Things That Make You Go Hmmmm (7)

E-mail note from a friend and racing fan about the Eclipse Awards, “where the first African-American champion jockey since the 1800s doesn’t even get a mention … on Martin Luther King Day.” … That would be DeShawn Parker, who led all jockeys by wins in 2010 riding predominantly at Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort. DeShawn is a good story and a hard worker who rarely gets credit for his accomplishments. … Shades of the late Dale Baird, the all-time leading trainer (also based at Mountaineer). Dale received a Special Eclipse Award years back, apparently as a consolation prize for his Hall of Fame snub, which continues today.

Made some advance Turfway Park wagers Jan. 14 at Keeneland and noticed in the program Keeneland was only taking the first eight races from Delta Downs that night. The ninth race, the $250,000 Jean Lafitte Stakes, was blacked out even though it went off about the same time as Turfway’s 12th and final race, which was in the simulcast program. … This doesn’t bode well for the simulcast offerings when Turfway switches to Saturday night racing in February. Will we get a real simulcast menu (Penn National at 5 p.m., etc.) or a track and a half after the afternoon regulars go home?

On a similar note, Turfway’s post time switch is designed to generate interest in racing as well as ontrack revenue. The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission had complained earlier about how tracks weren’t doing anything different. … Is there a reason this doesn’t carry over to simulcasting, perhaps a Saturday night at the races promotion? … Don’t expect much to happen there, though, as the KHRC allowed Ellis Park to shut down simulcasting for the winter and drive horseplayers to a betting parlor just up the road in neighboring Indiana.

New racetrack planned for the Youngstown, Ohio, area. When asked if revenue from not-yet-legal VLTs would be used to support purses, one of the principals answered: “Probably.” That doesn’t bode well. … Better dig up those old Ascot Park condition books: Claiming price $1,500. Purse $1,200.

Have to give the Horseplayers Association of North America some credit for pushing the pari-mutuel takeout issue, particularly in California. Believe HANA’s overall point is being missed, however: Anything that takes more money away from beleaguered bettors is bad business. … What’s really funny is the casino industry labors over the percentage of return to players from each slot machine to not only keep them coming back, but to maximize revenue over the long haul.

Interesting how Illinois Rep. Lou Lang publicly apologized for failing to call a gambling bill that included slots for racetracks to the floor for a vote Jan. 11 and insisted he’s already working on a new bill for track slots only. … When’s the last time you heard a Kentucky legislator apologize for not helping the horse industry?

Somewhat lopsided Horse of the Year vote tally—Zenyatta 128, Blame 102—given the latter’s 2010 record. Thought it would be much, much closer than that.

A good thing that makes you go Hmmmm.  The recent Thoroughbred Charities of America stallion season auction raised about $1.7 million, about the same amount as a year ago. Yes, the economy stinks and cash is tight, but nice to see folks stepping up to the plate for good industry causes.

Indiana poised to join Delaware, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia as states that have taken gaming revenue from racing and breeding to fund state programs.  … Wake up folks—and don’t forget about trying to increase handle on racing when you wipe the sleep from your eyes.


Leave a Comment:


Love Z's personality, but Blame should have won HOY.

19 Jan 2011 11:09 AM

Disagree on the comment that you thought it would be closer on the HOY voting.. I thought it would be much further apart and go the opposite way with writers heads up their rears voting for Blame. Refreshing to see that the "experts" for once and FINALLY got what mainstream America caught onto -- the Zenyatta bandwagon, and recognized her for it. Just sad that over 100 "experts" still didn't get it.

19 Jan 2011 11:11 AM

Golden Broom.....AMEN. What makes them experts? Because they write about the sport or have gone to the track all these years? How many of these experts know what an insensative lamina is or a coronet band is? I have been involved with the Thoroughbred industry for over 25 years and I fancy myself a someone who knows a little bit about horse racing. I can tell you this. The Horse of the Year debate was drummed up by the media and they beat that drum until they realized Zenyatta was going to win. The Breeders' Cup is no longer the definative race to determine who is Horse Of The Year. The award is calling Horse of The "YEAR"....not horse of the day or month. Zenyatta has been ranked #1 or #2 for OVER 3 years. Zenyatta simply losing a race by a nose does not make Blame HOTY when he got trounced by 5 lengths in his prior race. The experts did nothing but toot their own horns and in the end, voted the way they were always going to vote. They realized if Blame was voted HOTY, that they would be opening the floodgates for criticism and risked losing the new fan base that is now going to the races because of Zenyatta. Of course the voting is some what of a popularity contest. It has to be. How else could Rachel Alexandra been voted HOTY when she did not even race past September 6. She did not even compete in the Breeders' Cup. Had she run, she would have been soundly crushed. What then, would the voters who crowned her HOTY after she beat a weak Whitney field, have done then.

