All Decade Eclipse Award Winners

Steve Haskin's Look Back at the Decade 

Editors of The Blood-Horse challenged senior correspondent Steve Haskin to fill in the blanks on several “best of” lists for the decade of 2000-2009. While several of them appear in the Dec. 26/Jan. 2 combined issue of the magazine (mailing on Dec. 29), there wasn’t space for them all.

Over the coming days until the end of the year, all of Steve’s lists will be posted here with readers of BloodHorse.com encouraged to comment.

All Decade Eclipse Award Winners

2-year old male Vindication
2-year old female Tie: Indian Blessing and Sweet Catomine
3-year old male Tie: Point Given and Curlin
3-year old female Rachel Alexandra
Older male Tie: Invasor and Ghostzapper
Older female Zenyatta
Sprinter Midnight Lute
Grass Male English Channel
Grass Female Ouija Board
Horse of the Decade Curlin with 4 Eclipse Awards and
2 Horse of the Year Awards

Previous Lists:

12/21/09 - Most Physically Impressive Horses
12/22/09 - Most Memorable Triple Crown Performances
12/23/09 - Most Memorable Breeders' Cup Performances
12/26/09 - Greatest Training Achievements
12/27/09 - Best Losing Performance in a Breeders' Cup or Triple Crown Race
12/28/09 - Most Memorable Two-Horse Stretch Battles
12/29/09 - Best Goosebump Moments / Favorite Breeders' Cup Experiences

71 Comments

Leave a Comment:

Wendy

These lists have been a wonderful trip towards the end of the year and an even better look back at why we love this sport.

#1 on my list of the decade's must read sports writing: Steve Haskin

We have been lucky fans this year, of the sport and of you.

Okay.  Enough praise.  Now back to work on the next decade!

30 Dec 2009 3:32 PM
Steve Haskin

Thank you very much, Wendy. That's kind of you to say.

You got it; back to work. There's another Kentucky Derby out there.

30 Dec 2009 3:44 PM
Marion

I am so glad that Curlin was honored with Horse of The Decade, which he so well deserved.

Thanks for all yourlists.

30 Dec 2009 3:55 PM
Matthew

My favorite champion racehorses of the decade are Tiznow, Point Given, Azeri, Smarty Jones, Afleet Alex, Bernadini, Ouija Board, Street Sense, Curlin, Rags To Riches, Big Brown, Rachel Alexandra, and Zenyatta. Although Smarty Jones and Big Brown did not win their Triple Crown Series in 2004 and 2008, it was a great year in 2004 for Smarty Jones and a great year in 2008 with Big Brown.

30 Dec 2009 3:59 PM
Frank J.

Geez Steve, make sure you duck from all the Culin haters throwing stones at you! Kind of surprised you left Tiznow off but like you say, can't fit them all. I would have given 2yr. old male to Street Sense but that's just my opinion. I love your articles Steve, great work as always!!

30 Dec 2009 4:02 PM
funnycideoflife

Like your other lists, Mr. Haskin, this one is very well done. I'm just curious, what was your criteria for choosing each category for horses of the decade? Actual Accomplishments? Raw Talent? Most emotionally captivating? Overall record? Or a mix of everything? Happy New Year!

30 Dec 2009 4:02 PM
Debbie

Thank you for choosing Curlin as the horse of the decade. As John Henry was my "horse of the eighties" and Cigar was my "horse of the nineties" Curlin was my fave of this decade. And I love following the Derby trail with your reports. Really interesting to go back and reread after the race is run. Keep up the great work!

30 Dec 2009 4:05 PM
Karen in Texas

The lists have been a fun review of the decade! Thank you!

30 Dec 2009 4:06 PM
LDP

Thank you for recognizing Curlin. He may not have been the most brillinat horse or the fastest, but he was ultra consistent against one of the 3yr old crop, when he had so little experience. He came back and was unbeaten on dirt as a four year old as well. For all his achievements and his talent he deserves top spot as Horse of the Decade.

30 Dec 2009 4:11 PM
Patrick

Great choices -- I am really enjoying these decade lists!  I would also like to see your "decade fields" for each of the current BC races -- whether the horses actually ran in those races or not.  In other words, which horses would you pick for Dream Fields of the Decade for each of the current BC races? (And why not throw in the BC Steeplechase even though it no longer exists, unfortunately.)

30 Dec 2009 4:32 PM
Brian Appleton

Love the "Curlin" choice! Would have thought he would get older male spot too though.

30 Dec 2009 4:37 PM
Steve Haskin

Frank J, I would love to have put Tiznow on, but he just wasnt as dominant at 3 as Curlin and Point Given, who both won Triple Crown races, and wasnt as accomplished at 4 as Invasor and Ghostzapper. I just couldnt get him in. Although he is one of my two favorite horses of the decade I had to be objective.

Funnycideoflife, it's really a combination of accomplishments, talent, and overall record. The emotional aspect did not figure into it at all.

Patrick, the lists have been fun, but this is the last one. I like your idea of selecting dream fields for the BC races. I wish I had thought of it.

