Horse of Year votes may be scattered

Associated Press  |  Last updated November 05, 2011
Drosselmeyer's upset victory in the Breeders' Cup Classic scrambled the picture for Horse of the Year, an award that went to Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta the last two years. Filly Havre de Grace would have wrapped up the honor with a victory in the $5 million Classic at Churchill Downs on Saturday. She finished fourth. ''She sure didn't do anything to tarnish her reputation,'' trainer Larry Jones said. Havre de Grace had already beaten the boys this year in the Woodward at Saratoga. Owner Rick Porter knew his filly could have run in the Ladies' Classic on Friday as the favorite and likely won. But he wanted to make an aggressive push for Horse of the Year. It was the first time in 15 starts that Havre de Grace didn't finish in the money. Game On Dude, who led most of the way in the Classic before getting beat by 1-1/2 lengths, could have his supporters among the voters. ''He has been kind of under the radar,'' his jockey Chantal Sutherland said. ''I think it would be fair and honorable, and I think he's deserving.'' Uncle Mo was close to pacesetter Game On Dude early before fading to 10th in the 12-horse field. ''He looked like he was kind of struggling with the surface,'' trainer Todd Pletcher said. Goldikova was another of Saturday's upset victims, finishing third in the Mile after winning it the three previous years. The French mare, who is set to retire, was third in Horse of the Year voting last year. ''Maybe she's lost a little bit of what she had that made her so great,'' trainer Freddy Head said. ''But that's life. That's racing.'' The Classic typically plays a major role in deciding the top Eclipse Award. Last year, Blame won the Classic by a head over Zenyatta only to have voters give the award to the superstar mare whose popularity exceeded the sport's niche audience. In 2009, Rachel Alexandra beat the boys in the Preakness and won the award, while Zenyatta finished second. Drosselmeyer added the Classic to his resume that includes winning the 2010 Belmont Stakes. ''Drosselmeyer showed up again on a big day,'' Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott said. The 4-year-old colt is headed to a stud career in New York next year. With wins by Drosselmeyer in the Classic and Royal Delta in the Ladies' Classic, Mott joined John Shirreffs as the only trainers to sweep both races at the same Breeders' Cup. Shirreffs won the 2009 Classic with Zenyatta and Life Is Sweet took the Ladies' Classic. Steve Asmussen doesn't have a vote, but he tossed in his opinion anyway, saying Juvenile Fillies winner My Miss Aurelia deserves more than just the 2-year-old filly award. ''Horse of the Year is for great horses. She's great,'' he said. The Eclipse Awards, to be presented in January, are voted on by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, Daily Racing Form and National Turf Writers and Broadcasters. John Velazquez won the Bill Shoemaker award as the top jockey of the Breeders' Cup. He won the Juvenile Fillies Turf and Filly & Mare Turf on Friday, then had two seconds in the Marathon and the Sprint and a third in the Turf on Saturday. The New York-based rider also won the award in 2004. The season-ending world championships drew a two-day total of 105,820, down 7 percent from last year's total of 114,353 that was swelled by Zenyatta's bid to finish her career undefeated. The two-day wagering total on the 15 Breeders' Cup races of $140,070,365 was off 5.1 percent from the $147,524,454 bet at Churchill last year.
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