Breeders' Cup Classic Recap: One for the Ages

With darkening skies creating an almost surreal atmosphere, Blame and Zenyatta put on a show for the ages in the Nov. 6 Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I), creating a mosaic of emotions that ran the gamut between joy and sadness, and in the end, admiration.

In perhaps her greatest performance, Jerry and Ann Moss’ Zenyatta’s gallant quest for an unprecedented 20-for-20 record fell a head short, as the great mare was defeated not only by a magnificent horse in Blame but in some ways by the ghosts of Arthur B. Hancock and Arthur B. “Bull” Hancock Jr. on the 100th anniversary of their once-dominant breeding empire, Claiborne Farm, which for many years epitomized the rich and colorful tradition of Kentucky’s Bluegrass.

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What an article, one of your very best.  You captured the heart and soul of both Zenyetta and Blame.  Two super stars!  They have both been wonderful for racing as were their human connections.  The Breeders Cup Classic is one for the ages and gives everyone hope that people will find their way back to the track to watch these incredible horses/jockeys/trainers and owners.

09 Nov 2010 6:04 PM

I always enjoy reading you. Well done. What a magical horse for Claiborne, I hope he does well.

09 Nov 2010 6:16 PM

Thank you, Steve. I've been  waiting patiently for your article. I think I'm more saddened by the fact that she may never race again than by her head lose to Blame. However, I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I'll be making a trip up to Hollywood Park to meet Big Z in person before she leaves for Kentucky.

09 Nov 2010 6:20 PM

Wonderful writing, Mr. Haskin.  Never was Zenyatta more noble than in this heroic loss by a short head.  I think this will be the race that will forever be remembered as the one that defined, punctuated and proved Zenyatta's unique greatness!  Racing will have lost its greatest shining star when Z is retired.  Thank you for your fine writing about her, thank you to her connections for caring for her so well and sharing Z with her adoring fans. And thank you Zenyatta!

09 Nov 2010 6:20 PM
Julie L.

You summed the race and Zenyatta's performance perfectly. Though defeated by only inches by a magnificent colt who was doing all he could to keep his lead showed without a doubt how great Zenyatta is. Sometimes defeat does just that for a horse it shows the heart and courage one animal can have. The Queen showed us all, those that believed in her which I always did and those who disbelieved just how truly she belongs up there with the greatest names in horse racing. And I knew that it would be Blame that put her to the task. I feel that in her defeat she showed why she should still be considered for Horse of the Year. Nothing against Blame but what she did Saturday and how she did it was one for the ages.

09 Nov 2010 6:21 PM
Broken treee


once again you manage to capture the true essence of the race from both Horse's as always I enjoy your blogs and keep returning soley for them .you are a TRUE Lover of the sport!

09 Nov 2010 6:21 PM

"But, like Seattle Slew’s memorable nose defeat in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I), her courageous performance actually will enhance her place in history."

Poetically said.  Excellent article that reflects on both Blame, Claiborne farm, and Zenyatta.   Beautifully written.

Will we be reading something on Goldikova soon?  ;-)

09 Nov 2010 6:22 PM


I have been waiting for your recap because I knew it would be the best.

Thanks, you proved me correct....beautiful piece.

09 Nov 2010 6:23 PM


09 Nov 2010 6:27 PM

You did it again, Steve.  I am moved to tears.

Your final comment about Zenyatta was the kicker that sent me over the edge.

Thank you for a truly moving tribute to horse racing and the Breeders Cup Classic.

09 Nov 2010 6:31 PM

I've been waiting for your take on the race and I haven't been disappointed. What a fair, balanced, respectful article on both amazing horses.

09 Nov 2010 6:34 PM

Great follow up article n the Classic. It was more like reading poetry. Outstanding!!

09 Nov 2010 6:35 PM


As always, your writing is beautiful and poignant, encapsulating the feelings we all have...

Congratulations to Blame and Claiborne farm for their Classic victory!

Zenyatta: you are forever the Queen... your valiant effort in defeat will forever be etched in our memories, frozen in time, immortal... you are indeed a Legend...

This BC Classic will be remembered as one of the all-time classic races...

09 Nov 2010 6:38 PM

Great article Steve, that was a very good race. My heart was pounding from start to finish. It will go down as one of my all time personal favorites. Keep the detailed articles coming.

09 Nov 2010 6:38 PM

Mu first BC and I cannot wait for next years!  

Now onto the KY Derby!!

09 Nov 2010 6:39 PM

Great article Steve. Can't wait to see HOY of the year results. Zenyatta is such an amazing mare and is my all  time favorite racehorse. I think the better horse lost!....

09 Nov 2010 6:41 PM


09 Nov 2010 6:42 PM

I cried after the classic. I am a big fan of Zenyattas I was upset not for the win streak being broken but felt all her critics would say I knew she would not win. When I thought more clearly I realized that her place in history is secure with the vallant effort she gave. Zenyatta is the best filly or mare of all time. Steve she has given the sport a big boost and has done more for racing since the days of Secretariat. My best friend is not a big race fan. I drag her to Monmouth Park once in awhile and she sits and reads a book while I watch the races. Around Zenyattas 12 race I made her watch on tv and she became a Zenyatta fan making sure she watched ever race. About six months ago she asked me for a picture of Zenyatta to put on her desk. The reason she said was that Zenyatta inspired her. Monday morning she went back to work with a bigger picture of Zenyatta to put on her desk. The reason my friend said was that she had the heart of a true champion and was a warrior. Thanks Zenyatta for all the great memories. You will always be #1 in to me.

09 Nov 2010 6:45 PM


You certainly have the best article on the race I have read yet.

Problem is, I still feel that Zenyatta should receive horse of the year for what she did this year. She won more races than Blame and she is so much more of a horse than he will ever be.

She deserves horse of the year this year even though she didn't win this one last race.

No amount of articles from no amount of writers will change that.

"That is my opinion"


09 Nov 2010 6:47 PM

A magnificent review of this years Breeders Cup 2010.  I was there and still got chills reading your article.  Like so many that traveled to Churchill Downs, I was there not only to witness some of the top athletes in the sport compete but to see if history would be made not once but twice.  The great Goldikova, a small quiet mare in a rather non-descript brown wrapper, was promoted from superstar to legend as she for the third time captured the Breeders Cup Turf Mile with her sweeping outside move down the stretch.  Then it was Zenyatta's turn. If admiration and cheers could have lended wing to her during the race, she would have won by a mile.  But on this day her brillance and place in history would not be measured by a perfect win record but on the merits of one of the greatest performances I have had the privelege of watching.  Although Blame did not receive the cheers he deserved, this tough, old-school colt put on a wonderful performance. Given his connections to the famed Claiborne farm I can't help but think I'm glad it was him.  I didn't get the fairytale ending at this year's Breeder's Cup I was hoping for...I got so much more.

09 Nov 2010 6:51 PM

What a weekend.

Talk about the Agony and the Ecstasy!

From the cheering as Blame and Zenyatta pounded down the stretch in the Classic....

back to the gut-wrenching gasps when Rough Sailing went down in the Juvenile Turf....

back to the awe and joy with the spectacular Goldikova....

and down again with  the "what the's" of concern that circled the place when Life at Ten walked around the track in the Ladies' Classic.....

and up again with Uncle Mo showing off how much fun it is to fly in the Juvenile....

and Unrivaled Belle

and Pluck

and on and on and on.

It was a heck of a weekend.  Thanks for the story Steve.  Let's do it again at Churchill next year!

09 Nov 2010 6:52 PM

This year's Breeders Cup was exciting and deep for every race, and I was thrilled to watch all the horse run. But the Classic was THE Classic for the ages.  The courage and tenacity we witnessed will remain unrivaled in the years to come.  Kudos to Zenyatta who never quit running and swept the field.  She remains gallant and unbowed in one of her greatest races.  And kudos to Blame who was the only horse to ever dig in so deeply as to unseat the Queen.  They both deserve our unswerving thanks for a job so well done.  And I'll pray this blog does not devolve into a HOY controversy, because we've had enough!  Enough of the rancor..enough of the debate...I'm just so tired of it all.  

09 Nov 2010 6:55 PM

It was a memorable race that will live for ever in our lives.  Zenyatta put a show that no other prime time could do.  She came from being knock out to almost win as a great prize fighter.  Zenyatta for me is the best of the best and to see her come from behind in all her races proves she is the Best Horse that lives for ever. I'm proud of ZENYATTA!!!

