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Friday, December 31, 2010

Dan Patch Awards Need Changing?

If you are looking for this week's "B' Track Tour selections, you may find them by clicking here.

Well, with the exception of the Trotter of the Year, Pacer of the Year, and Horse of the Year, we know all the winners of this year's Dan Patch awards.  I agree with the selections, but I have a problem with one award winner, Buck I St Pat, who won the Older Trotting Mare award.

First of all, let me make this clear this is not meant to be an attack on Buck I St Pat.  Clearly Buck I St Pat was the best older trotting mare this season.  After all, didn't Buck I St Pat win the Armbro Flight and the Breeders Crown?  It is not that she won less than half of her starts.  If she raced only against the mares, then not winning half her starts would have been an issue but she also raced against the boys which excuses the sub .500 record.  My problem is when the big money was on the line, Buck I St Pat was typically there, but when it came to elimination races, it was a different story.  Immediately after winning the $340,470 Armbro Flight, there was a fourth place finish in a $25,000 leg of the Ms Versatility at the Meadowlands.  Buck I then came back to win the $100,000 Matchmaker.  The following start at Tioga Downs in another $25,000 leg of the Ms Versatility; one that draws a field so short that it goes as a non-wagering event, she finishes third.  It just bothers me that the start before and after the Matchmaker, we saw a totally different Buck I St Pat. If I had a vote, I would have voted for Buck I St Pat, but I just found some of her lackluster performances disturbing.  Now granted, not being connected to the horse, perhaps there was a valid excuse for these sub-par performances, but just from looking at the races, I have some concerns.

The point I am trying make is why does there need to be a winner in each division each year?  What I would like to see is voting continue as it does now, but if the top vote getter does not win at least 66% of the starts for their particular division (in Buck I St Pat's case, races against open company would not count against her), no award be given in that division that year.  Of  course, the big money events should influence the voting, but a champion should be winning elimination and overnight events too.

The first condition sheet for the Meadowlands has been released and it is a welcome sight when compared to the fall meet.  We have invitational horses back as well as high priced claimers, and purse levels back to last winter's level.  With  the Eastern Pennsylvania tracks being closed for the season, we should be seeing full fields and name drivers return.  The question comes once Yonkers re-opens from their three week hiatus, do some of the drivers head back to the Hilltop and how many of the horses head back as well?  Once Yonkers reopens the Meadowlands should be able to put on strong cards, though some of the classes may need to be abandoned or merged with others. Bottom line, for the next three months, while Jeff Gural negotiates a new lease, it should seem like the good old days.    

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