The Answer Man to the Rescue

With more than 400 responses on my last blog, and with some of the posters a bit overzealous in expressing their opinions, it is obvious the Horse of the Year debate is going to continue to heat up as we get closer to the Eclipse Awards.

I have stated my feelings and have nothing more to say on the matter, as far as what is right and what is wrong. In the grand scheme of things, it’s really not an earth-shattering topic, but one that apparently has hit the nerve center of the American racing fan.

What I will do is address some of the comments by posters, many of which denigrate the “other” horse, and at least attempt to put them in some kind of perspective. So, playing devil’s advocate, here are my responses.

“Rachael Alexandra was fully extended to beat Macho Again and Mine That Bird--two ordinary horses:”

The quality of one’s competition in a particular race should be based not on an opponent’s overall record, but on the form he or she is in at the time. That is why there have been major upsets throughout history – a superstar getting beat by an inferior opponent who is in the form of his or her life on that day. In the Woodward, Rachel Alexandra defeated two horses – Macho Again and Bullsbay -- who were in the form of their lives, having finished one-two in the Whitney (gr. I). Macho Again on his best day was good enough to win the Stephen Foster (gr. I), New Orleans Handicap (gr. II), Jim Dandy (gr. II), Derby Trial (gr. III), and finish second to Big Brown in the Preakness (gr. I). Rachel Alexandra on Woodward day defeated a good older horse who was in the best form of his life, as was Bullsbay, who was coming off a 107 Beyer in the Whitney. Denigrating a 3-year-old filly’s accomplishment of defeating solid older horses in early September is not based on anything logical. As for Mine That Bird, he also was in the best form of his life coming off his Kentucky Derby demolition and ran another terrific race in the Preakness. The Mine That Bird Rachel Alexandra defeated was not the Mine That Bird we saw struggle in the Breeders’ Cup Classic over a track he ran horribly over last year.

“A Horse of the Year has to show up – Zenyatta:”

Show up for what? A self-proclaimed “World Championships” that does not decide “World” championships? And run on a synthetic surface? Does showing up for one big race mean more than showing up for several big races from May to September at seven different racetracks, stepping way out of the box against males on three occasions?

“Why do you think Zenyatta was not scheduled to race against Rachel when there were so many opportunities? It's because they knew for months Rachel would never run on the polycrap at SA and they would have their only argument:”

Whatever articulate and poetic word you wish to use for synthetic surfaces, Zenyatta was scheduled to ship to Belmont Park to run in the Beldame Stakes had Rachel Alexandra showed up. All the arrangements had been made. But when it was decided after the Woodward to retire Rachel for the year that plan was scrapped and she ran in the Lady’s Secret instead.

“Zenyatta only beat grass horses, a couple of synthetic horses, and dirt horses that didn’t like the track:”

Only beat grass horses? You mean like Raven’s Pass and Henrythenavigator? If the Pro-Ride favors grass horses, why knock her for beating the best grass horse in America? No one knows for sure that Summer Bird didn’t like the track. He was only beaten three lengths. Doesn’t closing her last quarter in :23 flat, while being angled out several paths during the stretch run, suggest she ran a fantastic race, running down a closer who was running a winning race himself? Why would anyone want to ignore the fact she defeated eight grade I-winning males from three countries?

“Why do you think Rachel was not scheduled for the Breeders? Um. No chance of beating the mare:”

This must have been written by Jess Jackson or someone close enough to him to know the real reason Rachel did not run in the Breeders’ Cup. How else could someone be that authoritative? He obviously has first-hand knowledge of the situation.

“How many times did Rachel Alexandra race in California? This is the better question:”

None. And this is the better question?

“The East couldn't win on the racetrack, but they're going to do their best to beat us on paper. HOY is so East Coast biased. It makes me wanna puke:”

Beat US? Glad to see the West Coast isn’t biased at all. And who doesn’t like a good conspiracy once in a while? I must admit the Eclipse Award voting may very well be slanted toward the East in numbers, but not to the point where it would make me wanna take such drastic measures.

“Zenyatta took the best males by their throats and didn't let them up. She is the Horse of the Year. Bar none.”

This comment was from a poster by the name of Rachel Alexandra. Talk about a low self image.

“My vote for Horse of the Year: 1. Rachel Alexandra, 2. Summer Bird, 3. Gio Ponti:”

Signed Rachel Fan From Arkansas. Now that’s what I call a fan…and objective all the way. Take Zenyatta and just get rid of her altogether.

“Ghostzapper and/or Invasor are in this year's BC Classic (assume they handle the surface well). Does Zenyatta still run them down?”

And if she doesn’t?

“Zenyatta raced spectacularly in the Breeders Cup Classic, but that race was over what her connections have repeatedly said was her best surface.”

Sorry to have to correct you, but John Shirreffs has said all year that Zenyatta “tolerates” a synthetic surface, but it most definitely is not her favorite surface. Her favorite surface was Oaklawn Park’s dirt surface.

“What do you think about trying to take some of the subjectivity out of the HOY and some of the other categories. Let's have some governing body assign a point system to each GI stake race.”

The words ‘governing body’ and ‘assign’ mean one thing: you are creating subjectivity, not eliminating it.

“Beating dirt horses on a synthetic surface is like ME BEATING PETE SAMPRAS IN PING PONG:”

No offense, but my money is still on Peter Sampras.

“While Rachel has an impressive resume, the sport at its best is still about how a special horse can stir one's blood. Zenyatta's Classic just might be the most memorable ever run. I've not been that moved by a filly or mare since Ruffian. My HOTY is Zenyatta - by a heart.”

There is nothing wrong with voting from your heart if you so desire, but  standing on the track after the Woodward and the Haskell, I can assure you that Rachel stirred the blood to a boil and moved the fans in attendance like they’ve never been moved before. I have never experienced noise after a race that reached the level of the Woodward. On the heart meter, this one’s a draw.

“Last time I voted for President, I didn't see an "either/both" option on the ballot.  So man up and make a decision.”

You know, I was thinking the same thing. I just don’t see any difference between voting for the leader of the United States of America and Horse of the Year. And you’re right about having to man up. It takes a real man to decide which horse wins a statue. Ask Zenyatta and Rachel if they’d rather have the statue or a carrot.

This is just a small sampling of the comments, but you get the picture. I hope the Answer Man was of some help.

The third sampling goes like this:

“Rachel gets the Horse of the Year award.....No wait...Zenyatta...no Rachel...what a stupid predicament to be in.....they are both Horses of the Year.....”

“Horse of the Year should be about the extraordinary. I don’t see how anyone out there can say that label does not fit both these incredible horses and their accomplishments this year.  I hope the voters step up and show the same class these horses have.  It’s my feeling that if we don’t take this dual opportunity to acknowledge greatness, the only loser will be us.”

“I wanted to vote, but there was not a choice for BOTH, so I abstained.  ;-)”

OK, combatants, re-assemble, and let the battle continue. But, please, this time, how about water pistols instead of Howitzers. Feel free to get each other a little wet, but let’s not blow anyone’s head off. The evil moderators await with their itchy little fingers firmly pressed on the delete button.

380 Comments

Leave a Comment:

Soldier Course

It takes a real man to vote with his heart, knowing that in doing so, he's breaking a lot of others.

18 Nov 2009 10:13 PM
Gaill

You actually took the words out of my mouth. You think some of your comments were bad, you should look at the Facebook pages. I've said all along the HOY is for the body of work for the year. The winner is clear-cut--Rachel wins. That doesn't mean I like Zenyatta less. I have totally enjoyed this racing year because of these 2 females. It has been great fun watching both of them run. What a boost for racing they have been. What's wrong with appreciating them for how good they both are. The HOY argument is stupid because we do not have a say. That may be a good thing in this case. I will miss Zenyatta, although they have said she may race a couple of times the first part of next year, I will look forward to that. Rachel is coming back, that's a great thing for racing. I think alot of the comments are being made by fans who have jumped on the wagon. I've been really glad the connections for these  two horses have not given in to pressure this year and really considered the horses at all times. Makes for healthy horses, safe racing and a bright future for both of them.

18 Nov 2009 10:26 PM
Greg J.

Mr. Haskin,

    Or should I say, Mr. Answer Man?  Anyways, Here we go again, The flood gates are open, Let this debate go on and on.  Still have a feeling the Howitzers will out weigh the water pistols, Good Luck Answer Man!  And, Yes, My money is still on Pete...

18 Nov 2009 10:28 PM
Paseana

Very good Steve!

I'm just tired of all this stuff.  I don't recall ever seeing a HOTY debate that has spiraled out of control like this one has, and it is very disappointing to see so many people out there that have to tear down the accomplishments of another horse in order to elevate their own, especially when, what ever side you come from, it's completely unnecessary!

The day that Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta ran on the same day on opposite coasts some 20 minutes apart, I came to the conclusion right there that I was so incredibly fortunate to witness greatness on both left and right, and with the hindsight of all that's happened since then, I really could care less which statue goes to which horse.  All I know is that, as a racing fan, I am truly blessed!  (Just to jog the memory, that was the day that Rachel Alexandra demolished the Mother Goose by 19+ lengths and 20 minutes later, Zenyatta ran down the Vanity field under 129 pounds).

I say we just yell "ALRIGHT....EVERYBODY OUT OF THE POOL!  Run to your ballot box, and vote for Presious Passion for Horse Of The Year!"  LOL!!!

18 Nov 2009 10:30 PM
Paula Higgins

I am laughing my head off once again thanks to the writters of Bloodhorse. You have a great sense of humor Steve. I am picturing someone offering Zenyatta and Rachel the choice of a carrot or a statue and it's pretty clear which one they would take. I said this on Jason's blog, we are living vicariously through both horses. For me, I love them both. Put me in the "both" category. ITA with everything you said above.

18 Nov 2009 10:46 PM
Big Al

It's gotta be Rachel. Look at THIS YEARS records. Zenyatta 5 for 5, all in so cal. RA 8 for 8, 7 tracks, 5 states

Z 1 major win (BC) : RA 4 major wins (KY Oaks, Preakness, Haskell and Woodward

Both are some of the greatest ever seen, but RA's hard season is simply better with more historic impact and remembrance. HOY is about the "YEAR" and RA had a true year, while Z just has the BC no matter how good it was.

18 Nov 2009 10:59 PM
Deacon

These mean spirited comments that show up on these blogs is at best tiresome. People that say these things are not real fans in my book, Many folks lack sincere appreciation for the sport. In the end it is about this great sport and these two very talented female horses. We will probably never see the likes of these two ever cross our path again, especially in the same year. It's just a shame that people can't just sit back and enjoy the ride. We have all been treated to some spectacular racing this year. Who cares who wins HOTY, it doesn't diminish the accomplishments of any other horse. I agree with you Steve and I think that these HOTY blogs should close down until January........

18 Nov 2009 11:04 PM
SundaySIienced

It's not HIStory it's HERstory! I vote both.

18 Nov 2009 11:07 PM
karenbarry

I enjoyed the comment "what would Rachel and Zenyetta want a statue or a carrot?" I dont think either one of them will care one way or another who gets the award. The way things are going there is so much stuff being flung around by those who cant even get the facts correct and are quoting statements that were never said that by the time those who do have the vote, they will vote for a "dark horse" instead. Maybe they should just eliminate the HOY for this year or better yet just leave to the persons who do the voting. There opinions are the ones that truly count. I am glad I dont have to make this choice.

18 Nov 2009 11:08 PM
Steve Steve Steve

Steve, Steve, Steve:

Get used to synthetic surfaces. There coming to a track near you.

:+)

18 Nov 2009 11:09 PM
Citation

Quote from Steve Haskin:

"I must admit the Eclipse Award voting may very well be slanted toward the East in numbers"

Steve,

You got that right!

18 Nov 2009 11:17 PM
Soldier Course

I think I mentioned Time magazine earlier, but this would be a great result:

One wins Horse of the Year. The other wins Time magazine's Person of the Year award.

The Time award is not far-fetched, because Smarty Jones got an Honorable Mention (two-page spread) for it five years ago. And let's face it, not too many humans come to mind for that award this year.

18 Nov 2009 11:22 PM
flyinhome

oh yeah, Paseana! =) I am SOOO with you on that!!

I love Rachel, and i'm stickin' with her, SOrry Z fans. I was with her since her 2YO year, and i'm still with her.

Steve, awesome point by the way, saying that Rachel beat older horses at their prime. That's been my argument since day one...

My other handicapping tool i use, is how much a horse beats a feild in certain company, and when it comes down to it, will they gut it out. Zenyatta has been beating female company for two years. The greatest margin was nigh on 5 lengths. Rachel has been racing against her own sex, for a little over a year, and she beats them, no less than eight lengths her 3YO year. The greatest being 21 lengths. and then 17 lengths...now THAT is margin. 5 lengths seems so little compared to that.

Now, the grittiness issue. Rachel showed grit in the preakness and the woodward, being either on or near the pace. While others drop back, she keeps going, and finds at least three different energy bursts, out of nowhere. Rachel proved to me, and made her mark in the cement that she was HOY, when she beat the boys in the preakness, having to trully run for once. Then she handily tromped the boys in the midsummer derby (simply toyed with them), and well lets just say she cured the cement. When she gutted it away with Macho Again, who is known for his mighty closing kick, and won while setting the pace, she cemented her place in History. Zenyatta has two gears. loping down the backstretch, then the second, turning for home. closers are great horses, don't get me wrong. She hasn't really been in trouble in a race. Kind of like secretaiat.

BUT, another Difference that RA and Z have, is Rachel can do it all. On the pace, WAYYY off the pace, and just tucked in. She just has that talent. Zenyatta is a great racemare in her own right. I am sooo happy for Sherriffs, finally letting her do her thang. I love him as a trainer, and regularly bet on his horses.

I guess when it comes down to handicapping this HOY honors, you can't go off heart, and you can't go off of Biasy. Both have shown incredible amounts of heart.

It comes down to Talent. Ability to show that no matter what happens, they want to win. The incredible will you see in a horses eyes going down the stretch. The fire. hmmm. gotta love it!

18 Nov 2009 11:26 PM
christina

i cant decide where to start on this issue. I was an RA fan ever since the Preakness, but was worried when they said she was not going to the Breeder's Cup. i think Steve was just remembering Curlin the previous year and didnt want to suffer dissapointment. tho i think Rachel would've handled the track fine.

As for the "weak" Woodword...she ran ahead in every call i believe, setting very fast times, and you want to knock here because an accomplished older horse came up a neck short?

and as for the fillies that she beat vs the ones that Zenyatta beat this year, RA was in 3yof races only, Zenyatta was in 3yof+ and many of those were older accomplished mares. wait til next year to see what the fillies RA beat are doing, then you can judge her on that.

and as for the travers being a harder race, they were all 3yo colts, not older horses, which is normally harder. they beat the best colts so why not try older horses? she did it and won!

and if zenyatta's best surface was dirt, they should've took her to dirt races other then trying to face Rachel and not scratched her for fear of mud

but as to who is horse of the year, my money is on RA, but im not at all knocking Zenyatta BCC win, which was the best i've ever seen since i got interested in horse racing in '97. Azeri tried and she couldnt get it done (tho they had different running styles too)

they both had great years but i think RA had a much better record, so she wins

18 Nov 2009 11:37 PM
Karen2

I'm just glad none of the comments I posted were in your list. Although my vote for "human" HOY is Steve Haskin. I thought maybe someone would call me out on that one.

18 Nov 2009 11:42 PM
Bayakoa

Steve,

You better wear a bullet-proof vest to the Eclipse Awards.

It's going to get brutal.

They are going to take you out behind the woodshed if you vote the wrong way.

You better vote for Zenyatta since the Eclipse Awards are held out west this year. Look at it this way: you'll have less people to fight in the parking lot afterwards.

18 Nov 2009 11:44 PM
Ruffian

Steve,

I can hear the ropes being strapped to the trees in front of the Beverly Hills Wilshire.

Both sides are extremely passionate about "Horse of the Year" honors.

I wouldn't want to be a "Horse of the Year" voter this year, especially if you vote against Zenyatta.

The Beverly Hills Wilshire is out west and if Zenyatta is not voted "Horse of the Year", there are going to be people out there waiting for you.

People take this real serious.

I would travel "in a herd" when trying to get to your rental cars.

If you don't make it, be prepared to be hung.

18 Nov 2009 11:46 PM
Civil War

There is "us" (Zenyatta) and there is "them" (Rachel Alexandra).

A civil war between the west and the east.

Note:

Rachel Alexandra is like looking at the south end of a north bound mule.

18 Nov 2009 11:51 PM
Jodie

I am tired of this debate too and don't read much of it any more.  Way I see it, Jackson will buy Hoy for Rachel, just like he  did Curlin last year.  So not much to debate.

18 Nov 2009 11:59 PM
Bet Twice

I don't agree with your comment about the Breeder's Cup Classic.  I think it is the most important all ages race in the country.  

What American race (excluding the 3 year old only  Kentucky Derby) is more important?  The Donn?  The Santa Anita Handicap?  The Whitney? The  Woodward?  The Jockey Gold Cup?  Are any of those races even televised anymore?  

I do think the Breeders Cup Classic should be supported as a "Championship" race.  Winning one race (even the Classic) should never automatically anoint Horse of the Year, but to say it isn't a championship race is ridiculous.  

What else is it?  Just another big race?  Like the dozen every year that absolutely no one has ever heard of?  Well that will convince viewers and racetrack attendees alike to come out in droves.

I don't care who wins Horse of the Year, but I do care about the sport and all these comments denigrating the importance of the Breeders Cup just shoots horse racing in the foot.

19 Nov 2009 12:27 AM
fanofallthree

LOL at some of your responses.

Well done, Steve.

I do like it when you get a bit feisty.  This Rachel/Zenyatta HOtY debate tends to do that to most everyone.

19 Nov 2009 12:28 AM
Tim G

Steve, Steve, Steve Uh no they're going away from a track near you.

Steve (once) I usually agree with you but subjectivity is a human emotion, Mathematical formulas such as point systems take the human element out of it as far as voting.

If a formula is established, much like the money earned in G1's for the Derby? You'll have a lot of irritated people who DON'T  get in or don't get nominated but the rules are the same for all horses and connections and the plans will have to be made accordingly.

Just like performing a procedure, it's a set protocol. When one deviates from that is when you have a sponge left in or even worse errors occur.

As for this year, as I've said both horses had amazing accomplishments. Both accomplished something never done by a female. Rachel won the Woodward and Zenyatta won the Classic. However I just cannot equate the Woodward with the Classic, no matter how I try to figure it.

19 Nov 2009 12:31 AM
Steve

The most passionate debating that I've seen in years is whether Rachel or Zenyatta is better and whether Elvis or Michael Jackson was better.  More so than the presidential and other political campaigns, health care, the current wars, etc.

It's really pretty scary if you think about it too much.  

19 Nov 2009 12:47 AM
AdmittedlyBiased

Another consideration for the "heart strings" debate, Zenyatta run exclusively in California for 3 seasons (with the exception of one start) and so had the opportunity to develop a huge fanbase. It's a lot harder to make and keep fans when you change states every few starts. Even so, Rachel managed to pull in an incredible group of fans that followed her every race.

19 Nov 2009 12:47 AM
seb

Most years voters consider very talented horses who ultimately have performed in line with traditional expectations for their divisions.  Many horses of the year have done no more than have the best campaign of a mediocre year.  Obviously, this year that is not the problem.  Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra both did things that have not been done before in North American horse racing.  It seems crazy to be forced to choose between the scale of their accomplishments.

I know you, Steve, rejected Alex Waldrop's reasons for disallowing a dual vote.  And I agree.  A sport can be defined by the contest or by the competitor.  A race is a primal kind of contest.  Many things can be raced, but what make our sport unique is its competitors.  Despite increasing popular skepticism we race horses not machines.  We need to reward our athletes when they give us those transcendent moments that are the greatest rewards spectator sports offer.  Both these horses did that this year and and it should be taken to heart.

19 Nov 2009 12:59 AM
Steve Haskin

Excellent SundaySilenced, I'll have to add that one.

Near me, SSS? Wanna bet?

19 Nov 2009 1:02 AM
charles

Great job answer man Steve:

You just help me decide who should be HOY

"Zenyatta was scheduled to ship to Belmont Park to run in the Beldame Stakes had Rachel Alexandra showed up. All the arrangements had been made. But when it was decided after the Woodward to retire Rachel for the year that plan was scrapped and she ran in the Lady’s Secret instead"

My VOTE just went to Zenyatta! ;)

thanks for clearing it up. LOL

19 Nov 2009 1:04 AM
Freetex

Mr. Answer Man,  I just laughed all the way through your article.  Go get em, Steve.

Both girls are the greatest in my view.

I loved "Paseana's" solution, vote for Presious Passion!

Carrots anyone??

19 Nov 2009 1:05 AM
Steve Haskin

Karen, Horse of the Year, me? I think thats a compliment :)

Bayakoa, ever hear of "abstain?"

Bet Twice, I never said the Classic was not the most important race, I said it is not a "World" championship as it is billed. Also, when it was originated it became the most important race run on dirt. Thats when everyone ran on the same "dirt" surface -- dirt.

Tim, do people determine what the mathematical formulas are? Then it's subjective.

19 Nov 2009 1:20 AM
Tim G

Yes, but not nearly as subjective or political as people who have a myriad of criteria and reasons, (favors, promoting their track etc) for voting the way they do.

In racing, the graded stakes are our most important races and those are assigned by humans, yet that is based on several criteria.

Actually I'm pretty sure, but I'll ask my Computer Engineer relative, but I really believe you could feed historical data into a computer and come up with a formula.

19 Nov 2009 1:31 AM
Johnny

Thanks again, Steve for your sage and insightful remarks. I also got a few chuckles and if you ever decide to give up turf writing, you might try the comedy scene.

Seriously though, we've seen something very special this year, thanks to these two remarkable ladies. To think that one of them may not be recognized while the other is, would, in my opinion, make this highest award incomplete.

19 Nov 2009 1:37 AM
Pasturelands

Nice comments, Steve.  I am glad someone is PAYING ATTENTION to poor ole bloggers like us.  You are a professional, my friend..

I had to laugh about that part about the statue and the carrot.  Honestly, there is NO contest: any horse would rather munch on the carrot, than on a hard steel statue even if it is the HOY statuette... LOL.LOL.

I agree with you, Steve, its either HOY or nothing..no Co-HOYs please. There should be a tie-breaker of sorts if TWO are eligible to win.  No way that BOTH eligibles will win.  Why give the award at all?  I can't imagine two "Bests", or two "Mosts".. "Best" is exactly just 1.

I disagree, however, on the part where you said, choosing a governing body is subjective.  NOT really.  If the governing body will follow a "system" like the points system used by the Cartier awards, then the subjectivity you mentioned will be MINIMIZED if not erased, coz they have to follow the system guidelines.

That would still be better than to decide the HOY on POLLS.  We could have 1million votes coming from a town in Tijuana, New York??  These funny things happen in polls..

I still maintain that HOY should go to RAchel Alexandra.  She earned it.  

Running from February to September, 8 victories in 8 months, over 7 different dirt tracks in 6 states, winning against Males thrice, with winning margins of 20 lengths, BSF of over 100--if these FACTS are not impressive, then nothing is.  

Based on publicity generated by the BC, Zen can win the HOY-- but I've never heard of an award given SOLELY because of ONE big race won.  Zen's margin of victory nor time in the BC was not exceptional.  And unlike the other horses, Zen ran only 4 times before the BC. NTRA gave her exactly 1 HOY point for those 4 races.  Why now, Zen skyrockets to 19 HOY points after the BC?  The BC alone was worth 18 HOY pts?????

Winning the BC Classic says that this horse is good-- but it cannot guarantee that it is the Best in North America.  Zen deserves maybe a solid "champion older mare" award for the BC win, but not HOY.  STS was HOY of Europe, despite being only 3 years old. Rachel is also 3 years old, but, like STS, she IS good enuf to be HOY 2009.

About SB and Gio being good horses and not "allowance" runners, You are right, Steve, . I hate it when bloggers put down competition just to show that Rachel is NOT A CLASS HORSE.  That is like murdering these fine horses.  Its hard enough for a horse to stay injury-free, so give credit to them.

Again, Steve, i hope you have many more years of "watching over" Horse racing.

19 Nov 2009 1:44 AM
anncat

I know which owners I want to have stand up there to receive the HOTY trophy:  Jerry and Ann Moss.  They picked out a yearling filly some years back at the Keeneland sale, from a virtually unknown sire, Street Cry (from his first crop, I believe).  They placed this filly in the capable hands of their trainer and were endlessly patient while this rough diamond of a quirky Thoroughbred grew and grew and grew.  They obviously adore this now-grown-up filly, Zenyatta.  They have always done what was best for her, not for themselves or their reputation or their bank accounts.  And I want John Sherrifs standing up there too to accept that HOTY trophy.  He didn't mess her up.  He didn't force her to run until she was ready.  These are the people who should be rewarded for what they have done for horse racing, along with that incredible un-be-liev-a-ble Zenyatta. I see nothing wrong with tipping the scales in this year's voting for HOTY by honoring her connections for their contributions to the sport.

19 Nov 2009 2:05 AM
Swapsfan

Mr. Haskin, you are a glutton for punishment!  If I were voting, I'd abstain.  I think both Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra are great ambassadors for Thoroughbred racing. They got people excited, perhaps even people who usually don't care about horse racing.  We'll probably never see another year in which a filly and a mare are the two contenders for Horse of the Year.  Their performances *should* prevent any more PETA protests about racing fillies against colts.  I think Rachel will win HOY; but I have to say (again) that I've never seen a horse enjoy the whole experience of racing like Zenyatta does. And that's worth watching too.

19 Nov 2009 2:28 AM
RachelSatterfield

Things that really push me toward Rachel: 8 wins vs. 5 wins,  Records vs. no records, Classic win vs. "Classic" win, boys 3 times vs. boys 1 time, 21 lengths vs 4?, Summer Bird by 6 lengths vs. Summer Bird by maybe 2, and Vogue.  The Vogue thing is huge in my mind.  I doubt it will ever been seen again.

Things that make me go Zenyatta: Undefeated vs. Defeated, Beat Europeans (though obviously Rip Van Winkle was not himself here) vs. only US based horses, massive personality vs. not nearly as much personality, and finally I was there for Zenyatta's "Classic" win and not for any of Rachel's races.

Both are undefeated this year.  Zenyatta had the blessing of not racing while she was young.  Rachel got thrown right in there as a two year old when she was clearly immature.  If she had been so well handled in the early part of her career, she might be undefeated now also.  In the end I have to go with Rachel for Horse of the Year.  She had a stronger year overall taking far more risks. If she had lost the Woodward badly, this years 3-year-old crop would have been classified as weak. If she had lost the Haskell, her Preakness could have been called a fluke and the people that insist Mine that Bird was a better horse that day would have even more reason to tout that. The Classic was a no brainer (and not much a risk) for Zenyatta.  She would have gained nothing winning the Distaff again, but she stood to gain immortality in the Classic and stood to lose very little respect as one of the best females of all time.

Can you imagine the race between them?  Rachel up front early, Zenyatta trailing and then closing like a beast, Rachel fighting back gamely like she did in the Woodward.  I know it would be a close finish, but I'm not sure who would win.  Part of me is glad I'll never know and that both of these horses will be immortal for their what they did, and neither will be tarnished by a loss to the other.  We're blessed to have had them both.

Anyone feel bad for Gio Ponti and Summer Bird that they happened to make a go this year?  Both of them would be viable candidates most other years.

19 Nov 2009 2:31 AM
ZENYATTA NADA

What I fear will be the sad answer.

The winner by logic- multiple race stature, performance and a diverse campaign- Rachel Alexandra.  Defeated by a superb mare with less stellar 2009 performances/races overall- BUT PUSHED TO VICTORY BY THE LESS RATIONAL MOB MENTALITY OF THE LEFT COAST.

Because Zenyatta 'deserves' it, the heck with the a careful, scientific analysis of the facts.  Stop thinking and start feeling.

An honest answer deserves to be posted.

19 Nov 2009 2:33 AM
k-SWISS

You are right, Steve, the BC classic was NEVER a world championship per se.  Its just another important race, but with bigger purses!!  Winning this ONE race won't EXEMPT any horse from racing all year.  Otherwise, we should rename the HOY awards to the BC Championship awards.

ONE race can't take the place of many G1 or G2 races run ALL year long, against both males and females, and in as many as 6 different states.  Top it off, Rachel ACTUALLY won not ONE, but THREE races against male horses THIS YEAR.

No matter what anybody's heart says, RACHEL IS THE PEOPLE'S CHAMPION 2009, and she deserves to be HORSE OF THE YEAR 2009.  Zenyatta could be "champion older mare" for her BC win, and she deserved that one too.. Fair?

19 Nov 2009 4:04 AM
BELLWETHER

WELL DONE...LONG LIVE DOWN & DIRTY!!!...

