a Trotter of the Year and a Pacer of the Year. They select Horse of the Year from those two.

Always B Miki finished strong and that will stick in the minds of voters. Wiggle It Jiggleit is an emotional choice that many will also choose based on his entire body of work this year. But they will still divide the divisional vote and the Pacer of the Year vote.

Then there are the trotters. Hannelore Hanover should be the dominant choice on the trotting side. Marion Marauder came up sick in the Breeders Crown, and Walner, who although very good in his seven of eight campaign, is just a 2-year-old, and 2-year-olds typically don’t win HOTY. They just don’t race enough.

Hannelore Hanover has lost three times this year – REMEMBER – Miki has six losses and Wiggle It has nine. She is 19 of 20 on the board, far more consistent than either of the top two pacers. Two of those losses came to Resolve, the likely older male divisional champ, in the International Trot (where she made an unfortunate break) and in the Maple Leaf Final. But she HAS beaten the boys--in the Centaur Trotting Classic at Hoosier, twice at The Meadowlands, and in her Maple Leaf Trot elim. Simply put, she has been dominant in her division like no other horse this season. 

So when voting time comes, the star FFA pacers will split the vote for Pacer of the Year. Hannelore should get the majority of the votes for Trotter of the Year. And while she did not have a strong rival to build a more compelling story, she is a worthy Horse of the Year candidate. I think many voters will realize that it’s not as good a story, it’s the right call to vote Hannelore Horse of the Year. She will get my vote and if Donald Trump can win a Presidential election, maybe she can win a Horse of the Year election. And, unlike Jill Stein, if one of the FFA pacers wins, I wil not call for a recount.

Column aside: The so-called Takter rule imposed by the folks at Standardbred Canada is one of the most ridiculous policies any Standardbred organization has ever come up with. Ever! Let that sink in for a minute. It is unnecessarily restrictive and just plain unnecessary (Takter lost the O’Brien race to Richard Moreau last year, despite having far better numbers). The O’Brien voters have historically taken care of their own. How should USHWA (which handles the Dan Patch awards) respond?  We can either prove that we are the better organization and ignore the O’Brien action. Or, as has become so popular in a polarized society, USHWA could adopt a similar rule regarding the Dan Patch Awards--Canadians must have 30% of their starts in the U.S. to be considered eligible for an award. At first, I was all about option two. But the more I think about it, ignore it. This rule will not change a thing, so let it be.   I guess harness racing doesn’t fall under NAFTA. That’s all for this month.  Happy Holidays. Now go cash.

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