09 Nov 2010 6:56 PM

Sorry but Goldi's win in the mile was the best of the day with her devastating turn of foot,that mare is in another zone considering who she's run against.

09 Nov 2010 7:00 PM
Lynne Veitch

This is a wonderful story Steve.  Who could ever have imagined that  historic and legendary Claiborne Farm & their tough & talented colt would meet a gorgeous & glamorous Hollywood star who started out like just another minor player at one of the many sales at Keeneland.  I just wish it could have been a dead heat!  Both horses showed themselves to be the very best of beautiful Thoroughbred champions.  The connections of both horses did their very best to have their charges at their peak form both physically & mentally. I think this is the best race of the 21st Century so far & I don't think there will ever be another, cast with two major stars with such incredible backgrounds & stories.   You have chronicled the story so eloquently.  Thanks for great writing.

09 Nov 2010 7:00 PM
Dawn in MN

Thank you very much for this story Mr. Haskin.  It was great.  I really wish I had a collection of your stories.  If a collection were published I think it would be well received.  

09 Nov 2010 7:01 PM

THANK YOU!  Not much left to say!

09 Nov 2010 7:03 PM

Oh my gosh I did'nt think my eyes held anymore tears . I've cried so much the last few days my face and eyes are puffey and then you write this. I don't know what I'll do when you write the tribute to her.Steve thanks for this and all you do for racing and especially your fans. My world would be a little more lonely and not very happy without you being my link into the racing world. Your writing just brings everything to life. I keep saying and I am going to make it to Kentucky one day to see part of the race and horse world but until then I look to you and your wonderful writing to keep me imformed. Please keep it coming. Thank you, thank you,and thank you.

09 Nov 2010 7:09 PM
I love mine that bird

Thank you for that beautiful tribute to one of the greatest racehorses of all time. I am honored to have seen her run.

09 Nov 2010 7:09 PM


Beautiful, my man. Well done sir, as always

09 Nov 2010 7:11 PM
Big Al

Well written, she's almost human now. She dances, she poses, she loves attention, and now has the biggest human trait...IMPERFECTION!

Being on the rail at the finish line for the most anticipated, and enjoyable races of my lifetime I now truly feel Zenyatta's greatness. Nobody's perfect not even The Great Z.

09 Nov 2010 7:12 PM

Boy, Blame's connections sure are smug. There's touting your horse, and then there's OMFG WE GOT DA BESTEST EVAH CUZ WE WUN A RACEZ!!!!!! Which is exactly what they are doing. Does anyone REALLY think he's better than her? Anyone here than Onion was better than Secretariat? Upset better than Man o War? Dark Star better than Native Dancer? Get real. Whatever his people are on, can I have some?

09 Nov 2010 7:17 PM

I keep reading on and on that Blame rebroke that Zenyatta never passed him, but after slowing it down frame by frame she actually nipped him 2x after the wire. I sent one of the photos to you in email Steve

09 Nov 2010 7:19 PM
Stephanie Lambert

Zenyatta lost not ONE thing on that Saturday in November, If anything she showed the world what she is made of, True Grit, Courage, Determination, Steel. I admire her more now than I ever did, I have never seen such an effort by any athlete in my life. She mowed down the whole field but one, by 6 inches...Wow, and how far she came, what were her fractions? She is amaZing....As we all know by seeing the Kentucky Derby this year, the best horse on the field does not always win.... Zenyatta is the Best, Mike Did his Best, it is a horse race, it is a gamble, that is why what they did together is so amaZing, 19 in a row, WOW. How can we ever forget the ride she took us all on? I will always remember her, always admire her, and as I left the fence from in front of her barn and said goodbye, I too was one of those silly people who cried, I cried for joy, the joy of having had the gift of Zenyatta in my life

09 Nov 2010 7:20 PM

Zenyatta's last race summed up the extraordinary, courageous and unequaled horse that she is. From her unparalleled personality to her valiant performances on the track - as the Police song goes, 'every little thing she does is magic'.

Her magic will be missed but never forgotten.

09 Nov 2010 7:23 PM
Abbie, Durham NH

This is the best description of and commentary on the 2010 BC Classic, giving credit where it's due all around, and conveying the wonderful emotional impact of the event. Bravo!

09 Nov 2010 7:27 PM

Wonderful recap Steve! You have one of the best jobs in the you need an assistant?:))

09 Nov 2010 7:32 PM
sweet terchi

Steve, you put it so eloquently. Zenyatta is a once in a lifetime horse, and I feel bleesed to have had the opportunity to have seen such a splended mare who dazzled me every time she took to the track. In my book she is worthy of HOTY,twice over and certainly a horse for the ages. I thank the connections for allowing her to race one more year. In doing so they gave us the chance to cheer her on once again.


09 Nov 2010 7:33 PM

Holy Smoke! That was beautiful Steve. I love your writing. You really wrapped up the day, with all it's emotions, perfectly. I was fortunate enough to be able to come to the BC this year and then, by some unbelievable miracle,  was allowed by the very gracious Coolmore group to use their 2nd level box near the finish line to take pictures all day. How incredible that was! I had a perfect seat to a perfect day. It's a day I will never forget.

09 Nov 2010 7:35 PM

When its that close,I'm calling it a dead heat. She's 20-0.

09 Nov 2010 7:35 PM

Steve, thank you for a "fair and balanced" tribute to both these fine racehorses and their connections.  My heart still wishes Zenyatta had won, but I have to be impressed by the way Blame dug in when he saw her coming.  She was gaining on him a lot faster before that!  She never stopped cutting into his lead, but he was tough and game and managed to hold her off just long enough.  And Zenyatta lost nothing except a race.  She is still the Queen.  

09 Nov 2010 7:37 PM

You set the stage and painted a picture of Saturday's Classic with words, Steve. A beautiful story about the brave efforts of both horses.

09 Nov 2010 7:37 PM
Karen in Indiana

Thank you, Steve, for a full wrap up. Most of the storys so far have had slants for or against Zenyatta. Those of us who love Zenyatta have needed to hear more and have time to process it. The race last Saturday was gripping and historuc, she was awesome! But to hear the truth, we need to hear how it was for Blame's people as well. Congratulations to them and it would have been nice if we had been allowed to know Blame better before this race. Maybe Team Zenyatta has started something, after all the Wertheimers are bringing Goldikova back next year because they realized the sport needs stars.

09 Nov 2010 7:38 PM
Arian Haxhillari

The most  improved horse of the year Blame.

The MVP  of the year Zynyatta.

I think racing should start thinking like other sports. And this would be the best evaluation of athletes including horse.

09 Nov 2010 7:41 PM

Great story ,Steve.......You told things that nobody else had written about. You gave both horses their due!

09 Nov 2010 7:42 PM
PA Bred

Another great article Steve. It is unfortunate that Zenyatta did not go out a winner but she has been a fantastic joy for 3 years. It's a shame it has to end but she has done enough for the fans and the sport. Hopefully another one like her will come along in my lifetime but they are few and far between.

09 Nov 2010 7:45 PM

As always, I waited with anticipation for your article to be posted, and once again, you did not disappoint. Thank you for capturing the moment and putting into words what so many of us feel. Zenyatta truly is "one for the ages", and we will all miss her greatly. It's not often we get to witness such greatness on display, but that's what makes it all the more memorable. She is a legend.

09 Nov 2010 7:46 PM

It was a great race with lots of wonderful horse, and it was a thrilling end for Zenyatta and Blame. But what happened to Quality Road?  I've been following his career, and he's better than that last place finish.  Something nice should be said about him especially now that he is retired. Can you comment? Thanks.

09 Nov 2010 7:49 PM
Virgil Fox

Thank You, Steve.

09 Nov 2010 7:54 PM

Zenyatta is and should be Horse of the Year.

I could only hope they once again 'keep her in light training' and she gets pointed to the 2011 Dubai World Cup over the Tapeta surface for $10,000,000 for complete redemption and to be finally crowned "Champion of the World".

09 Nov 2010 8:00 PM
Bob Bright

Just like the race your article was one for the ages. A Classic

09 Nov 2010 8:16 PM

    Its amazing to me, that no one has mentioned the breeding, and some interesting facts about both B&Z.