If the "experts" aren't careful, owners whose horses are rated #1 after mid-September or early October will simply bypass the Breeders' Cup all together so as not to damage their HOTY chances.  And that will spell the end of the Breeders' Cup as we know and love it now. Unless the HOTY award makes competing in the Breeders' Cup mandatory, unless due to injury, then all this debate will continue and it will not help draw new fans to our tracks.

19 Jan 2011 12:21 PM
Susan from VA

Really? I disagree about the HOY comment. Finally the horse that should have won, did. How many grade I races did Blame win this year? By how much did he beat Zenyatta? By how much was he beaten by Haynesfield?

19 Jan 2011 12:25 PM

It is sad that HOY was decided for the feel good horse, not the one that really deserved it.

19 Jan 2011 1:12 PM
Gary at Rough Creek

Your comment regarding the voting for HOTY makes me go "hmmmm?"

So does the industry "expert/turf writer/drf position" of INSULTING THE FANS. Now there's a smart marketing campaign guys! Keep it up.

That position states that those who think Zenyatta deserved HOTY are sentimental old blue blue hairs, or just rabid fans that can't seem to see the facts.

That "expert" position is ridiculous. Z won more grade 1s than Blame. She won under higher weights and great weight discrepancies. She won grade 1s on three DIFFERENT all weather surfaces (at distances that compromised her ability to beat the competition in my opinion--too short). She won a grade 1 on dirt, where she was supposed to meet the reigning HOTY Rachel A. But Rachel A's people ran away scared. That's NOT Z's FAULT!

Obviously, Zenyatta is more VERSATILE than Blame.

And, lastly, can you really sit there and tell me, with a straight face, that Blame was the better horse in the BCC? Really? Really?

How about Blame's incredibly tough competition that the East Coast writers thought so highly of? How'd they fare in the BCC? How about LAST and SECOND LAST!  Zenyatta dusted them, and one step past the wire, her nose was in front of Blame's nose, too. I was there.

Blame was beaten once badly and barely beat Quality Road while in receipt of what...6 or 8 pounds? He wasn't even the best horse in that race. Blame just loves Churchill.    

Zenyatta was the best horse in training in North America for the last two years straight.

So c'mon guy. Get over it.  

19 Jan 2011 1:26 PM
Jason Shandler

Has there ever been a HOY winner that didn't A) Defeat males or B) defeat a grade I horse in victory? Just asking...

Just goes to show you the Eclipse Awards morphed into a popularity contest this year. It's always been a performance-based award but this is a perfect example of how the media can influence a decision. Feel bad for Blame's connections. They defeated their competition on the track but were not rewarded.

19 Jan 2011 1:30 PM

To Gary and others who have seized on the one item from nine: This HOTY stuff has been discussed for months, and there is nothing new in it. The item on this blog post is only about the margin of victory, which did surprise me. Period. End of story. ... Anything else of importance happening in this business? If so, please weigh in.

19 Jan 2011 1:35 PM

Zenyatta deserved Horse of the Year and I was very happy with the results. Blame was a good horse, but will not go into the history books as being great. As for Zenyatta, she will go into the history books as being one of the greatest! :)

19 Jan 2011 1:36 PM

jshandler - Azeri won Horse of the Year in 2002 without racing against males that year.

19 Jan 2011 2:18 PM

Sad to see many of Tom's great points (particularly simulcast issues in Kentucky) swallowed up by the Horse of the Year discussion.

Tom and I write for competitors but we both very much agree on the simulcasting issue in the so-called horse capital of the world.

19 Jan 2011 2:23 PM
Susan from VA


I thought that Zenyatta did beat males at the BC. There was only one she did not beat, and she didn't lose by much. And some of those males were grade I winners.

19 Jan 2011 2:53 PM
l. castello

Azeri 2002

19 Jan 2011 3:11 PM

The comments on here defending Zenyatta are getting boring.  Alright, she is HOY and the voters gave her the honor.  Don't react to every slightly negative word that someone else has every right to say.  I don't think Zenyatta would appreciate it.  Get on with the racing this year. 2010 is over.  Worry about saving the sport and get on the Derby trail and other races this year.

19 Jan 2011 3:23 PM

Lou Lang is a joke. I fear for racing's future here in Illinois, and we have been doing OK shipping to Indiana, so many people are talking about moving over there; I havn't packed my stuff yet...

And HOW are they building another track in Ohio?!?!?!?!

19 Jan 2011 3:26 PM
Jason Shandler

"Defeat grade I horses in victory." Not the same as "finishing ahead" of the also-rans. If a horse finishes sixth in a race and the seventh-place horse is a grade I winner, did the sixth-place finisher beat a grade I winner? I think not.