19 Nov 2009 4:33 AM
Justine

I am by turns amused and furious with comments from both sides of the aisle. But honestly, compared to the political mudslinging I read about every day this isn't as bad. Pride gets hurt, not people.

But what do I know? I'm just pretending that I'm not a Californian who sold her heart to Zenyatta early lat year when she beat my favorite Tough Tiz's Sis and did it easily.

They both deserve this award. A real shame only one will get it.

19 Nov 2009 5:55 AM
TouchStone Farms

I have bred, trained, and pinhooked or raced for well over three decades the only thing that I catch myself day dreaming about when I think about Zenyatta and Rachel is being able to place their heads on my shoulder give them a scratch behind the ears and a kiss on the cheek thanking them for all that they are to me and the racing world at large. Having said that I will continue to dream and ready my Tiznow colt for shipping to Webb Carolls Trng. Ctr.

19 Nov 2009 6:36 AM
Coldfacts

I can recall there was a similar debate last year regarding Curlin & Zenyatta.  In 2008 Zenyattya went undefeated and Curlin was defeated twice. They both won the same number of G1 races for the year and may have been separated by one start.  In spite of the emotional arguments for Zenyatta in 2008, the voters focused on the cold facts and made the right choice. Curlin’s body of work was reflected far more challenges than that of Zenyatta. He travelled to the other side of the world and won the Dubai WC and is probably the only World Cup winner from our shores that won two races in Dubai. He won at several different tracks in fast, slow and muddy conditions. Both Curlin & Zenyatta won the same number of G1 races. However, one contender’s body of work was far more challenging and had significantly greater risks for defeat.

To determine which horse deserves the HOY honor the cold fact should be examined and emotions set aside. The body of work of both contenders should be carefully evaluated. Mr. Haskins presented the facts but like many posters has allowed his emotions to prevent him from making a definitive choice. He highlighted that just about every race A won was historic. Zenyatta has two historic moments i.e., equaling Personal Ensign’s record and the 1st female to win the BCC. What we have is an undefeated filly and an undefeated mare winning a number of important G1 races. The obvious question is whose body of work was more challenging and had the greater risk for defeat? Well for those of us who pay attention to facts the answer can only be RA. Eight victories at seven tracks; defeated the best of both genders in her age group; defeated older males; created history in just about every race won. The list goes on and on. How could anyone compare Kenyatta’s four or five race season beating mostly the same set of overmatched mare to that of RA.

There are those that will argue that RA’s competitor was weak. Mr. Haskin outlined the achievements of the horses she defeated and they were certainly not chopped liver. Summer Bird the champion 3YO colt designate was defeated by 3 lengths in the BCC. He was defeated by 5 lengths in the Haskell. What can be accessed from these margins of defeat? I leave the answer to all posters.

If one swallow does not make a summer then one race should not a make HOY.

19 Nov 2009 6:54 AM
Almutawakel

Thank you, Steve for infusing sanity into this insane debate. They are both wonderful and deserving and we are blessed to have witnessed their wonderful racing careers.

19 Nov 2009 7:33 AM
da3hoss

Bet Twice, you're right, there may be no other "single race" that's more important, it's the accumulation of all the important races IN A SINGLE YEAR that determines HOTY ;-)

Rachel missed one huge race...but, she won 8, all stakes, 5 Grade 1's, 2 Grade 2's including the biggest 3 year-old filly race (KO) by 20 1/4 lengths, the middle leg of the Triple Crown from the 13th post (that had never had a winner) and she was the first filly in 85 years to win the Preakness, she won against the boys in a major 3-year mid season grade 1 in the mud, and a significant mid season older horse Grade 1...

...at age 3.

19 Nov 2009 7:33 AM
ScottP

I just hope that when they call the name of one of these brilliant horses that the owners stand up and invite the others to the podium to honor both.  That is the right thing to do and what these two deserve.  It is up to the owners...Not the votors!!!

19 Nov 2009 7:49 AM
Rusty

Woo Hoo!!! Both Rachel and Zenyatta rocked the racing world this year and created much needed positive influence on this sport.  I consider myself honored to have seen them both run in my lifetime, and bring out the best this sport has to offer to the fans.  We should all relish the fact they were around together to create such a wonderful stir.  I can't vote for one or the other.  They both win... and they've both done this sport a tremendous service every time they stepped on the racetrack. I'm with Steve, the nice thing about this HOY race is that neither one of them gives a hoot... as it should be.  Keep crunching on the carrots, girls.

19 Nov 2009 7:59 AM
AGS

How blessed we are to have two extraordinary champions in Rachel and Zenyatta. One camp will be saddened when HOY is given to the other, but take nothing away from the greatness of the one which is not awarded the golden Eclipse. Sometimes our systems are flawed, as here, but no doubt, both horses are Hall of Famers.

19 Nov 2009 7:59 AM
BlueHen

I say "both" for HOY although, dare I say it as an East-coaster? -- I like Z. a weensy bit more........They've both accomplished SO much this yr., I honestly don't see how you could put one over the other.  I keep thinking about whether there was ever this situation before, where 2 horses were just that good that you couldn't choose one, and I can't recall anything like it.  Can anyone else?  Steve, thanks for defending Mine That Bird. :)  Still a fan of that little guy.

19 Nov 2009 8:05 AM
Value Plus

Zenyatta is the 2009 HOY. RA can win the trophy next year.

19 Nov 2009 8:19 AM
Kelly E.

Steve, sometimes I don't know if I'd want your job even if I was offered 10 Rachels or Zenyattas for free...okay, maybe that'd do it! :)

I love the debate and welcome all to join in.  Like I said on Jason's blog, what else would we be talking about this time of year? Who the early fav is for the Derby? What owner is committing a serious crime by retiring their horse too early? The Dubai festival? Ugh!  Bring it!!!!

19 Nov 2009 8:39 AM
larryb

obviously you have never seen me play ping pong!

19 Nov 2009 8:43 AM
mike rullo

steve,

people need to boycott betting synthetic surfaces like I have.gio ponti who finished 2nd in the classic is an example how embarassing our sport has become.this horse would be hard pressed to win an allowance race on dirt.we need to eliminate synthetic/fake surfaces before this sport gets terminated.

19 Nov 2009 8:51 AM
fanofallthree

It would be nice if we could set it so that Rachel wins HOtY next year and Zenyatta wins this year.  But, there's no guarantee that Rachel will run next year, not be sick or injured, or run well enough to be considered for HOtY.

Voting on that pretext is wishful thinking.  

These two fabulous females ran their eyeballs out this year.  It's up to the voters to assess their individual campaigns and decide which had the better.  There's no comparing a 3 year old to a 5 year old or trying to figure out which is the better of the two.  The only thing to do is to evaluate the campaigns.  I wish the Eclipse voters could not know the two horses and just look at the campaigns of each.  But, unless they just landed from the moon, that wish is not possible.  May the best horse win the trophy and the other get a fresh, juicy, peeled carrot.

19 Nov 2009 8:52 AM
LACS70

This argument is getting tiresome. How about bypassing both,and giving it to Summer Bird. His accomplishments are quite historical as well. But any way you look at this, if Ann and Jerry Moss dont get Owners of year, something is SERIOUSLY WRONG! I certainly would not think it fair if Steve A. got trainer of the year, without sharing it with Hal W.. Hal made RA the phenom that she is, NOT Steve. Respectfully, they both should share the honor. But, then again, I would rather see Chip W. or Tim I. get Trainer of the Year.    

19 Nov 2009 8:53 AM
Soldier Course

anncat:

In the winner's circle after the Breeders' Cup Classic, Mrs. Moss kept going over to Zenyatta, kissing and petting her before she started back to the barn. Mrs. Moss could not pull herself away from her girl.

I have looked at that footage more times than replays of the race itself. It is just such a tender, yet powerful, moment. It should tip the scales for anyone who sees it.

If you haven't seen it, I believe it's in larryzapeye's YouTube video of the BC Classic. I will try to post a link.  

19 Nov 2009 8:57 AM
Soldier Course

anncat:

Here is the link to larryzapeye's video of the BC Classic, with the scenes in the winner's circle that I mentioned:

http://tinyurl.com/yk9d2zl

19 Nov 2009 9:04 AM
Rechelle

"Get used to synthetic surfaces. There coming to a track near you."

Actually that may not be true.  There is no solid proof yet that synthetic is safer. Yes, less horses has severe breakdowns but more horses are being retired after running on synthetic due to soft tissue injuries (bowed tendons, ligament damage, etc).  I don't believe synthetic is here to stay.  I think a few tracks will keep them, but I don't think anymore tracks will switch to it.  I don't think Churchill Downs, Pimlico, Belmont, Saratoga, Monmouth, etc will switch to a synthetic surface.  I think that tracks that have it now are the only ones that will get it.  I also think it's a shame that Dubai went to a synthetic surface, because that means that the best horses in the world, including Rachel Alexandra, won't race in the Dubai World Cup because of the surface.  

As for HOY, as much as I do love Zenyatta (and I do love her, she's amazing and brilliant), if you look at the body of work for the year, Rachel just did more all year for the sport, having started her season in February and finishing it in September, she just did more for the sport.  Zenyatta didn't start her season until May and then ran in the same races she did last season up until the BC Classic.  She didn't take on any new serious challengers.  She didn't beat any serious competition until she got the the BC Classic.  The horses she beat in the Classic are some of the ones that Rachel had already beat up on.  Rachel defeated the winner of the Kentucky Derby, the winner of the Belmont, Travers Stakes, JCGC, Woody Stephens Stakes, Tom Fool Handicap, Arkansas Derby, Stephen Foster, the Whitney, and last year's Belmont winner.  That's impressive for a 3yo filly, no matter what top weight she did or did not carry and no matter the distance.  I don't recall any 3yo filly this season, or in any recent season, going a mile and a quarter.  Zenyatta just finally attempted it now and she's 5.  Rachel will attempt it next year as a 4yo most likely in the BC Classic on dirt.  

I must comment, if Zenyatta's best surface truly is dirt, then why did they never run her on it other than the one time?  Yes, it made sense to race her on synthetic also, but she should have left California more often to run on dirt.  Just like, I firmly believe, had Zenyatta run in the Classic last year and beat Curlin, she would've rightfully won HOY because last year she would have done enough.  This year was just a repeat of last year and to me, as a fan, that was disappointing.  Right or wrong, agree or disagree, that is just my opinion.

19 Nov 2009 9:12 AM
Kevin

Steve, just be honest. You are voting for Rachel.  I am sure it is a tough call for you, but we all know that is how you are voting. If you weren't why haven't you been tough on Beyer or Byk, considering they said it was a no brainer?  Are you part of the East Coast bias crowd?

Byk and Beyer have both said Rachel is a no brainer, which makes me think neither have a brain between the two. LOL

You can go either way, but anyone who says it is a no brainer is just not worthy of a vote.

19 Nov 2009 9:26 AM
MAT

Steve, Maybe you can comment about this one...the wishy-washy attitude of Eclipse voters regarding the importance of the BC races in determining awards...some years they give it extra weight, as with Ghostzapper in 2005 for HOY over Smarty Jones and Miesque's Approval for the Turf award in 2006 over The Tin Man.  In both cases the winner of the Eclipse either had a much shorter and less grueling campaign or a less impressive campaign (Miesque's Approval didn't win a G1 race all year until the BC), yet they won the award.  There are other examples, but it seems to me that either the BC is a championship event and if it is, it should count more, or it's just another horserace. And it should weigh the same every year. It certainly should not count more some years and not other years.  I find this lack of consistency very frustrating. If it's not a championship race, then it should not be advertised as such. Heck, they call it the WORLD Championship. I think this is what is fueling a lot of the debate.  Those who support Zenyatta for HOY consider her to have won it on BCC day, because they are under the impression that the BC is where championships are decided--kind of like the Superbowl, where it IS possible for a wildcard team to take the trophy from a team with a better regular season record.  I'm one of them.

19 Nov 2009 9:27 AM
Kevin

Value Plus, there is no certainty Rachel will win HOY next year.  In fact, I think Summer Bird is going to be the horse to beat because I don't think she can beat him in a 10f race.

Rachel is well deserving this year.

19 Nov 2009 9:27 AM
MtBFan (STILL)

I don't care anymore. I admit I used to be a rabid "Rachel is HotY" groupie, though I didn't flame on the boards (just repeated everything everyone said). I relieved myself by talking to my Uncle Pat at my brother's wedding reception about Rachel. He bet $$$ on MtB @ the Preakness and "this filly comes along!!!". And I knew, this is what's unforgettable, those fantastic moments. Although, I went to KY to tour KHP and The Thoroughbred Center and heard Zen's name a lot...prickled me a bit but she did shut me up. Maybe we do need to stop arguing about surfaces for now. The races are over and the horses have their wins racked up. I'm trying to control my biases for surfaces. I just have one wish--way better than RA getting HotY, if people stop whacking her for not being in the Classic!

19 Nov 2009 9:29 AM
Citation

Steve Haskin,

The Breeders was a "World Championship" the last 2 years.

When its run on dirt, it has not been a "World Championship", because the Euro's do not show up in numbers.

Get used to the synthetics, Steve. They are coming to a track near you, sweetheart.

19 Nov 2009 9:33 AM
Footlick

I don't care about HOY.  As these debates go on the more meaningless it becomes.  All so many of you do is knock Zenyatta left and right, even when you pretend to compliment her and appreciate her because you feel you have to build Rachel Alexandra up.  Why do you feel you have to diminish the accomplishments of Zenyatta in order to make her look better?  As for Zenyatta,  I'm glad I got to see her.  She is one of the most amazing stretch runners in racing history.  And she always wins.  Her Classic should have proven that.  But the same people who said she had no chance in that field and she couldn't even get in the money, now talk about how average the race was and that it really wasn't that deep.  That's just sad.  You all talk about her margins of victory, but you obviously don't comprehend that she runs only as much as she has to to win.  She's not interested in winning by 20.   She doesn't need to.  She is as dominant winning by 2 as a horse is winning by 20.  She won the Classic with something left.  Just appreciate her.

Give Rachel Alexandra HOY.  It's important to her connections.  They raced her with the intent of getting HOY, and that is fine.  Just appreciate Zenyatta too.

19 Nov 2009 9:34 AM
Bill Daly

With all of this talk about synthetic tracks why don't we have astroturf courses for those who prefer sythetic grass? As if breeders aren't confused enough now, it would be interesting to see them respond to this niche market.  I'm sure that somebody could develop a nice, lush astroturf course with plenty of cushion.  

19 Nov 2009 9:37 AM
Greg J.

     Off Subject, A little, But, This goes back to Quality Road's Gate issues, Here is a cool video of Mr. Shirreffs Gate Schooling a couple of his Horses, It is from May, 2008 at Hollywood Park, Also, Towards the end of the Video, You see a "Young" Zenyatta...

www.youtube.com/.../jonshfs05

19 Nov 2009 10:02 AM
Becky

Question Answer Man, do you think that these discussions would be less polarized if both ladies were retiring this year, or neither were?  I think a lot of the Zenyatta HOY fans feel that Rachel will get her chance next year and that therefore their heroine should get to be solo in 2009.  

19 Nov 2009 10:09 AM
Pebbles

Steve:

Zenyatta's connections while not liking the Pro Ride...or any synthetic surface for that matter have stated that the Santa Anita track is HER best synthetic surface to run on...

They explained she does not like the Del Mar surface...

And while many of us might believe along with her connections, that dirt is her best surface -- and indeed it MAY BE, the fact that she has not run on it more than once hardly qualifies that as her actual best surface...

Her best performance has been on Pro Ride...where she got her highest BSF...

The implication that because dirt is hypotthetically her best surface, that she did not have an advantage racing on the Pro Ride surface where she had won three previous times, and is her preferred synthetic surface according to her connecitons, I think misses the point that Zenyatta had one distinct advantage against the Classic field she faced.

She had other disadvantages...that is clear...she had never faced males...she had never run 10 furlongs...but then again she was likely the largest horse in the field...at 17.2 hands...

19 Nov 2009 10:10 AM
MAT

Sorry, I need to correct myself. I meant to type 2004 not 2005 for Ghostzapper's HOY year.

19 Nov 2009 10:12 AM
Soldier Course

MAT:

The real reason that Ghostzapper was named Horse of the Year instead of Smarty Jones was because Smarty retired too soon to suit some people.

19 Nov 2009 10:13 AM
el

As I read all the comments and chuckle at most, I can't help but remember Mike Smith's comments (or at least the gist of them) after he got beaten by RA in the Preakness riding Mine That Bird.  I think he called her "a freak, not normal."  Didn't he even say something like no one could beat that horse?  I don't remember exactly. I know it's different when you've just gotten off the winning horse, but funny how quickly he forgot his emotions and called Z horse of the decade.  They are both wonder horses who should be admired for their respective accomplishments.  But admired, not worshipped.  

19 Nov 2009 10:19 AM
shane

One question....

If you took the two horses accomplishments this year and stripped the names from them. Took the results to someone who does not even know about horse racing but understands competition. Who will they pick as the better season?

That is what it should come down to.

And I think we all know the answer.

19 Nov 2009 10:22 AM
shane

Footlick?

not interested in winning by 20?

I dont understand that reasoning. Horses run...and if they so happen to be really fast they run against the clock. They dont need another horse to push them; they just enjoy giving their all. So if yoour saying that Zenyatta is lazy; then why should she get horse of the year over a horse that lays it on the track?

19 Nov 2009 10:25 AM
shane

Citation,

Correction.....

When its run on the dirt..only THE BEST EUROPEAN horses come over.

19 Nov 2009 10:27 AM
NTramont

Thank you, Answer Man! You've made my day.

I'm just happy to have been able to enjoy this wonderful racing season with two wonderful competitors with so much heart -- Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta.

Why do we have to fight about them?

19 Nov 2009 10:28 AM
Karen2

footlick: Thanks for your voice of reason. It is unfortunate that those that call themselves "fans" have to trash Zenyatta. She is such an amazing horse. We have all been lucky to have been blessed with both Zen and RA in the same year.

Steve: I am glad you took that as a compliment as that is what it was truly meant to be. Like I said earlier...my list of equine althetes I want to meet keeps getting longer.. but my human "celebrity" list still remains only 1. You. Thanks for the heart and soul you bring to these blogs.

19 Nov 2009 10:31 AM
Steve Haskin

Citation, I hope you are the opposite sex of your blog name.

If it was a world championship, what world championship did it decide? Raven's Pass was the champion, er, uh.

Kevin, I hope youre not going to send me a bill for your psychoanalysis. Did you actually use the words East Coast bias? Those have become dirty words on here. Have you no fear of our deadly deleters?

19 Nov 2009 10:38 AM
Dan

BREAKING NEWS... THE MATCH RACE IS ON TO SETTLE HORSE OF THE YEAR...

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

"Both Jerry and I are just sick and tired of the bitter back and forth debate about which horse is more deserving," explained Rachel Alexandra's owner Jess  Jackson in a conference call this morning. "I think what we've come up with will satisfy everyone, and it will be good for racing."

Horse racing fans around the country will be glued to their HD TVs on Wednesday, December 23. During halftime of the 2009 San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl, Jess Jackson and Zenyatta's owner Jerry Moss will break from the 50 yard line and race to the end zone. "It's not even a quarter of a furlong," quipped a confident Moss, "I won't even break a sweat."

Jackson remains a little miffed that only the Poinsettia Bowl showed any interest in hosting the spectacle. "Quite frankly, no other Bowl even returned my call after hearing our pitch," he explained, "and some guys hung up on me in mid-sentence."

As expected, Mike Smith has the call on Jerry Moss and Calvin Borel will pilot Jess Jackson. "I don't think riding an elderly man is no different than riding a horse, no sir," said Borel. "I figure I'll let Mike and Mr. Moss set the pace and then make one run with Mr. Jackson, when I call on him he'll be there, yes sir you can count on it."

An ESPN spokesperson stated that the network was proud to broadcast this historic event, but also "nervous," and "terrified."

19 Nov 2009 10:38 AM
Kevin Stafford - the Aspiring Horseplayer

Steve, as always I turn to your posts as a welcomed breath of fresh air.

Something you wrote caught my attention - specifically in reference to Presidential elections.

We've been kicking around the idea of allowing fans to vote for Horse of the Year (Alex Waldrop even mentioned this idea in his latest NTRA blog post),and I wondered your thoughts on the matter?

Some say it would be a farce to let fans vote - especially since some may have only just witnessed their first race with Zenyatta's Classic win.

The point I keep going back to though, is that we allow 18 year-old High School kids an equal say in a Presidential election as we do twice wounded combat vets from foriegn wars - so why should Horse Racing be any different?

I can't help but think that we lose something here if we don't allow fans a voice in the voting process. Especially with the fever pitched debating/relevance this year. The "debate" has been mentioned on ESPN and in Sports Illustrated. It's a hot topic for sure.

Is it risky? Sure. Is it easily knocked/slandered as being wrong? Again, sure - but look how passionately folks feel, as well as how inherently skeptical they are of the current process.

I note that the Cartier Award allows fan voting, and even the Heisman has opened up and allowed a singular vote to be cast for the player who gets the most fan votes.

Just some things to think about.

By the way - I was there at the Preakness, Mother Goose, Haskell (I won the Monmouth Park facebook contest to be in the paddock with Rachel that day), and was at Santa Anita for the Classic.  I saw 'em all.

My opinion is in alignment with yours - I don't want to "man up" and pick between them (although my wife has threatened divorce if I mention Zenyatta's name...she didn't make it to CA with me), because I'm not interested in seeing either of these classy ladies lose anything - including an award that neither horse will ever care about.  

I thought Zenyatta's Classic win was the "moment of the year" by far, but Rachel's full body of work is so historically unprecedented as to be unimaginable just a few years ago.

It's a tough call. Do we go with arguably the greatest 3-year-old filly campaign in memory? Or do we reward an undefeated mare who became the first of her kind to win the Classic?

I also wonder this point:  What would the discussion be if Zenyatta's Classic victory had been in May or June, and Rachel had just two weeks ago won the Preakness, Haskell, or Woodward? We seem to be a nation of folks with short memory/attention span.  

People should give pause here - yes there's nothing wrong with preferring one horse over the other, but neither deserves to be denigrated by cheap-shot comments at all.

BTW - Steve, bro, when (if ever) might I be so honored as to have a comment from you on my site (the Aspiring Horseplayer)?

Love ya man - you're a voice of reason in a sea of insanity.  :-)

19 Nov 2009 10:47 AM
Goodwin

And what if Zenyatta had run against a few of those grade one winners that she beat in the Classic, sometime earlier in the year, and then was put away for the year, and RA won the BC Distaff (I can't call it "Ladies' Classic - ech!)? Would there be ANY debate? You have to show up to win. Period.

19 Nov 2009 10:50 AM
Citation

Correct Steve. This meant the Americans were not up to the task.

19 Nov 2009 10:58 AM
ZENYATTA NADA

Way to go Dan, bring Mine That Bird's two riders into the fray too.

I'm backing Calvin and Jackson.

19 Nov 2009 11:04 AM
Spicer Willits

Steve,

If Zenyatta doesn't run down Ghostzapper and Invasor, she's not the "Horse of the Decade," that's all. If one anoints her with that title, what are Ghostzapper, Invasor, and Point Given - chopped liver? Zenyatta is one outstanding horse and a real champion, but that doesn't diminish the accomplishments or quality of other champions earlier in the decade (let alone the century!).

19 Nov 2009 11:06 AM
shane

DAN,

That is too funny. Thanks for making the atmosphere in here a little easier.

lol

19 Nov 2009 11:07 AM
WWSTP

Steve, thanks for hanging in there and coming back with some sane rebuttals to so much venom out there.  If we poured all this venom into a passionate and fucused attempt to actually influence the Eclipse voters to offer up 2 HOY awards this particular year, all of this might actually amount to something worthwhile.  We can see how easy it is to "split" humans and opinions.  It's much more difficult, albeit far more effective, to find common ground and stick to it. If we, the fans, were to come together and passionately voice our insistance on two HOY awards, we would have had a hand in changing some rigid old tradition and stamping something new and deserving into the history books of horse racing...while RA and Z enjoy munching on their carrots.

19 Nov 2009 11:08 AM
David

I can remember a couple of HOY winners, I reckon. Though to be honest, not really that many. What I DO remember are horses of my life.... Dr Fager, Damascus, Ruffian, Secretariat, John Henry, Kelso, Seattle Slew, Affirmed and Alydar, Spectacular Bid, Go For Wand, Personal Ensign , shoot ... even Pepper's Pride....you get my drift...and now Rachel Alexandra AND Zenyatta. Add their names to your Great Ones List. HOY just doesn't mean THAT much to me. Somebody tell me without going...uh, uh, uh...who was HOY the year Barbaro won the KY Derby. Maybe I don't get it, but....

19 Nov 2009 11:08 AM
steve from st louis

Steve: I used to vote for HOY for years when you were working with Freddie and Andy Ulrich at DRF-NJ. To me, it comes down to which horse did something that's never been done before--and they've both accomplished that. This is racing's chance to "get it right" and leverage the current popularity of both champions. Naming co-HOY empowers fans of both.

If Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player can produce co-champions in the President's Cup, deciding a tie, it's the least the Turfwriters can do here. Let the debate continue forever.

19 Nov 2009 11:13 AM
East Coast Racetrack Groom

This HOY vote is not about the filly and mare.

This HOY vote is about dirt and synthetics.

Sadly, the voters (DRF, NTRA and NTWA) will hold Zenyatta accountable.

Zenyatta has a target on her back. She will be punished come January 18, 2010.

The east will do "WHATEVER IT TAKES" to make sure that dirt tracks stay "dirt" tracks.

Zenyatta does not have a chance for HOY. It's unfair but that's the way the east sees it. If they give HOY to Zenyatta, then they are telling dirt tracks (across the nation) one thing:

"They "buy into the notion" of synthetic surfaces"

This sadly my friends is what it all comes down to.

The east will tell you different, but believe me,  the distain that most of the east coast has for synthetic racing is much more than you think.

No horse out west will win HOY. No horse!

-East Coast Racetrack Groom

19 Nov 2009 11:21 AM
Mike S

I'm not impressed by what RACHEL ALEXANDRA did against basically allowance level and claiming horses (or horse who should be in claimers), or how she won the Mother Goose by 20 lengths after the only other two horses in the race killed themselves off by running a suicidal pace. The horse that was 2nd, by 20 lengths, to her in the Kentucky Oaks is not even capable of winning a NW1.

RACHEL ALEXANDRA's competition in the Preakness, Haskell and Woodward does count for something, however. In the Preakness she ran a very fine race, and she defeated what was left of a depleted 3 year old crop (all the good 3 year olds had broken down or been retired by that point), including MINE THAT BIRD. Funny how most of the people who were claiming that MINE THAT BIRD is a "terrible" horse who "should have been 100-1 in the Kentucky Derby" are now talking about what a great accomplishment it was for RACHEL ALEXANDRA to beat him by a desperate length. By the way, those people were wrong about MINE THAT BIRD, he's a nice horse, but he's no SPECTACULAR BID.

RACHEL ALEXANDRA's race in the Haskell was very good indeed. She won off, all by herself, by about 6 lengths, over a sloppy track. But SUMMER BIRD, a dedicated closer, was taken out of his game that day and ran in the first flight of runners, but still held on for second. In the Woodward Stakes RACHEL ALEXANDRA defeated MACHO AGAIN, barely, and BULLSBAY, not exactly the second coming of ACK ACK and COUGAR II. In fact, MACHO AGAIN is a very inconsistent horse who, on his best day, is probably not a legitamtely "Grade 1" type horse. I'm not putting him down, I like him and BULLSBAY, I'm just saying they're not "great" by any measure. RACHEL ALEXANDRA was literally life and death to hold him off though!

As for ZENYATTA, she's The Queen of Racing in 2008 and 2009. She should have been Horse of the Year in 2008. This year she went 5 for 5, winning with 129 pounds, winning at Del Mar when the rider's judgment worked against her, and winning the Breeders Cup in the best and most exciting performance in the history of the event! Not only was ZENYATTA's Breeders Cup win this year the most exciting, dynamic and enthralling victory I've ever seen in a Breeders Cup race, it was probably one of the top races I've ever seen in my life. She is amazing. She is great. She is one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen, at the racetrack or anywhere else.

19 Nov 2009 11:28 AM
Gladiator

RA should get HOY for her BODY OF WORK. Zen had a great year, but really only ran in one big race.This is HOY, not HO-November.

19 Nov 2009 11:29 AM
Footlick

Shane- Zenyatta is lazy.  That's the way she is.  She's never going to win by 20.  But she sure ran down the BCC field and still had something left.  Buckpasser was lazy also. Did that make him less great and should he not have won HOY over a horse who ran as fast as they could?   Just because horses don't win by 20 doesn't mean they are not great.  If you don't agree then you don't.  If you feel that's the measure of a great horse then you do.  My point was you can't hold their running style against them.  Zenyatta runs as fast as she has to to win.  She doesn't feel she needs to do more and she feels very dominant over every field she has run against.  And she has never been beaten.  If one of your criteria is a horse has to run as fast as they possibly can, then you do.  Again, it's just a statement.

