Equidaily Racing Journal

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Toccet Deserves a Look

Hollywood Futurity could wrap-up a season that deserves Eclipse consideration

The battle lines are drawn. On one side, those who feel one race (the Breeders' Cup Juvenile) is enough to decide a championship, and therefore Vindication has it wrapped up. On the other side, those of us who think that year-end honors should reflect an entire campaign -- including the 12/21 Hollywood Futurity -- and, as such, Toccet deserves a look.

The "one-race'rs" include:

Ed McNamara of espn.com, who posted his Eclipse votes on 12/17, four days before the Hollywood Futurity. McNamara wrote of his 2YO choice, "Vindication. An easy pick, because he was 4-for-4 and coasted in the Juvenile. Routed Toccet, his main rival, in the Juvenile."

Dave Litfin of Daily Racing Form, who likewise posted his Eclipse picks well before the season they honor had ended. Litfin said in his 12/14 column, "With apologies to Toccet's owner, Dan Borislow, I'm not waiting until after the Hollywood Futurity to mark Vindication as champion juvenile colt.

Toccet is a cool horse, and if he wins out West next Saturday it will be his fourth graded stakes win at 1 1/16 miles or longer. That makes him a throwback, but not a champion. Not when the Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner is unbeaten, and finished 16 lengths ahead of Toccet in their only meeting.

Toccet could win the Hollywood Futurity by 10 lengths, and win the admiration of racing people nationwide. But that should be as far as it goes."

And Andy Beyer chimes in, "Even if Toccet wins in California, his chances of earning the championship are nil. Vindication is undefeated and he won the Breeders' Cup. Case closed."

The overriding themes here are: Undefeated, and winner of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

Great accomplishments both. But they can't exist in a vacuum and become the barometer of a champion without hurting the sport. C'mon, let's take a closer look. That undefeated season includes a MSW win, an optional claimer win, a G3 win over Private Gold (drubbed in three races since), and the BC Juv win.

There's no denying that an undefeated season is special -- especially when capped with the Breeders' Cup win. But realistically that four race series is not the kind of campaign that should guarantee a championship (for that simply look towards Storm Flag Flying, her four race undefeated season included three G1 wins).

The day after the Breeder's Cup I too was willing to name Vindication champ. Looking at the records, any number of runners on BC Day could have claimed that title with a win. And had things ended there that would have been that.

But things didn't end there. Toccet has now ripped of two convincing graded wins in the Laurel Futurity and the Remsen which are tending to make the BC loss look more and more like an aberration.

As such we have Vindication and his undefeated 4-4-0-0 record. And we have Toccet with a superb 7-5-0-1 record.

Vindication has won two graded races, one a G1. He has raced on three different tracks. His season is done and his record is frozen there.

Toccet has won three graded races, one G1. He has raced on six different tracks. Toccet has a chance to improve all of those totals this weekend -- and a fourth graded win would make him the leader among 2YO's in that category this season.

It's hard not to recognize that if Toccet wins the Hollywood Futurity he would have put together the better season. It's even harder to believe that some Eclipse voters don't feel that there's at least enough here to cause them to want to weigh the results of the Futurity before voting. That's disappointing.

But there are some enlightened scribes out there:

Bill Finley on espn.com says, "Toccet has my vote if he wins next week. Call it a protest vote against the wimpifying of this sport."

John Pricci on msnbc.com is even more admamant, writing, "If voters are to take their responsibilities seriously, they have a moral obligation to cast their votes after the Hollywood Futurity."

And Mike Veitch of The Saratogian adds, "It is enjoyable to see an owner running a sound horse aggressively these days."

We agree. Toccet is on the verge of putting together an excellent campaign -- much of it after the Breeders' Cup. Such a year can only be good for racing and add to the competitiveness of future seasons. This horse deserves a look for year-end honors and it's disappointing that this view isn't unanimous among the Eclipse voting community.


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