30 Dec 2009 4:47 PM
Steve Haskin

Brian, Curlin in my mind was a much better horse at 3 than 4. I thought he struggled to defeat vastly inferior horses and I know from inside sources that he was over the top even as early as August. I believe the Dubai trip eventually caught up to him.

30 Dec 2009 4:51 PM
CJ

I keep wishing there was a Masters Eclipse Award category for horses six (or seven?) and older, something to provide a chance to honor those gutsy old geldings and the trainers who keep them healthy for the long haul.  I really think they're some of the sport's ambassadors.  

I'm a die-hard Better Talk Now fan, but what Cloudy's Knight has done this season is out of this world.  Who's your Master of the decade, Steve?

30 Dec 2009 4:55 PM
Gary

Nothing will change my mind about Smarty Jones. In my mind the best since Sunday Silence and Easy Goer.  

30 Dec 2009 5:11 PM
carolyn

I would put Curlin at the top for horse of decade, not because of the awards he had, but because of the grueling and tiresome campaign he had for 08, also, he went around the world and won and he did win the BCC in 07, and he did show up and attempt to win it at SA,last year, he didn't need to win that one because he had already amassed a grueling campaign throughout the year and he had never raced on that surface before. But he did show up.

30 Dec 2009 5:13 PM
da3hoss

My best moment of the decade in racing wasn't exactly a race...it was getting a Tiznow cap in the mail from one very, very, VERY generous Tiznow fanatic for another Tiznow fanatic. :-)

Great list, I just would have had to include Azeri...

I think she's going to go for "Broodmare of the next decade"...off to a great start with 'Take Control' (AP Indy-Azeri) just won his maiden, very nicely I might add...BB must be giddy...if you can go watch the replay.

Happy, safe and blessed New Year.

Rachel

30 Dec 2009 5:19 PM
txhorsefan

Steve, I have enjoyed all your decade lists so much and I keep trying to do the research, watch the races that I missed, to catch up on things, so I thank you for providing the trigger points to get me going.  Since each list is a personal choice, I would have to not have Curlin as my horse of the decade simply because I never got as emotionally attached to him as I did Smarty Jones or Barbaro, even though they did not have the kinds of racing careers he did, for obvious reasons.  He did have an ambitious, difficult couple of years and gave racing some thrilling moments, but the others stole my heart.  Yes, I am a sentimental fool - lol!

30 Dec 2009 5:51 PM
Lil Darlin

Thanks for recognizing my favorite 2 year old, Vindication.  I can't tell you how upset I was when his career and life were cut so short - I thought he had all the tools to be a great one both on the track and in the breeding shed.  It just goes to show why everyone should enjoy these athletes while they have the chance.

Just curious - did Xtra Heat factor in anywhere?  I think male or female, she's one of the best sprinters I have ever seen.  She would run hard and hang tough every time she went to the track, and to be that consistent with 35 starts says a lot.

30 Dec 2009 6:14 PM
Ida Lee

Curlin was my pick for horse of the decade. I'm glad you agree since I respect your opinion very much. Curlin is so beautiful and talented and just about the perfect horse as far as I'm concerned.

30 Dec 2009 6:53 PM
MRO

Thanks for recognizing & remembering Vindication, who had both his racing and breeding career cut short.

30 Dec 2009 7:19 PM
Lindsey S

I'm so glad Curlin is your horse of the decade.  He is very deserving! He is my favorite modern day racehorse...and just as beautiful in person when you go visit him at Lane's End!  My one regret is that he didn't get to end his spectacular career on a winning note.  If any horse deserved to go out on top, Curlin did!

30 Dec 2009 7:27 PM
Emily W

Great list! I love all of these lists they're so interesting to read!

Out of curiousity, where did you study journalism? I'm in high school and i just took a journalism course. I just don't know where to start if i want to get into racing journalism :)

30 Dec 2009 7:36 PM
ttimsan

I think I'd have had to give Azeri a nod at older female. She was absolutely brilliant. And hey, kudos to the kid!! Take Control put in a great closing finish!

30 Dec 2009 7:36 PM
gls

You got Curlin right and God bless Afleet Alex, but get over Zenyatta, Azeri is my racemare.Any time, any place, she would run your face off!

30 Dec 2009 7:55 PM
Coldfacts

Steve, I do not envy you for the task of determining the champions in the respective categories for the decade. You no doubt will be opposed in some of the categories as your supporter see achievements differently. I am one that disagrees with some of your selections.