19 Nov 2009 11:42 AM
Smarie

I think the word "dirt" shows up too often in regards to this year's BC. People keep carping on "who would have run differently if they had been racing on dirt," or, "the races should have been held at a track with a dirt surface," stuff like that. Well, this doesn't apply this year because dirt didn't apply this year. All who sent their horses to Santa Anita were fully aware that there is a synthetic surface there - not dirt. So why all the arguing from fans? You don't know if a so-called dirt horse would have run better or worse that day if the races were run on a dirt surface. Sometimes, horses simply don't show up. We have enough to talk about debating HOY without bringing up track surfaces. They are just an argument or an excuse for some. As for the Zenyatta-Rachel debate, I think some folks are against RA because they don't like her connections. Much has been made of the idea that Jess Jackson buys ready made champions - he doesn't develop them on his own. I don't think that is a reason to deny someone a championship award for their horse. However, I do believe that you have to be willing to send your horses to the big races and to face the best in competition if you expect to bring home the biggest prizes. Just my opinion of course. Great year for racing with such wonderful horses.

19 Nov 2009 11:46 AM
MonicaV

Steve,

Great column and thanks so much for being you. That's why you have such a following.

This Z vs RA HOY debate is getting really tiring and ridiculous.  The worst part is the constant slamming of both by the people opposing each of them for HOY.

It seems to be too important in the scheme of things on the blogs.

We bloggers have no vote so all we can do is express our opinion.  That's what it is....opinion.  Everyone is entitled to their opinion.  Some, however express their opinions as facts, like Jess Jackson having bought Curlin's HOY so he's buying Rachel's HOY.  Has Mr. Jackson approached you this year with an offer of money for your vote yet, Steve?  How much did he pay you last year?  I mean it must be true since it was written as a fact.  Right?  I'll be honest.  I loved Curlin but I thought Z should have won last year and was shocked when Curlin was named HOY.  Then we have to compare the Woodward to the BCC.  That determines the HOY.  Not the 7 other races RA ran but the BCC and the Woodward.  Then there was the weight allowance RA had in the Preakness.  She would have lost to MTB according to all.  Then you look at Z's BCC and you are in awe of the tremendous Mare and she deserves all the accolades showered upon her.  She is poetry in motion.  Then you look at RA's dominance in her races, the Haskell being her best winning six lengths ahead of the Belmont winner.  Time Ice had plenty to say about her so-called "weak" competition.  Does one race decide this thing then?  Whoever wins the BCC is the HOY.  Then that should be the rule.  Another comment on here is that Hal Wiggins made RA.  Sorry, God made her.  Mr Wiggins trained her, he didn't make her.

In closing, both of these horses are champions and have thrilled us with their beauty, competitiveness and heart.  How lucky we have been to have seen the best that God has created in a race horse.  The statue matters not but the horses do and neither is better than the other.  That's MY opinion.

19 Nov 2009 11:56 AM
Jeff M.

Thank you Steve Haskin... your stuff is always excellent and perceptive.

I think there should be one and only one horse of the year.  I can surely see why this is year it is uniquely difficult to make a choice between these two marvels but I think if you refer to Jay Hovdey's terrific piece on this topic yesterday in the DRF you'll understand the reasons why a tough choice does not mean we have to change the rules of the game ex post facto.  Anyway, who really cares who wins it at the end of the day?  Since RA and Z never met on the racetrack, the HOY winner is nothing but the result of the cumulative OPINIONS of the voters... it isn't God himself anointing the true winnner of the contest.  No matter who wins, the thrills they gave us this year cannot be taken away or ever diminished.

19 Nov 2009 12:00 PM
Tim

You still have to look at the fact that Life is Sweet flattered Zenyatta more than any of RA's opponents did for her. That is what the voters hopefully use as part of their criteria. What did Macho Again and Bullsbay do after they faced RA? They sure didn't win a BC race.

19 Nov 2009 12:00 PM
Sea the Stars

Horse of the Year should be for male horses only! I vote for Sea the Stars.

Coming to a breeding shed near you!

19 Nov 2009 12:14 PM
Tim

I just wanted to ask a couple of questions about the BC ever since they started calling it the World Championships. If it truely was for deciding world champs then why has every BC except 1996 at Woodbine been run in the U.S. and why is there such a debate for U.S. HOTY if Zenyatta is a "World Champion"? I know in Europe they run on grass but shouldn't at least the grass races be run outside of the country? You might even find a track in S. America with both o dirt and a grass course. I just hate when the term World Championships is used just to increase ratings which hasn't worked.

19 Nov 2009 12:30 PM
OLD TIMER

You are a class act, Mr. Haskin. Thank you for all of your excellent commentary.

If there is a silver lining in the high emotions, it is that, come January, the HOTY and Eclipse awards will be watched this year like never before.

19 Nov 2009 12:36 PM
lobieb

Well said Dan.You are very funny.  I may be an East Coaster but that does not mean that I am biased.  I could not go against Rachael nor could I go against Zenyatta.  Am just glad that someone else has to make the decision as I have said before....if it is not a tie then shame on the governing body.

19 Nov 2009 12:48 PM
nonnonheinous

It is astonishing how much time and energy people are putting into arguing for something they have no control over, to other people who also have no control over it. I'm assuming most of us here do not have an Eclipse Award vote. Whether or not you or I managed to convince another person that it's really RA or Zenyetta who does/does not deserve the award is inconsequential. Besides which, they both "deserve" it, in any other year they would be slam dunk cases for HOTY, the problem we have is that they are here, now, in the same damn year.

My best guess as to why there is so much rancor in this debate has to do with the animosity between fans of RA and Zenyatta that started early on in the season. At first there was an honest desire to see the two mares race each other, but when that became less likely and RA's accomplishments kept piling up, the general consensus veered to, "Why bother racing them against each other, RA would totally smoke Zenyatta anyway. Besides, Rachel has HOTY sewed up. Even if Zenyatta wins the Classic. Which she wont, because her connections are too chicken to risk her undefeated record, and they know she's overrated."

As we all know, they did risk it, she did win it, and if anything, perhaps Zenyatta has been a little UNDERRATED. So, it seems there is a little bit of backlash from that, at least. So much for that.

There is a lot of twisting and omitting of facts on both sides, a lot of unwillingness to look at things with as clear an eye as possible, which also means acknowledging that there is no way, literally no way, to be truly objective about this decision. None. I don't want to have to drag you all back to your Philosophy 101 days, but whether you value RA or Zenyatta's accomplishes more depends entirely on your subjective attempt to pin down the "worth" of each action. And how you decide to do that has nothing to do with "objective truth", which you ain't ever gonna get at. The best you can do is try to temper your bias and try to see it from the other perspective.

For example, a lot of folks are trying to figure out whether or not the BC Classic win is "as good" or comparable or even "better" than the Preakness, Haskell, Woodward triple. Does Zenyatta's Milady, Vanity, Clement Hirsch, and Lady's Secret graded stakes wins against fillies and older mares compare to RA's five stakes wins against fillies? The common efforts made to try to compare include times, margins of victory--both of which are extremely difficult to compare since we are dealing with not only different tracks, track bias, and surface, but also pace and running style. Looking at the quality of the competition is sometimes helpful, but only if the competition is exceptionally good--AND in good form on that race day. I think in both RA and Zenyatta's cases, they have both run against some "suspect" competition, which is hard to avoid since they are so ridiculously talented anyway.

Another thing that creates a bias is whether someone thinks synth and turf horses are inherently inferior to dirt horses. And then whether one thinks Zenyatta is "merely" a synth horse. And yeah, why DIDN'T she leave California her whole career, except once, if she didn't prefer synthetic surfaces? Let's conveniently overlook the fact that she ran a bang up race on dirt early in her career (before they perhaps really knew they had a BC horse) in which *every single horse* in the race came out of it and won their next race (so much for "suspect" competition, at least in that case), and let's overlook the fact that once they realized they had a BC quality horse, that it made very little sense to prep her on anything except synthetics. Notice that in both years they were willing to travel to run on dirt EARLY in the season (Oaklawn and Churchill, though she scratched at Churchill). But we don't need to be master trainers to understand that if you're pointing to a big race in California on a synthetic track, then maybe it doesn't make a lot of sense to travel to the East Coast and prep on a bunch of dirt tracks.

Speaking of her Churchill scratch, it's another case where bias kicks in. A lot of folks fault Zenyatta for not running that day, because the track came up less-than-fast. It certainly was the conservative thing to do, given that it was her first start in six months, and since she's always trained in CA on synth, she's probably never set foot or worked on an off track before. She's a big mare, it wasn't an important race in terms of their schedule and ultimate goal of the BC. So I think we can understand the logic of scratching, disappointing as it was. However, whether you agree with the decision, or count it against her, has to do with your subjective opinion of whether you think it's important that a horse prove itself on off tracks, or whether you think it's just more evidence of some kind of hidden weakness. Or if it's just the sign of good horsemanship.

When it comes to RA, a lot of folks like to worry about the quality of her competition. I think it's safe to say that with the exception of a few talented sprinters, her female competition has been so-so. So rightfully she demolished them by open lengths, geared down. She showed herself as being as good as if not generally superior to her fellow 3 yr old colts. A lot of attempts are made to try to compare how RA beat the same colts as Zenyatta. They both beat 'em all, but we can't forget about the FORM those colts were in at the time. RA beat MTB at his best, Zenyatta at his worst (I don't think MTB would ever beat Zenyatta, though). It could be argued that Zenyatta beat a Summer Bird who was in better form than when RA beat him. Others like to think he hated the SA track--but it's not like he got demolished, he was just beaten 3 lengths. And again, there is failure to consider the running styles of Zen and RA, and the trip Zenyatta had in the Classic, and what that does to the win margins.

Maybe you think it matters that one horse won at a 1 1/4 miles, and one didn't. Maybe you think it matters that Zenyatta always looks fresh as a daisy after a race, and RA lays it all down on the track, giving her all. Maybe you think Zenyatta's win margins are "lazy", or maybe you think they just demonstrated her "condescending ease". The point is, all of this is so horribly subjective. The best I have been able to do is to say to myself that I cannot objectively separate their two careers, their two talents, and recognize that if I was required to vote, it comes down to my gut feeling, and my own subjective opinion of what qualities are more important to reward. But I don't pretend that it has anything to do with reality.

We need to be willing to notice where our own knowledge leaves off, and be content with that.

But, I'll never forget these two mares! I'm sad to see Z retire, as much as she's earned it, but at least we have a 4yr old RA to look forward to.

19 Nov 2009 12:50 PM
LACS70

@Dan: That's it! It's the only way to end this argument!

@Soldier Course: Thank you for your YouTube link. Mrs. Moss couldnt stop touching Zenyatta, which was sweet. Another observation is that wow, is Zenyatta going to miss racing! You can see she just revels it all...the crowds, the attention, the racing.

@Greg J: YOUR YouTube link was great as well. I loved the Life Is Sweet video that JS had...poor girl, she just didnt want to get up!

19 Nov 2009 12:56 PM
njracing fan

Steve, nice article. You used one of my quotes, the one about polycrap. I was guilty of falling into the trap of putting one horse down to support the other. I've posted on other blogs I would like to see co-winners and love them both, but I guess some on this site in bashing Rachel  got my goat, and I went negative on the other to make a point. Sorry for my weakness. In fairness, I don't really think one owner ducked the other. There are circumstances in racing. As a racing fan, I feel very lucky to have seen two great female champions do what they did in the same year. May we be as lucky next year.

19 Nov 2009 12:58 PM
dave

Ok, Steve. Let's at least attempt a little objectivity.

1) Not counting 2-year-olds, what was the last HOY not to win at 10 furlongs? How many HOYS in the last 30-40 years haven't won at 10 furlongs?

2) Can we all agree that RA's connections took the Mineshaft route? That is, they calculated they could win HOY while ducking the BC, so they did.

3) Can we all agree that someone has to win any race designated "Grade 1" even though no one in the field is especially good? With more tracks, more stakes races scheduled near the same time, fragile horses that require longer between races, and fewer quality older horses left in training, many "Grade 1" races in the US may equate to a Group 2 or even Group 3 race in Europe.

19 Nov 2009 12:59 PM
Karen in Indiana

Thank you, Steve, for addressing some of the opinions and misconceptions that have been stated. Right after the Classic, I was gung-ho Zenyatta for HOY. But after having time to calm down (and it took a while), you have good arguments for co-HOY. Both of these horses have accomplished record book feats, both of them have excited those who don't usually pay any attention to horse racing, and both have devoted fans. It would do a dis-service to vote for one and not the other. AND it could be great PR for the sport to say we have been so blessed with two such great talents in one year that we will share the award. They are two very different personalities - my head appreciates RA, my heart loves Zenyatta. Let's honor them both.

19 Nov 2009 1:03 PM
rocinante

they should each get a bag of carrots! maybe 2.

19 Nov 2009 1:03 PM
Don't Hate Me

It's East vs West, RA vs Zen, but in the end, it is not Zen, it's RA all the way. Game Over!

19 Nov 2009 1:05 PM
mary

I'm glad the Breeders Cup is not considered THE defining race despite their claim of World Championship status. Like the Kentucky Derby, it's just another race - a good race but still just one race.

19 Nov 2009 1:06 PM
Serena

Steve... glad you choose to address some of the remarks as you did. I don't get the playground bully mentality that some folks use when blogging.  They can argue til they're blue in the face and at the end of the day, they're still going to have a different opinion than somebody else.  I read nearly every column you write. I respect your knowledge and experience and when you -- as an racing insider -- share stories, facts and statistics with your readers, I feel that I'm gaining a knowledge I didn't have before.  Thanks for that!

So, maybe I didn't see it mentioned anywhere but why hasn't anyone harped on the absence of Sea The Stars at the BC?  His connections weren't raked over the coals for choosing to retire him, (other than in your column where you so accurately wagged a finger at them for their decision to retire him in the "horse's best interest") thus keeping him from the big dance.  Had he run, would he have gone in the Classic or in one of the turf races?  If in the Classic, would the pro-Zenyatta peeps have said she surely would have defeated him as well???  Just like with Rachel's absence, we will NEVER know so how can anyone correctly state that He/She/It would have beaten He/She/It on that specific day.

I've said it before and will repeat again:   the title of Horse of the Year needs to be decided based on that horse's accomplishlments in this given year:  where they raced, how often, strength of competition, records set/broken, ability to overcome adversity with off tracks or blistering pace, etc etc etc.   The ability to feel love, admiration, awe, appreciation, or whatever else we can claim that Z & RA gave us this year -- that's all very heartwarming but the voting needs to be based on the facts and hearts checked at the door.  

Thanks again!!

19 Nov 2009 1:09 PM
Pam S.

Dan, that was very, very funny.

On a related topic (everything's related to HOY or it ain't worth saying, right?), why wouldn't John Shirreffs be an obvious choice for trainer of the year?  He won both of the BC headliner races, which had never been done before.

I always thought all the people awards were silly; they just go to whoever won the most money.

19 Nov 2009 1:09 PM
sauerhorse

Steve,

Great article! I thoroughly enjoyed it- and you're right, I think almost all of us are doing too much mudslinging for our own good. These are both incredible horses and we should not be denigrating the other to support our favorite. Also, I'm still wondering, do you know anything about I Want Revenge?

19 Nov 2009 1:12 PM
Karen D

I asked myself too why it matters so much this year.  I think it’s because I’ve hung with this sport through breakdowns, betting scandals, medication violations, political infighting and a Kentucky Derby winner ending up on someone’s dinner plate.  Through it all, the thing that kept me coming back was that I couldn’t take my eyes off these beautiful, courageous animals for very long.  This year, my tears were full of joy instead as I watched Rachel win the Oaks and Zenyatta the Classic.  I know I witnessed greatness, pure and simple, and that doesn’t come along every day.  And I hate the way that joy is being ruined by having to pick and choose.  

In the grand scheme of things, my opinion isn’t one that really matters.  I’m just hoping that these words will strike a chord in those who do.  A statue won’t make or break either one of these horses, but that statue is a way tell Rachel, Zenyatta and their connections, thank you from the bottom of my racing heart.   I’d be glad to send carrots too :)

19 Nov 2009 1:34 PM
Debbie O'Connor

Steve,

You are priceless!!  I think you gave some pretty good answers. I gotta stick with my "#1 Girrrl"

Rachel Alexandra!!!  No disrespect to Zenyatta.

PS Loved "Soldier's" comment.

19 Nov 2009 1:52 PM
calbred01

As in years past in baseball, two players have been split the MVP awards I see no problem in having 2 HOY MVP's and is this really such a bad thing for horseracing?

19 Nov 2009 2:04 PM
Matthew W

MANY tracks are now rubber bands---just like The JC Gold is now 1 1/4, not 2 mi...or The Woodward is 1 1/8, not 1 1/2....change happens...if you can say Lookin At Lucky is 2yo champ---why can't you say Zenyatta is HOY? To say a horse cannot be HOY cuz they didn't run on dirt is absurd! The East Coast of racing used to be the holy grail of stamina/the holy grail of Fall Racing!....wwwhhaaaaahappened???...

19 Nov 2009 2:10 PM
Matthew W

Zenyatta will forever be the "asterisk horse", and this year's  will surely be the "asterisk HOY vote"!! I think you have said it about as well as anybody can, Steve--and I am grateful for you! Twenty years from now they'll say "what the heck happened"? You will have been one of the only writers to have stood firm for co-HOY--because you love the sport, and you know what you saw.....

19 Nov 2009 2:15 PM
Ghostzapper

There is only one way to determine HOY. That's a head to head race on a neutral surface (Turf?). Otherwise it's a popularity contest. Both Zenyatta and Rachael have negatives as far as where they raced this year. To give it to Zenyatta because of the BC victory is unfair because.... we now have three different surfaces. For the BC to be contested as if synthetic is the same as dirt is a travesty.

19 Nov 2009 2:16 PM
Karen2

Sitting here this afternoon something dawned on me.  I don't remember really who has won HOY over the past several years. What I do remember is who one what races..when....

How many of you can really say you know who the HOY has been?  HOY is nothing but a title. No one really cares.

19 Nov 2009 2:21 PM
Lava'sstilltheman

Speaking of Pete Sampras, horses being able to run on synthetic, grass and dirt is roughly parallel to elite tennis majors being decided on grass, clay and hard surfaces.  The greatest of the great are versatile.  Although it is his right to determine where and when his fabulous filly runs, Mr. Jackson missed the boat on seeing whether or not she would excel on synthetics.  Curlin was at the end of a long campaign, had slightly declining form and still ran a credible race.  I don't think the surface got him beat.  Zenyatta or Rachel?  Zenyatta 2009, Rachel 2010 after another stirring campaign.

19 Nov 2009 2:21 PM
John

To me it comes down to this.

If the two of them race who does my $ go on? No match race either,a real race.

I say Z catches R.A. with 50 yrds to go. Typical Z fashion.

Steve would you rather be known as the Z of writing or the R.A of writing?

19 Nov 2009 2:23 PM
rick

Steve,

I am the first guy to say I appreciate a good debate. It brings to light ideas that the commenters may have never considered before. But honestly, why do so many people who share their feelings, do it in such a "I'm right, and no one else can possibly be more right than me" kind of way? With all the talk of a dream matchup between these two awesome horses, I can't help but think of how I've felt after most major racing events. I usually walk away saying, "would have never guessed", or "can't believe it". Think of how many times we've all said the same sort of thing, and then apply that thinking here.

Would have been a great matchup, and I for one HAVE NO IDEA WHO WOULD HAVE WON. A question that will always go without an answer...unfortunately for us.

19 Nov 2009 2:36 PM
Matthew W

I mean--there was NO WAY they were going to meet BEFORE Fall....right? If they were willing to fly out there and compete with Rachel Alexandra on HER track, does that mean Team Rachel mismanaged their horse? Perhaps if they went out there, anyway, and did it right in front of them.....oh well, the Prevue is coming up strong this Sat---hope springs eternal in this game--I love this sport!

19 Nov 2009 2:55 PM
s lee

Ok, let's give the girls a rest for a bit.

What about Older Male award?

3-year-old male?

there are other good horses this year...  ;-)

19 Nov 2009 2:55 PM
Mike S

There was one way to settle the Horse of the Year debate, and Jess Jackson ruined that chance when he decided RACHEL ALEXANDRA would not be present for the Breeders Cup. You don't win Horse of the Year by sleeping in the barn, you win it on the track. RACHEL ALEXANDRA should have been in the race so that she could receive her defeat, fair and square, by ZENYATTA. I think that evading racing's championship day is the chicken hearted way out. You just know what the RACHEL ALEXANDRA camp's plan was - they probably said that their horse had a great year already and if ZENYATTA loses the Breeders Cup they'll get Horse of the Year. Well, they were wrong, because ZENYATTA put on the performance of a lifetime and should receive the title of Horse of the Year. ZENYATTA cannot be robbed two years in a row!

19 Nov 2009 3:04 PM
ZENYATTA NADA

Steve- THANK YOU for not deleting my posts.  Could you please answer this question/proposal-  WHY on earth would this so far unbeatable mare not be kept in training for the first 10 million purse Dubai World Cup.  On synthetics, at the BC Classic distance, and celebrating the opening of what may be the most phenomenal racetrack ever.  Why not- according to Mike Smith she has always won with ease.  She could still be lightly raced, adding only two more starts.  The hefty purse would let her earnings actually remain dominate for awhile.  Zenyatta could then retire and make the breeding season as well.  Even a later breeding would surely be worth this mega prize.

AN EVEN BETTER IDEA- Regardless of who wins HOY, let's send Rachel and Zenyatta TOGETHER AS OUR AWESOME AMERICAN GIRL POWER TEAM to take home the prize.  With Well Armed and Gio Ponti as back ups.  The Jacksons and Mosses teaming up to take on the world.  The supremacy between the mares answered, but as respectable team members.  Steve, the positive publicity and the build up would be awesome.  It might help heal the anger of Zenyatta's zealots as well.

Team Zenyatta is already taking the media award.  I honestly think that Mr. Jackson is a much better promoter of racing through the media.  Another historic first- an equine filly -Rachel Alexandra - gracing the pages of Vogue magazine.  Racing for the cure with Susan Kormen's breast cancer brigade.   A Rachel Alexandra inspired wine.  Run like a girl t-shirts.

Zenyatta legions brought us the tasteless Rachel Who shirt, and the premature Zenyatta 2009 Horse of the Year shirt.  Go ahead Turf Writer's, Team Zenyatta 'deserves' it.

Surprise- if the Zenyatta fan machine is allowed to tilt the balance in her favor, I will change my name to Zenyatta Lambada and do a victory dance for this fine mare.  AND never lose the memory of the theft of logic and reason in the name of warm, fuzzy feeling.

19 Nov 2009 3:13 PM
It aint easy being good!

Steve great article finally something to make me laugh that was great. I am just glad I wasnt on there to get made fun of or called an idiot remember that! lol! RA hands down HOY again RA has beaten males has been on what 5 different tracks and wasnt even rested when she took on the boys in the preakness! To many first for RA and if any of you watch NCAA they always refer to body of work when they seed teams I think the same applies to these horses for HOY which would result In RA as horse of the year.

19 Nov 2009 3:36 PM
Citation

Quote from Gladiator,

"Zenyatta only ran in one big race this year?"

Zenyatta smashed The Breeders Cup Ladies Classic champion "Life is Sweet" in the mouth (multiple times) this year.

What this tells me is that you don't think much of your fillies/mares back east.

What a shame, that the east coast doesn't respect their own horseflesh.

19 Nov 2009 3:39 PM
MonicaV

I don't remember who posted it but someone on here said that Rachel's Mother Goose win was anything because she beat 2 horses that ran way too fast and tired.  Well, that may be true that they did tire but it didn't matter who was in that race.  Rachel beat the clock, Dear.  She broke the stakes record held by Ruffian and she was only 1/5 of a second off Secretariat's track record and she did this while being eased the last 100 yards.  No big deal, right?

19 Nov 2009 3:44 PM
War Admiral

Karen2,

I remember every "Horse of the Year".

I'm like an elephant. I don't forget anything.

God help the east coast writers if there biased because there will be hell to pay.

19 Nov 2009 3:46 PM
Matthew W

3yo male Summer Bird....older male Gio Ponti or maybe Rail Trip--whom I think will win it next year on dirt....sprinter Fab Strike...although I think that the flat out fastert horse in the world is a certain Cali guy, the grey Zensa---ER--California Flag!

19 Nov 2009 3:53 PM
Daniel

Agree with s lee.  Time for a new topic.  It's starting to look like the Bloodhorse bloggers are baiting the crazies into this continued fighting.

Lots of other interesting news out there.  For example, did you hear about the 12YO mare that was entered in the 5th race at Churchill yesterday?  She hadn't raced since Bill Clinton was president, the stewards scratched her 11 minutes before the race.  It's been the subject of some interesting debate at other blogs.  

19 Nov 2009 3:57 PM
Lily

First off, why would Sea the Stars win the AMERICAN horse of the year award? He never raced here. He won in Europe, which was fair.

 Personally, i love both RA and Zenyatta. I lived near sa, and have seen z run a couple of times (Last years Lady's Classic and Lady's Secret) . However, i cannot deny that RA has had a better season. So if it were up to me, i would give hoty to RA, and moment of the year to z.

19 Nov 2009 4:02 PM
julie o

The thing about both girls going undefeated is, they beat everything entered against them.  They can only beat who they face, which both did.  Rachel Alexandra ran an historical campaign, and I believe she's the best 3 year old filly I ever saw.  Zenyatta also went unbeaten and was never really extended.  Neither chose the surfaces they ran over, but in Rachel's one race on sythetics she won easily, and when Zenyatta ran on dirt last year she also won easily.  I think both could win over 1 1/4 miles- if Rachel is ahead by 20 lengths at 1 1/8 miles, unless she stops cold she could win at another furlong.  Zenyatta won the Classic as if she was born to go that distance  The way Zenyatta won the classic, I don't think anyone could have beaten her that day, not even Rachel.  

 At this point, I think charisma enters in.  Back in '78, Exceller won grade 1 events all over America.  Seattle Slew only started winning stakes in the fall.  The two traded wins.  In the polls at the end of the year, Slew beat Exceller for champion older male.  His charisma became the deciding factor.  

 I think both Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra are among the greatest thoroughbreds of all time.  But on charisma, in my heart, Zenyatta wins.  Rachel Alexandra filled me with awe.  Zenyatta made me cry, scream, and laugh all at the same time.  I didn't know I could do that.

19 Nov 2009 4:12 PM
OldDog

Enough of the Eclipse Awards.  It's the dawn of a new award:  The OldDog HorseS of the Year, or simply ODHOY.  I humbly invite both horses and their connections to attend, because they are both receiving it.  Thanksgiving Day, we'll watch videos of RA and Z's races, whoop and holler and cheer, and get misty eyed as we raise mutiple glasses of Woodford Reserve in their honor.  You're all invited (BYOB).  I'll supply the carrots and mints.

19 Nov 2009 4:39 PM
It aint easy being good!

Alot of you people need to go back and watch the 2009 woodward again an listen and watch as they sent da tara out there to set suicidal fractions and RA still wore them all out. They have thrown everything at RA different tracks different ways to beat her and has come up the champ every time! Julie O nice post your spot on with what you said!

19 Nov 2009 4:44 PM
GreyK

Deep down I think the Zenyatta partisans are looking for a career achievement award, like a special Oscar given to some completely wonderful actor who somehow never won the prize.  To make up for her not getting it in 2007.  And because it's her last chance.  I am one of those "body of work" in 2009 people so it's Rachel for me.  

19 Nov 2009 5:15 PM
mike rullo

steve

I think bernardini was the best horse to race since affirmed.people would not agree,but a professional like your self might see it my way?

please respond

19 Nov 2009 5:35 PM
zen doc

In 1968 Katharine Hepburn (Lion in Winter) and Barbra Streisand (Funny Girl) both won Best Actress in the only exact tie in Oscar history. Who could have predicted that, either?

They've both been a joy to watch...

19 Nov 2009 5:57 PM
Matthew W

Julie: Exceller didn't lose to Seattle Slew...I think he was 8 for 10, vs Gr l's on turf/dirt all year...and Slew won a couple of Gr l's...went out too fast in The JC Gold and Exceller who had had a long season, rode the (slow) rail that day and got Slew inside the 1 1/16 ploe...they gave it (older male) to Slew anyway!.....Exceller lost Turf Horse to Mac Diarmida, another NY Fave...who couldn't have beaten Exceller at 1 1/2 on his best day--there was bo comparison, yet Exceller got nada that year, from the Eclipse voters!