Zenyatta is a very nice horse and her accomplishment of winning 19 straight races is terrific. But no matter how you slice it, Blame had a better year on the racetrack in 2010. That is very clear to me. He won better races against better competition and he beat her in their only head-to-head matchup. I have always felt that championships should be decided on the racetrack, not by popularity. If you want to call me a Zenyatta hater or a bad person because of that, so be it. I like to stick to facts. Fact is, Blame had a better campaign. Very simple if you take the emotion out of it and base the award on performance.

I'd also like to say that I commend Al Stall for being such a gentleman after he lost. He showed a lot of class and was not a poor sport, as we have seen from others in the past.

19 Jan 2011 3:35 PM

My only regret is that Zenyatta did not showcase her talents more in the Midwest or East. She may just be better on real dirt!! Arlington (synthetic track too) usually jumps at a promotional opportunity and should have been considered. Even staying out west just one race vs. males would have been great. Nevertheless a truly deserving champ.      

19 Jan 2011 3:45 PM
Bill Daly

What makes me go "Hmmmm" is the amount of time and energy consumed by the endless HOY debate.  I could not care less about this issue. I care much more about the takeout issues around the country. As Tom implies, casino operators get it. They proudly emphazize low takeout rates, realizing that their handle will increase if more people win money.  This seems to be an alien concept among state legislators and industry officials in some states. As long as we argue incessantly about meaningless awards and throw up our hands over the shoddy treatment of horseplayers the sport will continue to lose customers.

19 Jan 2011 3:49 PM
Bill L

If we don't get purses right, y'all won't be arguing about HOY in a few years because there won't be one.

As far as simulcasting Saturday nights goes, I thought Keeneland and Turfway had some commonality of ownership so they could work for the common good?

Ellis should be held accountable by their horseman's group (Ky HBPA) for shutting down simulcasting from October thru April.

19 Jan 2011 3:51 PM

Zenyatta deserved horse of the year.

19 Jan 2011 4:30 PM

Zenyatta defeated ALL of her competition on the track in the Breeders' Cup Classic 2009 and her performance was not rewarded.  

Zenyatta stayed in the game and she won this year. How many can you name who put it out there at age 6?

19 Jan 2011 4:51 PM

HOY should be voted on by trainers and jockeys, NOT spectators who get a blog page and suddenly deem themselves "Turf-writers". I agree: How many of these clowns have had to stay up all night with a colic? How many of them would know a stifle from a navicular?

Zenyatta is the better horse. Her grade 1s were just as tough (Where did Haynesfield finish in the Classic? Quality Road? Hmmm?) as Blame's.

We endured VERY questionable HOY decisions for other horses in two prior years - please save your sour grapes, because Queen Z fans have been eatin' them for way too long!

19 Jan 2011 5:05 PM

To those of you who realize there are more important issues vital to the health of this industry, I appreciate your comments.

19 Jan 2011 5:21 PM
Butch Cassidy

Love the old Ascot Park reference. I've been in contact with the investors in this project, and they say they are really interested in "world class" racing. Not exactly how you can interpret that when Presque Isle said the same thing when they first started building the place, and then they open and there's no place to sit, and not many places to put in a wager. We'll see...

19 Jan 2011 5:22 PM

I think the right horse won HOTY, and appropriately, given that the criteria, such as it is, obviously lends itself to rewarding horses for a variety of reasons.  It seems to me that those who wish to definitively say that "HOTY means this and not this" are doing nothing more than imposing conditions where there aren't any.  Congrats to the majority of voters who did the right thing at last.  The award was just and overdue.  

19 Jan 2011 5:50 PM

I'm glad for Zenyatta. But Blame was awesome this year. I thought it was weird watching the Eclipse Awards. And when Zenyatta won horse of the year. And the announcer said Zenyatta was the first filly to win the gold hardware since Azeri in 2002. When the great filly Rachel Alexandra won horse of the year last year in 2009. Unless he meant the first older mare to win the gold hardware. Since Azeri. And it was funny looking at the 2009 Eclipse Awards on YouTube. And lots of the Zenyatta fans said that Rachel Alexandra should not have gotten horse of the year. Because she did not win the Breeders' Cup classic. And yet this year Zenyatta did not win the Classic. And she still won horse of the year. So now I hope people will stop bashing Rachel Alexandra for beating Zenyatta for horse of the year last year. And be happy to have 2 back-to-back females win horse of the year.

19 Jan 2011 6:09 PM

Mr. Shandler, to each his own, but if the best you can say about Zenyatta is that she "is a very nice horse" then I am afraid that your perspective on horse racing is severely lacking in common sense, intelligence and any kind of historical perpsective.

Sorry to drag this out, I think we all should be looking ahead, but you didn't think you could possibly get by with such an inane statement did you?

Talk about things that make you go hmmmmmmm.....

