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Classic upset would shake up Horse of the Year picture

By in Press Enterprise on October 30, 2017

By Art Wilson

A victory in the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic does not necessarily translate into Horse of the Year laurels.

In fact, only two of the past 10 winners of the race went on to win the most prestigious of the Eclipse Awards.

That trend figures to change this year, however, as Del Mar prepares to host its first Breeders’ Cup on Friday and Saturday.

“At this point I’d say there is a 95 percent chance the 2017 Horse of the Year is going to be (Classic entrants) Gun Runner, Arrogate, Collected or West Coast.” Santa Anita morning-line maker Jon White wrote in an email.

White, who has made the official morning lines for five of the past eight Breeders’ Cups, thinks the Horse of the Year picture would become a jumbled mess if a longshot wins the Classic.

“That would open the door for a number of other Horse of the Year possibilities if they win their Breeders’ Cup race, such as Stellar Wind, Lady Eli, and perhaps even Bolt d’Oro,” White wrote.

John Sadler, who trains Stellar Wind, would love to see that jumbled picture unfold as it would throw his 5-year-old mare into the race. The daughter of 2007-08 Horse of the Year Curlin has won three Grade I races — the Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park, the Beholder Stakes at Santa Anita and the Clement L. Hirsch Stakes at Del Mar — and would be a deserving candidate.

“If that happens, yeah, why not?” Sadler said of the possibility of Stellar Wind winning Horse of the Year with a Distaff victory Friday followed by a Classic upset. “I don’t know if all that will play out, but she’s a great horse. I have no doubt in my mind about her. We’ll deal with what happens when it happens.”

Lady Eli, who survived a life-threatening bout […]    

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