19 Nov 2009 6:23 PM
Footlick

Here are her quarter fractions in the Woodward thru 8 furlongs, taken from the official video times-22.85, 23.56, 24.13, 24.94.

19 Nov 2009 6:37 PM
Jasmine

Sea the Stars -

Why would STS win the American Horse of the Year award when he's never raced here? He's HOY in Europe, and that's that.

And why should it just be for males? Rachel and Zenyatta are clearly better then the males this year...

19 Nov 2009 6:44 PM
Wanderlust

Just as a question, why does it matter whether Zenyatta was "robbed" of the award last year? It is Horse of the YEAR, is it not? Whatever happened in the past is history. Curlin won it last year, and perhaps Zenyatta deserved it more, but she didn't get it. That should have no effect on voting at all, or it wont be the East Coast that is biased. Can we PLEASE stop bringing up the question of last years so-called "robbery" of Zenyatta's award? Whether robbed or no, it shouldn't play a role THIS year.

The other thing that irritates me is everyone bringing up the fact that Zenyatta's undefeated. Once again, we should look at THIS year. Whether or not a horse was defeated the year before should have no bearing on the matter. If being undefeated is all one needs to do to win Horse of the Year, then we should have given it to Personal Ensign, and we should give it to Pepper's Pride. We need to forget the past and focus on this year and this year alone.

I love both Rachel and Zenyatta. They are both great champions, and it is sad to have to see only one of them win the award, but having Co-HOTY isn't exactly a good idea either. HOTY is the BEST, not the two best. Yes, Zenyatta's Classic was awe-inspiring, but so was Rachel's Woodward. They have both faced good fields, and they have both faced fields with less that quality horses in them.

Personally, I would side with Rachel Alexandra, simply because she raced for 8 months, and had 8 starts in 7 different states. Hauling yourself across the country isn't easy. As I said before, they are both champions, but to me, Rachel's overall body of work seem to be a little stronger than Zenyatta's was.

19 Nov 2009 6:46 PM
Lou in TX

Greg J... thanks for the web site on John S and his gate training. I got to see Z running one more time.

Thanks Steve for your article but I think this fighting among the  horse fans is only going to get worse the closer it gets to Jan. Some people just can't take a hint about being nice.

Hope you all have a great weekend!

19 Nov 2009 7:07 PM
Footlick

Bravo Matthew W.  He is one of my all time favorites, with Greinton. They could run with anybody anytime.

19 Nov 2009 7:08 PM
CRIMINAL TYPE

Owner of the year, The Mosses.. hands down. Ann Moss showed how much she truly loves her horse after the classic and many of her other wins, im sure Jerry was just as thrilled although not as given to that kind of public display of affection. You certainly wont see Jess Jackson or his wife Barbara smooching on Rachel. I have never been a fan of Jess Jackson, to me it seems like he is calculating and that turns me off. If he really wanted to ensure Rachel's chances of being horse of the year and knowing he would be up against Zenyatta, he would have "tried" harder to race against her. Instead when he knew Zenyatta was coming for the Beldame, he decided Rachel had done enough for the year.

John Shirreffs definatly deserves trainer of the year. Assmusen probably has more wins and has earned more money, but it just seems wrong when you see how much joy Shireffs showed after his horse's win's.  You have to include Life is Sweet's win in that equation too, because he was just as proud of her as he was of Zenyatta. No one has ever pulled off a Classic win and a Ladies Classic/Distaff in the same year. Not Assmusen, not Lucas, not Pletcher. NO ONE.

Both of these horse gave me chills and thrills all season long. I think the important thing we all need to remember as popular as both these great fillies are, the HOY voting is not a popularity contest. It is as so many have pointed out, supposed to be based on the "body of work". However, that being the case, who can say who worked harder Rachel or Zenyatta. Sure, Rachel raced more often, traveled more and beat some good horses. I do think, given a few more yards Macho Again would have beat her. He was closing on her in a Zenyatta like move. I think Zenyatta worked equally hard to accomplish what she has in her career. She is UNDEFEATED and who can deny that she has class and personality. I've been a racing fan for many years, I know im dating myself, but I saw Kelso race. I have never seen a horse put on a show like Zenyatta does before a race. It's like she is saying "LOOK AT ME, Because there is no other like me". Im not trying to take anything away from Rachel because she also has class. Just not nearly as much personality.

I still think Zenyatta would beat Rachel Alexandra on any surface, at any distance over a mile.

I think Calvin Borel should be asked what he thinks of Zenyatta. His opinion would be valuable since he is Rachels regular rider. He got to experiance what it was like to look at Zenyatta's HUGE hind end when she passed him & Mine that Bird in the Classic.

The idea of Jerry Moss racing Jess Jackson is hysterical...Calvin & Jess only win if they get to run down the sideline...LOL.

19 Nov 2009 7:18 PM
Rita

All I can say is I'm from the east and I love the west horse the best.I also love Rachel and could not vote against her.If Rachel wins and Zenyatta gets champion older mare maybe they will throw in a bonus of life time carrots with a few mints on top since she'd rather have that anyway.Here is hoping Zen gets a nice boyfriend to. All tho I can't think of one worthy of the Queen.

19 Nov 2009 7:28 PM
Greg J.

     Like "It aint easy being good!" said, Just to refresh everyone's memory, Please, Watch Rachel's amazing Woodward again, They threw everything at this amazing filly, She just kept going, No matter how many times I watch it, I am still in awe of Rachel, What an incredible race!  After all my years going to some incredible races, This ranks #2 in my life(Barbaro's Derby will always be #1!) as far as pure excitement...

"Rachel's Woodward":

www.youtube.com/watch

    In fairness, I never got the chance to go out to see Zenyatta race, Something I will regret forever!  I just found this Zenyatta Montage of all her victories, Pretty Amazing...

"Zenyatta Montage of her 14 Victories":

www.youtube.com/watch

     After seeing both of these greats in these videos, How can someone still question either one of them for their sheer will to Win?  If you really are a Fan of this Sport, Why not just realize how lucky we all have been to witness TWO amazing Champions in the same year?  I know I do...

19 Nov 2009 7:33 PM
Rowner

I vote for the Carrots!!!! Or as someone said above PP. Look at all the great racing we've seen this year. Zen and RA are not the only two that had worthy seasons. Any other year you would have to give serious consideration to GP and SB for their years.

19 Nov 2009 7:56 PM
Gladiator

Whoever is moderating these blogs must be a big Zenyatta fan. Keep it real! There must be a ton of pro RA posts not being posted.

19 Nov 2009 8:02 PM
Hawkeye

OK everyone!!!  We have been so blessed this year to follow not one but two great filly/mare.  Why is it that we always are asking and pushing the cartakers of these magnificent animals to do what we want instead of what is probably in the best interest of their horses?  Can we not just stop this nonsense trying to compare two equines that can not be compared?  Each has competed in a different venue.  Both have beaten very good horses.  Why continue to argue about something that has no logical answer?  Just sit back and enjoy all the memories these two have given us this year.  

19 Nov 2009 8:03 PM
Taxman

Steve, what really needs to happen is to get rid of all synthetic surfaces. There is no reliable evidence that says they save horses lives any more than dirt does. Plus those surfaces are increasing impossible to handicap. Anyone tried playing Keeneland lately? That used to be my favorite betting track, now I do not play there at all. My wagering volume at these tracks are a fraction of my dirt track wagers. This sport will continue its decline until someone starts making better decisions as to what horses race on.

19 Nov 2009 8:32 PM
Draynay

It comes down to one thing really.  Are you going to give HOY to a horse with no wins on turf or dirt?  Do you give HOY to a horse for 5 poly track wins over a 3 year old who blazed a trail no 3 year old filly in history has ever achieved and won at Belmont, Churchill, and Saratoga.  If you do it's the end of our sport we all love so much.

19 Nov 2009 8:34 PM
rowdee

I dislike seeing either RA or Zenyatta bad-mouthed in order to make the other look better.

I have serious questions regarding the weights these mares carried in their races--not only against other fillies and mares, but against the colts.

I've been given to understand that Zenyatta carried the same weight as the older colts (I think I was told 129 lbs).  

Is not the BC Classic a further stretch of real estate than the Woodward or the Preakness.  IIRC, at least in the Preakness, RA was given a filly allowance weight.

Would weight carried matter?  would weight and distance matter?

Win or lose, I'm just thankful the girls finished the years racing without injury.

19 Nov 2009 8:45 PM
LAZMANNICK

In answer to the never ending synthetics issues......they would only make sense if Zenyatta tried dirt and floundered on it, but she didn't, flounder, she was a bearcat.......And they would be an issue if her main competition couldn't handle it, but they did, if I remember correctly, the second, third and fourth place finishers in the Classic each ran fast enough to win the Pacific Classic at 1-1/4M on synthetics.  I think that the only issue is the depth of their seasons and they can both be looked at rationally.....Rachel had at least three tough races against males, Zen had three tough races against the eventual winner of the Lady's Classic and probably the thoughest G-1 of the year......Each met their challenges.

19 Nov 2009 9:28 PM
Josephus

Rowdee - Zenyatta carried 123 pounds in the Breeders' Cup Classic. Three less pounds than older males like Gio Ponti, Twice Over, Colonel John, etc, who carried 126. 1 pound more than the 3-year colts like Summer Bird, who had 122.

19 Nov 2009 9:47 PM
Paula Higgins

Draynay, I agree with you. Rachel deserves HOTY. But Zenyatta has my heart and I want her rewarded as well. What she has done is historic also. I hope the NTRA finds a way to reward her either with co-HOTY or another honor of some kind. But you are dead right. Rachel has indeed blazed a trail and to ignore that would be a travesty.

19 Nov 2009 9:56 PM
Soldier Course

Sea the Stars:

Are you serious?

"Horse of the Year should be for male horses only."

Ernie Munick, where's your gorilla?

19 Nov 2009 10:24 PM
Zookeeper

Draynay,

I usually ignore you...but the statement you made that if Zenyatta wins HOY, "it's the end of our sport we all love so much", sent me rolling on the floor in fits of hysterical laughter. I had no idea you were such a great comedian.

Mr. Haskin,

You TRIED to get a little sanity back into the discussion... You deserve an A for EFFORT!

19 Nov 2009 10:34 PM
Runningwild

I may be repeating other thoughts published but I admit, get bored scrolling thru the zillions of comments.  Both fillies gave us just enjoyment this yr running & are special.  I'm one who never wants to see them run against each other, if for no other reason, 1 would be a loser & neither deserves to be. I'm just enjoying the fact that the top 2 for HOY are girls, both who have run their huge hearts out for us & have beaten the boys.  'nough said - I vote dual HOY.  Steve - keep those blogs/articles coming.  Your writing is so passionate/informed etc.

19 Nov 2009 10:36 PM
Mike Relva

DRAYNAY

No disrespect intended,but I seriously recall over a month ago you stating that Zenyatta has as much chance of winning as "getting struck by lightning and hitting the lotto". I also remember you proclaiming that Music Note was a "lock". I will admit that I foolishly said Carless J. would win,I was obviously wrong. But,if Zenyatta had ran in the Ladies Classic,she would have beaten Music Note and company. Without any doubt! I think Zenyatta can run on anything.

19 Nov 2009 10:47 PM
julie o

What moves me about this debate is the passion from each side, which proves that horse racing is alive and well and unusually blessed this year.  It was like a mini glimpse of the 70s- Secretariat, Forego, Ruffian, Seattle Slew, Affirmed, Alydar, and Spectacular all racing in the same decade and sometimes overlapping and facing each other.  We had two of the best mares of all time racing at the same time, and both made strong statements about who was best.  Didn't the whole sport start as an arguement over who had the fastest horse?  Hundreds of years later, we are having the same arguement!  Both Rachel and Zenyatta have earned all the praise they are getting.

Matthew- Slew did beat Exceller in the '78 Woodward before losing to him in the Gold Cup.  In any other year (without Affirmed, Alydar, Seattle Slew, and Spectaculsr Bid all racing in '78) Exceller would've been an easy choice for Horse of the Year.  Has any handicap horse since him showed so much versatility?

19 Nov 2009 10:51 PM
Eric

You can't take anything away from either horse so I'll just ask this...

What are the chances of someone duplicating Zenyatta's 2009?

What are the chances of someone duplicating Rachel Alexandra's 2009?

With those two questions it's clear who HOY is.  Plain and simple.

Having said that I don't care who wins it, but I know who my HOY will be/is in 2009 for the rest of my life and nobody can vote that away from me.

19 Nov 2009 10:56 PM
John T

When it comes to a Mare/Filly debate you should always respect your elders and besides the Filly has another year to decide just were she belongs before she too becomes a Mare.

19 Nov 2009 10:59 PM
Barbara W

I agree completely with Criminal Type. I've been wondering about what Calvin thinks now that he has someone to compare Rachel to. If anyone hears anything, let us know. Maybe there's a reason for his silence.

19 Nov 2009 11:35 PM
Katherine

Draynay I agree with you. If I could vote I would give RA HOTY and Zenyatta champion older mare.

19 Nov 2009 11:36 PM
Paula Higgins

Draynay, see the above comment. Although I agree that Rachel deserves HOTY for her record, I believe that a race with both fillys in it would result in Zenyatta winning. I have watched their races and Zenyatta's stride is phenomenal when Mike Smith asks her to turn it on and she isn't even working up a sweat. Rachel is pretty much spent when she wins i.e the Woodward.

20 Nov 2009 12:00 AM
Neutral

Here is my unbiased opinion about the two candidates for "Horse of the Year".

They are both deserving of the honor but Zenyatta wins hands down.

20 Nov 2009 12:48 AM
Matthew W

Footlick I was at the 78 Hol Gold---race of the year in NA--not the Belmont of Affirmed/Alydar! It was the Exceller/Text/Vigors/J O Tobin "three noses on the wire" Harry Henson call---Exceller came up the rail that day, too--I think he was 7-1 but I'm not sure....Shoe...Exceller looked way the best on the track that day--his red coat stood out! Vigors the "white tornado" made a huge move in front of the 68 K crowd! But he drirted out and hung---J O Tobin and Cauthen faded after fast fractions--but he wasn't a true 1 1/4 horse at the top level--he was some kinda nice lookin animal, though! Text was a smaller chestnut, Elmendorf....But Exceller! I think he was 2 for 2 on dirt that year, both Gold Cups...and he crushed them at 1 1/2 turf.....Grienton was truly a top horse--better at 1 1/4 than his nemesis Precisionist! And we're talkin 5 to 5 in monumental races v one another...for East coasters that was like Forty Niner/Seeking The Gold only much longer! Grienton/Precisionist was one of if not the greatest rivalry--aw c'mon, that would be Affirmed/Alydar---by the way, Affirmed's Travers DQ was BS! Affirmed's path was the victim of another horse, ridden by Cordero---it was ECB, or East Coast Bias! That was also why Exceller could go 8 for 10, beat Slew on the square on dirt which was not his preferred surface then NOT get the Eclipse---that is also why a horse as great but as mismanaged as Rachel Alexandra--who was over raced and unable to compete with her (worthy) opponent--what, didn't ya know you were supposed to face off, and if it were to happen, it would be in the Fall, and it couldda been at your track, it now seems....still will win HOY handily---she may not have needed it anyway--but somehow ECB takes out the sting! I hope there are EC Voters who can see how this played out, right down to the final act--no less an East Coast #'s guy than Dick Jerardi said "when you see something that you have never seen before and may never see again, the only choice is to enjoy"...

20 Nov 2009 3:29 AM
Matthew W

I'll agree about Zenyatta being the most interesting of horses that I have ever seen--all those personality traits, and she was a superheroine on the track, as well, loved to work, the picture of health and invincibility--and she did all of those things--they should make a special about her and try to market it--I'm sure it would sell, as she was that kind of an interesting horse....always let them all go, in her races...inhaled them all, no matter whom--it did not matter she (mis)treated all the same! like extras in her reality show, or something! Other fill in horses!

20 Nov 2009 3:40 AM
Mike

Horse of the Year has nothing to do with which horse would win in a theoretical race.  If that were the case then Favorite Trick would have lost HOY to Skip Away and Azeri would have lost HOY to War Emblem.

HOY has to do with which horse captured the hearts and minds of American Horse Racing fans.

Rachel Alexandra had the hearts of minds of race fans at least from Oaks day through Woodward Day.  Zenyatta captured it on one day only and that was Breeders Cup Day.

Rachel Alexandra is Horse of the Year.

20 Nov 2009 4:21 AM
Matthew W

Julie well Gio Ponti isn't a stayer like Exceller, but at 1 1/4 he rocks! would definitely think he'll be tough in Dubai--and Greinton could grass and dirt and he was vastly underrated! King Pellinore, out here in 70's, I saw him win The Big Cap...NONE of those had a year like Exceller!

20 Nov 2009 4:24 AM
da3hoss

Draynay, I'm glad to see you, I was worried where you might be the last couple of days!

20 Nov 2009 6:37 AM
da3hoss

The only part of the argument by Zenyatta HOTY advocates that troubles me is "deserves" it for her career, not year, efforts...and the oft repeated statements she "would have" beaten Rachel had they met...the race was not run and no one knows who would have run...based on speed figures, etc up to 1 1/8, it actually looks like Rachel would win, based on the statements by Mike Smith that Zenyatta has never really been gotten to the bottom of...what a race it WOULD have been. ;-)

20 Nov 2009 6:47 AM
RACE DAY MARC

Take nothing from either horse PERSONAL ENSIGN would have CRUSHED any bid either horse has at horse of the year.  PERSONAL ENSIGNs BC race was the greatest race of all time bar NONE.  

This year it would be a crime if RACHEL is denied.  It is not a tie, it is not close RACHEL ducked NO ONE and shipped everywhere.  Zenyetta stayed home and picked her spots.

20 Nov 2009 7:10 AM
TripleCrownKaren

Let's face it folks!  the REAL winners here are US!.....The RACE FANS and The Thoroughbred Industry as a whole!   If both of these "girls" go on to breed anything NEAr what they are....we will be witnessing MORE greatness!   The industry and the fans DESPERATELY NEED these ladies and much more like them!  With the colts seeming to "retire' to stud immediately after crossing the finish line in any one of the "big" races, it has been left up to the filles and mares to carry the banner of TOUGH, BATTLE TESTED, GAME HORSES WITH HEART further than their 3 yr old year.

Face it folks.....we NEED these horses in our lives more than they need to race.....thank GOD for owners who have half a brain and keep them on the track doing just what they are good at.......RUNNING & WINNING!

20 Nov 2009 9:05 AM
Julio

"If Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player can produce co-champions in the President's Cup, deciding a tie, it's the least the Turfwriters can do here. Let the debate continue forever."

steve from st louis 19 Nov 2009 11:13 AM

Steve, Using your example, if we can get Jess Jackson and the Mosses to agree on CO-HOY, than it's fine.

Not gonna happen.

20 Nov 2009 9:22 AM
Draynay

Zenyatta may be able to do all the things many of you believe but THIS YEAR she only won 5 poly races in California.  In the Breeder's Cup she beat 2 horses with G1 wins on poly this year a 7 year old and a horse I can't even remember.  She never won on dirt or turf all year. Do you really want to give horse of the year to a poly specialist with no wins on dirt or turf all year?  It would be a black eye on racing for many years and a crime against Rachel Alexandra who beat 170 years of horse racing history on DIRT.

20 Nov 2009 9:37 AM
It aint easy being good!

Give Dray credit he changed his tund about Z when he watched the apple blossom race where Z destroyed good competition on dirt. Who ever said that Curlin the all time leader in earnings didnt derserve horse of the year is just plain clueless. Seriously you guys that think Z deserved HOY last year just makes me laugh. I miss Curlin that horse was amazing!

20 Nov 2009 10:11 AM
Runfast159

Yeah, EXACTLY!

I don't really think at this point anyone can add any more opinion to the topic of HOY that is going to matter in the long run.

How do you separate such sublime accomplishments when it comes down to it? These two horses gave us nearly everything we want to see in this sport.

Oh sure, we didn't have the "dream" race between Rachel and Zenyatta, the ultimate decider of HOY.  But I don't know that I would even have wanted that.  I love both of these horses and to defeat one would not serve me well!  I'm selfish like that.  

I like it like this: Two great horses, undefeated in 2009 by the best horses that were thrown at them, save for each other.

Co-Horses of the Year. I believe we will see it happen.  

20 Nov 2009 10:15 AM
Pebbles

I'm not impressed by what RACHEL ALEXANDRA did against basically allowance level and claiming horses (or horse who should be in claimers), or how she won the Mother Goose by 20 lengths after the only other two horses in the race killed themselves off by running a suicidal pace. The horse that was 2nd, by 20 lengths, to her in the Kentucky Oaks is not even capable of winning a NW1.

RACHEL ALEXANDRA's competition in the Preakness, Haskell and Woodward does count for something, however. In the Preakness she ran a very fine race, and she defeated what was left of a depleted 3 year old crop (all the good 3 year olds had broken down or been retired by that point), including MINE THAT BIRD. Funny how most of the people who were claiming that MINE THAT BIRD is a "terrible" horse who "should have been 100-1 in the Kentucky Derby" are now talking about what a great accomplishment it was for RACHEL ALEXANDRA to beat him by a desperate length. By the way, those people were wrong about MINE THAT BIRD, he's a nice horse, but he's no SPECTACULAR BID.

RACHEL ALEXANDRA's race in the Haskell was very good indeed. She won off, all by herself, by about 6 lengths, over a sloppy track. But SUMMER BIRD, a dedicated closer, was taken out of his game that day and ran in the first flight of runners, but still held on for second. In the Woodward Stakes RACHEL ALEXANDRA defeated MACHO AGAIN, barely, and BULLSBAY, not exactly the second coming of ACK ACK and COUGAR II. In fact, MACHO AGAIN is a very inconsistent horse who, on his best day, is probably not a legitamtely "Grade 1" type horse. I'm not putting him down, I like him and BULLSBAY, I'm just saying they're not "great" by any measure. RACHEL ALEXANDRA was literally life and death to hold him off though!

As for ZENYATTA, she's The Queen of Racing in 2008 and 2009. She should have been Horse of the Year in 2008. This year she went 5 for 5, winning with 129 pounds, winning at Del Mar when the rider's judgment worked against her, and winning the Breeders Cup in the best and most exciting performance in the history of the event! Not only was ZENYATTA's Breeders Cup win this year the most exciting, dynamic and enthralling victory I've ever seen in a Breeders Cup race, it was probably one of the top races I've ever seen in my life. She is amazing. She is great. She is one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen, at the racetrack or anywhere else.

Mike S ---

You obviously are ignoring Steve's take on Rachel's competition this year...

You may not like her results in the Mother Goose and the Kentucky Oaks where she made history with her margin of victory in both races...but remember she not only won the MG, but she set a stakes record...and the margin of victory in the MG she beat was the one set by Ruffian...so even if you question her competition...she was doing more than just winning...she was making history...she was performing at the highest level...

Remember she was only off Secretariat's track record by a couple tenths of a second...

As for the Preakness...she did beat Pioneer of the Nile who was the Santa Anita Derby winner...and was a very good horse before beind injured in the race...

Musket Man was also a very promising talent before being injured in training up to the Haskell.

And General Quarters was a Grade I winning horse as well taking the Bluegrass Stakes.

I love how you are trying to diminish Rachel's victory over MIne That Bird too..which is just silly IMHO. MTB beat the Kentucky Derby field soundly...it may be the race of his career, but he still did it...but there was NO WAY he was catching Rachel in the Preakness. We may not have known it then...but if you watched her Woodward performance...we learned there that she not only has talent, but she has heart too...and she would never have let MTB in front of her no matter the distance...

As for the Woodward, there is no way Macho Again is getting in front of her -- it just is not happening...

You want to deride Rachel's competition...but she faced older male horses as a three year old and beat them fair and square...

I would love to see Zenyatta do as a five year old what Rachel did as a three year old...show diversity in approach...in the Haskell she rated off the pace...in the Preakness and Woodward she set the pace up front...

Rachel on September 5th had raced almost as many races as Zenyatta raced in a career...before Zenyatta had even entered a race...

Zenyatta is a great mare...but Rachel is a great filly as well...

And if you disparage Rachel's competition...then Zenyatta's gets disparaged as well...she raced alll year against only ONE Grade I winning horse before the Breeders Cup...

Some Zenyatta fans have agreed that before the Classic her race record was a joke...

Life is Sweet proved herself a fan of the Santa Anita track...the only place where she has won...winning the Distaff...against a field that had never won on Pro Ride...just like Zenyatta won the Classic against a field where only a fading Einstein had won on the surface in 2009.

20 Nov 2009 10:30 AM
Footlick

Matthew W- JO Tobin could have been the next Dr Fager.  He could sprint, turf and run on hard dirt.  But he didn't respond well to the change to Laz Barrera's barn, the jockey change from Shoe, who knew how to handle him, to Cauthen, and the fabled Never Bend curse.  Once they started to try to rate him early in his 4 yr old year, it was over.  He resented it and got upset.  Eventually he was just uncontrollable.  Everytime he went to post was a trial for him.  It was too bad.  We will never know what could have been with him.  That was a great field.  And I remember the memorable battles with Greinton and Precisionist at 8 furlongs best.  And I loved King Pellinore.  What was the race that Vigors was making his big move and JO Tobin suddenly decided he wanted to go to the outside rail and carried him way out???  You just made my morning with these horses.

20 Nov 2009 10:42 AM
Kim in KY

Surely, in a year when our sport is dying we can think as adults some appropriate way to recognize both of these horses. We need as an industry to come together and use their brilliance on the track to showcase our sport. These ladies are the literal heartbeat of horseracing. We have lots of people on this board from diverse backgrounds, surely someone can showcase their IQ and come up with an appropriate solution that is beneficial to our sport and it's people??????

20 Nov 2009 10:43 AM
ZENRA

I like the idea of dual HOY but I don't see it happening.  HOY is not who is the "best" horse or a projection of who would "win" but is a vote for the greatest achievement.  It is similar to "best picture" in the movies but they've never given co-best picture awards either.  If I have to  make a decision it would be Zenyatta off a victory that culminated one of the greatest racing careers ever.  We are likely to get to see Rachel race again and see if she can be as good an older mare as Zenyatta proved she was.  If Rachel ends up being ineffective next year as a 4yo won't it look a little silly if we gave her the nod over Zenyatta this year.

20 Nov 2009 10:54 AM
Linda in Texas

Dray Nay, NO "it's not the end of the sport if Zenyatta wins." Same goes if Rachel Alexandra wins. What the heck is that all about?

I am not a left coaster or a right coaster, i am in the middle being from Texas and the last thing i want to do is cheer for anything 'California' but if either or both of those thoroughbreds show up to pull my chariot home, brother, i would be honored. I am proud of both of them. Just happen to have a little more respect for the age of Zenyatta since i have a little age going on myself.  

Zen Doc, yes you are right about co Best Actress Awards to Katherine Hepburn and Barbra Streisand, reason: the judges didn't want to say Barbra won by a nose!!! Sorry, just couldn't pass that pun up. What it shows is that sometimes the rules just don't rule. They didn't give it to the 'mare' actress, nor the 'filly' actress

because they were both equally great in what they did and they rewarded both. Because Katherine

had starred in many many great films was no 'given' over Barbra who had not.

Paula Higgins, agree with you totally. Zenyatta was looking around the track wondering when the next race was not even breathing heavily. And thanks for the youtube on the race. Even watching it again this morning, i just could not believe where she was coming from to get where she got. Plain and simple.

Thanks Steve,for the update article on Quality Road taking to his starting gate okay. Now if they just keep the helicopters from hovering over the track, maybe things will go okay for him and please no whips whistling thru the air at his rear with blind folds on. Have a Happy Thanksgiving everyone.    

20 Nov 2009 10:55 AM
Don't Hate Me

This all reminds me of a little poem that i read, it's goes something like this...ROSES ARE RED, VIOLETS ARE BLUE ZENYATTA WINS HOY...NOT! RACHEL WINS IN A LANDSLIDE. FEEL IT!

20 Nov 2009 11:00 AM
Pebbles

rowdee

Zenyatta had a one pound weight advantage against three year old colts...which were at 122, she carried 123, and the older colts carried 126.

20 Nov 2009 11:15 AM
Teag

Race of the year: BC Classic.  Possibly the most re-watchable prerace/race/postrace of my lifetime.

Horse of the Year: 19-length win, 1:46 and change, Grade I Mother Goose... and that's her FIFTH best race of 2009.

Zenyatta deserves a lifetime achievement award, not 2009 HOY.  If she wasn't undefeated prior to this year, HOY wouldn't even be a debate.  

That's what will happen.  Let's not kid ourselves, Rachel WILL win the vote, fairly comfortably.  But they will do SOMETHING unusual for Z to honor her.

20 Nov 2009 11:16 AM
GeoRA

Man, I bet y'all's bosses wish you had as much passion about your work as you do this subject, which really has no direct affect on any of you.