19 Jan 2011 6:16 PM
The_Knight_Sky racing blog

It is nice to see Mr. LaMarra mention the importance of the takeout issue in California.   A lot of us know in their hearts that haphazardly raising the takeout rates is a counterproductive practice - and it shows in declining handle figures.

Optimal takeout rates for each wagering pool at each racetrack is the wave of the future.  This concept benefits the horsemen, racetracks, as well as create a larger segment of winning bettors who come back to churn their winnings.

If I can understand this basic mathematical concept, everyone can.

The horse racing industry's future is dependent on a long-term strategy involving optimal takeouts.  Slots revenue simply won't persist due to the oversaturation of gaming.  It is time for the industry to put a plan into action.

19 Jan 2011 6:20 PM


19 Jan 2011 6:20 PM

I thought the Horse of the Year vote was a little lopsided too.  I figured Zenyatta would get all the votes.  I can't believe Blame got a few.

19 Jan 2011 6:24 PM

Knight Sky: I stink at math and even I get it. ... Please call me Tom. I'm not that old (late 40s, but I remember nights at ACRC in the 1970s like it was yesterday. Keeps me young.) ... and for those of you referencing "Mr. Shandler," just Shandler will suffice.

19 Jan 2011 6:25 PM

Jason - You're just wrong on this one.  Please get over it.

19 Jan 2011 6:32 PM

..."things that go hmmmm...".

In the words of Mr. Shandler it sounds like "sour grapes".

Tom,  wasn't Zenyatta on top of the NTRA poll all year long and even the poll taken AFTER the Classic.

Tom, wasn't there a study done by Bill Shanklin of Horse Racing Business that came to the conclusion that Zenyatta had the better year over Blind Luck with Blame in third place. Third place!

Tom, wasn't there also a study done by Jon White of that came to the conclusion that Zenyatta had the better year over Blind Luck again, and also had Blame in third place, again.  Third place!

And Tom, isn't Zenyatta the first ever Horse of the Year in the history of the award to have raced exclusively in Grade 1 races throughout the year?

19 Jan 2011 6:36 PM

John: I wrote a blog after the BC saying I've never seen a horse like Zenyatta.

John: I said in the same blog I believed Blame did what he had to do to win HOY--in 2010.

John: Zenyatta won, Blame lost.

John: It's over.

John: Feel free to comment on other items posted on this blog. ... How about DeShawn Parker? Anybody out there even know who he is? Pathetic.

19 Jan 2011 6:41 PM
The_Knight_Sky racing blog

Well I'm a little younger than you but my time is getting up there.  Soon I'll be getting called Mister Knight Sky.  Has a nice ring to it, I must admit. LOL

But seriously folks, The trade publications like The BloodHorse should be promoting these ideal rates that equitably benefit the participants in the horse racing industry.

This is when horse racing will turn the corner as "the best game of skill" on the planet.

19 Jan 2011 6:47 PM



But I still don't get the "hmmmm" part.

When polls done at the DRF,, Thoroughbred Times, Paulick Report and the Louisville Courier-Journal has Zenyatta winning from 71% to 94% of the vote I believed Zenyatta would of won by a larger margin.

And she would of (63% or 45 votes) if you took the DRF out of the equation.

19 Jan 2011 7:16 PM

Personally I tired of all this HOTY crap before the Breeders' Cup even ran.  Does the horse know it is horse of the year?  I think not.  It is (especially this year) a huge ego contest for owners and that's it.  We are lucky to have had TWO fantastic female horses over the past couple years who have brought attention and money to the sport.  Nice to have something other than the usual 3YO dirt colt to get excited about.  I'm awful tired of the ardent supporters of Zenyatta taking offense when the horse's name is not mentioned in the same sentence as a deity, but still, we had not one but TWO fantastic female horses who brought in new fans to our sport.  Now who is going to take their places?

On another note, field sizes at Turfway seem to be up.  This is good, I think, but how about them purses?  NOT.

19 Jan 2011 7:17 PM

Tom and Jason,

 Ohio needs another racetrack like I need another hole in the head. The racing we have now is a joke, adding another track will just make it worse. I didn't think that was possible.

19 Jan 2011 7:35 PM
Jason Shandler

You're right Vertigineux: I should have said, "a very nice horse who we'll never know how good she was because she was only tested two or three times in her career." Sorry about that, I should have been more clear.

Kathleen: You're actually right about one thing, her Facebook popularity is a big reason she won. As was the 60 Minutes piece and the Oprah piece. Forget about what they've done on the track, it's Facebook and TV and how many fans you have that are now most important when it comes to HOY.