2YO Male – Vindication

How could Vindication get the nod over Johannesburg? Vindication won one G3 race prior to his Breeders Cup Juvenile victory. Johannesburg won three G1 & two G3 races in Europe. He then came to the US and beat the best 2YO males on a surface he was competing on for the first time. He like Vindication completed his 2YO campaign unbeaten. If you contend that Johannesburg is European then I can reluctantly agree with your selection. However, Vindication record as a 2YO is no better than colts like War Pass & Street Sense. War Pass won the G1 Champagne Stakes prior to his BCJ victory and was also was unbeaten at the end of his 2YO campaign. Street Sense won the BCJ by the biggest margin in the history of the race against a far more competitive field than Vindication. If the truth be told the best 2YO of the decade based on pure record was Johannesburg  (four G1 & two G3)

2YO Female – Indian Blessing/Sweet Catomine

How could Indian Blessing/Sweet Catomine get the nod over Dreaming Of Anna, Halfbridled, Storm Flag Flying and Stardom Bound? Storm Flag Flying and Stardom Bound have the best graded stakes records for 2YO fillies for the decade. Both won two G1 races before their BC victories. Halfbridled and Sweet Catomine have similar graded record.

While I can accept Sweet Catomine, I cannot agree with Indian Blessing ahead of the some of the fillies mentioned above.

3YO Male – Point Given/Curlin

Neither colt can be seriously regarded as 3YO of the decade. Curlin lost three of his fist four G1 races. Big Brown won four of his first five G1 races. In fact, both Big Brown and Curlin ran in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, Belmont and Haskell. Curlin’s only success came in the Preakness whereas Big Brown won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness & Haskell. Where Curlin failed Big Brown succeeded i.e, he won the derby with only three starts equaling a 93 year old record. Uunsoundness never alowed Big Brown to realize his true potential. Point Given never races against older horses and consequently cannot be considered a better 3YO colt than Bernardini. His Preakness time of 1:55 2/5 does not compare to  Bernardini’s 1:54 3/5 in only his fourth race. The only race in which Bernardini  was ridden after his Preakness victory was the BCC.  I know the Curlin supporters will never concede that Big Brown was the better 3YO but an examination of the records will reflect the truth. Point Given was not as good a Bernardini period. In fact, Bernardini was better than all three.

Horse Of the Decade: Curlin

Invasor won 11 of 12 starts. He won on three different continents. He was HOY in South America and the US. His  five races in the US were all G1s and he was never defeated. He won with the sort of command that Curlin never displayed in his 4YO campaign. Invasor is more deserving  of  Horse Of the Decade than Curlin as he is by far the better horse.

30 Dec 2009 8:09 PM
Bobby

Steve, I couldn't agree more with your choice of Curlin for Horse of the Decade! When I saw him at the Arkansas Derby, I knew he was going to be something special. He was a majestic, beautiful horse with a very intelligent look in his eye. His record speaks for itself. Of course, he didn't win every race - but he always went down swinging! One of my all-time favorites!

30 Dec 2009 8:13 PM
Soldier Course

Gary:

Yes. If Smarty Jones had won the Triple Crown, we wouldn't be talking about a dying sport today. He was that compelling.

30 Dec 2009 8:31 PM
Dave

I am glad to see English Channel made the list.  His last Breeders cup was one of the mose impressive races I have seen...A race that was in my to 10 goose bumple moments for sure.

30 Dec 2009 9:03 PM
Paula Higgins

ITA once again Steve. Great list. Curlin is so deserving. His record is brilliant. You just have to love him. But having said that, I believe Zenyatta would have beat him. I believe she would have beaten anyone in the past decade at peak form. I know I am being greedy, but I wish we could see her next year.

30 Dec 2009 9:04 PM
Lmaris

Yawn.  Ignoring for the most part the first half of the decade.

Azeri over Zenyatta, and Tiznow over Curlin.

30 Dec 2009 9:10 PM
Darkie's Doll

Agree with all your selections, except Curlin - the most over rated horse of the decade. Tiznow certainly earned the title! Regardless of Eclipse awards which are inclined to be political (IMO), if Curlin was -in your words - "better at 3 than at 4", how can he be considered "Horse of the Decade" if he tied with Point Given at 3 and wasn't the best older male at 4? If you are going on "body of work" then Zenyatta gets it hands down.

30 Dec 2009 9:16 PM
mike rullo

sorry steve,

curlin would never beat bernardini

30 Dec 2009 9:21 PM
Vindication

V-I-N-D-I-C-A-T-I-O-N

Undefeated son of triple crown champion "Seattle Slew".

Vindication was never tested with a record of 4-0-0 from four starts.

Vindication destroyed his opposition and is the only 2yr old colt to win the "Breeders Cup Juvenile" at the distance of a mile and an eighth.

30 Dec 2009 9:26 PM
Courtney

FINALLY, someone recognizes what kind of horse English Channel was.  And yet, it's the most overrated horse ever to get Horse of the Decade?  Nah.  Invasor totally gets that over Curlin.

30 Dec 2009 10:09 PM
cat thief

Steve, your list is 100% correct.  Any who disagree with any on your list are wrong.

Although, if Invasor and 'Zapper tie, then I'd give a tie to Azeri (winner of 14 of her first 15, I believe) and Zenyatta.

31 Dec 2009 12:10 AM
LAZMANNICK

Great list Steve and thanks for all the wonderful work you are putting forth when many of us get to relax over the holidays and enjoy a few days off.