Zookeeper, you are so right.

That Draynay guy is a riot. Racing will end because of an obscure award that only die hard fans or racetrackers even know about, might not go to a horse everyone can agree on????

I haven't laughed that hard since I read this guys dire predictions, birdshot Derby picks, see he's starting it up again this year, or any of the other ridiculous statements he's made about Todd or anything else.

Now I've got to go prepare. Need to win as much as I can before they turn out the lights on racing over the HOY award. That's if I can stop laughing long enough.

Steve, I think you should be very afraid, think some of the crazies like you a little too much!  LOL, really ROFLMAO.

20 Nov 2009 11:30 AM
Soldier Course

I think the recent big awards to Team Zenyatta and then to Hal Wiggins are both plusses for Zenyatta.

Off the rail for a moment, but I have noticed that there's no longer a channel listed for Blog Stable in the left sidebar on each page on the website.  

20 Nov 2009 11:40 AM
SGunne

Steve -

I always love your articles and usually agree with you.  There is no way to separate these two amazing horses.  I was lucky enough to see them both run from my box at Oaklawn.  I can tell you that I have seen lots horses over the past 30 years as a racing fan and owner and I have never seen a horse like Zenyatta.  She took my breath away when she stepped on the track at Oaklawn in 2008.  I was a Ginger Punch fan, and I turned to my partner and said OMG we are in trouble.  I've been a Zen fan every since.  I think Rachel is an incredible race horse that we probably haven't seen the best of yet.  Rachel is so amazing to watch.  I just stood with tears of joy running down my face after the Fantasy Stakes this year.  I don't understand why we have to have an angry debate about who gets Horse of the Year.  I wish that all racing fans could just enjoy having been lucky enough to see both of these amazing horses.  I am just sad that I won't get to see the beautiful Zenyatta race again, but am looking forward to seeing Rachel next year and hopefully from my box at Oaklawn.  Win, lose. or drawn they are both champions.

20 Nov 2009 11:44 AM
Somethingroyal

Greg J,

Thanks for posting the Zenyatta montage. As Trevor called it, she is unbelivable. I plan on traveling up north from San Diego on the Nove. 29th to see her paraded between races. I'll have my camera and I hope to get some great pictures to share on Facebook.

20 Nov 2009 11:44 AM
MonicaV

The idea that Zenyatta would win had she and Rachel faced off is understandable.  Most people feel that Rachel can't get 10 fulongs based on her Preakness and Woodward wins but you have to look at the race.  Rachel's preferred running style seems to be stalking the pace.  When she did that, she won by numerous lengths like the Oaks and the Mother Goose.  She won by six in the Haskell being just off the leader.  In the Preakness and Woodward she was sent to the lead, the Preakness from post 13 having to really run to get there and in the Woodward to keep her out of trouble becaue they would have boxed her in.  Zenyatta waits at the back and uses her energy to close.  It would have been a great race to watch but who really would win?  If Rachel ran her preferred way, would she be too far ahead for Zenyatta?  Maybe, maybe not.  Wouldn't it be interesting to watch though?  I think they are equal in ability but I think Z would need 10 furlongs to catch Rachel.  That's just my opinion.  I'm not stating it as fact.

20 Nov 2009 11:49 AM
MonicaV

By the way, since Z carried less weight in the Classic, where are the people crying about Rachel carrying less weight?  Where's Gary?  He must have commented on Rachel's weight allowance on every blog.  Where is he now????? It's okay for Z but not for Rachel?  I have no problem with it, Z is a female, they always get an allowance.  I believe Tim G comment on Rachels allowance in the Haskell because of her size.  Zen is probably the biggest horse racing.  Of course she only got 3 pounds but still I was told 1 pound equals a length.  Where is Gary?

20 Nov 2009 11:54 AM
Pam S.

It ain't easy being good,

That's a good rationale, that Curlin deserved HOY last year because he set the earnings record during the year.  This year Zenyatta accomplished the same feat for female horses, so she prevails.  Like Curlin, she's a great horse and I will miss her.  

But we still have RA's 4yo season to look forward to.

20 Nov 2009 12:02 PM
Mary in VT

I am seeing too many emotional exhortations on behalf of one's heart horse. Way too many. That is why fans don't and won't get a vote for HOY, and all the nonsense about co-HOY will fall on deaf ears. I can just see the real voters in this laughing it up as they act out our melodramas. They probably slide out of their seats shrieking with laughter, and run around the office making sure everyone has heard the latest weepy plea for their horsey to win.

As far as our resident voter in chief, I think Mr. Haskin is playing it a bit cool in an effort not to offend any and get us to lighten up. I don't blame him. You and I can offend each other all day long if we want, but Steve makes his living in a business where it is never wise to burn bridges. So he mothers us along and allows us to vent. I hope they pay him extra for this. Are you listening, Bloodhorse?

Race analysis is what is called for and that is what the actual voters will do prior to casting their ballots.

For example, the Haskell is often lumped with Rachel's Preakness and Woodward and Mother Goose, but after listening to multiple tv commentators rave about the fractions set by lights out sprinter Zensational in the Pat O'Brien, I think the early fractions in the Haskell deserve a closer look.

Munnings in the 2 path with Rachel glued to his neck ran the first quarter in the Haskell in 22:99 ~ Zensational in the Pat O'Brien 23:10.

Munnings with Rachel glued to his neck ran the half in the Haskell in 46:43 ~ Zensational in the Pat O'Brien 45:37.

Munnings with Rachel glued to his neck ran 6f in the Haskell in 1:09.92 ~ Zensational in the Pat O'Brien 1:09:66.

Rachel bobbled slightly at the break, settled into the 3 path, and ran 3 wide all the way around the track until she was alone in the stretch. While still under wraps, this 3 yr. old filly stuck like glue to a top quality sprinter that compares to any in this country until he was cooked ... and *STILL* drew off from the Belmont winner who had benefited from an inside trip ... to win by 6 lengths ... in the slop. Final Time 1:47:21 Stakes Record 1:47:00 Track Record 1:46:80

And that was just one her lights out races. She delivered quite a few of them.

I think that the entire planet acknowledges that Zenyatta is something special too, but she has not delivered anything close to being on par with Rachel Alexandra. While the Classic was Zenyatta's prettiest race, and it was visually impressive, it does not measure up to the *furnace* that several of Rachel's races were in any respect.

I laugh at the contortions over how Zenyatta broke in the Classic. She always breaks that way. That's her style. She practically walks outta the gate. More contortions over her running last and second to last for most of the race. Again, that is where she she wants to be because that is her style. She spends most her races warming up for one big late kick. Still more contortions because she finished well with in herself with her ears pricked. Of course. So could you. She only ran about 3 furlongs in any of her races. I grant you, there are some years where maybe that effort could take HOY, but definitely not in a year when you have an undefeated 3 yr. old filly smashing through Ruffian's marks and pressing Secretariat. Sorry. No.

If you can't see why Rachel Alexandra is Horse of the Year, it is because you don't want to. I see no contest. Rachel Alexandra will be Horse of the Year.

20 Nov 2009 12:34 PM
steve from st louis

Julio: I said it's up to the turfwriters, not the owners.

20 Nov 2009 12:37 PM
Jim P

Again too much rubbish; too many whiners about surfaces; too little appreciation for two horses who stirred our hearts; too much vitrole to allow hearts to even be stirred -- now that's a sickness. Better follow the Health Care debate!!

Here's for all of you: Zarkava beats Sea The Stars, Rachel, and Zenyatta on grass, dirt, synthetics, hog fuel, cross-country, pony express, and the moon. Now that's a filly!!!!

20 Nov 2009 12:45 PM
SusanW

What's even more stunning is the news that Rachel actually DROVE HERSELF to all of those different tracks she won on!!!!!

Getting silly, and we have two months to go!! End it now and give it to them both.

20 Nov 2009 1:02 PM
Marc

I have been away from the blogs for a long while because of one blogger who champions another blog on this site, but I will make what I hope is an interesting comment.

If you back a year + to posts on here I stated and thought that if Zenyatta would run in the 2008 BC Classic I thought she could beat Curlin and any other horse to run against her. Her win the day before the big event did little to change my mind.

I again this year thought the same thing- (and put my money where my mouth was on BC--Since I though Gio Ponti was second best I paid for a new car--for honesty's sake I just paid off one I bought 6 months earlier) Honestly I think she is one of the all-time greats and in actual race conditions--that means not a match race she is a better horse than RA. and might well beat her in a match race as well--unproven of course. (And to say RA isn't one of the greatest would be wrong as well)

SAYING THAT---IF I HAD A VOTE

I would go to "Rachel Alexandra" this year for my selection.

She started early --beat up, like Z, on the fillies BUT THEN in May tried the colts and continued to win. Her Preakness wasn't easy but she held on--A WIN

After an easy time with fillies (why not get GR1 and big money for a gallop?) she continued to  beat colts then older males.

On the whole her (RA) body of work is just superior to the outstanding older mares (Z) although as mentioned I think she was the better horse. It is called HORSE OF THE YEAR and Rachel ran a lot more of it and on many different tracks--didn't scratch because of wet conditions. I wish we could break traditions and just call it a tie, but since that won't happen I believe Rachel should win.

--A true Zenyatta fan, ---With no bias I can't see how you can not pick RA this year for HOY. For a category of best horse my vote goes the other way, BUT, that is not what the this vote is about.

20 Nov 2009 1:05 PM
Tim G

Yes Zenyatta got a 3 lb allowance from OLDER horses in the Classic carried more than the 3 year old males Rachel got a weight break against in common races, but Zenyatta carried 129 lbs in the Vanity. Rachel got an 8 lb allowance in the Woodward and a 5 lb allowance in the Preakness.

Also, for those of you who haven't seen her, Rachel is no petite little princess either. Bigger than a lot of the males she ran against.

I think we should move on to something else. This has been done to death and no one will sway enough or any voters to make a difference.

Seems like there are more pertinent and productive things to discuss. Racing should be about remembering the past, but always looking to the future. Guess in the 'lull' we have right now there isn't much else to talk about?

The ramifications of the Fla Derby date change, the stakes races going on now. The progress or condition of some of the Derby contenders must not be controversial enough.

As for the HOY? Just stand in the mirror and present your case to yourselves because truthfully that's basically what's happening here.

If some of you can be as adamant, disrespectful and unkind to yourselves as you've been to the horses and connections(now I see on the 'other' blog that Jerry is basically being called a liar) well I'd suggest you seek help.

20 Nov 2009 1:08 PM
Gladiator

What is with all of the comments about Zen not breathing hard after her races and looking like she could run again, and RA looking like she was just so exhausted and could barely even walk. Please, how fresh do you think Zen would be running those suicidal fractions that RA ran. Just talk about the facts, which are- RA has WON at many different race tracks, different weather conditions, and beat Males 3 times, mainly thru suicidal fractions and outside posts.Zen has raced on plastic and beaten males once. Those are the facts. And by the way if Zen is never tired how come she barely wins alot of her races? Don't believe Mike Smith when he says she only does what she needs to do. Please ,I wonder what he was thinking in the Clement Hirsch were she won by a nostril hair, maybe. Do ya think she was tired after that race?

And last, if Zen is a better dirt horse than why isn't she running on it!

20 Nov 2009 1:14 PM
Mike S

While I was not impressed by the competition that she beat in the Kentucky Oaks or Mother Goose Stakes I was impressed by RACHEL ALEXANDRA's ability, and by her final times in both races. However, on the day of the Mother Goose the track was "souped up," most definitely, because allowance horses were running about as fast as she did. It is true, however, that she beat no one in those races, those horses are not very good. In the Mother Goose the other two starters engaged in a suicidal speed duel and they were toast at the top of the stretch. The comparisons to SECRETARIAT and RUFFIAN, to me, are absurd, of course. SECRETARIAT and RACHEL ALEXANDRA don't even belong in the same sentence (unless, of course, this is the sentence you're writing). And the people who compare RUFFIAN's Mother Goose Stakes to RACHEL ALEXANDRA's Mother Goose Stakes fail to mention the former was run around two turns at Aqueduct in 1975, while the latter was run over a very souped up Belmont Park, around one turn, in 2009.

I like RACHEL ALEXANDRA, and I think she's totally awesome, and she's wonderful and spectacular. But it's clear to me while she is superb, and the best 3 year old we saw in the USA in 2009, she's not on ZENYATTA's level. And I completely dismiss any comparisons to RUFFIAN and SECRETARIAT as well.

20 Nov 2009 2:04 PM
hugs

i always seem to be late to these posts.being fairly new to horse racing about 10 yrs now,i have to say horseman are pretty quick to give hall of fame and horse of yr.sorry give rachel another time what she did was excellent was z did is phenomenal.i know money in breeding is the goal but please 5or 6 races and hall of fame.like barbaro he likely wasnt going to win the preakness with berardini in there so let temper the hall of fame talk for these here today gone tomorrow horses

20 Nov 2009 2:08 PM
SandyLoam

Rachel Alexandra. 3 years old. Company she kept. No brainer.

20 Nov 2009 2:18 PM
Matthew W

Foot the drift out race was the Hol Gold Cup---Tobin was tiring, and Vigors was carried out but he, too, hung late...Exceller was double tough! Fitting that Shoe rode him, yeah, Cauthen wasn't as good as shoe, he also didn't "get" what Pincay could get from Affirmed, as I believe Laffit was never defeated on Affirmed! But "Stevie Wonder" had his own special flare, no doubt about it! I remember when "the kid" came out here--he won all three mounts at Santa Anita! 16 vs the best riding colony, I think, with Shoe/Laffit in their primes...yeah, the 78 Hol Gold...I was there, right on the apron! I think I bet J O Tobin, and Exceller looked GREAT that day, and paid great, too!

20 Nov 2009 2:20 PM
Northern Dancer

I think they should of called the "Breeders Cup Classic" the "Zenyatta Invitational".

I think racing officials got the weight assignments mixed up.

They should of gave Zenyatta 129 to 130 pounds and gave her opposition 126 pounds.

She made 'em look like "fools"!

That mare just started lengthening her stride when she hit the wire.

It's absolutely frightening. She looks like a mile and a half or a mile and three quarter horse.

20 Nov 2009 2:21 PM
Matthew W

I saw J O Tobin work out at Del Mar, before the first race one afternoon...then they shipped him East to crush them at 7 fur...then he was manhandled by Alydar in Whitney, ya see, after the gruelling Triple Crown and before he won the Travers via DQ over Affirmed(don't get me started on that ripoff!), Alydar was winning the Whitney, over older, J O Tobin included, by ten lengths!

20 Nov 2009 2:26 PM
Jim P

I think even a bigger issue for fans of Rachel to worry about, which I am a HUGE one, is if she will be the same horse at 4 that she was at 3.

Nick Luck made a good point about Sherriffs training of Zenyatta -- keeping a large horse sound into her 15th year. Gary Stevens commented that her last work into the Cup was a tribute to the soundness in which she was kept.

I'm a believer in the Whittingham/Luro concept of not squeezing the lemon. Like Tesio, I believe there is a "gas tank" that they run on. Even in those run happy days he only sent Ribot at 16 times, Nearco 14, and Donatello II 9 times.

I think Rachel had a really hard, gut-wrenching campaign as a 3 year old. I'm one who wasn't in favor of all of it -- and I'm glad she didn't run in the extra distance of the Travers agains Summer Bird (sorry Jerry Bailey).

We've seen too many great 2 year olds bomb at 3 and many good three year olds bomb at 4. Instead of all this vitrole over the HOY we'd be better off just holding positive energy and thoughts for Rachel and her continued marh into deep history. Just don't run her as much at 4!!!!

As for you Sea The Stars haters, think Citation -- that's all you need to know.

20 Nov 2009 2:27 PM
Hank

I love both mares, should be joint HOY, Time to move on guys, maybe some of you should get a life or something, this is out of everyones control,Some blogs are a little to nasty, enjoy the time, we have just witnessted the two best females ever to have raced one 3 , one 5,Both have done very special things, duplicated by another mare hard to imagine.

20 Nov 2009 2:34 PM
KYFan

Having seen both of these run? Zenyatta only extended herself slightly once, that was self admittedly Mike's fault. It was a tactical error but even though she had to catch them at the wire? She still wasn't extended. The first hint that SHE doesn't have distance limitations.

She was NOT breathing hard though, and at the finish line at the Classic, revved it up again.

Rachel did appear tired after the Woodward and well, seeing that they put her up for the year,hmmmm, said she needed a rest?

Either it was that, they were dodging the BC or they aren't truthful.

Why is Zenyatta not running outside of California? Maybe the fact that John and Jerry are based there, Jerry is on the CHRB trying to salvage and save racing there?

I don't think I heard him demanding a purse increase to send his mare somewhere, holding an already struggling game hostage for more money. THOSE are the tactics that sour a lot of us on the connections, that and the nefarious activity of the trainer.

Hugs, we don't name the HOY, that is the Turf Writers and the racing secretaries.

The HOF? Ain't that easy to get into. Just ask Wayne or Bob etc.

20 Nov 2009 2:39 PM
Dan

Sorry Steve, I can't help it...

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Reaction to the proposed match race between Jess Jackson and Jerry Moss during halftime of the 2009 Poinsettia Bowl to determine Horse of the Year has been swift. We caught up with NTRA CEO Alex Waldrop as he was about to tee off at a Lexington Country Club. "They're doing what?," a clearly puzzled Waldrop asked. "That's insanity. The Eclipse voters will vote like they always have and be instructed to ignore that little sideshow. The integrity of our sacred Eclipse Awards must be preserved for future generations." Growing even more agitated, Waldrop walked away speaking to no one in particular, "That's as crazy as voting for both Rachel and Zenyatta for Horse of the Year. Nothing less than the very fabric of our democracy is at stake here." A visibly agitated Waldrop turned and screamed "Horse racing will never change!", then promptly sliced his ball into a nearby stand of dogwood trees.

Elsewhere, Qualcomm Stadium officials voiced "concern" over potential PETA interference with the Poinsettia Bowl. These fears were soon dashed upon learning that no horses will be involved in the match race. However, a spokesperson for the AARP stated they are "troubled" by the idea of men in their late 70s running a 50-yard dash while carrying 115 pounds and will "monitor the situation very closely".

Iconic Turf writer and handicapper Andy Beyer was quick to admit that his team will find it "difficult" to produce accurate speed figures for the race. "There are so many challenges here," Beyer explained, "there's no precedent for a race like this and we simply don't know how fast either of the competitors are capable of running." But Beyer remained optimistic stating "what we have here is a complete vacuum of required information to produce reliable speed figures, but that's never stopped us before so we'll come up with something that looks right."

Award-winning Turf writer Steve Haskin was very busy moderating his blog but took a moment to observe that both Jackson and Moss are "coming up to the race the right way."  Haskin shared that Jackson "was not blowing hard at all" after a morning treadmill session, and that Moss is "flourishing physically", although stopping just short of using the term "dappled" in any way.

20 Nov 2009 2:54 PM
Matthew W

I think sometimes other things get in the way of clarity--people look at the owner of Rachel--and talk fowl of the horse....people look at the rubber band tracks--and talk fowl of Zenyatta.....

20 Nov 2009 3:08 PM
Kat

Just a comment on Summer Bird being out of his game in the Haskell (dedicated closer).  They put blinkers on Summer Bird to get him to run closer to the pace (and it worked).  They spent some time training him (via works) to get him to run more aggressively.  It worked.  Since the blinkers, etc. SB has run closer to the pace in all his races.  It would appear to have been a good training call.

20 Nov 2009 3:11 PM
Footlick

Matthew- JO Tobin could not run on East coast tracks even though they kept trying.  He would run through all his rundown bandages.  He only won one race on EC dirt, and that was the last race of his career.  Cauthen was a great jock, but he was not a good fit for JO Tobin.

20 Nov 2009 3:14 PM
Matthew W

Footlick J O Tobin won easily at Saratoga--and it was not his last East start--I thought he got over saratoga just fine--he was not a true 1 1/4 horse, even 1 1/8 vs the top guys--J O Tobin was a miler, like Congaree, like Precisionist, like Commentator...

20 Nov 2009 3:25 PM
Greg J.

Dan,

   I am starting to think this race will really go off!, Good Job, lol...

20 Nov 2009 3:34 PM
Zookeeper

Dan,

You're even funnier than Draynay.(No easy task):) Now I want to know the ending...do I have to wait until the end of January 2010?

20 Nov 2009 3:42 PM
Marc

Why mention Secretariat and Ruffian? They were great horses but as well educated in racing as I am for 50 years without cheating I cannot remember a "name" horse that Ruffian won against. She was a shoulda-coulda. "Might" have been the greatest mare of all time with the key word MIGHT. Twice a Prince (I am pretty sure either mare would have beaten him by many many many), Sham, Big Spruce, are they in the Hall of Fame? None were take your breathe away but the clock tells a different story about his greatness. (Forego wasn't Forego then and Riva Ridge although a great horse never gave me goosebumps)I don't judge horses by the clock in greatness but it also certainly cannot be ignored completely.

Zenyatta certainly proves some horses do what they have to to win. Some said Tough Tiz's Sis was coming back and would have won last year with another 1/16--PLEASE!

Simply say they were superior to the horses they ran against which is all you can ask of a racehorse. Could anyone ever beaten Candy Ride for that matter--shoulda coulda. AND- He never gets a mention of the greats

Different eras. Why bring them in? Could Bart Starr or Johnny U. ever started now? Certainly they were great. Apples to Oranges

For what it is worth the best THREE horses ever to step on the same track at one time were Dr. Fager, Damascus, and Buckpasser--all in the hall of fame I believe (Add another HOY and Hall Member Fort Marcy on another day if I were trying to prove my point). One is, I consider the best of all time, and he didn't win that day. I think he would have handled Secretariat as would have the horse that beat him that day---but I can't prove it nor can anyone. So why?

These two are definitely among the best (and not just mares) ever to run--you are all lucky to have seen them.

20 Nov 2009 3:52 PM
shane

Dan,

You are to funny. Is this race really proposed?

20 Nov 2009 3:54 PM
The Rock

Steve,

I just read your Article about the Juddmonte horses.

I think its safe to say that everyone will be pulling for Ventura in her swan song in the Matriarch. I'm sure it'll mean alot to Mr O'Rourke & other connections as well.

20 Nov 2009 4:13 PM
Footlick

Matthew-the only race I remember him winning on dirt out east was his last, at 7 furlongs.  So that's interesting to me.  He ran down through 4 rundowns in the Preakness. And I think he tried the Woodward. Did he turf out east?  

20 Nov 2009 4:15 PM
It aint easy being good!

Ok Pam S you think Curlin doesnt deserve HOY in 2008 this horse demolished any horse in its way. Crushed in dubia, went on turf and was a game 2nd. You think zenyatta can close from the clouds on turf? Curlin ran with power and was one tough SOB and was a true champion! Synthetics or not he will go down as one of the all time greats! Curlin's campaign was better than anything that Zenyatta accomplished. Dray is a legend in his own mind on this site he had his own section for awhile that was great. I just like the off the while things he says like his $20 exacta he claims he hit! lol! Ask him when he gets back on here. Dray knows a good horse though when he sees one aka, RA, CURLIN and QUALITY ROAD and sees the duds too like Mind that third...haha we cant even say that anymore huh Dray! lol!

20 Nov 2009 4:27 PM
It aint easy being good!

By the way the best race of the year was def. I want revenge's race when falling down getting blocked twice and surging at the end....you tube that race again if your bored.... gives me goosebumps.

20 Nov 2009 4:29 PM
Footlick

Marc- I totally agree with you.  And I'm not sure which of the losers you were speaking of, but my bet would be on Buckpasser.

20 Nov 2009 4:31 PM
Linda

To all who are demanding that Zenyatta get Horse of the Year.

I have something to add to the conversations.  Be careful what you wish for you just may get it.

If Zenyatta wins the horse of the year it will be detrimental to the horse racing industry, it will set a precedence that will affect the way the super horses are run.  

I agree that Zenyatta is wonderful and everyone would have loved to see her race live.  Unfortunately her trainer and or owners kept her mostly in California, where mostly Californians got to see her run.  Television just does not do horses justice.  I like to see them up close and personal.  

So if she wins the horse of the year it is basically telling all trainers and owners that it is ok to stay in one area to race, and only race half the year, in relatively safe races, then race in the Breeders Cup Classic and wham, you win horse of the year.

Superstars are horses that race at different tracks where the fans get to see them run.  Please don’t wish that away from us hard core racing fans.

So please be careful what you wish for.  You may never get a superstar in California again.  

20 Nov 2009 4:43 PM
Sam Anderer

Steve,

I'm hoping you have the answers to a couple of questions:

Zenyatta's stride length, has any one ever measured it?  Who are the Moss' planning to breed her to?

Will the DVD of her 14 wins be made available for sale to the general public?  No way I can get to Hollywood Park on the 28th Nov to see her parade the track.

Thanks  

sam in cave creek

20 Nov 2009 5:00 PM
Will W

If the Breeders Cup had not been so stupidly held on a synthetic track two years in a row - and the same track to boot - Curlin would likely have been a two time Classic winner and we would probably not have seen the two European grass horses who bested him even in the race. Furthermore, we could have seen Fabulous Strike in the Sprint, and Zenyatta and Alexandria the Great - both of whom have won on synthetic - decide the matter on their best surface, the dirt, and Steve would not have  been placed in the ridiculous position of having to argue for a dual HOY honors to give these two great females their just due or to defend himself and his column against dissatisfied, overzealous proponents of both. Back to the dirt, America's racing surface !

20 Nov 2009 5:11 PM
Mike Relva

GLADIATOR

In the C. H. Zenyatta was too far back,AS YOU WELL KNOW. Mike Smith stated that point! As far as after the Breeders' goes,EVERYONE on TVG remarked she didn't look tired after winning. I have news for you,a horse doesn't have to win by twenty to be a great horse. You know yourself Zenyatta was almost a dozen behind and you seen the results. Bet your jaw dropped after she blew by them! lol

20 Nov 2009 5:18 PM
Paula Higgins

Draynay, again I agree that Rachel is deserving of HOTY and her campaign was historic on every level. But I think you are dead wrong about Zenyatta being a poly specialist. That horse can run on anything in my opinion. I would bet my life on it. I think it probably isn't even her best running surface and dirt is. She is a "freak" (although I hate that word). Rachel is phenomenal also. I am looking forward to seeing what she can do next year. If she has a repeat of this past year, she will be the greatest filly of all time IMO.

20 Nov 2009 5:19 PM
Ida Lee

HOY? Let's give it to Life Is Sweet!! Poor little girl, even after coming out of Zenyatta's shadow, and running and winning her biggest race, no one is talking about her.  She would have gotten more press by throwing a fit at the gate. Is she racing next year? Hope so. Love her.

20 Nov 2009 5:38 PM
Soldier Course

Seeing all of this wrangling about HOTY makes me wonder how that Blood-Horse book about the 100 greatest Thoroughbred race horses of the 20th century ever got written.

20 Nov 2009 7:38 PM
ZENYATTA NADA

The last time that a dual Horse of the Year award was given out I read to be 1970.

We have come a long way since then, our technology is so advanced.  What are the handicapping programs coming up with- Zenyatta vs. Rachel at a variety of distances, surfaces, ect.  Not that the result would be relevant to the HOY.  Still, some kind of computer analysis would focus on facts, not emotion.   Eclipse voters who feel unable to make this decision on their own could use such help.  I reject Carolynn's suggestion of using the Pyschic Network to pick the winner.  Miss Cleo and friends are frauds.

20 Nov 2009 7:51 PM
Tay

Steve

Thank you for the analysis.  I do get unnerved by, for lack of a better term, thoughtless bloggers who are not being objective.  Could the blog proofing get a little more filtered?

20 Nov 2009 7:55 PM
Footlick

Linda- Superstars are superstars no matter if they race in 1 state or 50.

Ida- she did run a great race and I believe they are keeping her in training.

20 Nov 2009 8:05 PM
Terry

I can't get to the tracks to see these great horses in person. I am just so thankful I got to see three of the greatest fillies ever run this year thanks to television: Rachel, Zenyatta and the wonderful Goldikova, who is being lost amid the exploits of the other.

I thought Goldikova's BC win was amazing. Zenyatta was breathtaking in the Classic. Rachel's Woodward was incredible. And a fourth filly did well too. Ventura ran a super race beating the boys at Woodbine this year.

What a year for great fillies! I can't remember another year when there were so many good fillies running in the same year and beating up on the colts like these ones have been.

Girls rule in 2009!

20 Nov 2009 9:34 PM
robinm

Once again, some really weird comments have shown up.  For example, "give HOY to Z this year and to RA next year".  Shouldn't the award this year go to the horse with the best campaign in 2009?  Shouldn't we wait until early in 2011 to give out the award for 2010?

Does anyone else think any perceived greater affection by the owner for his or her horse should have a bearing on HOY voting?