Once again, the ultimate 3/4 cross of Mr.Pros.& North.Dancer, comes up in another major Gr.1 Stake horse, BLAME .

Once again, the forgotten great RIVERMAN, appears in another great F or M.

But the one I personally LOVE, and allways look for is in both pedigrees. The ONE and only  ROBERTO ! Through his great son Kris S.,one through the Sire, and one through the Dam.

How about another one, Forli,through the dams of both.

It doesn't matter that these great Sires are slowly disappearing, and the STAMINA they bring, with them.

They are there somewhere, and they do come through.

The STAMINA you need for our Classics,seem too be forgotten, but then something like this happens, and they say " we're still here !

09 Nov 2010 8:38 PM
Pony Tale


What a beautiful tribute to both Zenyatta and Blame. I'm a California fan of Zen, but now I know "the rest of the story." Thank you for sharing what Blame means to Claiborne Farm. No one has told what was on the line for this historic stable - it would have been great reading before the race.

Your words, like the race's story,come from the pen of Shakespeare -- well done.

09 Nov 2010 8:38 PM

Oh, Mr. Haskin,

I'm sure I'm not the only one moved to tears by your column. In the slow motion replay at the finish, did I see Zenyatta's nose bob in front on the next stride and her ears go up? Was trainer Ron Ellis correct when he said he thought she misjudged the wire? I'm also sure I'm not the only one who wishes there could be a do-over. Do I sound like a Zenyatta Zealot? Probably. Am I biased? Undoubtedly.  But I can tell you this: I have been a horse owner and an avid fan of horse racing since I was a horse-crazy little girl. I watched Secretariat win the Triple Crown. Ruffian and Personal Ensign. Affirmed & Alydar. Seattle Slew and Spectacular Bid. I've seen all of the Greats in the past 40 years. I was amazed by Afleet Alex being knocked to his knees in the Preakness, yet miraculously getting up to win. But I have never seen a performance as impressive as Zenyatta's sustained drive in the Classic. Never. And I am fairly certain that I never will again. Yes, this Classic was One for the Ages, because Zenyatta is the Horse of a Lifetime.

09 Nov 2010 8:41 PM
Paula Higgins

Steve! I was hoping all day that something would be forthcoming from you and you didn't disappoint! What a wonderful tribute to both horses, but especially to the Queen. Blame is a nice boy too and I am happy for Al Stall. He has been nothing but a class act all the way and he has handled Blame beautifully. We all knew he was a terrific horse.

As for the Queen, it is hard to believe she may be gone from the racing scene for good. I keep hoping against hope that she may make it back one more year, but perhaps that is unrealistic. I know they will do what is best for her.

She did indeed run a race for the ages. To me, it was hands down, her greatest race. I was awe struck when I saw that charge. It took my breath away. All her other late runs paled in comparison, and they were phenomenal.

As for John, the Mosses and Mike, I can't thank them enough for their wonderful care of her and their kindness to her fans. They are very special people who have a very special horse. If they want to give me a Christmas present this year :), they can send her back to race once more.

09 Nov 2010 8:43 PM

Mr. Haskin, my hat goes off to you.  If there was one horse in that race that I could accept beating Zenyatta, it would have been Blame.  Zenyatta has had my heart from the first time I ever watched her run and I wish to thank you for this article that pays a wonderful tribute to her and to Blame.  He seems like such a wonderful horse.  Truly he and Zenyatta are the king and queen.  It sounds like their dispositions are very simular and what they both have done for the industry is without words.  I will always have a special place for Zenyatta in my heart and no loss could ever take that away from me.  What she did took more courage and heart than most will ever know.  However, Claiborne has been a sacred place for me since my childhood, and if Zen's defeat by their horse helps the farm, then maybe all is right after all.  

09 Nov 2010 8:47 PM

BRAVO! What a beautiful story! As always, you are a master at putting into words emotions that are impossible for most of us to convey. Since she has been around longer than Blame, Zenyatta has become a part of me. I'm going to miss her tremendously, but I feel so blessed that I got to witness her career from start to finish. This is one legend that I won't find myself reading about and wishing I could see it with my own eyes. She truly is remarkable. Blame is a very good horse, but he wasn't around long enough to get attached to. He'll always be a very good horse with potential to be great, but alas was retired and denied a shot at immortality. Pity. I'm sure if he were allowed to run next year, he would strike terror in the hearts of his competition. Love both he an Zenyatta and I am deeply grateful to both for the best race I've ever seen.

09 Nov 2010 8:47 PM

You made me cry again!   I couldn't believe how game Zenyatta was in defeat, and now no one can deny her greatness unless they are blind and heartless.   Thank you for giving Blame and his connections his due while paying tribute to our Zenyatta.   And thank you for not mentioning Horse of the Year voting.  Your article stands on its own.

09 Nov 2010 8:48 PM
Kathleen Burnham

I was so upset when leaving Kentucky on Monday morning to know that I could have been at Churchill having my picture made with my hero Zenyatta on Sunday!! Zenyatta is what dreams are made of, what a warrior she has been!! I thank The Moss's for sharing her with the public like they have, they ARE a class act!!!

09 Nov 2010 8:49 PM

All the drama of the event captured in one essay of great appreciation for all that transpired.

09 Nov 2010 8:56 PM

Another wonderful article Mr Haskin!  Thank you for giving Zenyatta her due!  Greatness should be recognized and appreciated and you surely get it!  Too bad not everyone does, especially those in the business of covering racing like Jason.  Maybe you can give him some lessons!  LOL

09 Nov 2010 8:59 PM

Thank you for the beautiful article.  have been haunting Blood horse waiting for it to appear.   You always make everything even more special.

09 Nov 2010 9:13 PM

Steve,I waited for your report on this race and it was worth the wait.No one should blame Mike Smith,Mike should not blame himself either,but I understand how he feels.Zenyatta is still the Queen and will be so in Horse Racing fans memory for years to come.Well done Zenyatta.Well done Steve Haskin.

09 Nov 2010 9:14 PM

Steve,as usual, you've hit the nail right on the head. As many did  I kind of thought of Blame as "the bad guy" after the race. I know I wasn't the only one. After reading this great recap of the whole affair,that won't happen again.I am looking forward to visiting Blame at Claiborne, the first week of May. And you know what? I could care less what the voting (there's that awful word again)results are for HOTY. What we were  privileged to witness here was two great athletes giving all they had in the stretch of a race that will never be forgotten. It truly was "One for the Ages"

P.S Only thing I don't understand is why everyone doesn't love our wonderful sport.

09 Nov 2010 9:14 PM

Steve, I don't usually post comments due to the fact that it seems like all has been said by everyone, already.  But I just have to say what a wonderful, enlightening article, even for everyone that watched the Classic.  What more can be said about Zenyatta--what an inspiration she will always be.  But your description of Blame brought home several realizations.  First, what a great colt he is and secondly, how overlooked he was after the Classic.  Maybe that's why Zenyatta was second, to make all of us take another look around and not have tunnel vision just for Her Majesty.  Hats off to The Queen again, by making us realize that all our dreams get answered, one way or another.  Congratulations to Blame and Zenyatta for giving us another race to remember.  And thank you Steve, for such wonderful insight.  

09 Nov 2010 9:22 PM

What a beautiful piece of writing.   No one else has summed up the Classic and the emotions it evoked as brilliantly. You are hands down the best racing writer around. Thank you so much!!

09 Nov 2010 9:23 PM

I too think she is even more wonderful in her loss. She proved she can run in the dirt. My lord can she run. Wow, what a race! Have you ever seen a come back like that? I thought it was over when they passed the clubhouse turn. When she was in the tunnel to go to the paddock I was getting worried, that crowd was like a burning fuse, ready to explode.

Of all the great horses that have run in the Classic I have never seen that old grandstand rock like that!

Racing will miss her. Where is she going to breed? I am sure plenty of fans want to see her. Mike Smith says no one is good enough for her, I am starting to think that way too.

09 Nov 2010 9:34 PM


The way you are able to capture emotions and the vision of the story behind the horses, the people and the race is increadiable.  I feel very blessed to be alive to witness the greatness of not only Zenyatta but of Blame. What a gift to have someone like you be able to capture this story and have everyone be made out to be the hero.  Having not been alive during Secretariat's run or my favorite race horse Ruffian it is almost surreal to be able to witness the magnitude of legends that are before us today.  Thank you for being such a great story teller a writer and most importantly a speaker from a place of such honestly and authenticity.  You did both the horse justice as well as all of their connections.  You make us at home have the ability to feel part of the story not just as outsiders but living it along with them. Most of all thank you for honoring the horses, without them these stories, emotions and inspirations would not be possible.  

