Many wouldn’t agree, but there were no losers in that spectacular photo finish at the end of this year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs.
It was the race of a lifetime, one you never forget, even if the result wasn’t what the majority of those watching wanted or expected.
The Classic finish was one of only a few things I got right during this year’s World Championships. I believed Zenyatta would lose—but not by much.
I say “lose,” but all she lost was a photo finish. It disappointed her connections and the many racing fans desperate to witness perfection, but in my eyes she measured up perfectly.
It has been a few years since I’ve voted for the Eclipse Awards, but if I had a vote for 2010 Horse of the Year, it would go to Blame. The colt made the most of his limited opportunities against the best with only one loss, but the colt that beat him, Haynesfield, finished behind him in the Classic.
Blame will go down as the only horse to have defeated Zenyatta in her 20 starts, and that speaks volumes. If he is voted Horse of the Year, it’s no negative reflection on the mare, who won five grade I stakes against females this year and almost won her second Classic against males.
In my lifetime I’ve never seen a racehorse like Zenyatta, and the 19 consecutive victories are only part of the equation. To win 19 races in a row with a running style that immediately put her at a disadvantage for a host of reasons is phenomenal regardless of the competition. Any longtime racegoer knows it just doesn’t happen; the fact it happened at the upper echelon of racing is remarkable. Don't expect to see it again anytime soon.
Zenyatta ran her race in the Classic—no one should blame themselves for a loss that very well may have made her more endearing. Perfection is overrated and not earthly anyway; brilliance in loss under the toughest of circumstances is much more impressive.
Just remember that life is all about imperfection and making the most of it. So celebrate it. With Zenyatta, we all got our money’s worth.