by Garnet Barnsdale
What’s in a poll?
Plenty, if some of the Twitter buzz surrounding the standings in this week’s Hambletonian Top 10 poll is any indication.
Woodbine Mohawk Park announcer Ken Middleton started the ball rolling with this tweet about the 1-2 finishers in this year’s Hambletonian: “Forbidden Trade has more wins, more money and a Hambletonian victory — yet he ranks behind Greenshoe in this week’s Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown Standardbred Poll. C’mon man…”
There was plenty of response to his tweet, some from me, who finds it hard to fathom how enough voters could put Greenshoe ahead in this week’s poll. Responding to a tweet by the Hambletonian account that tweeted out the poll standings, regular harness racing tweeter Al Pappalardi replied: “What’s the logical explanation for Greenshoe being 20 points ahead of the Hambo winner? I say insanity.”
Here’s my take – and I like to think it’s an objective viewpoint and not because I am Canadian and Forbidden Trade is Ontario-sire and Canadian-owned, trained and driven. Look, I vote on this poll all summer every year and there is always a mixture of Canadian and U.S-based horses from which to choose. I base my vote on performance. That’s why this week I still had Captain Crunch ahead of Bettors Wish, despite the latter coming off a $400K win in the Milstein. Head-to-head, the Captain has ruled.
The bottom line with these two outstanding trotters is that Forbidden Trade “won the big one,” while the brilliant Greenshoe hasn’t. For me, it’s about results. Should he have won the Beal? Yes, probably. But he didn’t. As Middleton notes, the Ontario-sired son of Hall of Fame stallion Kadabra holds the edge in all statistical categories and beat his rival in the biggest harness race there is.
So, what are some of the arguments for giving Greenshoe a higher slot in the poll?
DRF Harness Editor Derick Giwner chimed in with this tweet: “Just to argue the point… If Greenshoe races tomorrow versus any 3yo male trotter, who do you think wins? Who will be favored to win? Which horse do you think is the best 3yo trotter?”
Some valid questions to be sure, but not anything I typically consider when filling out my ballot. I had Captain Midnight on the bottom of my ballot this week because he set a new stakes record after making two moves while winning the final of the Dream Maker series at Mohawk Park the other night. In doing so, Captain Midnight became the first sub-1:50 2-year-old pacer in North America this year. Does that mean I believe he is the top rookie pacer in North America? Well, no, I happen to be of the opinion that colt is named Tall Dark Stranger and I guess we’ll see about that soon.
But I don’t base my poll vote on could have, would have, should have or might in the future. For me, it’s based on performance and to this point of the season, there’s no logical argument that can be made for voting Forbidden Trade behind Greenshoe, as Darin Zocali explains quite simply with the tweet: “I have no dog in the fight. There have been two major stakes for 3YO trotters to this point. Greenshoe lost both. Nuff said?”
The bottom line with this weekly poll is that – as Giwner points out – there are no set rules and how each individual voter sees it is entirely up to their own interpretation.
That is also the beauty of writing a column which is typically an opinion piece, and it says here that anyone that voted Greenshoe ahead of Forbidden Trade in this week’s poll got it wrong. I leave the mic drop to Middleton with this tweet: “I’m talking about black and white. What has happened thus far in the season. Greenshoe lost the two BIGGEST races of the season and he still gets the nod over a horse who WON the race named after the bloody poll! Oye vay!”