For photos from the Meadowlands contact Lisaphoto@playmeadowlands.com

Monday, September 14, 2009

True Confessions

Ok, I confess. Despite all he has accomplished, Muscle Hill does not excite me. Don't get me wrong, I think he is a very very good horse; one of the best trotters of this decade. I just don't get excited when he races. Donato Havonver had me excited, Deweycheatumnhowe had me excited (not as excited as I was for Somebeachsomewhere), primarily because I was happy Ray Schnittker finally had his 'big one'. But Muscle Hill, nothing.


The fact Muscle Hill does not excite me bothers me. Is there something wrong with me? I have been trying over the last few days to figure out why the name Muscle Hill triggers no real response. Is it there is a dominant horse on the pacing side that has gotten my interest? Nope, while Well Said is certainly the class of the three year old pacers, he has not gotten to the level of Somebeachsomewhere; Muscle Hill is certainly the story this year. Maybe I don't care for trotters? Nope, I appreciate a great trotter as much as anyone. Some of my favorite horses of all time are trotters (Vivid Photo, Malabar Man, Moni Maker, Savoir). Maybe I don't like the connections? No, that's not it. I am very happy for Greg Peck, one of the classiest people around). So what is it?


Perhaps part of the problem is Muscle Hill is too good. As dominating as Somebeachsomewhere and Deweycheatumnhowe were last year, their races were not ho hum. For sure they were the best horses in the races but there was drama and a chance they would lose (which they did). After the Hambletonian where has Muscle Hill raced? The American National, which for all purposes, was a glorified qualifier with a purse. The World Trotting Derby, where the biggest drama of the day was whether they would race or not and once that was decided, who eventually was going to drive Muscle Hill; the race was a foregone conclusion.


The main reason I am not excited is I have seen this story before, a couple of times. This is what racing has come to on the trotting side. Have the top two year old and you race the following year like a thoroughbred. Race the early part of the season exclusively at the Meadowlands, foregoing the early season stakes. Race as few parimutuel starts as possible (perhaps two or three before the Hambletonian) with almost as many qualifiers as races; after all, the more you race the better the chance someone can beat you and hurt your breeding value. Race if at all possible only on a mile track, but never, never on a half mile oval regardless of the purse being offered. Donato was the first, Dewey was the second and now with the success of Muscle Hill, the road map appears to be fixed; Muscle Hill's connections have already said that Holiday Road's path will be the same as Muscle Hill's; only illness or injury will change this path. With this path now being proven, expect more trotters each year to follow this road map.

Now I know why Muscle Hill doesn't excite me. Donato Hanover, Deweycheatumnhowe and now Muscle Hill. With minor variations, I have seen this play three years in a row and it is getting boring. The players are different but the end result are the same.

Here is wishing we see a top gelding make his appearance on the scene next year. With no breeders to worry about, we would see something different next year. Otherwise, I fear we will see the same play again.

8 comments:

riceownz2 said...

pacingguy i totally agree. Seeing a horse take the same dodgy route as the last two great 3 year old trotters does make it less exciting. And to see him not really have anyone that remotely looks like they can beat him.

Degenerate Blogger said...

Let me say that yes, you are spoiled Pacingguy. Muscle Hill's own success and lack of flash, he just goes out and dominates, does not make for exciting racing. Add to the fact that this is the second year of such boredom, such distain is not warranted.

You are watching perhaps the best trotter ever....enjoy the ride. Winning should never be boring...

Pacingguy said...

I don't know if Muscle Hill is one of the best trotters ever; the game has changed so much I don't know if we can ever make that comparison with any certainty. I will certainly concede he is the best three year old trotting colt of the last twenty years.

I appreciate Muscle Hill for what he is. With syndication demands now requiring the same exact formula being used each yaer, I just can't get emotionally attached to him.

However, I should not despair. With all the stakeholders worrying about themselves, if racing doesn't straigthen its act out the breeding market will collapse and then the horses will race everywhere, including the half mile ovals, taking on all comers once again.

While I want to see the horses racing all over, it is not the way I want to see it happen.

Degenerate Blogger said...

I just have a hard time understanding your contempt for Muscle Hill. So it is his connections that are causing your lack of excitement?

While it is still early in his career, only 17 starts with 16 wins, he has proven to be one of the best in the last 20 years. What would he have to do to become the greatest trotter of all time in your opinion or is that even possible given the different era's of racing, period? Go 1:49.3 or lower and set more TR's?

A HOF'er friend of mine who has seen them all said last year MH was the fastest trotter he had ever seen. I tend to hold off on such brazen statements but, MH has done nothing to change his opinion. Peck has stated the speed records are not important, do you believe him Pacingguy?

Pacingguy said...

Degenerate Blogger, what makes you think I have contempt for Muscle Hill? I think he is one of the best in his era. I have no problems with his ownership. Is it because I won't say 'great'? Great is a term used to easily. Last year Dewey was the greatest and now? Only through the eyes of history can we say who is the greatest. Also, speed is a sign of a speed baller, nothing more. It is how one dominates your opposition consistently which matters.

BTW, I wouldn't say Muscle Hill is early in his career; come November it will be all over, heading to the breeding shed.

I just can't get emotionally involved in horses that does almost as much racing in qualifiers as he does in actual races all in the eyes to maximize his breeding value.

Degenerate Blogger said...

To answer your question, your lack of enthusiasm for a great horse. You said he does nothing for you when it comes to his races. You mention the connections as much as you do the horse.

Now, if you could answer mine, what does he have to do to be considered the "greatest" of all time? I get the impression that that is impossible.

Pacingguy said...

For my last comments on the subject...

To me a great trotter would have raced in the Yonkers Trot and/or the Colonial Trot. A great horse does not race just on a mile track; he shows ability on other size tracks. Does Muscle Hill have the ability to race on a half mile track, a 5/8th mile track and beat the best in his class as a three year old? If Muscle Hill races once against a field of top three year old trotters on a track other than a mile oval, I will join the chorus for Muscle Hill being the greatest. In the meanwhile I look forward to Lexington and hope to see if the circumstances warrant, a sub 1:50 mile.

Look at Well Said. He raced at Woodbine, The Meadowlands, The Meadows and he is heading to the Delaware County Fair for the Little Brown Jug. Is he the greatest 3yo pacer of all time? Far from it, but you know what makes watching him exciting? He takes on the best of his class on all different size ovals.

Shame we can't say the same about Muscle Hill.

Degenerate Blogger said...

Fair enough Pacingguy, thanks for your honest answer although we disagree. Muscle Hill has taken on all comers on bigger tracks and has destroyed them for the most part where ever he has gone. That is enough for me. I have little doubt Muscle Hill could go on the half.

You mention the Yonker Trot, which had a very suspect field without him, what would the field have been like if he decided to go? I suspect he would have had another training mile. So, if he stayed flat on the half without breaking, which he has never done, he could be considered the best in your eyes. Interesting......