Another Hollywood Park Spring/Summer meet has come to a close. There were some great things (the Vanity, the concerts) and not-so-great things (large drops in handle and attendance). This post will be honoring some of the events that happened at the meet by awarding them the "Vicys", named in honor of track announcer Vic Stauffer. These awards will cover people, horses and other things that happened at Hollywood Park the last three months. Some of the awards have nominees, while others were a unanimous vote from the group of voters, which consisted of me, myself and I. (Haha)
The first Vicy goes to the jockey who gave the best ride of the meet. The nominees are:
David Flores on Awesome Gem - G1 Hollywood Gold Cup (Race 8 - July 10th)
Christian Santiago-Reyes - G2 Jim Murray Handicap (Race 8 - May 15th)
Alex Solis on Tanda - G3 Railbird Stakes (Race 7 - May 9th)
The winner is....
Alex takes advantage of a tepid first quarter and an opening on the rail to take control of the race, going to the lead and never looking back. She would hold off Switch, who would come out of the race to defeat multiple Grade 1 winner Blind Luck in the Hollywood Oaks. Tanda would go onto run third in the G1 Acorn on the Belmont Stakes undercard.
The next Vicy is for the most questionable ride of the meet. This award has only one nominee, as the voting was unanimous. The winner is Rafael Bejarano for his ride on Rail Trip in the Hollywood Gold Cup. He chose to rate off of a glacially slow pace, leaving himself parked wide the entire race. This cost him the victory when Awesome Gem grinded his way to victory along the rail, leaving Rail Tip to finish second.
Next up is the Perfect Rail Trip award. This for the horse who got a dream run through on the rail. The voting was unanimous for this one (but a bit suprising, due to its recency) as last weekend's Grade 2 A Gleam Handicap provided it.
Sweet August Moon made her way from the outside to the rail, then sat just behind the pacesetters. As the race worked its way through the turn, Sweet August Moon shot through the gap at the rail and worked her way to victory. This was her first victory in 15 months, with that coming in the G3 Las Flores Handicap.
Next up is the what i like to call the "bye-bye" award (or the "FU" award). This goes to the horse who won in gate-to-wire fashion, with them never being challenged and/or blowing the doors off their competition.
The nominees are:
Acclamation in the Grade II Jim Murray Handicap(Race 8 - May 15th)
Acclamation in the Grade I Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap (Race 10 - June 5th)
Marlang in the Grade 3 Sunset Handicap (Race 9 - July 18th)
Ruination in an Cal-bred allowance/optional claiming race (Race 7 - April 23rd)
The winner is:
Acclamation for his win in the Jim Murray!
This 7 1/2 length win set a new Stakes record for the largest margin of victory. Acclamation would go on to win the Whittingham, then falter badly in the United Nations at Monmouth over the 4th of July weekend. Hopefully he will be rested and pointed to Del Mar Handicap at the end of August. Acclamation also wins the Vicy for best male.
Next up is for big disappointment of the meet. This award is shared among the following: the total decline in average handle from last meet (down 10%) and a decline in average attendance (Also down 10%). Special acknowledgment goes to the crowd sizes for the Vanity and the Hollywood Gold Cup, which were very underwhelming. Less than 13,000 for Zenyatta is just sad. Seeing most of the apron empty on Hollywood Gold Cup day was heartbreaking. Hopefully something can be done to staunch the bleeding from the crowd size, and soon.
Next up is Race of the meet, and with a unanimous (and roaring) victory, the winner is the Vanity Handicap, featuring Zenyatta's thrilling victory.
With this victory, Zenyatta remains undefeated for her career of 17 races. Her next race has yet to be determined. Zenyatta also wins the award for best female and best horse in a dramatic role.
Now we come down to the big award of the evening, Horse of the Meet:
The Nominees are (in alphabetical order):
E Z Gentlemen (who the won Vicy for best sprinter)
and the winner is.....
ACCLAMATION!. In a bit of an upset, Acclamation wins Horse of the Meet. His two graded stakes victories, including the Grade 1 Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap, were done in such fine fashion that even though personally he has cost me a lot of money at the windows these last 13 months, his performances were strong enough to win the Vicy for Horse of the Meet. The Cal-bred son of Unusual Heat won both of his stakes in front-running fashion for trainer Donald Warren and owners the Johnstons, for which Acclamation is a home-bred.
So there you are, the Vicys are awarded, the meet is done and now southern California racing moves its way down the 5 freeway to Del Mar. Hopefully the new meet will bring out some fresh blood, as the stars of tomorrow may debut in any number of the loaded two-year old maiden races and the large crowds come out to watch can stay a little longer down the road.