09 Nov 2010 9:39 PM
Barbara W

After suffering through so many other opinions, I am so appreciative of your kind and sensitive column. If anyone had said to me that Zenyatta would lose, and that after the race I would love her even more, I would have wondered how. But the day after the race, all I could think about was, "Did everyone see what she DID?" Amazing.

I have loved the Mosses for years, ever since finding out that they started Old Friends by donating their own Ruhlmann(RIP), and they have conbducted themselves with such graciousness. I love Mike Smith for loving "our girl". I can hardly bear to let her go, so I can only imagine what he, Jerry and Ann, John, Dottie, and Mario must be feeling.

I know broodmares are kept from the public, but I so wish that some kind of partial exception could be made in her case. She'll never stop loving her fans, as we love her.

If we all live to be 100, we will have this memory to share together.

Kudos to Blame and Claiborne. What great timing, now that the Secretariat movie is being enjoyed by so many.

09 Nov 2010 9:45 PM

Thank you for this beautiful article.  Your words on the great Zenyatta as well as the truly respectable Blame and his connections are inspiring and I have been eagerly anticipating your commentary on Saturday's race.  It was a fantastic day for the sport, and I honestly do not believe Zenyatta lost anything other than the race in name when she came in second.  Thank you for your apt commentary.

09 Nov 2010 9:54 PM


A brilliant piece of writing as always.  I was there on Saturday, caught up in the moment. Your description made it all the more meaningful.  Many thanks.

09 Nov 2010 9:55 PM

Awesome! Just Awesome! Thanks again Steve.

09 Nov 2010 9:55 PM
Linda in Texas

Adjectives abound in Webster's Book, but none come to mind to capture and describe so eloquently your story about Zenyatta and Blame.

It has been at first a sad and let down time. But in reflection i feel Zenyatta is even more real than before 'the race' for she has proven that one can be great in what they do, even if they falter, they can still get back up to face another day with their head held high. That is what i take from Zenyatta. A lesson in participating and though not winning, still proudly

surviving and moving on. She was gallant in her effort and she has nothing to be ashamed of.

I am humbled by her and always will hold her in the highest esteem. In one of my earliest posts about her i said she

was simply magical. And that thought will remain always.

Thank you Steve. You always have a way of making us feel we are all right there with you taking it all in.

And Thank You especially to Mr. and Mrs. Moss, Mr. and Mrs. Shirreffs, Mike Smith, Zenyatta, her groom, walkers, and everyone for your love and care of this beautiful mare. She is simply breathtaking to watch not only running but in everything she does. And she is healthy and sound, thank goodness for that most of all.

Safe journeys all.

09 Nov 2010 9:55 PM

To all horse racing fans, I have discovered this brilliant video filmed in the upper grandstand of Churchill, this is what Zenyatta is all about.  It shows her making her incredible move and almost ALL the fans just eating it up.  Go to youtube.  Search "Zenyatta at the 2010 Breeders Cup".  The video is made by "Chungus10" and lasts 44 seconds.  This clip should be in the "Zenyatta Movie"

09 Nov 2010 9:59 PM

Zenyatta proved more in defeat than all 19 victories combined.

With that said, I really don't appreciate the comments insulting Blame, his connections, or the comment about her being better than Secretariat.

She proved she is A great, but no one will ever match Big Red's accomplishments. His Belmont will always be the most exciting race of all time.

This Classic was certainly one for the ages, and one I'll never forget. I just wish folks would give Blame the credit he deserves. I find it childish to denigrate the winner.

09 Nov 2010 10:03 PM
John T

It was one of those races were you

can honestly say the mare lost nothing in defeat.

09 Nov 2010 10:06 PM
Paula Higgins

Steve, you know what I love about you? The fact that you love the horses and not just the game. The fact that you can make a wonderful horse like Blame endearing to us Zenny Zealots (and he is a nice boy)even after he beat her. You are as fair minded as it gets. Finally, but most importantly, the fact that you understand the greatness of Zenyatta and the love her fans have for her. This piece was a valentine to all her fans and you did it while also praising Blame for his performace. That is no mean feat.

09 Nov 2010 10:21 PM


..."had to steady slightly to avoid a backing up Quality Road."

I think it is a little more than that.  According to John Shirreffs..."When Quality Road backed up in front of her (Zenyatta) and Mike had to alter course and take back, that was tough.  She's zig-zagging down the lane, looking for a path, has to check and go one more wide."

Zenyatta lost .6 seconds or 6 lengths during this time (splits were 23.60, 23.80, then 24.40, and then re-started her final charge in 24 flat).

In other words Zenyatta was going to win the Classic heading into the far turn but Quality Road caused her to lose it.

A shame.

09 Nov 2010 10:24 PM

Very good article, as always.  It covered all of what we all saw and feel.  Nice tidbits of things others didn't know or didn't cover.  Good job!

09 Nov 2010 10:31 PM

Mr. Haskin,

You have written some amazing columns but this one left me speechless for hours after I read it. I don't know where to begin as every word was like every note of  Bach's Brandenburg Concertos. The perfect word at the perfect place.

You are a master and I am so grateful that we have you. You tell us that our eyes did not deceive us, that what we saw actually happened and that we really did witness greatness, the likes of which, few of us have been privileged to see.

This is all I'm going to say for now. Later, when I've had time to come back to Earth, I'll comment further about this masterpiece and the Event it describes with such perfection.

09 Nov 2010 10:33 PM
Suzie in Highland

Oh, Steve - what a beautiful tribute to two wonderful equine athletes.  After months and months of reading people in the RA camp bash Zenyatta - and vice versa - it is so refreshing to see unbiased accolades for both Blame and Zenyatta.  I really wished Zenyatta would have won, but it is what it is, and she certainly lost nothing in her narrow defeat, which I too compared to Slew's defeat in what many considered his very best race.  I feel so blessed to have witnessed racing's greatest, even if it was on the small screen - Secretariat, Slew, Affirmed, as well as others such as the Bid, Rachel, and certainly Zenyatta. And let's not forget the fantastic Goldikova - she too is in a class of her own.  Thanks again, Steve, for your always spot-on insight.  

09 Nov 2010 10:42 PM

Well done again Captain Steve.    Z's effort, while getting serious dirt kicked in her face for the first time, is one of thee great performances in BC history.   Congrats to Blame's connections.   Garrett Gomez showed why he's the best rider in in North America bar none.    Go Go carved out a superb trip for his horse.    At the top of the lane, Smitty appeared to try to reprise Giacomo's path in the '05 Derby, angling out for clear running and kicking it down, but this time he just missed.      I tossed Z in the '09 Classic and she made me a believer.   This time i respectfully disagreed with friends who said she wouldn't hit the board.  Damn i've come to really love that mare. Thanks to the Moss', the incredibly gracious John Shirreffs and to Mike Smith, and especially to the Amazing Zenyatta for giving our great sport the supernatural boost it so badly needed.   All the best to Z in the future whatever that may hold.    

09 Nov 2010 10:50 PM
Doreen Espeseth

It was surely poetry watching Zenyatta gallantly and amazingly coming from behind;I am not sure I have ever seen a race quite like it and I have seen many of the classics. Thank you Zenyatta and Blame for all that you have given us and thank you God for creating these beautiful animals. May we care for all of them to the best of our ability and in their best interests, for they go out there to perform and sometimes get hurt, all mainly to entertain us.

And finally, can you imagine what Zenyattas babies will look like? Or what if you bred the Z with Blame...hmmmm....I havent taken a careful look to see if their pedigrees match, but that could produce a loud killer! But just wait til we see Zenyatta having babies~surely thats some sweet poetry to look forward to~


09 Nov 2010 10:54 PM
Gary Tasich

Well done Steve!

In your article, you used one important word in your article..."transcend".

Under the lights on that evening of November 6th, Zenyatta transcended the sport. Like an angel she took flight and coursed through the hearts of the fans that so desperately encouraged her to get up one last time.

Zenyatta was victorious in more ways than one. She did her part...will the sport return the favor?