In my opinion, RAGS TO RICHES should be on the list.  I like Rachel and she beat older males, but Rags in her only try against males defeated the Horse of the Decade in a gutsy performance after a troubled trip and was the first filly to win the Belmont in 102 years.  It's not her fault that her career ended prematurely because of injuries.

As far as some saying that CURLIN is over-rated, that's a laugh.  He accomplished more than any of the others listed above and if he would have won his second BCC after defeating a tough field in his first BCC his career would have been unprecedented.

KITTEN'S JOY is another that we didn't get to see how good he was.  He was an absolute turf monster and was jobbed in the BC Turf.  However, that being said, English Channel was pretty good too.

AZERI was great, but she never defeated males in her two tries against them (those males were tough as nails).  That being said, ZENYATTA did and even though her career was only 14 races she was still undefeated and ws easily the best filly/mare of this decade.

31 Dec 2009 12:53 AM
Julie L.

Good work Steve. The lists you have had to compile have not been easy tasks. Thank you for honoring Curlin as Horse of the Decade and I am sorry for those who still cannot give this great horse his due for his abilities on the track and for stirring interest in horse racing for those who had none before. I was also overjoyed to see Vindication honored but to also wonder what could have been if he had not been injured and if time in the breeding shed would have eventually proven him a success. And of course Zenyatta as older female she is one for the ages though I too am an Azeri fan. And last but not least Point Given as the top 3 year old who should have won the triple crown. Again thanks for the hard work done.

31 Dec 2009 1:17 AM
Deacon

Zenyatta gets my vote for horse of the decade mainly because she retired undefeated and beat 8 grade 1 winners in this years classic. She was also dominant in 2008 and I think she did more then Curlin. The best horse of the past decade on raw ability was hands down Ghostzapper, at least in my mind. I realize that he did not win any triple crown races(dont think he ran in any)but that should not matter. How versatile can you get, winning at 7 furlongs and setting a Breeders Cup Classic record that still stands. Point Given would be 2nd and Invasor would be 3rd and again this on raw ability. I do not think Zenyatta could beat those three. Again, she wins the award for being great in 2008 and 2009. MOST IMPRESSIVE...........

Street Sense at 2 years old edges out Vindication.

31 Dec 2009 2:40 AM
Swapsfan

Glad to see Ouija Board on this list; she is one of my all time favorites -- and she won against colts, too.  Happy New Year, everyone!  

31 Dec 2009 3:53 AM
da3hoss

I agree with Curlin...2 HOTY, record equaling Preakness, etc, plus his whole 4 year old year he was the #1 World rated horse even after his 4th place finish on a surface he was not happy with ;-).

Azeri is Zen's equal.. won 3 eclipse awards, plus HOTY, won more races than Zenyatta raced (17 wins out of 24 or 25 starts).

Was she perfect, no, who cares. She was Azeri.

31 Dec 2009 7:50 AM
LDP

Yes, I mean, Curlin is so overrated. He only won his first three starts by 27 lengths, was top three in all three TC races, against the best three year old crop this decade, re-rallied to beat the Derby winner in the Preakness, wins the JCGC two years in a row, wins the BCC (going from maiden to BCC winner, how many other horses can say that?). He is unbeaten in two starts in the UAE, beating the Dubai World Cup field by what was then a record margin almost eight lengths, which included the 2009 winner Well Armed. He comes back to the US, wins his first start, a grade one by 4.5 lengths, was a good second on his first and only turf start, wins the Woodward at the Graveyard of Champions, wins and wins his second Gold Cup. Also notice his only two actually "bad efforts" he was third and fourth, never worse, which means he was never out of the money, despite traveling from Dubai to KY, to NY, to Cali. He was able to stay unbeaten on dirt as a four year old all year despite such a long tiring season. He was the first two time HOTY since Cigar and was eclispe champion three year old and older male, and you all say he's overrated? As Laz said, that is a laugh, he is the modern day Iron Horse, and most accomplished horse of the Decade.

Zenyatta raced out of Cali only once, she's out, Zapper only showed what he was made of in four starts as an older male, he's out, Tiznow could have an argument made, but Steve alreay outlined why not, he's out, Invasor raced one year in our country and only a little over a year as an American based horse, he's out. Curlin was dominant in America, went out as an American based horse, still dominated, then came back and dominated again in America for the second year in a row.

He is the most accomplished horse of the decade and combind with the raw ability he displayed, the consistency he showed, and his ability to win by large margins or lay his body down and fight is what makes him Horse of the Decade.

31 Dec 2009 7:54 AM
mg

Steve, Nice list, can't please everybody, but have to agree with Coldfacts: Horse of the Decade - Invasor.

Keep up the fine work & happy holidays.

31 Dec 2009 8:31 AM
Leon

Some of you guys don't understand that it is not about who would have beaten who. It is matter of accomplishments on the track during their careers in the decade.

In terms of pure, raw talent & speed, Ghostzapper's BCC in 1:59, while defeating 2 Dubai Cup winners (Roses in May & Pleasantly Perfect, who also won a BCC), a HOTY (Azeri), a dual-classic winner (Funny Cide), and a 3-time G1 winner of the Travers, Belmont & Champagne (Birdstone) gets the nod IMO.

