So after six months, which horse is going to step forward and save this thoroughbred racing season? The fact that ESPN spent a solid 10 minutes on LAST year's Horse of the Year in its Hollywood Gold Cup broadcast and spent little time on the eight horses about to tackle the first Breeders' Cup Challenge race for the Classic division says a lot.
The Triple Crown season did in its biggest potential star in Animal Kingdom, who I am going to bet we've seen his last race. In addition, no clear-cut leader emerged to capture star status.
Who is going to capture our fancy by year's end or is this going to be one of the most lackluster years in recent times with parity being the biggest winner in racing circa 2011? Who has the best chance you ask? We'll tell you what needs to happen for one of these six horses to emerge.....otherwise you're going to hear a whole lotta Goldikova in November at Churchill as that will be the biggest story....
1. One of the Dudes. They've split the two big West Coast races of the year, so if one can snag the Pacific Classic and snag the BC Classic, we'll here mosre Dude references than you'd care to hear. Would be an entertaining horse either way and if Game On Dude emerges, the Chantal factor will also be a good thing for the sport.
2. Shack Attack. The best chance for a star coming out of the 3-year old division would be Shackleford, the Preakness champion. Wins in the Haskell and a return trip to Belmont in the Jockey Club Gold Cup could give him some star power heading into the Classic.
3. Havre de Grace. Think of the Zenyatta stuff ESPN could (and will) roll out if she continues to win during her 2011 campaign and tries the boys in the Classic. Best kept secret outside of inner racing circles...she's done nothing but win....where she goes from the Delaware Handicap should she win, will be telling...
4. Uncle Mo. He doesn't belong on this list but what if he wins the King's Bishop and goes on to win the BC Sprint or Dirt Mile, or does Repole and Pletcher swing for the fences by going to the JCGC? Intriguing to say the least and he does have name recognition.
5. TBD. Is there a horse out there that can still emerge and become a compelling mainstream story? The way this season has gone, it's totally possible.