As far as she's concerned..she won..she hit her target even if it was a hop and a half beyond the wire.

As far as history is concerned...she won...with or without being named Horse of the Year.

Thanks for the memories great warrior!

09 Nov 2010 10:58 PM

Steve, thank you for the wonderful recap.  The Breeders Cup Classic was indeed one for the ages.  While I was truly upset that the great Z did not quite get there, if anyone was going to beat her, I'm glad it was Claiborne's Blame.  Claiborne has always been my favorite farm and I was thrilled to visit it in 2000.  Blame is going to a great place.  The one thing I realized when I read your article was that I had NO idea what was going on at the front of the pack during the Classic - my eyes were on Z the whole time.  Thanks for letting me know what else happened in the race.  

Hoping to see Baby Z at the Derby in 2015!

09 Nov 2010 11:08 PM

Chris..clearly Blame IS getting the credit he deserves. And maybe to some folks Zen does stack up to Big is all a matter of opinion. Enjoy all that is in the world of racing....and enjoy the big mare..for you are likely not to see anything like her for the rest of your life.

09 Nov 2010 11:17 PM

We may not have seen the last of Zenyatta quite yet.

John Shirreffs, interviewed today, said that discussions are taking place as we speak, as to the future of Zenyatta and will be revealed at the end of November.

It is just me, but I tend to think that Zenyatta loves people, loves the attention, and loves to stretch out those legs.

Do I see a couple more races for her?

09 Nov 2010 11:22 PM
Thelwell Pony

Beautifully said, sir. Thank you for finding words. It has been difficult (and exhausting) to try to quantify simultaneous admiration, elation, disappointment, heartbreak, and eventual hope - all because of two very special horses.

I hope that more of the casual fans that Zenyatta has brought to the sport will continue to watch. I hope they will follow the handicap horses, instead of just dropping by for the Triple Crown races and then forgetting the sport.

I will miss watching both of these horses run. I have enjoyed following their careers (although I have a small selfish hope that the Mosses and Zenyatta are not done for good just yet). I wish that more people had known about Blame before his last race and retirement. I am glad that I don't have to vote for one horse for this year's HOTY. It seems an impossible choice, with these two AND the incomparable Goldikova giving the performances of their lives last Saturday.

For a final ridiculous, fanciful thought: is it just too much Kris S to send Zen to Blame? Yeah, probably so.

09 Nov 2010 11:23 PM

Thank you, Steve, for another wonderful article that identifies and clarifies many of the feelings I've had since the Classic on Saturday.  At first I was in tears for Zenyatta to not win this race, but moments later I was able to recognize just what she had accomplished.  Not that her loosing could diminish the love and admiration that I have for her, merely my heart was hoping a win by her would quiet her critics.  Three days after the race, well those critics are still out there in full force, but that does not change how I feel about Zenyatta, or what she has given me. Blame is a really nice horse and Claiborne is a historical farm in racing, but my heart still belongs to Zenyatta and I'm grateful to all of her connections for being so generous to share her with us.  Like others have said earlier, it would have been nice to get to know Blame a little bit better, too, but he's now retired.  At least we can look forward to another season of racing from Goldikova!  Before I keep babbling on and on, Steve, I'll simply say it again - thank you.

09 Nov 2010 11:27 PM
Gary Tasich

You're absolutely right John....Quality Road was Zenyatta's Achilles' heel.....

09 Nov 2010 11:27 PM

As always, Steve rocks! Please never retire. No one says it like you do! As for HOTY, Z did win more Grade I's. So what about who won the B.C. Classic- It didn't matter who won it last year, why should it determine HOTY this year??

09 Nov 2010 11:32 PM


Thanks for the article, one of your best.  Before this article I was so upset with Seth Hancock and still am a little bit but he obviously was in a little shock.  He could have done so much for horse racing in that winner circle last Saturday, instead he came across so dour and his rambling about Claiborne and its 100th anniversary blah blah he came across like a real stick in the mud,  and then the next day he says Zenyatta had every chance to pass our horse in the stretch she didn't so my horse deserves horse of the year.  Then he announces Blame's retirement gee just what what horse racing needs another horse who people can build their hopes on again retired too soon.  This is a sportsman???   After your article some of the resentment has calmed down but it would have been great if in that winner circle he would have shown some emotion and talked about what an incredible race we had just witnessed and those of us in racing lived for.  Then if he could have gone on and said although I feel my horse deserves Horse of the Year I wouldn't mine sharing it with that great mare, Zenyetta.   He would have come across with class and looked like s statesman for the sport.   Truly a missed opportunity.  Let us remember Zenyatta was running fastest at the end and with a  little different judgement by her jockey she would have been the winner.

The racing industry leaders have got to understand that Zenyatta has done more for racing in the last year and she needs to be recognized for that.  Larger crowds, Radio and Tv coverage more than could have been expected,  and a following that included peopled that don't even follow racing (and those that do I think she has finally made Andy Beyer a believer).

Zenyatta has done more for racing and the racing world needs to reward her for it.   HOY or even co-HOY.

Don't shoot yourself in the foot on this!!!

And one thing the Moss's  three cheers for you for having the courage for bring her back this year.  You have given us one heck of ride for the YEAR !!!

PS   I hope you would consider breeding her to TIZNOW  and I already have a name for her first foal "Twin Classics",


09 Nov 2010 11:40 PM
Fuzzy Corgi

Steve, thank you so much for being supportive of Zenyatta and her unbelievable career. There is an undeserved lack of admiration for this super star among some very vocal journalists. Needless to say, I refuse to read their venom spewing articles or blogs anymore. Your contributions I will always read.

As your article so eloquently states, Zenyatta is more than just an amazing race horse to so many people. Thanks again!

09 Nov 2010 11:41 PM

Thanks for the wonderful and very fair account of the BCC.  Like many races it was a race within a race.  There was Blame's race and there was Zenyatta's.  Hers was far more difficult, she had to weave in and out of traffic and he had pretty much a clean shot to the line.  But, still with all her difficulty she was able to almost win!  Her courage and determination were astounding.  My hat's off to Zenyatta and her "family"!  John Shirreffs knew this horse and custom made her training so that she could excel when the time was right.  He understood what she needed and had the intuition necessary to bring forward a champion.  Blame is also a great horse and I wish we could have all seen more of him, so I'm sorry he's retired. I've heard that he also is a socialable and engaging horse.  But Zenyatta will always live in my heart for her free spirited dancing, her engagement with the fans, her kindness and gentleness, even with tiny children.  What will be do without her, it's hard to imagine.

09 Nov 2010 11:50 PM

well-said Steve, I couldn't wait to read your recap of the race and I wasn't disappointed. Appreciate the respect and reverence that shines through your writing.

10 Nov 2010 12:05 AM

Beautiful article, Steve (I expected nothing less). You captured everything so honestly and accurately, with all the connections of both horses being  portrayed as they deserved to be: totally 100% first class. And how wonderful and generous the Moss's and John Shirreffs have been to allow Zenyatta to be so accessible to her fans who love her so much.

At my office on Monday morning, people who know NOTHING about horse racing were talking about Zenyatta.  What she has done to promote the sport is invaluable.

This Breeder's Cup Classic had the elements of a Shakespearean drama, except this time (thank goodness) there was no villain - just two most worthy adversaries putting everything out there for the ages. Blame beat Zenyatta in a fair fight, but she only lost on the track; her performance on Saturday put her permanently up on that pedestal where she belongs. That race (as well as Zenyatta) will rank up there with the all-time greats. I'm afraid I've had to move Personal Ensign, along with her B.C. Distaff, to 2nd place in my personal ranking.  

10 Nov 2010 12:27 AM
christy tate

nineteen and one is nothing to sneeze at. i think the Eclipse Awards should decide its winners by looking at a horse's performance over a whole year and not just one day. So, with that being said, i think Zenyatta should be horse of the year, not only for being tough in defeat, but bringing more people to racing, and doing better than some football teams. she still is one of the greatest ever.

10 Nov 2010 12:51 AM

What a great article!!!  You said everything that I was thinking about the race and Zenyattas impact on horse racing!!!  I didn't know anything about Blame before your article.  Thank you!!!

10 Nov 2010 1:11 AM
Steve Haskin

Thank you, everyone, for your kind words. As usual, they are greatly appreciated -- more than you know.