Invasor, Point Given, Bernardini, Big Brown, had one good year in the US. Point Given never faced older horses, and Big Brown barely beat them once on turf.

Curlin set a record for earnings, and did not even race @2. He travelled all over the US and won the Dubai Cup, beating older horses at 3 several times, and ruling the 4-year old division the following year.

That's why he is horse of the decade.

31 Dec 2009 10:45 AM
CRoche

Curlin is the best.  

31 Dec 2009 10:48 AM
Gerry

A Honorable Mention for Lost In The Fog. Memory puts a catch in your throat and a tear in the eye.  A great horse story for sure.

31 Dec 2009 11:08 AM
LAZMANNICK

Leon:

I'm inclined to agree with you regarding Ghostzapper.  In terms of raw talent he was certainly one of the top two this decade and IMO one of the all time greats.  However, in terms of accomplishments he simply didn’t run in enough races to accomplish what Curlin did, though I have no doubt if he would have raced more he would have remained just as dominant.  He had the highest ever Beyer (128) since 1992.  In terms of versatility, no horse this decade could match him when you consider that he posted big time numbers at virtually every distance, short or long from 6-F to 1-1/4M.  I believe that he would have had no trouble getting 1-1/2M because of his ability to rate or set the pace (a fast head-to-head pace at that).  The BCC field he faced was one of the toughest all time.  In a fitting tribute, Bobby Frankel, a man who has trained about a billion top horses and who won 25 G-1 races in one year said that Ghostzapper was the best horse he ever trained.

I love Curlin.  He did almost everything they asked him to do.  In my opinion it was a questionable ride that got him beat in the BCC, not the track surface.  His turf foray was pretty good when you consider he was defeated by a BC Turf winner yet finished in front of another BC Turf winner.  He was a world traveler, at one time the world’s number one rated horse, and look at the money he won.  He was totally dominant in his BCC win at three against a field close in competitiveness to Ghostzapper’s.  He won numerous awards because he earned them, not because of popularity polls.  If there can be one knock......he was defeated by a filly (in this case a monster who in my humble opinion was the top 3 y.o filly of the decade just ahead of Rachel).

That being said, the others on this list aren’t exactly chicken soup.  There are a lot of extremely talented horses here, male and female, and they are all deserving of our respect and admiration.  However, any way people want to look at it, Curlin was number one.

31 Dec 2009 12:04 PM
OLD TIMER

Great list, Steve. I do not understand when people get all bothered about who is/was better. The whole purpose of the list is to generate those civil discussions. The Blood Horse got really brave back in 2000 when they issued their best horses of the century list!

I have a hard time arguing with any of your picks.

I do believe that, had he not gotten injured, Point Given would top your decade list hands down. The fact that you put him in a tie with Curlin for the three year old male makes me think that you tend to agree.

I also agree with the writer who wonders if Tiznow should be in there somewhere.  

Also, isn't it interesting that the top two year old, Vindication, never really did much after that great two year old season, while Curlin, who never even ran as a 2 year old, was phenomenal at three and four and earned your  horse of the decade.

Anyway thanks for going out on a limb (once again).

31 Dec 2009 12:35 PM
Virgil Fox

Steve,

I understand your reasoning on Tiznow.  Could be wrong, but this might be the only list that he did not make.

Very pleased with Ouija Board as Grass Female and so glad to see English Channel get some props.

- Peace

31 Dec 2009 1:23 PM
Leon

Lazmannick:

I agree with you & Steve.

I love Curlin, because his accomplishments speak for themselves. No other horse in the decade competed and won at the top of the game for as long as he did.

I disagree with you regarding Rags to Riches. While I do agree that her win in the Belmont was one for the ages, and one of the best races I've ever seen, that race basically knocked her out of contention. She was injured in her very next and last race.

That's why RA's accomplishments cannot be underestimated. Many of the great fillies & mares of the century defeated boys once. Not only does it take a ton of ability for a filly to defeat males, it also takes guts, heart & a special ability to recuperate from a supreme effort to do it repeatedly vs males.

The best thing is that she is not done yet...!

31 Dec 2009 3:56 PM
Ranagulzion

I have to agree with COLDFACTS' Horse Of The Decade verdict: INVASOR indeed. He is one of those special thoroughbreds that you have to stretch your immagination to picture him being beaten in a race ...not so with Curlin, sorry Steve.

31 Dec 2009 4:58 PM
Soldier Course

The Associated Press (AP) has just given Zenyatta the #2 spot for its Female Athlete of the Year award, right behind #1 winner Serena Williams. Now that's impressive.

31 Dec 2009 7:42 PM
mglynn

I really enjoy reading the different List and watching the races, This may not be the proper place but what ever happened to the Pamplemousse? I grew up watching secretriat and ruffian. I Love all the horses but Zenyatta she captured my heart. I have always wanted to pick some foals and follow them from birth to the track. Maybe somebody will do that with a Zenyatta baby. I live in Ga so it is geographically too far. Imagine if someone had done that with some of our stars today wow. Bless you ! Thanks for bringing us outsiders into the world of racing!