19 Jan 2011 7:38 PM


There were many objective, fact-based reasons to choose Z over Blame for HOY and vice versa. The condescending attitude that a vote for Z was "emotion" based is the same condescending attitude that bettors should just shut up and pay the higher takeouts. Most of the industry leadership, media included, have a very patronizing attitude to the average fan/bettor which has predictably resulted in dire economic consequences for the sport as a whole.

19 Jan 2011 8:11 PM

NO Shandler, again you got it wrong.

WE know how good she was....

You apparently don't recognize it.

Thank you for confirming my point.

19 Jan 2011 8:16 PM
Jason Shandler

Actually, I got it right. I had Blame in the Classic. Thanks.

Sorry to rehash this on your blog Tom, I done with this and ready to move on to the TC.

I agree with you about the casino vs. track thing. Racetracks need to figure how to value their customers, in a hurry.

Goodnight all.

19 Jan 2011 8:23 PM

Re Dale Baird: a trainer who openly admitted to selling his horses to the killers doesn't belong in the HoF.

19 Jan 2011 8:34 PM

Tom, I did not know who DeShawn Parker is..., but now I do. Thank You!

19 Jan 2011 9:01 PM

Until we can finally get a Triple Crown, let's go for a filly/mare Triple Crown with 3 Consecutive Horse of the Year Award going to the girls.  Blind Luck had a tough time in the El Encino.  Is she up for it?  How about Turbulent Descent?

Let's move on folks.  Bring Blame back after breeding him this season and let him run in the BCC again.  Tradition is changing.  Step on up.

19 Jan 2011 9:03 PM

Tom, looks like it's mostly Jason stirring the pot here like he does on his own blog.  He can't see greatness and I was wondering when and where he was gonna say she won due to a popularity contest.  I guess he forgot that all of us didn't get a vote.  But at least some of the voters got it right this time and saw Zenyatta's greatness through all the trashing of her that was done by some of the so called "experts"!

Don't know about DeShawn Parker but it would seem he should have gotten a mention if he won the most races in the country last year!

Wish my local track could get some gaming money - then maybe we could get back our lost graded stakes.  But the casinos in my state have a monopoly on gaming here and they don't share the profits!  Don't think our legislators are doing anything for racing.  Wish Kentucky's leaders would get it together though, those people seem to be really suffering.

19 Jan 2011 9:17 PM
Fuzzy Corgi

Jason, you say that the Eclipse awards aren't supposed to be a popularity contest. However, there is no criteria other than the horse must have raced once in North America. Basically you are calling the fans foolish who don't see the world as you do.

Tom, regarding your post at 6:41: How about DeShawn Parker? Anybody out there even know who he is? Pathetic.

Nice way to talk to the fans. Ever wonder why the industry is in trouble? Look in the mirror.

19 Jan 2011 9:26 PM

your mention of Ellis closing simulcasting for the winter was right on !  They did not try anything different and they have been driving customers away since Churchill sold Ellis Park.

They need new ownership with new ideas,  we do not need ownership that thinks it is all about them.

19 Jan 2011 9:26 PM
Aluminaut's Personal Assistant

Zenzational has his first foal.

Esky is not part of this discussion

Nominating fees fund racing.

Yes, it happened Monday night.

Always check your fly in public.

Tom L. is going hmmmmmmmm again.

Take this to the bank...

Aikenite doesn't belong on the blog

How many ways can this be said?

Only the best in the U.S.A.

Yes it's now a historical fact.

Where are AAF and Draynay to back up their main man Jason?  It's cold in Kentucky this time of year. Especially on Monday nights. :)

19 Jan 2011 9:48 PM
Bill Daly

It's a shame DeShawn Parker isn't noticed more by racing fans, but when you ply your trade at Mountaineer Park not many people will notice.  The Dale Baird example suffices.  You have to get out of Chester, W. Va., DeShawn.  Look at Ramon Dominguez: for years he excelled in Delaware and Maryland and how many people took notice of him?  He went to New York and continued to excel and now he is finally getting some recognition.  You could be on that stage someday too, but you aren't going to get that chance in Chester.

19 Jan 2011 10:01 PM

The "sour grapes" comments made me chuckle because all last year Zenyatta fans were sharing them with anyone who would listen.

19 Jan 2011 11:58 PM


20 Jan 2011 3:43 AM

Unfortunately have received some truly nasty comments, including personal attacks and references to sexual innuendo, from some Zenyatta fans. No more comments will be posted regarding HOY. My apologies in advance to the many reasonable Zenyatta and Blame people out there.

20 Jan 2011 6:24 AM
C Bea

Many more important issues facing our Industry than continued HOY debate. The votes have been cast, NEXT!

The issue of states stealing from the racing industry troubles me. It signifies that we've failed to make our case effectively regarding the benefits that our industry brings to the states where it's conducted.