Also, I'm still seeing posts from people focused on Zenyatta's career rather than her 2009 campaign.  The fact that Z did indeed cap off her career in the best way possible is not, in and of itself, reason to award her HOY.  Any more than the possibility that a 4-yr old campaign by Rachel Alexandra could be less than stellar is reason to ignore what she did this year.

20 Nov 2009 9:51 PM
nmh

i have a question.... can fillies

race in the dubyii world cup race

that curlin won....if so race

zenyatta and rachel there....

20 Nov 2009 10:00 PM
Winner

LACS70: how could you even imagine that it is Hal instead of Steve that made Rachel who she is today no disgrace to Hal but Steve ran her in her most notable races. And she has improved immensely since entering his barn.

Rachel Satterfield: The Rachel that you see may have no personality but from seeing and meeting her she is a character and a sweet heart from what i've seen of Zenyatta she seems to be a bully and just have a bad temper- which is what I got from seeing her in the post parade she wasn't dancing but being tempermental and impatient.

20 Nov 2009 10:17 PM
Assault

draynay:

Title of Article:

"Zenyatta Blows Away Apple Blossom Foes"

This race takes place on "Genuine American Dirt":

www.bloodhorse.com/.../zenyatta-blows-away-apple-blossom-foes

Note:

There's a video that you can click on, where you can watch Zenyatta destroy "Breeders Cup Distaff Champion - Ginger Punch".

20 Nov 2009 10:47 PM
carolyn rogers

No, Linda it doesn't, But if the Eclipse's are going to recognize Zenyatta for "Champion Older Female",then why can't she be nominated for the HOTY, If she is good enough to be for one, why, not the other. I don't understand, If the Eclipse's only recognize dirt track horses, then why even consider anything other than dirt runners. If Zen is good enough to get one kind of Eclipse award, then she is good enough for both, track surface shouldn't matter.

20 Nov 2009 11:00 PM
Footlick

Soldier- I'm sure there could be alot of debate about that too!

20 Nov 2009 11:12 PM
KenfromRI

As I have said here or on other blog, Dump HOY award and proclaim it a SPECIAL YEAR with an HISTORIC MARE OF 2009-ZENYATTA and an HISTORIC FILLY OF 2009-RACHEL ALEXANDRA. By doing so it will commemorate what a truly historic year it was in racing and will also give both horses what they deserve, an honor higher than HOY as I believe they BOTH deserve that this year.

21 Nov 2009 12:38 AM
Paula Higgins

Winner, while I know Rachel has a wonderful temperment, Zenyatta is also known as one of the sweetest horses around. According to Shirreffs you could "sleep on her" and she wouldn't care. She's not tempermental and impatient. When they did the interview with Shirreffs with Zenyatta standing right next to him, she looked like she was kissing him for goodness sakes. The little stepping moves she does is Zenyatta getting wired up for her race and nothing more. I would love to know where you got your degree in horse psychoanaylsis. You need to ask for your money back.

21 Nov 2009 1:05 AM
Matthew W

Jim P--Right on! Huge fan of Rachel Alexandra--very much against pushing her too hard--making her prove herself! The Woodward picture told it all...Jess, both arms raised in clenched fists....Rachel Alexandra, head down, wet, spent....and I knew she was better than those guys, I did not need to see that! If you're bigger than the males that's one thing, no need to push that horse like they did....we'll see if there's another year of magic left in that fine horse!....

21 Nov 2009 5:23 AM
Matthew W

Carolyn I quite agree! I mean, then don't give Lookin At Lucky the Eclipse--cuz HE, too, ran only on synthetics---WHY punish only HOY contenders!....

21 Nov 2009 5:25 AM
CRIMINAL TYPE

Winner, Is that what you really think ? Talk about Biased. When Assmusen got Rachel she was already a winner. To give him all the credit because he ran her in classic races is ridiculous. There is a reason Hal Wiggins won KY Horseman of the Year and it's the job he did with Rachel. All Assmusen did was polish the diamond that Hal had already cut. If indeed Rachel was too tired to go to the Breeders Cup, you can lay that at Assmusens doorstep.

If you really believe that Zenyatta is a tempermental bully you are delusional. Not once did i see her try to hurt a person or another horse. No kicking, no biting and no bouncing Calvin Borel off her back in the post parade. OOPS my mistake ! That was Rachel.

Zenyatta is not mean. She is a mare that totally enjoys her job and shows it in her own special way which is one of the things that has endeared her to the hearts of race fans all over the country. Rachel may indeed be a sweetheart, but she certainly does not put on a show like Zenyatta does. As far as impatiant goes, LOL, if that were the case, dont you think she would be in a bigger hurry to get out of the gate?

Id like to say more but I know Steve would toss my post out if I did. He's done it before. <evil grin> Let's just say that you may want to think about changing your name to the opposite of what it is if your comments are any representation of your personality and attitude.

21 Nov 2009 6:52 AM
carolyn rogers

Folks, listen, the Mosses were not chasing after a HOTY award for her this year, thats why she was not shipped out of Cali, this is just a much a surprise to them as anyone else, They new she could do it, they had to give her a try. Annie loves Zen as they all do, she is a five year old mare, Annie cried everytime she won a race, she loves Zenyatta more than any award, they have been racing horses for a long time, if they were chasing a HOTY award, they know they would have pulled her out  of Cali more. I respect them more for the love of Zenyatta, I never saw JJ shed a tear for RA or Curlin,

21 Nov 2009 6:52 AM
Joanie

Steve, thanks, as always for your insight and articles and also providing us with the opportunity to comment.  The debate for 2009 HOY will live on for many years (long after we are gone).  What a decision for the voters to have to make but the decision (as I see it) has to be decided on the accomplishments of the horse during the entire year (the title of the accolade is "Horse of the Year", not "Horse of the Race").  Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta and their connections have done so much by gracing our eyes with these wonderful girls and we are surely thankful.  Unfortunately, only one will likely be voted HOY (I doubt their will be a "Co HOY").  I don't need to list all of Rachel's and Zenyatta's individual accomplishments again as described in numerous threads above, but I have a hard time NOT giving HOY honors to Rachel Alexandra.  What 3 yr. old filly has ever won the Preakness, Haskell and Woodward, dominated the 3 yr. old fillies (and colts), raced on fast and sloppy surfaces (remember Zenyatta was scratched at Churchill Downs to avoid a sloppy surface)?  To NOT vote for Rachel as HOY would be a slap in the (her)face.  Rachel's challenges escalated from meeting the best 3 yr.old fillies, best 3 yr. old colts and then to best older horses and she defeated them all.  Zenyatta beat the same fillies and mares up to the BCC and then had THE race of her career in the Breeders Cup Classic.  A championship shouldn't be decided on the outcome of one race but on the accomplishments of the entire year.  I am not knocking Zenyatta (she is extraordinary, brilliant, etc.), just stating that I believe Rachel Alexandra deserves the honor of being voted HOY more than Zenyatta (oh, boy, am I going to get mugged by the Zenyatta fans!) How can anyone justify walking up to Rachel and tell her, "sorry, but you didn't do enough."

21 Nov 2009 7:00 AM
Susan

Steve, thanks for trying to rein things in! Both Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta had once in a lifetime seasons that will be remembered for years. It's just bad luck they both had to happen in the same year. In an exceptional year, it should be possible to do the exceptional and recognize two great horses!

21 Nov 2009 7:50 AM
da3hoss

Dan, W2W a funny blog!!!!

21 Nov 2009 7:50 AM
Soldier Course

Zenyatta Nada:

You are correct about two horses being named HOTY in 1970, but at that time the voting process was not consolidated as it is now.

The dual result came about because two different entities, each voting separately and autonomously  for its own HOTY award, did not give their awards to the same horse. These two entities were the Daily Racing Form and the Thoroughbred Racing Associations.

The very next year (1971), these two groups joined forces with the National Turf Writers Association to form one-award championships called the Eclipse Awards, and those awards would be determined by a consolidated voting process conducted by the three entities. This is the voting process that is in effect today. The NTRA has replaced the Thoroughbred Racing Associations in the three voting groups.    

21 Nov 2009 8:28 AM
Pasturelands

Mike S-- the BC Classic is NEVER the same as the Superbowl.  For one, the Superbowl is a game, but the BC is a race.

The BC Classic may be one of the bigger races in North America, but it is only ONE race.  ONE race.  It is not etched in stone (or in any manual) that the horse that won the BC AUTOMATICALLY becomes HOY. Raven's Pass won the BC last year, but he didnt become HOY.  HolyBull wasn't even in the BC, but he was a HOY awardee.

FACT is, horses who have historical victories ALL YEAR long in many different Places, merit HOY, regardless if they won the BC.  ONE race is not equal to a YEAR's worth of races and long-distance travelling. ONE race alone can't get HOY.

By the way, nice SLIDE SHOW on the HOY horses-- RA and Zen.. Good work!!

Many were ragging on Rachel for not going to the BC.  I'm sure the girl needs a REST after running a historical THREE-PEAT over the boys in the SAME YEAR. Zen didnt get her sweet ass on the track until May 2009, whereas Rachel has been digging her heels INTO the track since Feb!!  Talk about Slave-labor!  LOL. LOL.

But even without going to the BC, Rachel has done MORE THAN ENUF to win HOY--running from Feb to September, from the homely Louisiana to the upstate New York, against males and females-- that's really INCREDIBLE!! And she's only 3!!  At 3, she already defeated OLDER male horses.. INCREDIBLE!!

Rachel Alexandra is HOY 2009!! Woohoo..! GO, BABY, GO!!!! WE LOVE YOU!!!

21 Nov 2009 8:37 AM
Linda

carolyn rogers

The subject of surfaces is irrelevant.  The point that I am trying to make here is, let’s see for example.  If RA followed the same kind of year that Zenyatta had she would be kept at Churchill downs, because that is where the Breeders Cup will be next year.  And Ran against only fillies and mares for 4 races not far from Churchill over the span of 5 months then ran in the Classic and won she would have to get Horse of the year because she did the same thing that Zenyatta did.

It doesn’t matter who or where or what surface.  The point is that the horses will never have to leave their comfort zone.  They will never be truly tested.  What makes a great horse is one who takes great risks and overcomes.  What we will be saying if Zenyatta wins HOTY is its ok to play it safe, and then win the Breeders Cup Classic and you will win HOTY.  I as a fan like to see the horses do things out of the norm, it makes for very exciting racing.  Did anyone honestly think that Zenyatta was going to loose any of the four races she had before the Breeders Cup?  I certainly did not give any of those horses a shot at all of beating the mare.  This is why it made the race less interesting for me.  It was not a challenge for  her.

21 Nov 2009 9:05 AM
Tiznowbaby

Off topic, but Steve, that was a beautiful, beautiful story you wrote about Juddmonte adjusting to life without Frankel.

21 Nov 2009 9:25 AM
Terry W.

Steve,

Here at Oaklawn we got to see both fillies race in some of their great moments.  We like to think we build champions here.  Certainly Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra are the best recent examples.

We will celebrate whichever filly wins.  We would have loved to be the track where they could settle the issue.  Both loved the Oaklawn surface and would have drawn a spectacular crowd to the neutral site.  It's unlikely that would happen.  The Apple Blossom Handicap would be the appropriate spot, but it is very difficult for horses to hold their form for such a long time.

I congratulate both.  We were fortunate they came along in a year when we needed heroes.  Thanks to the owners that both will have raced as four-year-olds.  If there was ever a reason for going beyond that age as a racehorse, the rivalry they could create would bring relevance back to our sport, insttead of diminishing inches of coverage in newspapers and on the Internet, as well as precious few seconds on tv.

The breeding shed is important to the proliferation of great racing.  But the great rivalries are too and racing would be well served were they both to stick around for a while and look each other in the eye from coast to coast.  

21 Nov 2009 9:54 AM
Artaxman

I like your responses, Steve Haskin. Many people have made their choice between Rachel or Zenyatta on an emotional level, which is fine because horses have such a strong effect on many of us. However, I tend to look at these things on a more logical and factual level.

Haskin, your column the other day breaking down the accomplishments of each mare this year pretty much confirmed my selection on who should be horse of the year. Haskin reported that Rachel accomplished six different and difficult feats which had historical significance, none of which any horse could match. That quote alone says it all in my book.

Take nothing away from Zenyatta but aside from the BC Classic victory I didn't ever see any "history-making" achievements. She did maintain her perfect record but was she really ever at  risk of losing that status while winning on tracks she had won on before at odds-on and beating familiar foes?

21 Nov 2009 10:31 AM
Soldier Course

Winner and Criminal Type:

Winner, bad call about Hal Wiggins. Criminal Type is right.

Whatever Asmussen did for RA's conditioning after he took her away from Wiggins was merely gilt on the lily.  

21 Nov 2009 11:21 AM
Mike S

I recognize that the Super Bowl is different from the Breeders Cup Classic. However, I also recognize that the Breeders Cup is "racing's championship day," which means that it is the day during which all of racing's aspiring champions show up to race. Does that mean that the winner of each and every Breeders Cup race must be voted Eclipse Award champion? No, it does not. However, the Breeders Cup Classic surely is a perfect spot to bring together horses whose record to that point puts them in the running for Horse of the Year. For example, this year RACHEL ALEXANDRA should have been present and in the starting gate for the Breeders Cup Classic because ZENYATTA is racing's reigning "Queen," and some believe she was robbed of Horse of the Year last year, and she was in exceptional form this year as well. So it was up to RACHEL ALEXANDRA's connections to come to "racing's championship day" and try to unseat the reigning Queen. Championships are settled on the racetrack, and I don't think you should win Horse of the Year by ducking ZENYATTA. And, as I've stated before, ZENYATTA's BC performance this year was literally "one for the ages," and it was one of the most incredible spectacles I've seen at the racetrack in many years.

21 Nov 2009 11:54 AM
IRISH

I think Zenyatta should be HOY.  She won the BC Classic, the 1st filly ever to do so. The BC is the best of the best.

I think Rachel Alexandra should be 3 year old champion.

Lets wait until next year to see what she does.  See if she goes undefeated next year and see if she goes the the BC Classic which will be a Churchill (dirt) next year and beats the boys.

Zenyatta was undefeated in 14 races, a feat in by itself.

I have great respect for both of these horse and they have in their own way deserve it.

We really have been blessed to have 3 great fillys in the last few years. Rags to Riches, Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta.

Look out next year for Life is Sweet.  The way she ran her BC race, I thought she was a mini Zenyatta.

Good Luck to both Rachel and Zenyatta.

21 Nov 2009 12:32 PM
Citation

Artaxman,

Your theory about how people vote for "Horse of the Year" doesn't hold water.

There are no guidelines for "Horse of the Year". It doesn't say you have to race on dirt, turf or synthetic. It doesn't say you have to travel and leave the state. It doesn't say you have to have a certain number of victories (ex: Ghostzapper). It doesn't say you have to win a certain number of Grade I, Grade II or Grade III events.

The bottom line is...

It means this:

What does the "Horse of the Year" mean to the voter?

Invest a few hours of your time and analyze what Zenyatta did last year when she was 7-0.

Zenyatta left the state and went to Oaklawn Park last year and took on the best (Ginger Punch - 2007 Breeders Cup Distaff Champion). She destroyed her and the rest of that field.

In fact that 2008 Apple Blossom field was so good that every horse in that race came back and won their next start.

Why would Jerry and Ann Moss leave the state of California this year (when the HOY vote for Curlin was a landslide last year)?

This sent a message to the Zenyatta connections. The message was sent "loud and clear" and  told them that it doesn't pay to leave the state of California and prove yourself.

Voters voted for Curlin with their "heart" and since there are more east coast voters than west coast voters, Curlin won.

Zenyatta received no respect from the east after beating "Ginger Punch" a second time and topping off her year with a Breeders Cup Ladies Classic win and an undefeated 7-0 record.

Curlin finished 4th in the Breeders Cup Classic. Curlin didn't go undefeated last year and those are the facts.

If they voted for Curlin because he accomplished the all-time earnings record for a male, than the vote for "Horse of the Year" goes to Zenyatta this year. Zenyatta smashed the "all-time" earnings record for a filly/mare.

Guess who held the record before?

Azeri

Note:

Azeri was "Horse of the Year" in 2002.

21 Nov 2009 1:59 PM
maria-kern@cox.net

Horse of the Year - Zenyattaaaaaaa!!!!  Not only I love Zenyatta, I love the connections.

21 Nov 2009 2:25 PM
Ken

I have followed New York racing for many years and was firmly convinced that Rachel Alexander was the second greatest female racehorse behind the great Ruffian of all time.  Boy, was I wrong.  I saw it through my rose colored glasses.  I apologize to all of the Zenyatta fans out there.  I had completely looked down at your horse all year long.  After watching what I believe was the greatest horserace of all time - this year's Classic - which is even better than Secretariat's historic Belmont, I believe that Zenyatta has "taken the bar" for female racehorses and skyrocketed it into the strastisphere.  Sorry New Yorkers, but we had it WRONG - TERRIBLY WRONG! Zenyatta is the greatest female racehorse of all time and probably second to the great Secretariat. She deserves to be Horse Of The Year! I humbly bow my acknowledgment to you.

21 Nov 2009 3:03 PM
Ragsy

Thank You, Steve Haskin for the update on Quality Road...perhaps all is not lost.....

21 Nov 2009 3:21 PM
Linda

If I owned a great horse like Zenyatta I would want everyone to know just how great she was.  I would go everywhere and anywhere to prove it to the world, I would not hold her back I would let her do her thing. I would not have to talk up a good game. It would have been proven on the tracks across the country in the biggest races against all horses male and female.  Too bad we are talking about just one race!

Oh thats right there is one horse that did do that. Seems to me that her connections had a lot more confidence in her abilities than did the connections of Zenyatta.

21 Nov 2009 6:05 PM
somethingroyal

Linda,

How easy it is for you to sit and make such judgemental comments  hiding behind a computer. I have seen Zenyatta in person numerous times and I can assure you.

She is everything her admirers talk and write about. It's  obvious you are a Rachel fan. That's fine, admire her without the immature bashing of an admired and respected champion. It is so unnecessary.

21 Nov 2009 7:32 PM
Count Fleet

Quote from Hall of Fame (HOF) trainer "Jack Van Berg":

“If they don’t give her Horse of the Year after that race, they might as well stop giving the award,” said Van Berg. “I’ve never seen one like Zenyatta.”

21 Nov 2009 7:43 PM
Citation

Linda,

Your argument doesn't hold water, sweetheart.

Zenyatta went 7-0 last year and left the state and went to Oaklawn Park and took on the best (Ginger Punch - 2007 Breeders Cup Distaff Champion).

Why would Jerry and Ann Moss make the same mistake twice and leave the state of California this year (when the HOY vote for Curlin was a landslide last year).

Last year sent a message to the Zenyatta connections. The message was sent "loud and clear" and  told them that it doesn't pay to leave the state of California and prove yourself.

21 Nov 2009 7:49 PM
Soldier Course

Quality Road earned a Big A+ at Big A.

21 Nov 2009 7:56 PM
julie o

GOOD LORD this conversation gets weird!  First people tear down the fillies- their opponent weren't fit to even race in a stakes race, then perceived inabilities to run on different surfaces, and now their PERSONALITY defects.  Wow.  I thought this was about racehorses, not high school girls.  How does one watch these horses in a post parade or the winners circle and decide they don't like their personality due to some flaw?

 I have really enjoyed people sharing their experiences with horses from the past.  One of the things I love most about racing is the history, comparing past heroes, and seeing their descendants race.

 By the way, in 1971 Ack Ack won Horse of the Year and champion Handicap Horse without ever leaving California.  He carried high weights, won on turf and dirt, and at any distance he attempted, though he was essentially a miler.

 Finally, with all the focus on synthetic surfaces, not all the dirt tracks are the same.  Before synthetics, many California horses couldn't handle Belmont's sand.  Many Eastern horses couldn't run on California's fast, hard surfaces.  I also hate synthetics- it isn't any safer, it is too hot (can't be good for the horses or jockeys and seems to be a waste of money and time.  I hope they all go away soon.  But many shippers historically performed poorly over dirt surfaces because they aren't all the same.  Neither are all grass courses.

21 Nov 2009 8:00 PM
Karen2

Linda: In regards to your earlier post: be careful what you wish for. You stated it would send a message to trainers to stay in one state and win one big race of the year (The BC classic) and wham..your HOY....

Winning the BC is quite a challenge...even if you do stay at the same track all year. This is the best American racing has to offer.

21 Nov 2009 8:05 PM
Greg J.

Mr. Haskin,

     Thanks for the follow up regarding Quality Road's Succesfull gate work this morning at Aqueduct, Here is the Video:

www.youtube.com/watch

21 Nov 2009 10:55 PM
Soldier Course

How would you feel if you read this one day?

One American Thoroughbred race horse has accomplished all of the following:

She retired undefeated at 14-14.

She is the first female horse to win the Breeders' Cup Classic.

She is the first horse to win two different Breeders' Cup races.

She defeated the 2009 Kentucky Derby winner and the 2009 Belmont Stakes winner (who was also the 2009 Travers Stakes winner) in the 2009 Breeders' Cup Classic.

She is the all-time leading female earner.

She was never named Horse of The Year.

21 Nov 2009 11:04 PM
wilson

How dare the Breeders's Cup call itseld World Championship racing?!?  Everyone knows champions are decided by voters, not on the racetrack.

21 Nov 2009 11:35 PM
Mary in VT

I can't believe that some of you folks want to slam Rachel's Woodward. I know you are good people, so I have to believe that you don't understand what you saw. I was on the rail for Rachel's Woodward on the Clubhouse side of the winner's circle. Excellent view of the start, the finish, and the winner's circle.

Though she revealed yet another thrilling measure of her greatness, that she will lay down her very life if need be, when she was standing in that winner's circle she did look the most completely spent and drained race horse I have ever personally seen. I didn't realize the price that older boys would exact from her. I'm sure no one did because it's never been done before. Apparently there is a very good reason why the feat had never been previously accomplished. It is simply more than flesh and blood 3 yr. old fillies can do. Until Rachel.

Those older boys play pretty tough. That race was a real dirty street fight, and it took an inconceivably gutty effort from the filly to keep her neck out in front. Up until the Woodward she always seemed to be racing well within herself leaving you wondering what she could do if she were ever pressed. Still, the Woodward was not the race I wanted to see. There was something ugly about the way the race unfolded in that she appeared to run a gauntlet of older males in which each in turn unleashed their best in successive volleys whose accumulative effect looked like it could wear down a freight train, much less a flesh and blood 3 yr. old filly.

Forgive my clumsy analysis but I think Rachel runs her best races as an EP - an early presser stalking the lead - as in the Haskell. In this race, like the Preakness, she was going to have to run it as an E - the early speed horse, or risk getting boxed in and never let out. That means that she had to stay with or in front of each opponent as they leveled suicidal fractions at her until they cooked their own goose. And she went through 'em one by one. Back to the winner's circle - I am amazed she was standing at all.

Everybody in our vicinity on the rail was left shaking and holding each other up after the spectacle that horse delivered. In fact, I am still trying to process what I saw. It seems like racing fans and horse lovers spend our lives hoping to see just one horse - one horse - that lives up to our dreams, and when she runs her heart out right in front of us we find that our bodies are almost too frail to take it. I feel like I will never be the same after witnessing the heart, and guts, and glory that horse laid down on the track that day.

I wondered if the race could have taken too much out of her until days later when I saw a youtube video of her walking from the winner's circle down the track past the grandstand. She already looked a lot better by the time she exited the track. It's the clip of her exercise rider's day at the Spa to watch her run. They follow him all over and talk to different people like Andy Beyer. The exercise rider is a fine looking well dressed young man, quite dapper and feeling his oats I think, until Rachel wins and he breaks down and sobs like a baby. Sweet. Anyway, it ends with them accompanying Rachel off the track. She looks much better by the time she exits the track only a few minutes from the winner's circle. So she was recovering well, but yes, she put in a tank drainer that day. Whew! I felt like her race took too much outta me, I can tell you that much.

If a three yr. old filly can go 8 for 8 being tested every step of the way while smashing through record after record after record and *not* be voted Horse of the Year - I'd have to say that this sport is on it's way out. Passed it's usefulness. Irrelevant.

22 Nov 2009 12:05 AM
Judy from Burbank CA

Steve ~ I love you dearly ~ you know that!! :-)

However, your comment: "Ask Zenyatta and Rachel if they’d rather have the statue or a carrot." No disrespect, Steve, but this is more than what the horses think or don't think. Want or don't want.

What about the people behind the scenes on the backstretch? The people who work for these owners? Wouldn't they be thrilled to win HOY honors? Sure they would!

KEN you wrote: "Sorry New Yorkers, but we had it WRONG - TERRIBLY WRONG! Zenyatta is the greatest female racehorse of all time and probably second to the great Secretariat. She deserves to be Horse Of The Year! I humbly bow my acknowledgment to you." Thank you for stepping up to the plate!

MIKE S: You wrote: "So it was up to RACHEL ALEXANDRA's connections to come to "racing's championship day" and try to unseat the reigning Queen. Championships are settled on the racetrack, and I don't think you should win Horse of the Year by ducking ZENYATTA." Thank you, too!

The longer people continue to debate on the blogs, the more I am convinced QUEEN ZENYATTA and her connections deserve the honors this year. Hopefully, RACHEL ALEXANDRA will return to the winner's circle in 2010. I wish her the best!!!

As for Hal Wiggins, bless his heart. Asmussen was handed a Princess that was already fine tuned. JJ just enjoyed the ride and adoration...$$$$

On Eclipse night, I hope to hear something like this: "The HOY award goes to the Queen of Sports...ZENYATTA!"

I'm sure the Mosses and John will be very honored to accept the award on behalf of their beautiful, charismatic, 14 for 14 perfection ~ ZENYATTA.

22 Nov 2009 12:43 AM
francine

The original horse Eclipse,  was undefeated in 18 starts. Zenyatta has 4 to go. Rachel has 9 more. (hey, why not - got any better ideas for settling this?)

22 Nov 2009 7:44 AM
carolyn rogers

Folks, I have not followed horse racing as long as some of you, so , therefore, I can only learn from asking questions, I have a question for Steve of anyone, Female horses come into season yearly, so do they give these fillies some kind of medications to keep this from happening? I have another question? As big as Zenyatta is , gosh, Who would guys say, would be the perfect sire for her first foal? Yall know more than me, and you know of great sires that retired from racing before I started getting into it. Who do you all suggest?

22 Nov 2009 8:15 AM
Ragsy

Steve, what a wonderful year for 2 great female horses.  I just dont understand the bashing of 2 of the greatest females, I for one, love them both and wish both the best. I read Jason's blog and came away wondering why... Zenyatta and Rachel should be on television and in newspapers in America...they are charming and beautiful...

22 Nov 2009 9:34 AM
Kay

My Horse of The Year is Sea The Stars.

22 Nov 2009 11:02 AM
Slew

For a thrilling year of racing, I

sincerely thank the ladies (both of them) Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra.  Rachel refers 9 furlongs, dirt tracks, and is often the pace setter.  In the Preakness and Woodward, she ran her heart out.  Her other victories were romps.  Zenyatta runs on synthetics, takes best to 10 furlongs and is a deep closer.

She's a lazy horse who does just enough to win the race, and she always crosses the finish line with her ears pricked.  (meaning,

"I wasn't even trying.")  Her toughest race this year was the C. Hirsch...when she had a close call, but crossed the finish line first.  Yes, I think the fans should push for Co-winners of the

HOTY....instead of bashing each other so viciously as has been happening in the blogs.

While the horses might prefer the

carrot...Consider the fans.  They have become rabid over HOTY this year.  Don't disappoint either horse, and DON'T disappoint the fans.

I, honestly, cannot choose between them.  RA and Zen both have my respect and undying admiration.  I even enjoyed the post parades, with

RA bucking off Calvin, and Zen prancing for the crowd.

Not since Seattle Slew's Triple Crown have I been so immersed in the sheer joy in the sport of horse

racing.

I hope HOTY voters remember how passionate the fans have become.

22 Nov 2009 11:31 AM
Paula Higgins

Very happy to hear that Quality Road is doing well. He is a wonderful horse. I felt terrible for him at the Breeeders Cup.

22 Nov 2009 12:29 PM
anncat

No matter the outcome of the balloting, we all have been treated to a yearlong adventure, including "Wine, Women, and Song", haven't we?

Think about it.  Jackson, the two fabulous females, and Moss.

Three cheers!!!!

22 Nov 2009 1:47 PM
Mookie's Hero

It is all about distance. The classic horse runs not only at a mile but at a mile and a quarter and a mile and a half. Rachel's best distance is at a mile and an eight which is why they didn't run her in the Belmont and The Travers let alone the Jockey's Gold Cup. Sea the Stars had to turn up at the Arc to be a true champion. If milers are horse of the year canditates why not Godigova? She is just as fantastic as Rachel but look only a miler and gets no mention of horse of the year. That is the way it has always been done so why change now *though change is sometimes a good thing"

Best to everyone who is interested in this issue

22 Nov 2009 3:18 PM
Pam S.

Yes, Anncat, three great things in life were provided this year courtesy of Thoroughbred racing.  That's very good.