01 Jan 2010 1:29 AM
GunBow

My rankings(just for the seasons in which the Eclipse awards were given rather than career):

2 Yr Filly- 1.Halfbridled 2.Indian Blessing  3. Sweet Catomine

2 Yr Male- 1. Johannesburg  2. War Pass  3. Street Sense

3 Yr Filly- 1. Rachel  2. Rags to Riches  3. Ashado

3 Yr Male-  1. Point Given   2.Smarty Jones  3.Curlin   4.Tiznow  5. Afleet Alex

Older Female- 1. Zenyatta(09')  2.Azeri(02')  3. Zenyatta(08')  4.Riboletta(00') 5. Azeri(03') 6.Azeri(04)

Older Male-  1. Invasor(06')  2.Ghostzapper(04')  3. Tiznow(01)  4.Mineshaft(04')  5. Saint Liam(05')  6.Curlin(08')

Female Turf(includes Euro form)- 1. Goldikova(09')  2. Ouija Board(06')  3. Ouija Board(04')  4. Islington(03')

Female Turf(just North America based)-  1. Perfect Sting(00')  2. Forever Together(08')  3. Golden Apples(02')  4. Intercontinental(05')

Male Turf(Euro form included)-

1. Fantastic Ligth(01')  2. High Chaparral(02')  3. Gio Ponti(09')  4. Kalanisi(00')  5. Kitten's Joy(04')  6. English Channel(07')

Male Turf(just US)

1. Gio Ponti   2. Kitten's Joy  3. English Channel

Sprinters- 1. Kona Gold(00')  2. Midnight Lute(07')  3.Speightstown(04')  4. Lost in the Fog(05')  5. Orientate(02')

Career Rankings:

Sprinters- 1. Kona Gold  2.Midnight Lute  3.Xtra Heat  4.Lost in the Fog  5.Speightstown

Turf Females-  1.Goldikova  2.Ouija Board

US based- Perfect Sting

Turf Males-  1.Fantastic Light  2.High Chaparral  3.Conduit

US based- 1. English Channel  2.Gio Ponti  3.Kitten's Joy

Dirt/Synth Females- 1.Zenyatta  2.Rachel Alexandra(although 09' best season of any horse)  3.Azeri  4.Rags to Riches   5.Ashado   6.Sightseek  7.Ginger Punch

Dirt/Synth Males-  1.Curlin   2.Tiznow   3.Invasor   4.Ghostzapper  5.Point Given  6.Lava Man   7.Smarty Jones

01 Jan 2010 4:18 AM
da3hoss

Curlin was a horse who raced for 2 seasons at the very top level non-stop...pretty impressive...he did not get a winter break between 3 & 4 as he trained up to Dubai...he did not get much of a break after Dubai before he began his late summer/fall campaign...

Curlin is a great horse. He equaled the Preakness stakes record in his 5th start.. he was #1 World Timeform his entire 4 year-old year, and got beat his last race by the best of Europe's great grass horses (ranked 2 & 4 on Timeform behind him all year) on a non-dirt surface...nothing for him to be ashamed of...he did some spectacular things and we got to see it in "real time"...

01 Jan 2010 11:27 AM
da3hoss

The few horses that physically "wowed" me this decade, early in their careers I sat up and went "wow" at their physical presence:

Barbaro, absolutely #1.

Rags To Riches, the most beautiful, tomboy athelete filly ever.

Tiznow, sheer power and fire.

Big Brown, my eyes popped out of my head at how pretty he was the first time I saw him.

Curlin, I thought what a monster he'll be.

Summer Bird, can't wait for him as a 4 year-old.

01 Jan 2010 11:36 AM
Alysse

I think I have to give Horse of the Decade to Ghostzapper.  It's rare that once I've decided I'm not a fan of a horse that I switch sides.  Ghostzapper forced me to do so.  Looking back on his career, what he did (distances, fast, sloppy), the varied ways he could do it (wiring, closing, everything in between), and almost every time...that horse was just a freak of nature.  I feel like too often people forget how exceedingly brilliant he was due to his abbreviated career.  But I don't forget it and Ghostzapper was absolutely the best horse I saw this decade.

01 Jan 2010 12:13 PM
da3hoss

Lost In The Fog was the best sprinter of this decade.

10 straight wins, then running with massive amounts of cancer in all his major organs, along his spinal cord and 2 the size of footballs... and still managing a win that last summer...

In the woulda, coulda, shoulda's of life, had he remained healthy I bet he would have gone down as the greatest sprinter ever. We can only base it on his 2005 form, and figure the last year of his life, including the BC sprint, was run on sheer heart.

He is one of my favorite racehorses ever, right from his maiden...

02 Jan 2010 2:35 PM
Jim P

The Sportsmanship Award of the Decade goes to Lord Derby and Ouija Board: 75,000 miles: anyone, anywhere, anytime. Thank you for three straight thrilling Breeder's Cup.