HANA is a curiosity. On one hand they raise important points on behalf of the players. And they've helped to raise the level of respect for players. On the other hand the self-absorbed and often self-destructive way that they make their points leave you feeling like you just kissed your sister in supporting them. OK, maybe your hot cousin, you know, the one you saw that one summer at the family reunion. But not completely comfortable regardless.

Politicians behaving badly in support of racing? Does this strike anyone as something new? It again reinforces the fact that we're not doing enough at the state level around the country in getting our message out.

20 Jan 2011 7:06 AM
Pedigree Ann

What makes me go 'hmmmm' is the continuing practice of giving North American awards to horses who race only once in North America. Anything can happen in one race - look at what happened to Midday in the Ladies' Turf. It takes a campaign to establish dominance of a division and Goldikova's campaign was in Europe; none of those races should count toward a North American championship. IMHO the late Tuscan Evening had the best campaign of the US/Canadian turf mares - 6 starts/6 wins - and the mares she beat continued to run well at the best levels after her untimely death.

20 Jan 2011 10:48 AM

Parker is a good rider now at Tampa Bay Downs, a fine place to bet--they actually care about their customers.

20 Jan 2011 11:45 AM

Hummmmm, Bob B.and Mike P. didn't show up for the big night! That didn't seem right. HUM!

20 Jan 2011 1:17 PM
Cowboy Adventure


I live in CA and am not having a problem with the pari-mutuel takeout issue. Sometimes I win, sometimes I lose - but I am happy so far with the money I've made betting at Santa Anita. Can't say the same when I bet at Churchill Downs - I think they manipulate the track - but maybe that is just sour grapes.

I think CA made some good arguments explaining their justification on the increase and if (and it seems it has) brings more horses and new trainers here to race - especially from the East Coast -then that is a good thing. Because as much as I am in love with my online betting account, I also enjoy going out to the track to just watch the races.

Still - I always welcome your debate because you have been doing this longer than me and I'm still learning. I will say one thing, I lived in KY for four years and if you want changes, the best way is to work on voting those out of office that do not support the horse industry and get some new people into office that will. That is how real change will start - electing new officials who will do the work and get the bills moving forward. Some of those guys are just too old, don't care, and need to go. Vote!

20 Jan 2011 1:45 PM

DeShawn Parker is a rising star. He even has an NFL-worthy name, so let's promote him with the same ferocity we have done others the past few years :)

20 Jan 2011 4:11 PM
Zen's Auntie

Its that one-start rule Pedigree Ann.

The only rule that is even definable in the clandestine decision-making process each Eclipse voter must undertake.

I understand (only from conjecture on what I have read) one race then brings in the entire year's racing? Or so it seems - you are right the best female American racehorse on turf in 2010 was the late great Tuscan Evening.  

Yes Jason I agree, Al Stall was very gracious I did not expect any less of him as everything I have ever heard or read about him pointed to him being a gentleman. He is a true horseman and sportsman that has worked hard without a bunch of recognition and it is too bad that his greatest horse so far came at a time that was at the same time as the retirement, for real this time, of a legend in Zenyatta.  

Some would say just like Zenyatta last year or in 2008 or my heartthob Sham in 1973 "being great wasn’t good enough."  

Shameless plug for Sham here; he was a my childhood favorite. I cannot wait to read the book. And, like I have never forgotten Sham I will never forget Blame either, my easy favorite for HOYmost any other year.

While a “purest” like Jason laments the travesty of the 2010 HOY - lifelong fans and long-time race followers like myself see the justice in it.

For once it seems like racing didnt "shoot itself in the hoof." And that, my fellow equine enthusiasts, makes me say HHHHMMMMMMMM.

20 Jan 2011 7:52 PM

I agree Tom that DeShawn should get some credit. Unfortunately it is all about the purse money won. Personally I think winning percentage is more important than purse money won. I have never understood why purse money won is the deciding factor. Ramon Dominguez should have won several times already; in my opinion he is amazing.

I don't even know why I am addressing this because I am beyond sick of the bickering over HOY. Zenyatta won, Blame lost; that is life, let's move on. Can we please start talking about the Derby?        

21 Jan 2011 12:53 AM

It is amazing to me the high horse that Zenyatta's fans seem to be riding in on. Any attempt to rationalize anything other than complete awe over her is slapped down as bias or hatred, and soon after the chastising and brow-beating begins.

The idea that a person can't simply believe that Blame had a better season without being called a name or accused of some mystery bias is so very telling. The shame of it is that the unusual passion that these people show for the big mare is not shown in other areas like actually wagering.

21 Jan 2011 1:11 AM

I've been to Mountaineer and seen DeShawn Parker ride--he is an excellent jock, particularily when the fact that he is 5-10 is made known. His height/weight alone had been a concern for many trainers, and that is 1 of the reasons he has stayed at Mountaineer--he gets rides there. Why is the "race card" and Martin Luther King Day being brought into this discussion? Of what relevance is that other than an attempt to stir up a non-existent hornets' nest?