Stephanie, your words (anoymous of course) from your past e-mail, are a prominent part of my tribute story. If you want me to use your name I will, but as of now I certainly will repsect your privacy.

10 Nov 2010 1:28 AM

I was one of the people at the fence when Zenyatta was grazing the afternoon after her loss. She is a great racehorse & will be remembered forever! I hope more owners & trainers follow the path of Zenyatta's connections & allow the public to establish such a personal connection with their racehorses.

On a side note, I just want to thank Steve Haskin for being so nice to his biggest fan in Texas!

10 Nov 2010 1:36 AM

Cheese us key rice, Steve (that's a phrase I learned from Barry Irwin in the old days on AOL), you are making me cry. I sure hope Mike Smith reads this. He did nothing wrong, but I fear he needs some help to feel better. Maybe you've managed to provide it.

10 Nov 2010 1:40 AM
John Lava Leach


I enjoyed watching you and Lenny all year and especially watching Zenyatta win you over. Your Thoroughbred short stories are second to none. I applaud the manner in which you give glory and honor to both Zenyatta and Blame. Blame is a great horse and I recognize that his greatness simply elevates Zenyatta's awesome legacy. To me Zenyatta is equine perfection, a gift from God, a humbling force, a horse that makes this 45 year old man feel like a little boy again.  

10 Nov 2010 1:41 AM

Steve...that was beautifully written and captured every essence of the moment..thanks to share your talents

10 Nov 2010 2:44 AM

I was waiting and waiting for you to write about the BC.  I always wait for your blogs with anticipation.  You have to be one of the fairest writers on this sport that their is.  Not only that but, your love of the horses shines through!  

Some other writers have already brought up the debate for HOTY and injected more venom.

You did a terrific job and were not biased one way or the other. You told the story and like someone else said, I didn't know that Clairborne was looking for a star to bring them back up.  Just like Penny had to do with Big Red! I didn't know a lot about Blame but, I knew that it would be either him or Lookin at Lucky that would do the unthinkable!  So, with your story, I am happy to say that if Zenny lost to anyone, I'm happy it was to Blame and Clairborne.

Wow, what a race!!  I thought for sure that Zen would get pulled up like Big Brown was.  No, Mike believed and so did Zen.  They just had to find away and she got through the traffic and all the problems in the beginning of the race, they never gave up.  Even when Quality Road tried to give Zen a showcase of his hindquarters.

At first after the race I cried and cried!  I could not believe it!  Our Queen has been de-throwned.  I was still a mess the next day.  Not just from the Classic but, all the chaos with the Jocks fighting and the poor filly that went down and had to be euthanized.. It was just a weird start to the BC.  

Anyways, I had wished you would have published some of your photos with this article...  :)

But, none the less, thank you so very much for being who you are. Giraffes and all!  Ha...  :)

10 Nov 2010 2:55 AM

One more thing...

You know, I have watched the replays on youtube and on here, and I haven't seen the slo-mo version that everyone has been talking about??!!! What I realized is how AWESOME she was in this race!!! After looking at it several times. Let me put it the way I saw it.. BTW... no excuses...


    She was dancing like she had never danced before. She was surrounded by flashing cameras and more noise than she had ever heard. She had Sheriff's all around her, everything was different.

Post Parade:

    When it came time to walk to the track, the Sheriffs and other security personal were trying to shush people because, they were being so loud and rowdy. She was still dancing and doing her thing. The more they cheered the more she danced for them. I even saw a few new dance moves! Perhaps, the cha-cha?! While going through the post announcement, when it came time to announce her, she was still dancing. The crowd Howled !!! Zenyatta, Zenyatta, We Love You Zenyatta, We Believe in You Zenyatta, Zenyatta!!!! The more they cheered, the more she bowed and danced. She did her thing and was so very happy!

To look at her, when she's on the muscle and ready to stomp or, when she's at the barn relaxing and being the Queen., she is out of this world! A perfect specimen of her species! Totally equal in balance: " Head, eyes, neck, shoulder depth, heart girth, back, legs etc." Not only that but: " Heart, Soul, Willingness, Determination, Stamina, Speed, and most of all, having A Caring And Loving Family!" What more can a Queen ask for??



   She broke slow as usual but jumped into a wall of 4-5 horses. Once she got going, you could see her bobbing her head back and forth and Mike trying to work with her. First time going by the grandstands, she looked hopeless and lost. Almost like she was saying: "What in the world is stinging my eyes and hitting me in the head?" Then, she got further behind ( that call was 18-20 lenghts), until Mike started to sing his "special song to her,( yah he was urging her)" then, she said, O.K., My BFF, let's go! What Gear do you want?!

On the back side:

  She started to go, but, still having issues with the deep track and dirt being slung in her face. She stayed determined! Mike asked for another gear and she produced but, only to be behind a big wall of horses.

Stretch Run:

   Then, while looking for room, Quality Road wanted to show her his hindquarters (not interested). Another obstacle, brakes were checked! Where do we go now? Ok, we have only one option: Zen took it while Mike was thinking it! She tip toed inside then danced to the outside. Then, Mike asked her for more, he was singing very loud to her now!! She was listening to him while gaining on Blame, She dug and dug, determined! With every single stride, she was gaining and gaining with so much ground to make up!


   Blame beat the undefeated, Zenyatta in a photo finish. By a head bob.

I say kudos to the connections of Blame and Congratulations on your Classic win! You were the luckiest connections around and had the luckiest of days! Congrats!

That being said:

   Zenyatta is and always will be the Queen and in History for everything that she has accomplished in her three years! In my opinion, she did something no other horse in history could do; Besides Big Red and Slew! First is her resume' , her victories, her number of victories in a row, her number of Grade I victories and being the "FIRST FILLY/MARE TO WIN THE CLASSIC!" Then, coming back after a brief retirement and winning all of her Grade I races: 5! Then, she came into the Classic this year. The "Team" had so much pressure on them and that always carries over to the animal. That team is so very special and magical. Just like the Amazon Mare: ZENYATTA! If you think about how far back she was, in the deep and tiring dirt ( evidence of prior dirt races and QR etc), how in the world would she be-able to make up almost 20 lengths??? Then, BOOM, there she was!!! I think that Blame was surprised and I think Zen was too! He was like: "Where did you come from?" She was like: "Why are you still here, and you're kinda cute!"

Yah, she was beaten at the wire but, all in all, how in the world can you knock that performance? Isn't that what racing is all about? Again, Steve, Thank you...

10 Nov 2010 3:25 AM

Zenyatta's class stretches beyond comprehension. I just heard Mike Smith being interviewed saying that she didn't handle the track. That's the thing about Churchill, you either like it or you don't, there's no in between. Skip Away finished up the track because he couldn't handle the surface. Zenyatta was able to overcome her obvious dislike for the surface and was a stride or two away from catching Blame, who absolutely loved Churchill Downs. I stand behind my belief that Zenyatta is capable of beating anyone, past and present, if she gets a decent trip.

10 Nov 2010 4:20 AM
Karen in NY


Thank you so much for this beautifully written article that captures the heart and sole of Zenyatta and Blame and all of their connections. It is such a beautiful tribute to both of them and I thank you for bringing it to light. It was a remarkable race . One that had me gripped with a gamut of emotions before the start. I watched excitedly and nervously as Zenyatta danced out to the track. Knowing that she had never ran there on that surface and at that time of night with the lights on made me quiver inside for her just praying she would be safe. She had to face so many new sights and sounds that night and she rose to the challenge with such grace. She simply was breathtaking and her valiant race in defeat falls nothing short of brilliance. Did you see her ears pricked up as she met her mark in Blame at the wire? Simply amazing. She won in my mind and in the minds of millions and I am so proud for the owners of Blame. Steve you have written a beautiful piece about one of best races of all time. Thank you for being you :)

10 Nov 2010 4:28 AM

Thanks, Steve, for that beautiful tribute to the magnificent Zenyatta (with appropriate recognition of Blame too).  Your article on this year's Classic is, most fittingly, one for the ages!