You weren't that far girl, just a better trip away probably, from taking down the Arc and Deep Impact. We'll be cheering for your babies.

02 Jan 2010 9:25 PM
Edward

2 year old fillies catagory seems odd to see Sweet catomine and Indian Blessing over Halfbridled, Storm Flag Flying, and Stardom bound...huh?

03 Jan 2010 12:53 PM
Edward

I have to agree with some posters in that I was Ghostzapper hater but I have yet to see a horse run as fast as he did. His final times are jaw-dropping and if you really want to be blown away, go check out the splits he sets in those 9 and 10 f races without slowing for the last furlong. Who on this list could possibly catch him when he hit 6F in 1:08 and change and finished in :24? Which horse?

03 Jan 2010 1:03 PM
GunBow

Edward, in Ghostzapper's ONE 10 furlong race, his 6 furlong split was 1:11 and 1.  Solid, but hardly spectacular.  With Frankel/Stronach having agree with Roses in May's owner, Ken Ramsey, not to let their horses become embroiled in a speed duel, Ghostzapper was able to back the pace up, and he and Roses ran 1-2 the entire way.  Pleasantly Perfect, who finished 3rd, was severely compromised by the moderate pace and having to go about 7 wide.

04 Jan 2010 3:29 AM
GunBow

I agree Ghostzapper was brilliant, and was in awe of his 2005 Met Mile which left me dreaming of a Whitney-Woodward-BC Classic sweep.  Unfortunately, the Met Mile was Ghostzapper's last race, leaving his 11 race career thin in terms of accomplishment.

Ghostzapper only won 4 grade 1 races.  Yes, he won from 6.5 to 10 furlongs, but does anyone remember who ran 2nd in his Vosburgh(at 6.5 furlongs? How about Aggaden.  As for his slugfest with Saint Liam in the Woodward as well as his BC Classic and Met Mile wins, I have nothing but respect.  Keep in mind, however, that because the Woodward was at Belmont in 04', only ONE of Ghostzapper's gr.1 wins came around 2 turns(BC Classic).  If 10 furlongs is the classic distance for males in the US, how can we rate a horse that won 1 race at the distance over horses like Tiznow(4 gr.1 wins at 10 furlongs) or Curlin(4 gr.1 wins at 10 furlongs + a Preakness win)?

Some point to Ghoszapper's high Beyer speed figs as proof he was best of the decade.  Ghostzapper ran 4 Beyers of 120 or higher, a 120 in the 04' Tom Fool, 122 in the 05' Met Mile, a 124 in the 04' BC Classic, and that 128 in the 04' Iselin.  As I mentioned above, the BC Classic and Met Mile performances were just awesome, even though the field for the Met Mile was not exactly vintage.  What about the Tom Fool and Iselin?  Well, in the Tom Fool it was that less than immortal Aggaden that again ran 2nd behind Ghostzapper, while in the Iselin the runner-up was the gr.3 horse Presidentialaffair.

Beyers certainly have their place when making historical comparisons, but they should never outweigh accomplishments(which includes the quality of fields).  Afterall, the fastest horse, according to Beyers, of the last 20 years is not Ghostzapper, nor is it Cigar, Skip Away, Best Pal, or even Gentlemen. It is Formal Gold.  Formal Gold ran Beyers of 126, 125, 124, 122, and 118.  His top 3 Beyers(as an average) are better than Ghosztapper's top 3(Ghostzapper 128, 124, 122) as are his top 5(Ghostzapper(128,124,122, 120, 116).  Formal Gold also owns the highest Beyer for a maiden race, a 114.  Yet, no one, except perhaps Beyer worshippers, would rank Formal Gold ahead of Cigar, Skip Away, or even Silver Charm, Best Pal, Holy Bull, among others.  I also wouldn't rank Formal Gold ahead of Ghostzapper, since Ghostzapper, unlike Formal Gold, was able to win more than 2 gr.1 races, win a race of national importance(BC Classic), and win an Eclipse.

While Ghostzapper might have been the most brilliant horse of the decade, although the even less accomplished Candy Ride might have been his equal, his lack of accomplishments, particularly around 2 turns(just 2 graded stakes wins around 2 turns), led me to rank Curlin, Tiznow(although he also just had 4 gr.1 wins, but all at 10 furlongs and twice in  BC Classics), and Invasor ahead of him.  Yes, in a single race, Ghostzapper might have won.  But what about a series of 7, 10, or 12 races?  Well, after about 5 races, would we even see Ghostzapper?  Pure talent is captivating, but a horse must be able to stay sound enough long enough to actually accomplish things on the track.  Ghostzapper did accomplish some wonderful things, but not nearly as much, in my opinion, as Curlin, Tiznow, and Invasor.  In the end, I felt the accomplishments of these 3 horses counterbalanced Ghostzapper's advantage in natural talent and versatility.  

