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Thursday, September 24, 2009

A funny thing happened on the way to the coronation...

Well, all of a sudden the path to the Horse of the Year award is no longer a coronation. Well Said put on one of the most impressive displays ever seen in the Little Brown Jug winning his division of the first heat with a devastating performance, starting from the eight hole winning in 1:51.1 (on a wet fast track).

Well Said returned for the second heat, racing from the two hole with the track now listed good. For the first half, no one moved and Well Said sat fourth. When Ron Pierce finally decided to move, Corey Callahan moved with Mr Wiggles so Ronnie sent Well Said three wide past the 3/4 pole. After that, If I Can Dream who was leading from the start and Well Said left the field behind and the two of them engaged in a duel. Give If I Can Dream credit, he was game but Well Said passed him at the end to finish the mile in 1;51.4 on a good track.

This is a champion. After winning on the mile track, winning on the 5/8th mile track, and racing in the Simcoe, the safe move would have been to take a week off and head to Lexington. Instead of taking the 'safe' route, Well Said's connections decided they would tackle the half mile track for not only one heat, but at least two heats, if not three. His connections get rewarded by drawing the eight hole in the first heat. He saw, he raced and he conquered.

For sure, Muscle Hill has been impressive; so much that the rest of the division has surrendered to him. However, has he raced on the 5/8th or 1/2 mile oval? Nope. He has played it safe on the mile track.

The sport is fixated with speed. However, just as important is a horse who can overcome bad posts and race hard the whole season, nothing being conceded to him. Well Said lost a tough race in the Adios Final racing from post nine. Champions bounce back and Well Said did. Grinding miles in a stronger division wins out over dominating miles against weaker.

Don't get me wrong. Muscle Hill is the best 3yo trotter to come along in the longest time and may very well win the Horse of the Year honor. However, Well Said has regained a lot of respect by becoming only the second horse to win the NA Cup, Meadowlands Pace and the Jug (Precious Bunny was the only other one) and his ability to win tough races will help him (ironic that Muscle Hill's easy wins may go against him) with the voters. If he can close out the season winning all his remaining races (which is quite possible), Well Said may grab the ultimate prize. If Well Said loses a race, being Muscle Hill will likely win the rest of his starts, Muscle Hill will be the most deserving horse.

For those who say half mile track racing is obsolete, I suggest they go back and watch these races. For the fans, an exciting race on a half mile track wins out over a race on the mile oval. Due to the ability to become part of the action watching a race on the half mile oval, the smaller oval provides us a unique marketing opportunity to newcomers which the mile track does not provide. Let's not lose that.

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