10 Nov 2010 5:18 AM


10 Nov 2010 5:49 AM

Thank you Steve.You are the only writer who brings so much emotion to a story.For the first time since her defeat you've managed to bring me to tears.Not of sadness but of pride.I needed to release these overwhelming rollercoaster of emotions.It was a good cry,I feel better now:-)

10 Nov 2010 6:01 AM

Thanks Steve, reading your article made it easier for me to accept the loss.  Blame was the horse I said would be her main competition and I knew that he would get the jump on her.  She is capable of being much much closer (the 2008 LS with HystericalLady), and that's what I envisioned how Mike and John would play the race...but things didn't turn out that way.  I hope Mike S. takes it easy on himself, there's no one to blame.  It is what horse racing is all about.

It's in the past, it still hurts a bit but I'm now going to focus my energy  celebrating her, not just for what she has accomplished for the sport but just for being her.  I'm going to watch her videos when she dances in front of the crowds, her typical "stop and pose" when there's people with cameras around.  I'm going to try and see if I can visit her in HP before she goes to Kentucky, hopefully they'll allow fans to see her before she goes.

Zenyatta may not have the perfect record anymore but when it comes to writing an article or a story, you're still perfect, you haven't written one article that didn't impress people.  Thank you for the stories.

10 Nov 2010 6:02 AM

Perfect.  I appreciate what you said about both horses.  You really make it about the horses, and your readers.  Thank you a thousand times.

10 Nov 2010 6:05 AM

Great article I hope she runs 1 more time she deserves to go out in winners circle. Plus I think it will put Mikey at ease.

10 Nov 2010 6:55 AM

Wow Steve,

Amazing yet again. The most amazing part was the stark contrast after the race. Where the winning stable is basically "walking off into the darkness, virtually ignored" but happy to do it. They can make a movie out of both of these stories, one about the farms problems and hopes, then comes blame and lifts their spirits. And another about Zenyattas plight to be the greatest and come up a head short. WOW. I think you can write the screenplays for both!!!! :)

thanks again

10 Nov 2010 7:23 AM

Steve- What a beautiful tribute to these noble and gallant horses!  I was at the Classic and have never experienced such an exiting few moments seeing Zenyatta perform her brilliance.  Hats off to Blame as well.

10 Nov 2010 7:42 AM


This was my 9th straight Breeders Cup attended, and I sat high above the 16th pole watching the finish of the Classic.  The aftermath found me trying to find words to describe the moment, always failing.  Thank you for finding them for me.  Nothing more need be said.  A mere HOTY award pales next to the impact Zenyatta and Blame, and their epic battle, has and will have on racing.

10 Nov 2010 7:43 AM
Zen's Auntie

Thanks, So much Steve Haskin. You once again show us You really get this How much of a racing "fan"  you are deep down, its your heart, your love and it comes through in your  writings.  Another outstanding peice. oh where are my tissues?

God bless all the horses!

10 Nov 2010 7:47 AM

Very nice wrap-up of the Classic, Steve.  Zenyatta was wonderful to watch.  Her pre-race antics were pure joy and great fun.  In retrospect, she was likely undone by her handlers who seemed intent on protecting her too much during her career; being too conservative and not taking enough chances, not letting her compete more, or on dirt.  (But, again, maybe she would not have won so many times had she run on dirt against quality fields.  It's quite different from synthetic tracks.  To come from very last and win every time on dirt just doesn't happen.)  She proved, arguably, however that she may be the best filly/mare ever, although her lack of tactical speed may make it impossible to say she's better than a Ruffian or a Rachel Alexandra on dirt.  Her style was one dimensional which served her very well on synthetic tracks in California (and in her two previous races against very small undistinguishable fields on dirt), but not in her very last race against a large field of quality horses on dirt.  She had too much to overcome.  It was all new to her.  I think comparing her to the all-time greats of the sport doesn't quite work.  She's certainly as good as Blame, that's for sure.  But Blame isn't a great racehorse.  So there you have it.  She was marvelous and we love her, but....

10 Nov 2010 8:01 AM
mike rullo


who do you think is horse of the year??

10 Nov 2010 8:02 AM

As always, nobody does it better, Steve.  You captured the essence that is Zenyatta.  And thanks for "setting the record straight" about Claiborne Farm and Seth Hancock, regarding out of context comments after the race.  I have been a long time fan of that wonderful farm and the people behind it.  Also, thank you for not mentioning HOY in your article.  It is a great honor but sometimes an individual surpasses the trophy in this sport much like athletes in other sports. May Claiborne see a huge boost with Blame and may the Mosses see wonderful foals from Zenyatta.

10 Nov 2010 8:10 AM
Zen's Auntie

Chris I don’t feel like anyone is taking anything away from Blame (in THIS column anyway) or Big Red.  

I did see that Belmont live on TV and I have to be honest with you, knowing he was sweeping the crown, and my little girls heart breaking for Sham (still my underdog favorite at the time) it was Definitely an exciting race and (no contest for any of them) It was a crushing I did not expect and the likes Of which I have NEVER seen again. It just exalted the Big Red Horse to another level. By the end of it I was screaming for him just crying and saying “look at him go!” over and over.  It was a moment that took you to “OMG this horse is a Phenomena!”

The stretch battle for the BCC 2010 was the same kind of feeling for me and cemented that affirmation in my heart for Z.

Even on a 4 inch screen on simulcast (BTW God Bless TVG Breeders Cup simulcast!!!) on the side of the road just outside of Craters of the Moon National Monument, hoping I didn't lose signal this BCC race was the best I have ever watched.  

Perhaps it’s a case of the last beer I drank is the best (or the worst as the case may be) as its fresh in my feeble mind but my heart has a really good memory.  One Horses Greatness does in no way diminish another’s.  There is room in my heart for all the horses.

10 Nov 2010 8:21 AM

Im so tired of hearing people question the jocks judgment or saying she got a bad ride. Have these people ever rode a horse in a race? Can these people please share with us, HOW Mike was suppose to ride Z? Z didn't like the dirt being thrown at her. Anything he could have done differently would NOT have assured a victory and is pure speculation on the critics part, who again- has never road a race.

Steve- you poured a lot into this article. Thanks again. Some of us can only live vicariously through your gifted words- and you never cease to please.  

10 Nov 2010 8:32 AM


I have eagerly awaited your words concerning the Classic. Your writing is truly magnificent! It reminds us that every horse has a story. Every horse is special in their own way. I have been reading on other blogs that Blame will not be remembered. Well, I knew who he is and I will never forget him or any horse I have seen race.

As for Zenyatta, she proved her greatness, courage, and uniqueness were real. I am not a Zenyatta Zealot. I was actually pulling for Lookin At Lucky to win so he could revenge himself from his horrible Kentucky Derby trip. He did improve his placing so I was glad for him. Zenyatta's race was one for the Ages. Others have said how she brought their friends to the sport as interested fans when nothing else has been able to. She is a marvelous horse as is Blame. My thanks to all the connections of every horse that ran Breeders' Cup Weekend. I look at Breeders' Cup races as a showcase of champions in all divisions. Blame won the Classic. Zenyatta won my heart. I am sorry I have no shiny trophy to give her. If I did, I would also present a trophy to you,Steve Haskin, for the most soul-touching, poetic, and classy turf writing in the world!

10 Nov 2010 8:45 AM

Mr. Haskin,

Your wordsmithing is so wonderful.


She IS magic. Well put.

I will never ever forget that stretch run. My God!!

10 Nov 2010 8:45 AM

I have never thought a horse was less a great horse if they lost to a great horse in a great race.

10 Nov 2010 8:46 AM
Sam S

Mr. Haskin, thank you so much for an outstanding story. I've read almost all the stuff about this year's BC Classic and for much of Zenyatta's career, as well as knowing about Claiborne and the Hancocks for a long time, and you handled all sides of the story so well.It goes right to the top of my file on stories about racing. Again thanks so much.

10 Nov 2010 8:49 AM

Steve, just to let you know, my 19 year old grandson went to Marine boot camp 3 months ago, asking me not to write him about race horses.  Well, I had a captive audience, and your articles are so beautifully written, so with every letter I added some of your blogs on Secretariat, Seattle Slew (especially), and Reckless, (not your blog but a great Marine).  When I spoke with him last night, he was actually excited about these horses.  He loved reading what you had to say, and has grown to respect and admire the race horse.  Thank you for converting another generation.  I will save this article.  It was the penultimate description of the Classic, and I will send it to him next month, while he's stationed at 29 Palms. Just maybe, I'll get him To Santa Anita track while he's there.  