04 Jan 2010 4:03 AM
LAZMANNICK

Hey GunBow:

I agree with what you say about Ghostzapper, but not quite in the way you are saying it.  When Ghostzapper won the Tom Fool, the fourth place finisher was Lion Tamer who was thoroughly defeated after being in contention throughout much of the race, and would go on to win the Cigar Mile in 1.33.2 later that year defeating a very good Pico Central (He also won won 5 graded stakes).......When Ghostzapper won the Iselin, it is not hard to see why he got a 128 Beyer.  Other than a couple of maintenance taps in the stretch after he was well clear of Presidential Affair, he drew off leaving his foes totally defeated (Presidential Affair was whipped continuously).  The manner in which he won stuck out far more than the competition and suggests that he could have easily knocked another second or more off the time and still have had a lot left.  He only ran 10-F once, but his time was brilliant against an equally brilliant field.  He was capable of doing that again and would probably have been able to go longer.  I think he was every bit as good as Curlin and probably better, but his knock, of course, was his relatively short career.  For that reason, I placed him second in the Horse Of The Decade debate and I don't think he would have had a problem with any horse this decade if he raced against them......As far as Candy Ride, what a horse, but once again, a short career.  To me he had a chance to be every bit as good as the others and would have given Ghostzapper a harder time than Curlin.  The truth is, I am not taking sides with any of them because they were all favorites of mine, and all were simply brilliant......Regarding Formal Gold.......he just might have been the best Canadian Bred ever, right up there with Northern Dancer.  Once his career became established he ran in some very difficult races against the best on the continent and more than held his own......Another fabulous horse.  LOL

04 Jan 2010 6:23 PM
Brown cow

LAZ

The test for validity of Results is Repeatability-- results are valid for as long as they CAN be repeated, with the same OUTCOME or RESULTS.

RAGS is nice and she beat CURLIN, but like Zenyatta, she retired after that SINGLE EFFORT, which was NEVER REPEATED again EVER.  Can we CONCLUDE greatness from that SINGLE monumental victory?  Sadly, the answer is NO.

We did not give Alexander the Great the nickname "Great" coz he won ONE BIG BATTLE.  Alexander was GREAT because he won many many battles, and expanded his empire from Europe to India, to Asia Minor.  Alexander didn't stay home in Macedonia with his dad, but instead, TRAVELLED across Asia, conquering every opponent that challenged him.

If we hastily call any horse who wins One Big Race as "Great" and award them Horse of the Year (or Decade), then we start to lose sight of WHAT IS THE TRUE MEANING OF GREATNESS, and start mistaking the Trivial for the Paramount, the Inconsequential for the SIGNIFICANT.  What is sensational is praised, and the Relevant is discarded.

My dear, when that happens, its the Age of Decadence, all over again.  The MIDDLE AGES has returned.

05 Jan 2010 7:06 AM
CURLINLOVER

I'm so glad that so many on this blog agree with Haskin who knows his "stuff" and is a great writer.

CURLIN absolutely deserves the top spot because of his accomplishments over a two-year strenuous racing schedule here and overseas.  CURLIN is the horse of the decade! So, you naysayers can have your own opinions! People always do. But both the readers and Haskin have spoken and voted for CURLIN - which should tell you something! Thank you all for supporting my all-time favorite horse, CURLIN!

GO CURLIN!!!!!!!!!!!

05 Jan 2010 9:10 AM
Slew

I've loved horse racing my whole life, and though I have been amazed by Citation, totally awed by Secretariat, I never fell "in Love" with any one horse until the first time I saw Seattle Slew.  I though he was magnificent, and one of the all time great American athletes.  When I saw Vindication in the BC Juvenile, it was like seeing a re-incarnation of the Slew himself.  I thought he was the odds on favorite to be the next Triple Crown winner.  Thank you for giving him the 2 year old spot.  We lost him much too soon.  As for the others on your list, I can't disagree even though I may not completely agree.  I guess we all have our own personal opinions on the best, and our own criteria.

06 Jan 2010 9:37 AM
robinm

I was never a huge fan of Curlin, though when he was good, he was very good and always consistent.  I can't really argue the choice of "Horse of the Decade" though, because some of the more brilliant horses with higher win percentages did not compete in as many races.  There is one category with which I strongly disagree, that being Midnite Lute as sprinter of the decade.  He was absolutely brilliant in winning the BC sprint back to back, but his overall record does not match up with Lost in the Fog, or the filly, Extra Heat.

06 Jan 2010 9:38 PM
bsinboots

Could not disagree more with your horse of the decade.  I don't think Curlin would beat Point Given, Ghostzapper, Invasor or even Bernardini if they all raced the same year.  And he didn't deserve HOY in 2008...that was a gift to Jackson for running him at 4.  

07 Jan 2010 2:54 PM
vikingblood22

Hi Steve. I like your articles/writing style/blogs very much. I agree but please explain to me why you dismissed Dreaming of Anna as 2YO filly of the decade . . . I disagree with you on that one.  With all due respect, Vikingblood.

24 Mar 2010 8:57 PM
diastu

Oh Mr. Steve,

Once finished with that celebratory bottle of champaigne, me thinks this list needs a little update! ZENYATTA! Yay! Finally!

17 Jan 2011 10:10 PM

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