Woodward Stakes 2012: Breaking Down Which Favorites Will Steal the Day

Donald WoodFeatured ColumnistSeptember 1, 2012

BALTIMORE - MAY 19:  Saratoga Drive #8, ridden by Javier Castellano and Smart N Pretty #6, ridden by Richard Migliore lead the pack down the front stretch of the Black-Eyed Susan during the Pimlico Special at Pimlico Race Course May 19, 2006 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

With Labor Day weekend upon us, the celebrations from coast to coast will turn to excitement over this weekend’s 2012 Woodward Stakes at the beautiful Saratoga Race Course.

September 1st marks the 59th year that this annual event has taken place, but there are some clear favorites ready to buck any kind of trend and steal the show on the track of Saratoga.

All of the following horses had up-and-down seasons so far, but a win on a Grade I stakes race with the prestige of the Woodward Stakes is exactly what these horses need to separate themselves as Horse of the Year candidates.

As of right now, I’ll Have Another is the clear favorite for that award—that’s what winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes can do for a horse—but a great showing by any of these top horses will put them in serious contention.


Stay Thirsty

Stay Thirsty came into 2012 as one of the hottest horses in the sport, but unimpressive rides throughout the season and poor posting positions have doomed the greatness of the young horse.

This year’s Woodward Stakes is all about redemption for Stay Thirsty.

The horse’s last win came on the dirt of Saratoga Race Course, but it came over a year ago at the 2011 Travers Stakes against a mediocre group of horses.

With Mucho Macho Man, To Honor and Serve and many others insuring this is one of the toughest races of the year, Stay Thirsty will be a favorite but far from a lock to win.


Mucho Macho Man

If you are looking for a favorite that has the speed and the proper rest to win this race in easy fashion, look no further than Mucho Macho Man.

If he gets the start needed to get out—and stay out—in front of this pack of horses, there will be no contender in the current field that can run the amazing horse or his inspirational trainer Kathy Ritvo down on the dirt of Saratoga.

With almost three months since his last race, Mucho Macho Man has plenty of rest and will be as fresh as any fan or bettor could ever want on a race of this magnitude.

After a big win at the 2012 Suburban Handicap, Mucho Macho Man is ready to steal the show.


To Honor and Serve

While it is hard to call To Honor and Serve a favorite after the season this horse had, he was another victim of the depth of each field this year. Winning the 2012 Woodward Stakes would definitely ease that pain for the trainers, owners and everyone else involved with this horse.

Despite looking slow and ineffective in his last two races, the four-year-old colt won four of the five previous races he entered and is coming into this Stakes with as much rest as Mucho Macho Man.

Add in six of the toughest horses in the world to this field, and To Honor and Serve will be part of one of the most brutal seven-horse races a fan would ever want to witness.

With so much talent, though. The predictability ends up going right out the window. If you’re betting on this race, be smart and make it count!


Check back for more on horse racing as it comes, and don’t miss Bleacher Report’s Horse Racing page to get your fill of all things from the ponies.