22 Nov 2009 3:54 PM
Joanie

What if…..

Rachel Alexandra had waited until she was a mature almost 4 yr old when making her first career start, as did Zenyatta? (Zen made her very first start on 11/22/07…5 weeks short of turning four.)

Rachel lost 3 of her first 5 races as a baby 2 yr old. (including 2 second place finishes, and a 6th place finish in her first start 5/22/08….really young for a horse to run. She was a baby).

Now she has won everything in sight starting with her last 2 yr old start on 11/. So maybe if she waited 6 months to mature a bit before making her first start, maybe she would be undeated too?

Ya never know for sure.

It’s more difficult for a horse to go undefeated when beginning their career as a young 2 yr old as opposed to a way more mature almost 3 or even 4 yr old as the case with Zen.

And just another reason why comparing Alexandra the Great and the Magnificent Zenyatta is really mixing apples and oranges somewhat.

Different surfaces, different running styles, and 2 years apart in age.

And just remember, as sure as I may think RA would beat Zen, and you Zenyatta fans are so sure Zen would prevail…it’s still called horse racing and that means of course, anything can happen!

Remember….Sea Biscuit beat heavily favored War Admiral….and Nashua beat favored Swaps.

After all, ya never know for sure.

BTW, Great story for you horse racing lovers about one of the above mentioned match races..…even has the “East-West” rivalry.

www.bloodhorse.com/.../nashua-the-great-match-race

www.youtube.com/watch

22 Nov 2009 5:49 PM
Footlick

Carolyn- they don't give them anything as far as I know.  It can affect the horses performance though.  As far as who to breed to Zenyatta, they have to be careful of size.  I remember when Numbered Account was retired, they were thinking about breeding her to Riva Ridge but were afraid the foal would end up being too big.  I think she was 16.2 hands.  Zenyatta is just huge so not only do they have to think of bloodline crossings but also the size of the foals that the stallion sires.

22 Nov 2009 6:12 PM
Ofelia

Steve, I just looked at all the replays of Rachel and Zenyatta's races. Rachel ran a grueling campaign as a 3 year old and beat every horse that came at her, male or female. Zenyatta is phenomenal, no doubt but Rachel ran all over the place in spectacular fashion.

My vote for HOY-Rachel Alexandra.

22 Nov 2009 6:40 PM
triple crown dreamin

People bash Jess Jackson for not running Rachel In the Breeders Cup.If Jess Jackson did not buy her she would not have run such an ambitious campaign.Her original ownerswould have just run her against the girls all year.So if it were not for Jess Jackson we would not be having any debate at all.I applaud him for thinking outside the box.Mr Haskin,Do you think you will write a book about the 2009 season.I have an idea for the title Two Birds And Two Girls.

22 Nov 2009 7:41 PM
Soldier Course

anncat:

What a clever post!  Wine,Women, and Song, It all fits.

22 Nov 2009 7:55 PM
mararacing

Steve

As I told Jason, I think you guys deserve hazardous duty pay.

I don't have a problem with Dual HOY. Shared has different connotations. Bring on the split vote rather than abstain.  May or may not make a difference anyway.  What's does it really matter?  Fact is the world won't end regardless who wins or if its Dual Award.  And the ladies... And let them eat cake - uh okay carrots!

I must say that the knocking of the European horses performances of the past on dirt leaves something to be desired as well.  So what was Giant Causeways run at CD and Sakhee at Bel? Fact is the Europeans are a lot smarter about who they bring to BC now than they were, regardless of surface.  Synthetics don't necessarily equate to winner for European turf horses as BC history has shown, nor does it mean that they haven't won on dirt either or performed very well in losing efforts. Goes with your only beat comments...I agree with your thoughts.

Tell ya what, rather than choose between both outstanding Ladies, give RA Ch 3YO, Zee Ch Mare and if Einstein wins the Clark on the 27th, Einstein HOY.  Einstein you say?  Well let me explain, if a horse has to win at 10F during the year, he's done that, raced at multiple tracks across the country, ummm done that, raced in top company including the BC, yip done that too though he hasn't always won, and best of all he will be the ONLY horse to win graded stakes on all three surfaces this year, eliminating the surface bias issue and lastly as he is not from the east (NY) nor the west (CA) and not bias on that either.  Would take care of some of the other crazy comments made on here. New HOY requirement, have to win on all three surfaces in graded stakes company to be considered for HOY. Level the playing field for everyone...your thoughts :). And BTW just how much do you make for your HOY vote???? I'm thinking Somebeachsomewhere might do it...

I do like the thought of a Peoples Choice award and I challenged Waldrop on his earlier BH blog when he brought it up using the voting funds generated for the thoroughbred retirement fund, add in jockeys fund and backstretch workers fund for other human awards, and to make it happen. Don't understand why of all groups that could and should make it happen, the NTRA hasn't as of yet.  Should be a separate voting outside the Eclipse Awards in the same categories, but given the same night. Would be interesting to see how the fans would vote vs those 'inside' racing community.

Thanks for the great thought provoking and amusing posts!

22 Nov 2009 8:20 PM
mararacing

Oh I forgot to add....at least you and Jason are man upped enough to read and add to your bloggers comments.  I noticed that Mr. Waldrop never added to his posts.  Kudos to you both!

22 Nov 2009 8:40 PM
Kat

Zenyatta gave 3 pounds to OLDER horses???  No, Zenyatta gave 3 pounds to MALE horses.  Zenyatta, at 5, qualifies as an older horse. . .

22 Nov 2009 8:58 PM
Soldier Course

To those in the Blog Stable who keep reminding us that HOTY honors for 2009 should be based on what the recipient accomplished in 2009, consider this:

Zenyatta reached several unparalleled MILESTONES in 2009. I mentioned these in a post last night, 21 Nov 2009 @ 11:04 PM.

These milestones are: retiring undefeated 14-14 including G1 Stakes wins; being the first female horse to win the Breeders' Cup Classic; being the first horse to win two different Breeders' Cup races; being the all-time leading female earner.

The fact that Zenyatta reached all of these milestones in the year 2009 is more than impressive. It is imperative.

22 Nov 2009 9:15 PM
Mike Relva

KAREN 2

You have a great idea regarding certain bloggers meeting. Count me in!

22 Nov 2009 10:11 PM
Mary in VT

Soldier Course -

That was a lovely summation of Zenyatta's career. She has a stunning resume for which she will long be remembered wherever Thoroughbreds are spoken.

Unfortunately, Horse of the Year is about what she did this year. Retiring undefeated at 14 - 14 is irrelevant. Your 5 yr. old mare went 5 for 5 this year. The fact that she had previously won a BC race is also irrelevant for this year's HOY award. Last, but not least, her lifetime earnings are also irrelevant for this particular award.

Maybe there is some other award for which her entire resume can be considered. Maybe they will invent an award on her behalf. She deserves one. How about a Lifetime Achievement Eclipse Award selected from the retiring class of every given year with Zenyatta the very first recipient?

As far as Horse of the Year 2009 - that's a no - her body of work in 2009 is not on par with that of Rachel Alexandra in 2009.

22 Nov 2009 11:46 PM
Kat

Citation - It was my understanding that one of the criticisms of Zenyatta last year relative to Curlin was that she only ran against females.  And HOY needed to be awarded to a horse that ran against "open" company, not strictly within HER division. (I think JJ remembered that!). Perhaps the message was that going out of state ONCE was not enough and she needed to run against males.  BUT - that was 2008.  In 2009 she did even less, at least until November 7. . .   :)

Carolyn - mares cycle every 21 days.

23 Nov 2009 12:17 AM
Pasturelands

Rachel is HOY 2009!! Woohoo!  GO, BABY, GO!!

23 Nov 2009 2:12 AM
da3hoss

anncat, that was funny, I see a "Steve Haskin Headline"!!!!

23 Nov 2009 7:02 AM
da3hoss

Judy from Burbank CA, if HW had kept her, her owners would never have let her run against the boys.

I am very happy JJ bought a "made" horse and then "made" her better.

23 Nov 2009 7:05 AM
Shaggy

TO MR. WIGGINS

CONGRATULATIONS for winning the KY Horseman of the Year award!!  I hope you RE-CONSIDER your retirement.  The industry still needs honest and hard-working people like you!! RACHEL might still NEED YOU..when her babies come out in 2011.. :-)

JUDY OF BURBANK:  

Zen is the Queen? Queen of what?  QUEEN OF CALIFORNIA? You're kidding, right? And, for your info, NOBODY ducked Zen. Zen was BEHIND Rachel in terms of victories, and HOY points.  She is the one who should "challenge" Rachel for the HOY.  As for Rachel, she has 8 historic victories versus Zen's ONE RACE in the BC.  Who do you think has the Upperhand? CLUE: its not Zenyatta!!

SOLDIER-COURSE:

For the 1000th time, ZENYATTA's 2009 victories is NOT 14, BUT ONLY 5 (five)!! Zen has 14 victories in 2 YEARS--her ENTIRE career.

Rachel has 8 victories in 2009-- thats 3 MORE than Zen!  Both RA and Zen are UNDEFEATED in 2009!!

IF, AND IF, we award the HOY to Zen, don't you think its funny that your "champion" NEVER won a single major race ON DIRT in 2009?  And "your champion" has NO other award-winning performance EXCEPT the BC Classic--just ONE race?? and "your champion" ONLY RUNS in California, nowhere else?

CITATION:

So, you're saying that it's OK to SNOOZE away for 6 months in 2009, and win only "sure-win" races against same fillies ALL YEAR, BUT its NOT OK to "duck" ONE race??  Talk about DOUBLE STANDARDS!!  

Zen "ducked" the whole USA for 11 months in 2009, running exclusively in California, against her "California buddies" on Pro-ride.  And that is "Award-winning" to you?  Then she wins ANOTHER California race--the BC-- and somebody calls her "QUEEN."  Queen of WHAT?  Queen of California? LOL.

There are actually 2 or 3 horse-racing world championships:  the European, the BC, and the Dubai world cup.  The Dubai world cup is the biggest. FACT.

RACHEL is the only horse with MORE THAN ONE race to her credit.  Take away the Woodward win, and she still got her dazzling performances in 7 more historical races to win HOY with:  the Kentucky Oaks, the Haskell, the Mother Goose, the Preakness, etc.

Can we award Zen the HOY based on her Clement hirsch, and Milady wins?  Heck, HELL TO THE NO!! VENTURA has an even better record than that.  

If it were not for the BC win, Zenyatta would even be in DANGER of losing the Champion older mare to VENTURA!!! VENTURA is consistent, and she is only a 4-year old.  GOLDIKOVA, if only she weren't European, would trump Zen for HOY in a heartbeat.

So stop this merry-go-round debate, and GET OVER IT!!  RACHEL IS HOY 2009!! It took Zen 5 years to defeat older males in the BC, but Rachel is only 3 and she already defeated the best colts and even the older males..THREE times.  AMAZING!!

GO, BABY, GO!! RACHEL FOR HOY 2009!! RACHEL IS THE BEST CHAMPION THOROUGHBRED OF NORTH AMERICA!! Woohoo!

23 Nov 2009 7:50 AM
Barbara W

I am gratified but not surprised to see that Quality Road did well in his gate training. I'm just a "know-nothing" dummy from Texas, but even I could see that it was the situation (helicopter overhead, lots of hype) that made him act up. He is beautiful, and I wish him only the best.

I agree with those who mention that Zenyatta was never extended in any race. I lost my heart to her when I saw her go outside around that final horse to win the race. What heart!! I will miss her terribly.

23 Nov 2009 9:37 AM
Whatever

I think we can all agree that it looked as though Zenyatta wasn't exactly handling that track the best.  Look at her stretch run again,  its looks like she is sliding and spinning her wheels,  but the fact that she is so great is why she won. I have no doubt she could run even better on a real dirt surface. SHE IS Horse of the year--she's simply the BEST!  People need to face the cold, hard facts that Jess Jackson is afraid to lose and if there's a chance Rachel could get beat,  trust me,  she will not be running in that race.  However,  you will NEVER see Rachel win a MILE AND A QUARTER race against the best,  never going to happen.

23 Nov 2009 9:57 AM
racingfaninarkansas

What I would like to see is both these talented horses come to Oaklawn they have both won races there and Zen's team says that is her favorite track.  The Apple Blossom is on 4-3-2010.  We are not East Coast or West Coast.  We just love Great Horses no matter where they come from.  There is no bias here.  Something to think about Apple Blossom 2010

23 Nov 2009 10:09 AM
ZENYATTA NADA

Bill Finley wrote a piece begging for ANY RATIONAL PERSON ACKNOWLEDGING RACHEL AS THE 2009 HORSE OF THE YEAR.

Considering that this is Steve's blog, and he is quite rational BUT is having a hard time separating these girls, may I add that we can easily compile races to equal the Classic win.  What would it take, maybe a Kentucky Oaks plus Preakness plus Woodward.  If so, then Rachel still has 5 MORE wins left over, compared to Zenyatta's 4 other wins.

Let's get rational.

23 Nov 2009 10:22 AM
Soldier Course

Mary in VT:

I have to assume that your post @ 22 Nov 2009 11:46 PM was submitted before you read my post submitted @ 22 Nov 9:15 PM, because I addressed the "2009 only" issue in that post.

My dictionary defines "milestone" as "an important event or turning point, as in the history of a nation". This same definition applies to the history of the sport of Thoroughbred racing.

Attaining a milestone is an accomplishment in and of itself, just as winning a race is an accomplishment. And if that milestone is as significant as the ones that Zenyatta has attained this year, it should be rewarded commensurate with the accomplishment it represents. Zenyatta attained more than one milestone this year, and each one of them is unparalleled in one respect or another.

The word "milestone" has a positive connotation. A milestone is a marker, propelling something forward in a positive direction and challenging it to stay its best course. Zenyatta's milestones, all of which were reached in this year 2009, have blessed our sport with the opportunity and means to meet that challenge. In turn, we must thank her with our highest honor.  

23 Nov 2009 10:54 AM
Footlick

Shaggy- what is with the attitude?

Regarding Zenyatta- there are things that Rachel Alexandra will never achieve.  She will never be the first undefeated winner of the BCC.  She will never be the first female winner of the BCC.  She will never be the first winner of two different BC races.  And she will never retire undefeated.  Take HOY for Rachel, she can never have the legacy that Zenytatta has.

23 Nov 2009 11:09 AM
Footlick

Jim P- I love Zarkava!  I do believe she beats Sea the Stars and Rachel, but Zenyatta would give her a race she never had.  That would be a match-up, watching both of them try to outrun each other while they pull away from the rest.  

23 Nov 2009 11:20 AM
Mike Relva

SHAGGY

Here's a newsflash for you. Your comment regarding it taking "five yrs for Zenyatta to win to defeat older males in Breeders". She DIDN'T BEGIN HER CAREER UNTIL SHE WAS ALMOST FOUR. Next time why don't you do your research?

23 Nov 2009 11:21 AM
Soldier Course

Shaggy:

My point about Zenyatta's 14-14 undefeated record is that it is a milestone; it breaks the record previously held by Personal Ensign. I am well aware of the fact that Zenyatta's 14 wins did not all occur in 2009. But her milestone of breaking that previous record did occur in 2009.

23 Nov 2009 11:26 AM
Footlick

Shaggy- Just so you know also, this is only Zenyatta's second full year of racing, so it didn't take her 5 yrs, only two to run against males.  And you flattered Ventura with the comparison, which I guess was not your intent since your intent is to tear down Zenyatta and tell people to get over it.  I think it is interesting that so many Rachel Alexandra fans can talk about Zenyatta's competition all year, but they seem to think talking abour Rachel Alexandra's competition should be off limits.  If you really want to see two 3 yr old fillies run and beat top quality males,  YouTube Zarkava's races and Goldikova's races last year.  

23 Nov 2009 11:33 AM
Horse of the Year

I wouldn't want to be the connections that receive "Horse of the Year" honors.

The wrath and backlash from the public would not be one I would want to entertain.

You would be known as the connections that stole "Horse of the Year" from "the other deserving candidate".

Whoever doesn't win "Horse of the Year" will be respected. The other will be known as the thief.

23 Nov 2009 11:34 AM
Footlick

Well said Soldier Course.

23 Nov 2009 11:35 AM
Soldier Course

anncat:

Too bad Zenyatta didn't win the Kentucky Derby, then 2009 would be "The Days of Wine and Roses".

Instead, we now have "The Days of Whine and Poses".

23 Nov 2009 11:37 AM
Footlick

Whatever- unfortunately HOY isn't about the best horse.  Great comment about the track.  She ran off and on the whole race.  Synthetics are never the same day in and day out.  People don't seem to be able to understand that.

23 Nov 2009 11:38 AM
Billy's Empire

Big races this weekend folks. Lets talk about that. We have the Clark on Friday, the Cigar Mile on Saturday, the Matriarch and loads of other races. Let's leave this talk about HOY behind us, b/c nothing is going to change the past. Quality Road is running, and Einstein, Misremembered, Macho Again, Diamondrella, Ventura (RIP BOBBY) lets make some money

23 Nov 2009 11:46 AM
aleesa4

If I were the owner of Zenyatta I would point her to the Ascot Gold Cup at 20 furlongs in June and  prep her in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March.

23 Nov 2009 11:51 AM
Joanie

Mookie's Hero AND whoever....

I am getting tired of people saying Rachel's best distance is 9 Furlongs. Is it her fault most of the 3 yr old races are 1 1/8 miles? Does anyone really believe she would not have won the say, Kentucky Oaks (won by 20 lengths) or Mother Goose (won by 19) if they were another furlong?

Don't you think that it's all in the PACE of the race? If she had to go 10 furlongs you don't think Borel would slow the pace a bit?

And while I'm at it let's examine Zenyatta'a past performances. How many times did Zenyatta go 1 1/4 miles? ONCE! Other than her first race at 6 1/2 furlongs, every other one of her first 13 victories were 1 1/8 (3 times) and 1 1/16 miles (a whopping EIGHT times)...maybe we could say before the BC Classic, Zenyatta was a 1 1/16 mile specialist based on her record?  

Of course not.

Since Rachel ran  1/8 miles more times than Zenyatta (4 times to 3) and ran 1 3/16 miles once, and has run more 9 furlong plus route races then Zenyatta ever did (5 to 4)...does that prove anything?

Of course not.

So the point I'm trying to make, these two horses ran the races that were available at the time..and it so happens that Rachel hasn't been asked to go 10 furlongs yet...she still only a 3yr old you know, and Zenyatta wasn't asked until her FINAL start at the age of FIVE.

So stop with the Rachel can't go 10 furlongs or she's a 1 1/8 specialist nonsense please. Because it's simply not true and you'll see next year if she stays sound.

23 Nov 2009 11:51 AM
Pam S.

I posted this on Jason's blog and will do it here too:  Had Rachel not been purchased by her current owner, she may never have run against males.  I'm aware her former owner was not in favor of it.  But people HAVE been known to change their minds.  It's possible the issue might have been "rethought" after a couple more blowout wins.  We don't know for sure.

In any case, I think it would have been a positive had Rachel's campaign been designed in a such a way that she could have competed -- in something -- during the fall championship season.  Obviously she has a lot of fans and she is missed.

23 Nov 2009 12:10 PM
Assault

You tell me who's better?

Zenyatta:

14 Starts: 14 - 0 - 0, $5,474,580

Rachel Alexandra

14 Starts: 11 - 2 - 0, $2,948,354

The frightening thing is:

Zenyatta never had the chance to run in the lucrative and rich 2yr old and 3yr old stake races.

23 Nov 2009 12:11 PM
Ranagulzion

FOOTLICK,

Talking about Sea The Stars being beaten by those fillies/mares.  That happens only in one place ...your immagination, friend.  Come on get real.  The Zenyatta obsession may be taking a toll.

23 Nov 2009 1:25 PM
Karen2

Mary in VT.....RA's body of work didn't include the BC classic....Zen's did....It's difficult to look past the biggest race of the year against what is suppose to be the best of the best. Some would say you have to beat the best to be the best.

Shaggy.....Rachel is dazzling...no doubt about it...but she didn't show up at the "horse racing world championships" Zen did and won. FACT. Yes..she might very well be the queen of California but she beat horses from all over...FACT. Furthermore Shaggy...there is another surface in town. Recognize it. You have heard of change right? Then go with it. Horse racing is changing....regardless if we like or not. We are along for the ride...FACT.

23 Nov 2009 1:27 PM
Soldier Course

Karen2 and Mike Relva:

I love the idea of a Blog Stable meetup, maybe in Lexington at Derby time. Hope this gets off the ground. (I can see you, Steve - right under the desk.)

23 Nov 2009 1:28 PM
Tiznowbaby

Goldikova aiming for a third BC Mile win! Woooo hoooooo!

23 Nov 2009 1:32 PM
Karen2

Mary in VT..you are biased because you saw RA run in person...you did not see Zen in person....

I consider you extremely lucky..I would have loved to see RA up close and personal...clearly you are still inspired by it... I would also consider many lucky to have witnessed Zen up close and personal....and there are many that have and are still inspired by it...that is what is causing this great debate....but it is important to understand...If one or the other is awarded HOY..it will not "bring down the sport". There will be many other things that hurt this sport before that will. Both sides make valid points that can not be ignored.

By the way..thanks for your re-play of RA's race.. she is truly one for the ages... I can't wait to see what she has to offer next.

23 Nov 2009 1:40 PM
Steve Haskin

Soldier Course, after all the madness on here, I may stay under there. If you do meet, I take no responsibility for any physical harm inflicted.

Anncat, very clever, I may use that one day and attribute it to a BH blog reader.

23 Nov 2009 2:29 PM
Footlick

Ranagulzion- You are right, it's in my head, just like your opinion is all in your head.  Look at Zarkava's Timeform rating for her Arc win and compare it to Sea the Stars timeform rating for his Arc.  And she wasn't even pushed.  Soumillon  never asked her for close to her best. And she did it as a 3 yr old filly on ground that was more testing than the ground  Sea the Stars ran on.  As far as Zenyatta is concerned- you can say all you want, but she will not let another horse beat her.  No matter how many doubts you have about her, she came from 12 back and ran her last mile in 1:33.4.  Distance is no problem, and she's bred to love the turf.  She would be a monster on the turf, and both Z's would be ahead of him at the end at 12 furlongs at Longchamps.  

23 Nov 2009 2:34 PM
Footlick

Billy- the Matriarch field looks like it will be small.  Do you think that someone can upset Ventura and Diamondrella?  April Pride, Rutherienne and Tuscan Evening are the others I think.

23 Nov 2009 2:42 PM
da3hoss

Soldier Course, then her 14th milestone win can be "Moment of The Year" which I'm sure it will be...but her body of work THIS year (as much as i love her) is second to Rachel for sure, and actually, to me, Summer Bird.

Man, 5 bad head over heels breakdowns in 3 days of watching like only a dozen races...plus the jockeys rushed to the hospitals...I have to get back into another horse venue...I want to spend my days off doing something happy...

23 Nov 2009 2:49 PM
Gladiator

Zenyatta Nada-great post.

It's funny RA fans keep talking about five or six of her great races, and Zens fans keep talking about one race. That says alot about who is HOY.

23 Nov 2009 3:35 PM
Cy

The solution to the whole problem is very simple......change the name of the Eclipse Awards to the Breeders Cup Awards and only the horse that runs in them can win an award. That stops all the bull that is flying around. If you do not run in the Breeders Cup then you do not have a champion horse/mare/colt/filly/gelding etc. As that seems to be criteria most people are talking about.

These races were never world championships as the best from around the world never came to them.

You should not say Zenyatta could outrun Zarkava as one ran on grass and the other on synthetics. Sheriff's says Zenyatta runs better over another surface but they only ran her once on another, so that is not proof.

Also there needs to be a stop to the east coast bias thing, as the announcers for both TVG and HRTV are very biased to only west coast horses.

There is a lot of snobbery towards Jess Jackson, as you read through here, about his money. Well people wake up the Mosses are not exactly poor. If you do not like one or the other of them for personal reasons fine! But I sincerely doubt most do not know either of them except through the news of their horses.

23 Nov 2009 3:48 PM
Soldier Course

Footlick:

Is Zenyatta really the first undefeated winner of the Breeders' Cup Classic? How did I miss that? If that is correct, she's achieved yet another milestone, and a huge one at that. Thanks.

23 Nov 2009 3:50 PM
Billy's Empire

I think Ventura wins, but Rutherienne could be sitting on one at the mile distance. The Clark is looking to be a battle. The big questionmark will be misremembered. I hope to get 5-1 or better on him. He has already proved he can run on the dirt, so this race is interesting. Einstein, to me, has lost a step. He loves CD, but so does Macho Again, the "allowance" horse according to Zen fans. I am intrigued to see how QR loads and if he runs his race. Rain is in the forecast on Saturday, so he may have another off track.

23 Nov 2009 3:59 PM
The Phantom

Joanie, you seem to be implying that RA didn't race beyond Preakness distance because she's a  3 year old?Rags to Riches was a 3 year old who won  the Belmont at a mile and a half - beat Curlin who won HOTY.That accomplishment I would consider better then any race  RA has  won in her  career.RA is great up to 9 furlongs but unproven beyond that except for the Preakness.No Belmont,Travers Gold Cup at longer distances and against much better comp, oh and a no show for BC  the owner hates syn because  Curlin got crushed on it.Maybe RA would have loved the syn and run better on it , we will  never  know this  because of the owner's  ego and non support of the BC.He cheated his horse of  a chance to make history and beat ZEN.

23 Nov 2009 4:02 PM
ruffian316

Assault,

Thanks for pointing out those earnings statistics.

By the end of Zenyatta's 3-year old season, she earned less than a 100k.

By the end of Rachel's 3-year old season, she had career earnings of $2,948,354.

In fact, even by the end of Zenyatta's 4-year old campaign in 2008, she still only had earnings of 2,090,580 -- a good 900k less than Rachel's 3-year old earnings tally.

I think that speaks volumes of the ultra-conservative path her connections chose. Not attacking Zenyatta here, just pointing out that this comparison is unfair.

You cannot compare a 3-year old's lifetime earnings to that of a 5-year old. In trying to prove Zenyatta is better based on lifetime earnings, you actually showed how much more Rachel has accomplished when compared to what Zenyatta had accpomplished by the end of her 3-year old season AND 4-year old season.

Be fair when debating this.

I hope you're not one of those folks who think Zenyatta was robbed of HOY last year, because using this same line of thinking, Curlin BY FAR deserved the HOY title if we are basing it on earnings.

23 Nov 2009 4:31 PM
Footlick

Soldier Course- Yes, she is the only horse to win the BCC and be undefeated.  You're welcome.

23 Nov 2009 4:47 PM
GeoRA

Steve, stay in Jersey if they meet, it's safer!

Better yet let them meet at Monmouth for Rachel's run in the Haskell next year and you head down here for a visit to Old Friends.

Some of the wars I've seen on here and especially the 'other' blog? I don't want them within a mile of the paddock on Derby or Oaks day. We have enough 'left of center' eccentrics and other types on Derby day.

23 Nov 2009 4:52 PM
Mike Relva

SOLIDER COURSE

Yes,it's a great idea! BTW I enjoy reading your posts only wish the other fifty or sixty per cent of the readers I enjoyed as much as yours. As far as some of them goes,wish they would go away somewhere. lol

23 Nov 2009 5:22 PM
Footlick

Cy-I didn't say Zenyatta would beat Zarkava.  I think she was the equal of most horses.  She was also brilliant and untested with ground-eating strides.  They never got to the bottom of Zarkava.  I think it would be both of them pulling away from the rest of the field.  As for comparing turf and synthetic, Zenyatta has a very turf-friendly pedigree.  I see no reason why she wouldn't be able to transfer her amazing form to turf.  But, if you feel you can't compare the two, then don't.

23 Nov 2009 5:31 PM
carolyn rogers

Soldier Course, I can't understand how people don't want to give her credit, she didn't start racing until she was 4 and she has never lost to any colt or fillies. Then, being the FIRST and ONLY filly to ever win the BREEDERS CUP CLASSIC , And to add to her resume, in her first year of running,she wins the LADIES CLASSIC, then come back the next year to beat the best boys the world had to offer. On top of that, being the RICHEST NA filly to retire.  What a hell of a resume. I DON'T THINK WE WILL SEE THAT HISTORY MAKING AGAIN, FOR A LONG, LONG, LONG TIME. ZENYATTA, YOU ARE TRULY, ONE FOR THE AGES....NEVER 2 B 4 GOTTON, YOU WILL ALWAYS BE REMEMBERED AS BEING THE "FIRST" THAT GOT THE JOB DONE, AND YOU WERE READY TO KEEP ON RUNNING AFTER EVERY RACE. THE LEGENDARY, THE ONLY, MISS "Z.E.N.Y.A.T.T.A."

