Time to shine, the TCI weekend preview
If San Pablo wins the Jockey Club Gold Cup then Joel Cunningham of PM Advertising will shine my shoes on next week's preview.
I'll stop short of calling San Pablo the most likely winner of the East Coast's most prestigious race for older males, but he's certainly likely enough given his expected price, and even though Todd Pletcher's name is usually enough to attract attention that may not be the case in the JCGC since San Pablo is not one of the race's six Grade 1 winners.
I'm as interested in the Jockey Club Gold Cup for who will win this race as for what it can mean to the Horse of the Year picture. As Rolly Hoyt said on Twitter, "only [a] couple [of] runners left with potentially historically significant seasons to merit [a] vote over undefeated dual classic winner" I'll Have Another.
I disagree in the sense that I'll Have Another is the default Horse of the Year option, but I agree in the sense that people banging the Horse of the Year drum without running in Horse of the Year races puzzle me.
For instance, even with a Breeders' Cup Classic win, I'd be hard-pressed to vote for Mucho Macho Man as Horse of the Year since that would mark his only Grade 1 win, but horses like Camelot, Dullahan, Fort Larned, Frankel, Game On Dude, Hymn Book, Ron The Greek, and Wise Dan are no brainers to me as Horse of the Year if they win out, and that last win comes in the Breeders' Cup Classic.
Other potential Breeders' Cup Classic winners might have to do more if their connections want the gold statuette. Mucho Macho Man, for instance, could go in the Clark. If Wise Dan won the Mile then the Clark could give him the boost he needs.
I realize I'm mostly alone not only in my zest for the Eclipse Awards but assigning "standings" to each division this far out from the end of the season (and granted, my "standings" are as loosely defined as the voting guidelines themselves), but Eclipse Awards help quantify the prestige horses run for (they also run for money).
No Breeders' Cup Classic winner has earned Horse of the Year honors since Curlin in 2007, and this weekend's races will go a long way to define which Classic entrants can claim the gold statue with a win on November 3 at Santa Anita Park.