|Havre de Grace cruising to win in Belmont's Beldame|
In what has been a very up and down year with racing’s elite horses, we may have finally seen the best rise to the top this past weekend but we still don’t have a unequivocal “horse to beat.”
A lot of attention, and justifiably so, will be focused on Havre de Grace (right) who not only has emerged as the best filly in the country but perhaps the best horse. She left little doubt about who the top female is after cruising to an easy win in Saturday’s Beldame at Belmont Park. That victory was on the heels of her breakout performance on Labor Day Weekend when she beat males in Saratoga’s Woodward Handicap.
Her trainer, Larry Jones, indicated her next race will be in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and with a victory would lock up Horse of the Year. She would become the third female in a row to capture that title, marking a first in racing.
With her resume and the fact that a girl is racing against the boys, she will likely be the favorite for the Classic at Churchill Downs next month.
Another former star that has returned to some semblance of glory is 2-year-old champion Uncle Mo. He was all set to be racing’s next “big thing” but a mysterious liver infection knocked him out of the Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown. The colt didn’t return to the races until late August when he finished second but he rocketed to an impressive victory in the Kelso at Belmont in a very quick final time.
You can certainly make a case, as some have, that Uncle Mo and his late resurgence will make him the favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. There is no question that he does have more mainstream name recognition than all of his potential competitors but it’s hard to see a horse who has yet to beat any of the top caliber athletes become the betting choice next month.
Another horse that will likely take significant money at the betting windows include Jockey Club Gold Cup winner Flat Out (left) who has been finished only worse than second once all year. But, that off the board finish came at Churchill Downs in the June’s Stephen Foster Handicap. What could be more troubling is that he is 0-for-2 at Churchill.
Also Uncle Mo’s stablemate, Stay Thirsty, has improved dramatically since his 12th place finish in the Kentucky Derby. He has racked up wins in the Jim Dandy and Travers and will need to prove to everyone that he can run well and win outside of New York.
The top two horses from the West Coast will be Acclamation and Game on Dude. Both have had up and down years but Acclamation got white hot during the summer as he reeled off four wins in a row including the Pacific Classic. Game on Dude, from the barn of trainer Bob Baffert, has two big wins in ’11 including last weekends Goodwood and the Santa Anita Handicap back in March.
Who will be favored for the Classic will be an interesting story to watch but all signs point to the hottest girl in the country by the name Havre de Grace.