21 Jan 2011 7:39 AM

PomDeTerre: I'm not a race-card type of guy nor is the guy who sent the email. His point was simply this: The industry missed an opportunity to publicize an accomplishment by one of the few black jockeys in the business.

21 Jan 2011 9:00 AM

Ohio definitely does not need another track. We can barely support the ones we have. At least River Downs was sold. I hope the new management will find a few bucks for advertising and publicity.

A mention of Mr. Parker would have been nice. However, I assume he is where he is by choice. He has talent, and if he chose he could move his tack to New York or SoCal and probably do well. Maybe he likes the lower cost of living where he is, or has a family he doesn't want to uproot. I imagine that every low-to-mid-level track/circuit has solid journeymen who deserve more recognition than they get--guys like Perry Outz, Leandro Goncalves, or Orlando Mojica around here.

I wonder--does anyone else think that racing needs to come up with a way to make money off fans who don't like to gamble (without soaking those who do, obviously)? I love racing, enjoy going to the track, and even own part of a horse. I try to contribute. I pay for parking, buy food, and buy upgraded seats when possible. I always place a few bets because I know that's where the purse money comes from, but I don't enjoy it. It's just not my thing. Is the business model that makes horseracing so dependent on bettors flawed? It made sense when it was the only legal form of gambling apart from church bingo, but now, with casinos all over the place, can racing compete?  Just wondering.

21 Jan 2011 8:24 PM

Laughing: I couldn't have said it better myself! We all have our heroes but it's not about our hearts. It's about total performance - and vitriolic rants serve no purpose.

21 Jan 2011 9:39 PM

Laughing - Most of the negative comments about Zenyatta go way beyond making a case against her.  It is the "tone" they are written in. On most of the blogs the Zenyatta backers are basically called stupid or newbies that don't know anything and need a horse racing 101 lesson.  That is why the defensive comments are written.  A civil debate could be had but it never seems to happen.  It always turns ugly.

22 Jan 2011 12:48 AM

I don't have a problem with Zenyatta winning, but I too wonder that it was not closer.  She is very special---but the practice of electing a horse who did not really look for competition all year is dangerous.  LOL, apparently for some people, "experts" are only experts if they agree with that person.  The fact that 102 "experts" did not vote for Zenyatta is simply proof that to horsemen, it was not an easy decision, however it turned out.  

From a publicity standpoint, I'm relieved that it came out the way it did.  But it is grossly unfair of Zen fans not to recognize Blame's excellence (after all, LOL, he beat her, and while that might not ensure HOY honors, he had a heck of a season).  HOY is not just about wins; it is about competition, schedule and performance.  If it weren't Zenyatta who got HOY, I would be extremely upset at the way it turned out.

22 Jan 2011 6:46 PM

For those who are knocking the tone the "anti-Zen" people (I don't know any, LOL) take, let me point out that not all Zenyatta fans are admirable.  The hate mail that came in to Claiborne farm was deplorable.  'Nuff said.  We can all love Zenyatta---and admire Blame too.  It's a fabulous year when we have horses like that to watch.

22 Jan 2011 6:49 PM

Parker is 5'10?  Seriously?  I can't imagine how hard he must work to make weight!!  Fantastic that he's doing so well.

22 Jan 2011 9:55 PM

back to Ascot? We already have that at Beulah now.

23 Jan 2011 10:44 AM

The shocker of the US HOY voting was only 5 votes for Goldikova who ran against much tougher company than Z or B. It's too bad the US Turf writers have such a negative feeling for turf horses.

By the way, rename the Eclipse Award for HOY as US HOY in a manner similar to what Europe does as does Canada. Keep in mind that Goldikova was the European HOY and there is no worldwide HOY.

What are we going to do when Goldikova wins #4 this fall in the BC turf?

23 Jan 2011 2:32 PM

Catbird: Thank you for the post. I think you summed things up pretty well.

23 Jan 2011 6:42 PM

Got an e-mail from "Barry" slamming Jason and myself for our inability to pick winners on THS. ... He noted we both picked Justin Phillip in the Lecomte, and he finished last in a five-horse field. ... All true. Not a good start for me, in particular, this year. But cut us a break. We make our selections two days in advance. Also, we try to have some fun with it. ... Shame I couldn't give out the $24 MSW winner at Turfway Saturday, but that's how it goes. Reminder to THS viewers: We're not handicapping all the races we'd normally bet.

23 Jan 2011 6:54 PM

Observation from the author: From the top down (racing executives, horsemen, fans, etc.) there is a lot of negativity, sourness, and meanness in this industry. A colleague of mine says the racing industry is a dumping ground for mediocrity and sourness. I'm starting to believe him. ... Does anyone out there know how to have fun and appreciate horse racing for the great sport it is? No wonder it suffers.

