The Canadian horse-of-the-year debate is interesting in the aftermath of the Breeders Crown.
The U.S. horse of the year award belonged to Muscle Hill long before his romp in Saturday’s Breeders Crown at Woodbine.
I contend the O’Brien Award for Canada’s top horse was very much up for grabs prior to the Crown and may be even more so after it.
It all comes down to the main criteria for O’Brien Award voting, to choose the horse that made the “greatest contribution to Canadian racing.”
To many, prior to the Crown, that meant two-year-old phenom Sportswriter, who is based in Ontario and owned, trained and driven by Canadians.
Even through the world champion colt fell from the thin ranks of the undefeated with a loss in the Crown, for many his game stretch battle in a heavy headwind with All Speed Hanover did little to tarnish Sportswriter’s reputation.
Still, he is only two. I believe voters should be hesitant about naming two-year-olds above all others. The three-year-old and older divisions are much tougher tests.
Still, Sportswriter has been incredible and deserves to be in the equation. As a two-year-old, Somebeachsomewhere shared the nation’s horse of the year award with Tell All and The Beach certainly proved worthy of such a lofty honour.
For sure, Sportswriter will be the two-year-old pacing colt of the year and his prospects are bright for O’Brien Awards in 2010.
Well Said, who has a Canadian owner, likely took himself out of the running for our country’s horse of the year award with a fifth-place finish in the Crown.
I say Canada’s horse of the year should be Muscle Hill. He was, clearly, the most dominant trotter of this and probably any year. His trainer, Greg Peck, is a native Maritimer.
But I worry our Canadian bias might trump everything in a debate that should be more about greatness more than nationality.
Should it matter that Muscle Hill is American-bred, he was based in the United States and his connections are almost entirely, American? Should it matter that he raced just three times on Canadian soil — albeit, brilliantly? Not when he was, far and away, the best horse that raced in 2009. Not when he more than qualifies as having made a great contribution to Canadian racing by gaining fairly major mainstream media attention.
What do you think?