23 Nov 2009 7:11 PM
Cascapedia

Zenyatta is a pretty good horse. I like her. She's hickory.

Set a track record at Del Mar

Carried 129 pounds in Grade I Vanity

Breeders Cup Classic winner

Breeders Cup Ladies Classic winner

Undefeated (14 - 0 - 0)

All-time North American Earnings Leader (filly/mare) $5,474,580

8x Grade I winner

3x Grade II winner

Beat 2007 Breeders Cup Distaff Champion twice

Beat 2009 Breeders Cup Ladies Classic Champion three times

Beat 8 Grade I males in the Breeders Cup Classic

All 2008 Apple Blossom runners that Zenyatta beat came back to win their next start.

Closed her last 1/16 mile at Del Mar in 5 and change

Closed her last 1/4 mile at Santa Anita in 23 and change

I wish we had her one more year. :+)

I'm greedy.

23 Nov 2009 7:16 PM
Ragsy

Steve, what I do to promote Rachel and Zenyatta is, I copied their pictures that Fred Stone made and took them to work and posted on a board where I have been giving H1N1 and Seasonal flu shots...man, have I been educating the public on these magnificient horses...none of the people knew who they were, only 1 woman knew about Rachel and Zenyatta...we have given over 5000 injections...and most all of them looked at their pictures...

oh, well......

23 Nov 2009 7:17 PM
Mary in VT

Soldier Course -

Another nice post.

The problem with Zenyatta getting HOY is that her connections were too conservative with their star. If she could have turned in more races against males or at the distance, why the bleepity bleep didn't she?  <head scratching> People keep saying how beautifully managed she was. Sorry. I don't see it. I think they lose it again for the big mare.

Zenyatta was entered in both the Ladies Classic and the Classic Classic, and they did not commit either way until they had to. How many people do that? Doesn't sound like they had an overwhelming amount of confidence in her. The way I read the double entry is that if the Classic looked doable they would run her there, but if not, she had options. The very fact that they double entered her tells you that they know she can be beaten. That's right. Zenyatta's own people know she can be beaten.

As it turned out, the BC could not have set up any more beautifully for Zenyatta, Life Is Sweet, and Sheriffs. One of their home tracks, Rachel not coming, Sea The Stars not coming, Summer Bird and Mine That Bird struggling on the ProRide, Rip van Winkle's connections concerned, Gio Ponti had a long year and looked the tired horse he was, Music Note wasn't getting over the ProRide as lightly as she does dirt, everybody was talking about Quality Road's oochy ouchy trot the day after his last fast work at Belmont, and Zenyatta's people *still* didn't call it for the Classic until they had seen all the competition on the ProRide. Of course Zenyatta's race was visually impressive. How could it be anything else? The class of the field was in trouble giving a gigantic advantage to Zenyatta who was the freshest horse in the field and the only synthetic specialist. Similarly, the class of the field in the Ladies Classic was in trouble on the ProRide, advantage to Life Is sweet.

So much for 'the best Classic field in years' horse pucky. Now that the excitement of Zenyatta's big moment is wearing off I think people are being more realistic. It was a pretty race. Period.

The '08 and '09 versions of the BC dirt races should be forever asterisked as run on a surface that clearly handicapped true dirt horses. There are troubling issues, and a lot of lines have been blurred. "Horses who made their last start on the dirt were 0 for 21 at the Breeders' Cup this year, making the tally 0 for 43 in the two straight Cups on the synthetic track at Oak Tree, with 34 of the 43 finishing worse than third. .. Thirty of the 43 starters ran a slower figure switching from dirt to synth, 20 of them by 10 points or more:"  - DRF So yes, Zenyatta won the Asterisk Classic.

You all saw the top grass horse in the US come in a respectable second to Zenyatta on Santa Anita's version of 'dirt' with a Euro grass horse in third, and Summer Bird was the first dirt horse over the line in fourth place. The same was true on Friday. According to DRF, none of Friday's BC AWS participants finished better than third unless they prepped on synthetics. The lovely Music Note, who to my mind towers over Life Is Sweet, was the only dirt horse to get up to third place all day on Friday, and I forgot who managed Friday's soul fourth place. Sheriffs was merely the lucky recipient of the synthetic surface funneling the marquis races his way. All he had to do was recognize the golden opportunity before him and hold out his arms.

Zenyatta beat the winners of the KY Derby and the Belmont on *her* best surface, not their best surface because they were taken out of their game. Every tv commentator noted that the Classic winner's works over the ProRide were unimpressive. I don't care what Tim Ice said. Everybody else saw his horse wasn't the same horse on ProRide. If you want to know the truth, I think when Tim Ice said that his horse handled the track fine, he was just doing his best to stick a fork in Rachel Alexandra. Rachel Alexandra beat Summer Bird by six lengths in the Haskell on a surface that he liked and came within two ticks of the track record doing it. In addition, he had benefited from an inside trip while Rachel had to run 3 wide all the way around the track until she was alone in the stretch. Zenyatta only beat him by 3-4 lengths on a surface that he didn't care for.

Whereas, every time Rachel ran she was asked to step up to bigger and better challenges. Every time. Every race. If Jess Jackson "cherry picked" her races it was to make sure that each one was tougher than the last. When they could no longer fill a race with 3 yr. old fillies to run against her she took on the boys again, followed by older males. She stayed undefeated on seven tracks in six states and in whatever weather God cared to deliver. She was tested every step of the way while smashing through record after record. To be able to find a way to keep her neck in front in the Woodward after setting sprinter like early fractions took the strength and breath and voice right out of me. I will never forget it as long as I live. Ditto the Haskell. Ditto the Preakness. The most watched Preakness ever.

This debate is not even close.... Rachel Alexandra had one of the greatest seasons of all time and is overwhelmingly HORSE OF THE YEAR.

23 Nov 2009 8:30 PM
BlueHen

Greg J.:  Thanks for posting the You-Tube video of Quality Road gate-schooling.  He's lookin' good!  DEFINITELY a different picture than at the Classic......

23 Nov 2009 9:58 PM
ThePixiePoet

In this 2009 year alone, Rachel Alexandra:

1) has set TWO stakes records for time in: Martha Washington, Mother Goose.

2) has set TWO stakes records for largest winning margin in: Kentucky Oaks, Mother Goose

3) was the ONLY horse (male or female) ever to win the Preakness from the far outside gate

4) was the ONLY female EVER to win the Woodward

5) TWICE, came within 1 second of breaking the TRACK RECORDS (at Belmont and Monmouth)

6) had the HIGHEST Beyer Speed rating this year of 116. (The Haskell)

She deserves HOY more than any horse!

As to the argument: "Zenyatta beat out the same horses", but think about it, she beat them on a synthetic track that those (usually dirt) horses are NOT used to running on! Zenyatta had a major advantage because she was running on synthetics the whole year! It would be unfair to judge Horse of the YEAR on the Classic because of it!!

24 Nov 2009 12:32 AM
Zia

OMG,now they're putting up

competing videos! It's a shame that few will watch for the simple pleasure of seeing perfection,which ever beauty it features.

Steve,great statement of sane,objective facts.

As for me,I'm withdrawing to

await the awards. Plenty of

time to complain after wards.

24 Nov 2009 2:49 AM
ZENYATTA NADA

Thanks Gladiator.

I don't like unnecessary injustice.  All of the uproar and mob mentality could be prevented by setting clear standards for this award.  Starting with judging based only on the year in question.  Cut down on creative and emotional voting by using a point system for all criteria.  It would not take a rocket scientist to set up a horse of the year equation.  To do so would be rational and FAIR.  Make the Eclipse voters account for maybe sixty percent of the vote.

I have no problem with Zenyatta fairly winning horse of the year.  I just have not seen a logical, factual, performance based argument yet for her trumping Rachel Alexandra.  

SET THE STANDARDS FOR HORSE OF THE YEAR EXCELLENCE FOR THE FUTURE IN 2009.

24 Nov 2009 3:34 AM
Soldier Course

Zia:

If you think these videos are bad, you should visit the knitting blog I belong to.

Some of the members have dragged out all their yarn stashes, piled the stuff in a huge heap, taken photos, and posted them on the blog. Now these are people who buy yarn before food, you understand, so we are talking warehouses.

The purpose of this is to see who has the biggest yarn stash. It's supposed to incite envy, so that the members will hit the jealous button. Talk about Ding Dong School.

24 Nov 2009 9:13 AM
Ranagulzion

FOOTLICK,

Enjoy your dreams about Zenyatta.  I wouldn't take that away from you.  My response was intended to wake you up a bit ...hope that the you don't find the HOTY award too much of a nightmare when Rachel Alexandra cops it.  I must tell you that I love 'em both though.

24 Nov 2009 9:14 AM
Soldier Course

Mary in VT:

Of course Zenyatta's connections know that she could be beaten.

That's because all of them possess a little humility ...

24 Nov 2009 9:22 AM
Soldier Course

Mike Relva:

Thanks.

24 Nov 2009 10:15 AM
Joanie

The Phantom:

No, the point I was trying to make is the connections of both horses took the races that were available regardless of distance.

Of Zenyatta's 14 wins, NINE (I said 8 before...I was wrong!) were at only 1 1/16 miles. So does that make her a 1 1/16 mile expert?

Of course not.

Believe me, Rachel Alexandra can and will win a 10 furlong race when asked next season.

I just don't want to hear any more nonsense of Rachel's ability to run beyond 1 1/8 miles. She already has done that as many times as Zenyatta did if you count the Preakness.

Let's see what transpires next year.

24 Nov 2009 10:42 AM
Footlick

Billy- Rutherienne always runs her race.  Very consistent at the shorter distances.  Einstein is running on his least favorite surface, but he was unlucky to lose to Macho Again in the Foster.  I never know what to think of Macho Again.  Obviously better than an allowance horse, but not really top drawer.  I like Misremembered too.  What do you think of Etched?  For the Cigar MIle, Quality Road is obviously the best horse in the field, but that doesn't always translate to a win.  What do you think of Bribon and Kodiak Cowboy?

24 Nov 2009 10:44 AM
Footlick

Ranagulzion- I don't care about HOY.  It doesn't matter.  As far as waking me up, I would think the Classic might have woken some other people up-lol!  I  hold Zarkava in extremely high regard.  Goldikova wasn't even close to her last year.  She is possibly the best French filly since Allez France as far as being able to win at a variety of distances.  And she won with ease.  But I would never underestimate Zenyatta and her will to win.  That's all I meant.

24 Nov 2009 11:34 AM
Slew

My mind keeps wandering to all of the races I have been privileged to

watch this year.  In Rachel's corner fans were jumping up and down with joy.  They cheered her to the final wire every time.

The same is true for Zenyatta, except for the BC Classic.  It seems that the entire BC this year brought fans out in droves to watch

Zen compete.  When she crossed the wire in the Classic...everyone wept

with overwhelming joy.  What an awesome tribute.

I want them both to win HOTY.  They

each have merited the honor.

As far as RA being best at 9 furlongs...In the Preakness and the

Woodward, had the race been any longer, she might have been beaten..that's how close it was, and why fans believe it's her best distance.  But she blistered the pace in all of her races...so it takes nothing away from her season.

And to everyone who believes RA "ducked" the Travers (with 3yr olds), remember..older horses are bigger, more muscled, and more competitive.  She ran a tough field

under a lot of pressure, and it actually may have been her most grueling and accomplished win.

What a coup it might be to match the Zen with Einstein, or Rock Hard 10...or Midnight Lute.  RA is slated for Curling, maybe Sea the Stars and Goldikova can match up.

At any rate, it's an unprecedented year in horse racing...let both

Champions share the HOTY honors.

To appease its fans, it would be the only fair resolution.

the older males

24 Nov 2009 11:38 AM
Tiznowbaby

Footlick, isn't Vinyard Haven in the Cigar? If he still is, I'm not convinced Quality Road is the best horse in the race.

24 Nov 2009 11:50 AM
Count Fleet

Rachel was the first filly to win the Preakness in 85 years, indeed, but since 1980, she was merely the fifth to attempt the race.

24 Nov 2009 12:19 PM
Ranagulzion

FOOTLICK,

In your ranking of Zarkava above Sea The Stars, I notice that you are pretty consistent, choosing the more lightly raced runner over the horse that was given the more rigorous campaign.  That is fair but you are entitled to your preferences.  BTW the Timeform folkes are not infallable.  

24 Nov 2009 12:26 PM
Count Fleet

Rachel is the victim of the quality of her competition. The only horse behind her that has been any good is Summer Bird.

Mine That Bird will not win another Grade I event in his life. He's just another Giacomo.

When are we going to get a stellar colt that we can all get behind. We've had at least 2 duds in the last 10 years. Giacomo and now Mine That Bird. These 2 fired on Derby Day, but were duds the rest of their careers (after the triple crown trail).

Rachel really looks bad in her Preakness because Mine that Bird couldn't beat a horse like "Big Drama" in the West Virginia Derby.

24 Nov 2009 12:35 PM
Footlick

Ranagulzion- I know that Timeform isn't infallable- they hate ranking French horses highly if they haven't run in England-lol.  They even had to adjust Zarkava's timeform for her Arc because of the bad trip she had, and I'm sure they did it grudgingly.  But I wouldn't call the 1000 and the Prix de Diane over Goldikova, the Vermeille after spotting the field lengths over DarReMi and the Arc over older males as easier, but she didn't run as often, that is a fact.  I think Sea the Stars an amazing horse, I just think Zarkava would have beaten him. I just don't believe that the amount of races are a measuring stick to difficulty.  Goldikova was a match for any miler in Europe and the US as a 3 yr old.  She didn't warm Zarkava up in the 1000, nor in the Diane.  But, Sea the Stars did have an historic campaign.  They were two wonderful, top class horses.

24 Nov 2009 1:28 PM
Footlick

Hey Tiznowbaby- Vineyard Haven is in the Cigar.  I think that Quality Road is the best on numbers, but I like Vineyard Haven alot.  I think he'll have to step up again in order to win.  Bribon and Kodiak Cowboy are in there too. And Pyro could even wake up.

24 Nov 2009 1:33 PM
CarryBack

Fun column. I believe Zenyatta should be Horse of the Year because her Classic win was a race for the ages. It will go down, I think with Seabiscuit's win over War Admiral, Personal Ensign's over Winning Colors, Affirmed over Aldyar in the Belmont, Sunday Silence and Easy Goer's Preakness duel..... Also, Zenyatta probably deserved the HOY honor last year and Rachel has another chance next year. And admittedly, I like Zenyatta's connections better. But the real winner is racing and both these incredible horses! If only one horse is selected, we all will survive. The debate makes racing the sport it is. It is Mr. Haskin's own words re Damascus vs. Dr. Fager who quotes PEB's cartoon "two survivors of a shipwreck floating on debris. While clutching to their “buoys,” one says to the other, “You’re crazy, I still say Damascus was better than Dr. Fager.”  I still hate Dr. Fager and it took me years to forgive Kelso. Forgive the horse but not those "racing experts" who awarded Kelly Horse of the Year the year that Carry Back beat him more!! The "mess' we are in of Zenyatta vs. Rachel is what drives this sport. The main loser though is RACING because the Breeders' Cup has become an industry event. And with the exception of the Preakness, Rachels' races were not televised. Our sport will contine when some pre-teen girl falls in love with either horse or some young adult 'working on Wall Street" like Steve Haskin decides to follow either Zenyatta or Rachel. That this debate has little relevance-or is even known! - outside the industry is the real loser for Horse of the Year this year.

24 Nov 2009 1:49 PM
Assault

The Grade I "Lady's Secret" renamed in the honor of the great racemare Zenyatta:

www.bloodhorse.com/.../oak-tree-honors-zenyatta-with-grade-i-race

24 Nov 2009 3:48 PM
LEON

Mike S:

HOTY is defined by the challenges taken throughout the year; it is decided by who runs and wins the typical campaign, and who runs &

wins the ATYPICAL campaign.

The Mosses always managed their big mare keeping her undefeated record in mind, and in doing so, they designed an over-conservative campaign that did not include a race against males until her very last.

She lost HOTY vs Curlin in 2008 because he won major races in two different countries, travelling and winning all over the US as well, and even had a very respectable stakes race on grass.

IMO, her staying in SoCal all 2009, without facing boys all year except for the BCC, is gonna cost her again, because one big race, a horse of the year does not make.

This is unfortunate, because after watching her BCC win, I could only dream about what she could have accomplished in the Goodwood, Hollywood GC or the Pacific Classic...

24 Nov 2009 4:04 PM
The Phantom

Joanie, the owners took  the races that were avaible regardless of distance you say, you can't be serious,RA couldn't run in the Belmont, Travers[summer derby] or Gold Cup, weren't they available? All 3 at longer distances , tougher comp. without a doubt.Zen also had easy races, no star there but she did run in the Classic and won!You really can't believe that statement you made ,  your in the minority if you do.Rags to Riches won the Belmont at a mile and a half as a 3 yr old beating Curlin who won HOTY, until RA goes at least a mile and a quarter there is a great doubt she'll win at a longer distance.I made the same comments about Zen,until she proved herself.

24 Nov 2009 5:46 PM
Track Records

Has Rachel Alexandra ever set a track record in her career?

I know that Zenyatta set a track record at Del Mar (2008 Clement Hirsch).

24 Nov 2009 7:05 PM
Soldier Course

To the son of Saggy and Joppy:

What a GORGEOUS post. You said it all, and with a fresh perspective. Thank you.

24 Nov 2009 7:44 PM
aleesa4

I have the solution to this debate.

Zenyatta HOY and champion older female.

RA champion filly an champion sprinter.

24 Nov 2009 8:20 PM
Marc

Longer post above but again as a BIG ZENYATTA FAN and thinking she is the "better" of the two. I would give the HOY to Rachel. Her body of work this year was more detailed. I don't bet or handicap with my heart so looking without bias I would pick what I see as a superhorse (RA) but a little less super than the mare than shouldn't win (Z). Had she traveled, beat the males a few more times (and she would have)the vote would go to her. There will always be a question of surface, although I doubt it would have mattered.

Point 2

To a few above

Hal Wiggins is a great horseman and he developed RA and it is sad to see him lose her. BUT! Those who haven't trained or been around the horses have no idea how hard it is to keep a horse at their peak for a whole year. Give Stevie A his props. He has done it with a few horses in the last few years---Over the years I have seen more than a few great trainers have great horses that had let- downs---it is an art to keep then constantly on edge. JS deserves big credit also no matter how good his horse was. All 3 did masterful jobs.

Footlick-answer is Dr. Fager--in my almost 60 years and coming from a racetrack father it is my belief that "no horse" could ever beat him up to a mile, and only with help could you beat him at a 1 1/4. He also beat a Hall Member/HOY and the best turfer in training in his only turf race.

Just a thought--if Kelso had run in the modern era of million dollar races--Would he have won $25-$30 million in purses? A great stayer he could win in short races as well and any surface. 5 x HOY. Why do people never mention him? Again just a thought off topic.

RA should win HOY. Zenyatta best horse.

24 Nov 2009 9:41 PM
LAZMANNICK

Mary in VT

Zenyatta destroyed the best males in the country this year......Where would you like to send for a new group.......What about Europe or maybe Japan.

24 Nov 2009 10:44 PM
Aluminaut

In America we breed for speed.  It's refreshing to see a horse (Zenyatta)who can beat the best at 10 furlongs, and she probably can run all day.  The Mosses did what was best for their horse, staying in California to prep for the Breeder's Cup.

Jess Jackson campaigned Rachel where speed holds and she was brilliant.  Can she win against the best at 10 furlongs?  If she were mine, I wouldn't make her try.

The Mosses and the Jacksons are good for racing and properly showcased their horses.  I saw Jess Jackson at the Barrett's yearling auction a year ago, and he purchased a filly I was interested in.  Haven't heard what happened to her, but these people keep the industry going.  Thanks.

24 Nov 2009 10:49 PM
Saratoga AJ

CarryBack:

First of all, let me tell you it was your namesake that got me into horse racing as a kid and made me a forever fan of the "Sport of Kings". I lived and died with each of the little guy's races. And his come from way behind style. Would he fire today? Or not. He was so plainly bred, yet so determined. He was truly the "People's Horse", a rags to riches story.

His breeder/owner/trainer Jack Price was a real character too. He took over ownership of the old mare Saggy in satisfaction of a $300 overdue stable rent bill, and bred her to Joppy, an obscure sprinter who's only claim to fame was he handed Citation his only loss in his 18 for 19 Triple Crown season of 1948 in a 6 furlong dash in Maryland that April. Somehow the racing Gods produced a little horse with some talent and a big heart.

But it's hard to say he ever deserved HOTY over Kelso. He did beat Kelso twice, and it took track records in both the 1962 Metropolitan H'Cap at Belmont and 1962 Monmouth Handicap to do it. But Kelso finished ahead of old Carry Back in 5 of their 7 lifetime meetings overall and had won more races and more money. Kelso was the better horse, as much as I hated to admit it back then. Even the 1961 year when CB won the Derby and Preakness, Kelso defeated him in the showdown for HOTY in the '61 Woodward. And both Kelso and CB had their hands full with with Allen Jerken's very first "Giant Killer", Beau Purple when he was on his game. BP beat them both 3 times. Those were some of the great days of racing when 50,000 plus would show up on weekends at The Big A or Belmont to see them meet in the big races.

You have a great namesake...a name that remains close to my heart still today. After his first season at stud Price brought him back to the races in late Summer 1963. He did not do well in his comeback, and the racing public was begging Price to return him to stud. But Price gave him one more race and he went out a winner, defeating favored Mongo in the 1963 Trenton Handicap at Monmouth in November 1963 at unheard of for CB 7-1 odds. It brought tears to my eyes.

Not the best quality films, but fun to watch:

www.youtube.com/watch

www.youtube.com/watch

www.youtube.com/watch

25 Nov 2009 5:30 AM
Footlick

Marc- I have nothing but admiration for Dr Fager amd he was truly a brilliant horse.  It's just my opinion, but Buckpasser was the most amazing horse I ever watched, and I saw him twice live.  I also saw Dr Fager live, all at Arlington Park.  But Baeza said they couldn't be compared.  Dr Fager was a machine and Buckpasser never gave him more than 60% of what he had.  He also said Buckpasser was the fastest horse he ever rode.  But I have no problem with your answer.  I also wonder why we never mention Kelso.  It does seem interesting but he is always slighted by us when talking about great horses.

25 Nov 2009 8:44 AM
Eric

Both are exceptional.  It's too bad that Rachel came along this year to steal Zenyatta's crown, but she did.  Zenyatta is an all-time great filly.  I think she should have won HOY over Curlin last year.  Rachel had the better '09 campaign, however.

25 Nov 2009 8:54 AM
Tiznowbaby

Have a happy Thanksgiving, y'all.

Yeah, even you, Draynay :)

25 Nov 2009 9:41 AM
Soldier Course

Eric:

Opinions are one thing. Foregone conclusions are another.

25 Nov 2009 9:58 AM
BK1

Thanks, Steve, for a great piece of writing, as always. I'm too far down in this list for anyone to read my post anyway - but here goes. I'm getting a headache from reading all this smack talk. Here's my take on things: I think Rachel & Zenyatta are equally awesome & I'm glad I don't have the burden of having to vote for real - because I couldn't vote against either one. We should all count ourselves incredibly lucky that we got to witness such class & greatness all in the same year - how often is that going to happen?

25 Nov 2009 8:36 PM
Aluminaut

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

I have a correction for my last post.  

It was the March 2008 Barrett's 2 year old in training sale where Jess Jackson bought a filly by Harlan's Holiday.  Sorry for the misinfo.

26 Nov 2009 1:43 PM
Marc

Footlick

Like I said in the earlier post the race Dr Fager, Damascus, and Buckpasser ran I thought it was the race with the 3 of the best if not the best, ran in the same race.

I have no problems with Buckpasser or Damascus people taking their side.

One point about jockeys though---Gary Stevens saying Hard Hard Ten was the best horse he rode?????

Although I can understand it--John Cruget saying Hoist The Flag was the best he rode---But the point would be if Seattle Slew wasn't as good --how good was HTF?

One thing I do know that we saw two of the best mares ever this year in my 50 years of watching horse racing.

28 Nov 2009 8:53 PM
K-swiss

LAZ, LICK-FOOT:

Shaggy is right.  The connections waited until Zen is 5 years old, BEFORE taking on boys in the BC Classic..shows you boys how difficult it is to win against MALES, does it?  And Rachel did it not once, but THRICE.. AND SHE'S ONLY 3!! what a GIRL!!!!

STEVE, you are soo right!

OAKTREE's re-naming of the Lady's Secret into the ZENYATTA STAKES is a bad mistake.  They just shot Zen's HOY campaign in the foot!!..more like in the HEAD too. LOL

Zenyatta doesn't have a race campaign, she has a HOY campaign (e.g. "Zenyatta" day, "Rachel Who?" shirts, and Zenyatta stakes, etc.)!! LOL. LOL

Actually, Zen's connections are CUNNING: They "cut corners" on Zen's 2009 campaign by making her win ONLY one big race, the BC, and then they "PLAY UP" that ONE WIN by orchestrating all this HOY HOOPLA over nothing--HILARIOUS!

They know it, as well as I do, THEIR horse DIDN'T DO ENOUGH to even contest HOY honors, much LESS win it..Zenyatta's ONLY claim to HOY rests on her SINGLE win at the BC Classic. Nothing more.

That's the reason why Moss is so desperate-- all this "OAKTREE faux-pas" happened with HIS blessings, of course.  This POLITICAL MANEUVERING happened As Bloodhorse's Steve Haskin said, "..just two weeks after the BC win, and at the expense of Lady's Secret.." HOW GROSS!!  

Moss couldn't postpone this TRAVESTY coz Zenyatta's ONLY chance to seize HOY is NOW when people are STILL CRAZY over her BC win-- so before the "people" can come to their senses, Moss has to make them "sign on the dotted line" and get Zen to be HOY.  Regrets can come later.. at the public's (AND Lady's Secret's)expense.

NTRA is RIGHT:  Why not wait for AFTER the HOY awards to rename ANY race into Zenyatta?  Why "JUMP THE GUN"??  None of RA's connections, nor the racetracks she raced in, ever stepped up and announced RA will be HOY and should have races named after her.  It is PRESUMPTUOUS, on OAKTREE's part, and Moss's part too, to do something like this.  They should somehow "rein in" their OVER-ZEALOUS AMBITION for their mare.

As for me, I have always been "RACHEL FOR HOY 2009". Rachel is an OUTSTANDING filly, and her magnificent constitution, coupled with her brilliant 2009 victories against G1 males and fillies, are ONE-OF-A-KIND.  She TRULY deserves HOY, coz she earned it.  Consistently. Repeatedly. Undeniably..

29 Nov 2009 8:57 AM
Footlick

Marc- I have no problems with any of the three,  and Dr Fager at 4 was almost otherworldly!  I know that Cruget maintained that Hoist the Flag was the best he ever rode and he said if he wasn't injured he would have proved it.  I only mention Baeza's comments to put some perspective on what kind of animal Buckpasser was.  His laziness was almost as legendary as his race record.  And Baeza wasn't the regular rider of Buckpasser until after he came back from his quarter crack.  He was Graustark's regular jock.  Shoemaker said he wasn't impressed the only time he rode Buckpasser, and Shoemaker told Nerud that Dr Fager scared him and didn't want to ride him again.  Baeza wouldn't say which horse was better, Dr Fager or Buckpasser.  I never knew Baeza to say much to the press or make wild statements.  But then he never rode Rock Hard Ten-lol!

29 Nov 2009 10:11 AM
charlie

Carry Back and Saratoga AJ:

Just a nod from another racing fan who was initiated into the sport by Carry Back.  A very tough, versatile horse that showed up for every tough stake under any and all conditions and always gave it his best shot, and produced some of the most thrilling stretch runs ever.

03 Dec 2009 11:45 PM
Judy Loves John Henry

To all the posters who acknowledge "shaggy" - move on! He's got jealousy issues LOL. As the saying goes: you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink!:-)

YAWN YAWN YAWN. I am so bored with the mentality of "let's tear down one horse to build up the other". It's like a disease. Your insecurities are showing. Get a life, folks!!

05 Dec 2009 2:19 AM
bsinboots

Just have to respond to the people saying the Eclipse Awards are for the body of work for the year...then explain why so many Europeans have won based on a single BC race in the past?  Why Goldikova will win this year? Zenyatta won the biggest race of the year, beating many of the same males Rachel beat plus better older ones. That's it...period. Synthetics should not be a factor...if the BC choses to hold the championships on synthetic, they should not be discounted in the voting. I hate 'em myself, but that you have to play it where it lays. Get rid of them, or live with it.

07 Jan 2010 2:47 PM

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