Monday, January 05, 2009

My Ballot

No, they don't give me an Eclipse ballot. I don't actually think I deserve one but I do think I'd make good use of it if given. Unlike at least 25% of the eligible voters who don't even bother to vote and another percentage who don't put much time or effort into their ballot.

This ballot is for the TCR Awards. If you have no idea what that is take a quick peek at the post below this one. The TCR Awards ask for fans to vote on the horses they feel are the most deserving champions. If you haven't already voted please do.

Here is how I am voting.

Horse of the Year

Big Brown
Ginger Punch

Zenyatta had a perfect season but she never faced males and didn't even compete exclusively in G-1 company among the females. Curlin did suffer a pair of defeats but both of those came when he switched surfaces. I give the edge to Curlin for competing more at a higher level and still winning the same number of G-1's that Zenyatta did. Big Brown is a distant third in my mind. Einstein and Ginger Punch have no real chance.

Main Track Older Male
Benny The Bull
Well Armed
Street Boss

Curlin is a clear winner of this division but I had trouble separating the next four. I decided on Benny The Bull ahead of the others despite the lack of a domestic G-1. Being undefeated was a big factor for me in a year when not many older horses distinguished themselves.

Main Track Older Female
Cocoa Beach
Ginger Punch

Zenyatta is a slam dunk but like the Older Males the next four are tough to separate. Not because they were all poor but because they were all quite good. I settled on Cocoa Beach in second ahead of Ginger Punch because of their head to head record. Although Intangaroo earned fewer TCR points it's hard to put her below Hystericalady when she beat her both times they met and also won 3 G-1's compared to none by Hystericalady.

Turf Male
Dancing Forever
Champs Elysees
Presious Passion

This is one of the worst groups of Turf horses in last decade. It's not as if there was no talent but the most talented horses of the stateside group (Red Giant and Ever A Friend) only made two starts and failed to qualify as finalists. Einstein gets my vote but not by much, who knew that the Gulstream Park Turf in February would be the key to deciding my vote. Champs Elysees is maybe unlucky to be listed third but I felt like his wins always came against the second tier despite their grade.

Turf Female
Forever Together
Wait A While
Black Mamba

Upon close inspection I don't really think that Forever Together is as much the best as many assume she was but she won the big one beating all her main rivals so it has to be her. Wait A While had a more brief campaign than Mauralakana but she was far better when the season heated up and the competition got tougher. Had Ventura been given a full campaign on the grass she may have ended up as the top Turf Female. Races like the Breeders' Cup Mile and the Matriarch would have been good fits and if she had won just one of those two races it would have been a toss up for me.

Male Sprinter
Benny The Bull
Street Boss
Bustin Stones
Fatal Bullet
Surf Cat

Most people will wonder why Midnight Lute isn't listed. It's because he didn't meet the three race minimum but even if that qualifier didn't exist I still wouldn't vote for him. To me a Breeders' Cup Sprint win on a surface that isn't traditionally kind to speed is somewhat tainted. There is no way his BC win counts for more in my mind then Benny The Bull's fabulous four race tour de force. Benny's competition didn't wind up looking all that strong but neither did any ones. Street Boss had every chance to win this division after Benny went down with an injury but in my mind he didn't do enough. He managed to accumulate more points but I think he was inferior overall. Bustin Stones was too fragile but no one else on the list was a G-1 winner. In general it was a weak year for sprinters.

Female Sprinter
Indian Blessing
Rite Moment

Any of the top three would be worthy champions but hats off to Indian Blessing. She lost just one sprint in six tries and is one of the most underrated stars of 2008. Ventura deserves kudos for beating her in the BC Filly and Mare Sprint but one of the strengths of the TCR Award system is that it waits for all the data to come in before allowing anyone to vote. Indian Blessing's win in the La Brea was a key deciding factor for me and the icing on the cake of a wonderful season. Intangaroo took three G-1 and can only manage third. She would have been an easy winner of the championship last year but she was unlucky to be facing some very good fillies this year. Bsharpsonata just squeaked in as a qualifier but I think she was a bit underrated as a sprinter. Indian Blessing is the only one who beat her in a one turn race. Rite Moment is the worst horse to qualify as a finalist in any division.

Three Year Old Male
Big Brown
Colonel John
Tale Of Ekati
Court Vision

Pretty straightforward. Big Brown in a walkover. None of the others were much good in what was a bad crop.

Three Year Old Female
Indian Blessing
Music Note
Proud Spell
Pure Clan
Little Belle

It's not often that this emerges as one of the best divisions in racing but year it was as good as I've ever seen. Superb fillies like Eight Belles, Zaftig, Backseat Rhythm and Bsharpsonata don't even get consideration here. Indian Blessing wins this in my opinion she has had a fantastic year to go along with a fantastic career. Six wins from nine starts and the rest were second place finishes. That's a mark of a really good horse, even when she's beaten she isn't well beaten. Music Note gets second based on her strong run in the second half of the year. The third behind Zenyatta in the Ladies Classic was actually huge. Proud Spell lost too often for my taste. She had individual duels with Indian Blessing, Music Note and Little Belle and in every case she lost the first meeting and won the second. Her connections obviously interpreted the rematches as the most important races but she never faced older mares and only managed to win four of eight starts overall. A fantastic filly but not a deserving champion in my book.

Two Year Old Male
Vineyard Haven
Street Hero
Pioneerof the Nile
Big Drama

No drama here, I do suspect that Vineyard Haven was the best horse but Midshipman won the Juvenile and has to be the champ.

Two Year Old Female
Stardom Bound
Dream Empress
Sky Diva
Mani Bhavan

Aside from Stardom Bound the rest look pretty even. I don't feel strongly that any of these four were better or worse than the others. I'll mostly just stick with the numbers on this one. Mani Bhavan is ranked over Laragh just because of the two graded stakes wins.

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