23 Jan 2011 7:26 PM
Mike Relva


Please, get real.

23 Jan 2011 8:12 PM
Mike Relva


What's happened to Rail Trip? Was totally against the change of trainers last year. It didn't work out.

23 Jan 2011 8:21 PM


I agree with your comment about negativity.  For some reason all the blogs have a few who like to start fights.  I guess they get a kick out of it.  It is a shame, too, because all of us who are here are obviously fans of the sport and have that in common.  It would be nice if we could have a friendly place to discuss this great sport and possibly make some frieds.  I don't comment as often as I would like and have a couple of friends who don't bother because of the hatefulness.

I feel bad for Blame's connections for any hate mail they may have received but I think the negativity on the blogs is what drove it to that.

23 Jan 2011 8:35 PM


I always enjoy watching THS.  I missed the last couple.  Sometimes I mean to watch the vid and then end up putting it off due to business.  All of a sudden the race has run and there's no point going back.  Giving Jason a hard time is fun, especially when he asks for it.  Sports team rivalry creates hotly contested debate and the gloves are off sometimes.  I need to say that I appreciate the forum for comments and that I respect you and I usually respect Jason.  

Not sucking up.

23 Jan 2011 10:57 PM


I was not slamming you. Jason maybe yes. You are both great writers. I guess it is something you both are just having fun with. Maybe you two can take turns hosting with a couple of real handicappers on the show. That would benefit the viewers much more. At least we get free PPs for the race.

23 Jan 2011 11:46 PM

Zenyatta Wins and her fans are still complaining. That makes me go Hmmmmmm!!!! Do you people even have a horse or racing issue your watching now that she retired?

24 Jan 2011 7:58 AM

Barry: J not a bad handicapper. He, I, and others just consistently screw up how to play races. ... That said, thanks for changing the subject to a more worthwhile topic. I'm HOY-exhausted.

24 Jan 2011 8:59 AM

Midway Sue - Zenyatta fans are not still complaining. They are still defending her from all the hateful comments being made about how she did not deserve her award, never faced any legitimate competition, etc.  

Can we please move on?

24 Jan 2011 7:14 PM
Tonka's Destiny

Wow, i have counted at least seven outright insults and negative comments directed at Zenyatta fans (three from jason...go figure????) and so far no real negative statements from any Zen fan directed towards Blame fans....Things that make you go HMMMMMMMMMMM???? The votes were cast, awards were given, lets move on, shall we??????? Will the industry pay any attention to tracks that are actually making a profit and try to replicate that success everywhere?????? That should be a good debate. JMO

25 Jan 2011 3:40 AM
Pedigree Ann

"Zenyatta fans are not still complaining. They are still defending her from all the ***hateful*** comments being made about how she did not deserve her award, never faced any legitimate competition, etc."

So it is 'hateful' to have a contrary opinion? That makes me go 'Hmmmmmm.'  

26 Jan 2011 11:48 AM


Any information on Rachel Alexandra and when she will be bred to Curlin? If I recall someone from Blood-Horse was going out to visit and take some photos for an update sometime soon. Last I heard was see was being bred to Curlin but that was many months ago.

26 Jan 2011 12:31 PM

Goldikova, you are my winner.

26 Jan 2011 12:39 PM
The Regular Guy

Glad you gave recognition to DeShawn Parker. I don't believe where he rides diminishes his fantastic accomplishments. My mother always said "stick to your knitting." He has become familiar to the horsemen there and they know they are going to get a talented jock giving a great ride on their horse every time. He knows every inch of that track and seems to sense any slight bias change before the others.

He is a great success story and I hope the national media catches on. Did notice the Blood-Horse gave him some nice press.

26 Jan 2011 1:24 PM

Kathleen - I heard that Valentine's Day is the big day for Curlin and Rachel.  

26 Jan 2011 10:13 PM

Pedigree Ann - Just so you know, I don't think any opinion contrary to mine is hateful. Just calling it like I see it.        

26 Jan 2011 10:30 PM

This was just too funny, I had to share it: This is on the Chic-Fil-A Facebook Page - Hey fans. Please be respectful of others and treat this page as a fan page, not a place to argue with each other. Antagonistic, offensive, mean-spirited or crude posts will be removed and the person will be banned. Thank you.

So you see people will argue over anything whether it's Zenyatta vs Blame or Chic-Fil-A vs Burger King - Hilarious

28 Jan 2011 11:15 PM
Mike Relva


Really? Where do you think his place in history will be? The right horse won.

30 Jan 2011 11:33 AM

RIP Horse racing....

10 Feb 2011 10:44 AM

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