You're as poetic in your vision and prose as the BC Classic was majestic and the thrill of a lifetime.  Thank you so much.

10 Nov 2010 8:50 AM

Mr. Haskin,

Thank you for the wonderful article you wrote; I have gone through a box of Kleenex while reading it!  My husband and I were there at Churchill Downs to witness history being made; Zenyatta broke my heart by a nose but she will forever be in my heart as "Horse of the Century"! All connections of Zenyatta, thank you so much for all you have done and meant to the fans; you are the classiest, most gracious people in the business! I wish Blame and his connections well; so much rich Claiborne history to recall.

10 Nov 2010 8:53 AM

Maybe the Past is Prologue!

A combination of the winner and second place finisher would begin a chapter that might never end.

10 Nov 2010 8:58 AM

Just watched it again and still can't believe how much ground she made up. I am sure one day I will watch it to see what everyone else was doing, but for now? My head is still spinning! Mr. Haskin, thanks for filling in the blanks.

10 Nov 2010 9:02 AM
Niagara Nick

I was standing or should I say, I was pressed along the fence just past the finish line, and when Zenyatta went past the first time, I have to say she was about 20 lengths in arrears from the pack and appeared to be climbing, really struggling, not getting a hold of the track, I thought Smith was going to pull her up. I said to myself, "she has no shot today" To go from that point in the race to losing it by inches was truly amazing. If a person didn't like or respect Zenyatta before the race,(and there are some I'm sure), they had to have the utmost respect for her after the race. She REALLY impressed me with that run. Also, Mike Smith did nothing wrong, he rode her like he always did in her previuos races, only this race she was truly uncharacteristically far, far back at the start. However, she still came charging, only this time she was against a horse that was able to hold off her ferocious late charge. It was no upset, Blame figured strongly, and if you take Zenyatta out of the race, Blame would have been the betting favorite. Both animals ran their A race, the final outcome could have gone either way, only it went against the way most people wanted. The race is named the Classic, it truly was that indeed.

10 Nov 2010 9:05 AM

Steve, your article touched my heart.  Many writers have thoughts on the Classic but your words gave meaning to the great sporting event we were lucky enough to witness. Horses like Queen Z come along once during a lifetime.  To watch that gallent mare cover the ground was like watching a sunset while listening to great music. She is an inspiration!  Not only is she a great competitor, she has a great mind.  If she is fortunate enough to get in foal and passes on her talent for running plus the mind her foals will be priceless. My guess is as long as Jerry and Ann Moss are alive Zenyatta and her baies will not be for sale. Thank you so much to her connections for letting the racing public enjoy this special horse.

10 Nov 2010 9:15 AM
Judith A Baxter

For all the reasons written above, Zenyatta should be Horse of the Year. No other horse has her overall wining record. Churchill Downs and the BC would not have had the attendance nor the additional millions of dollars spent, nor would racing have had millions of additional ESPN viewers watching the BC but for Zenyatta. Not to mention her incredible race perfomrance in the Classic. Yes, Blame won the race, but he won by the smallest of margins, but the race belonged to Zenyatta

If the racing powers that be do not vote Zenyatta Horse of the Year, racing will lose millions of fans, old and new  and racing will lose credibility. It is only right fair and deserved that Zenyatta is Horse of the Year  

10 Nov 2010 9:30 AM

Thank you for a lovely and fair, balanced article, Steve.

I have always admired Zenyatta, but never been a Zenyatta zealot---not because she isn't a great horse, but because that homebased campaign on synthetics against less-than-the-greatest competition didn't allow for much real proof. (If it were simply about loving a helluva mare, that's simple---got that down; I mean going where the races are, looking for the best competition, overcoming bad racing luck, etc., all those tests of a champion.) Although the Classic marred her record, I have to thank her connections for finally giving her that opportunity.  What I saw on Saturday, when she raced in an event that didn't set up just as she liked it, was phenomenal.  Who needs a perfect record?  What was really meaningful was the quality and guts---and, yes, speed---she showed in the Breeders Cup.  THAT was classic, and she is exceptional.

Take nothing away from Blame; he is a great race horse and he deserved his win because he earned it. Congratulations to Claiborne Farm too (people who say they were smug simply aren't plugged into reality---no one, anywhere, is smug about beating racing's biggest star, because everyone loves her).

Just wish we could have Horse of the Year and Most Valuable Player too.  That's really what Zenyatta is - racing's most valuable player.

10 Nov 2010 9:49 AM

Steve, I commented on how great a Horse Racing writer you are on your piece about the great Seattle Slew, but this article even surpasses that. This was one the toughest fields for a BC classic in recent memory and yet she came up inches short. How this horse didn't win the horse of the year last year is a travesty. She is so superior to Rachel Alexandra. If RA was in this race, she would have been the one to finish dead last. Again, a MAGNIFICENT ARTICLE. You are a true pleasure to read.

10 Nov 2010 9:55 AM

From looking at your photo, Zenyatta won! It is amazing to see whatever side you were on that track the results were different.

I like your side better.

Never have I seen a horse have the guts and determination as Zenyatta on Saturday. Even though many would have spit the bit being that far back from the start, she kept trying. Zig,zag here and there, waiting for Mike to drop goggles, getting stopped by a tiring QR and still having to muster up courage to go farther after daylight prevailed. Her past runnings being on the outside she could see her competition ahead. Being in that mess,it was more difficult for her. As she started to go right and then Mike turned her to the left. What a performance. She deserves HOTY since this loss was more about a guttsy performance right down to the wire.  

 I feel sorry for Seeking the Gold. He must be in that lost pasture with Boundary and Lure. No brushings or personal care. Yet, without him and Danzig (sire of Blame's dam and grandsire of Goldie) that farm would be nothing. Remember, both were their most expensive sires to breed to.

Mr. Hancock lost creidibility to me when he said, "she had plenty of time to pass us and she didn't." When did she have time to pass Blame when she was coming from California just about to come close of catching up. Plenty of time is when you are head and head coming down the stretch. That was not the way it went. Nothing against Blame, but owners need to be realistic with their comments.

Thanks Steve for yet another in depth look at a race for the ages.

10 Nov 2010 10:05 AM
Shelby's Best Pal

Your article is the best one I have read about this year's Classic and I have read quite a few.  It's the only one that actually takes away some of the hurt.  Thank you.

10 Nov 2010 10:12 AM

Wonderful recap and story. I think this was a great race one of better fields for the classic. I still feel and felt the same before the race that Zenayatta deserves HOY. I think it is going to be a hard battle this year for HOY. I believe that Zenyatta won more Grade 1 races this year. Every year its always a case for the HOY who wins the BC. But this year voters should look at the long run picture. How many people tuned in to watch the BC this year? Why they wanted to see history is someone going to remember Blame other then the horse that beat Z. Is there a movie that will be about Blame down the road? Will non racing fans maybe be interest more if they see HOY Z someone they watched? I think the answer is yes. No one watches racing in my company other then me. But everyone asked me about Z this year. Every once in awhile my company takes an interest in racing and usually its cos a horse that is undefeated or a good story line that brings interest. I think had Zenyatta lost by a few lengths you can say ok Blame hands down for HOY but a few more feet I think Zenyatta would have won. The racing gods were not on her side this time but I still am a fan and look forward to seeing her offspring and perhaps a match race with Rachel's offspring. Not to take anything away from Blame but I still was more amazed with Zenyatta who was said would not handle "dirt" ran the most impressive race that day to lose only by inches


10 Nov 2010 10:14 AM

Nice article. tastefully done just as we've come to expect from you.  I think that this was good for the sport and was glad to be a part of it.

You mentioned LIFE AT TEN's race.  I'd have to say that if we ARE TRYING to bring new fans to our sport, running horses in major races who we know are not right might not be the best thing for the sport.  Pletcher and his jockey, Jonny V didn't do themselves or the sport any favors with her or Quality Road.  I think that if we want to keep "New Blood" interested in our sort then tracks are going to have to provide refunds for horses who don't finish races or at the very least, replace them with the race-time favorite as they do with a late scratch at some tracks.   Seeing the amount of money wagered on Life and Quality and the seeing their performances will drive people away from this sport in droves.

10 Nov 2010 10:22 AM
Linda in Texas

brburton: with all due respect to you fellow Texan, kindly allow me to share as a co: "biggest fan in Texas." I think our state is large enough to handle 2 "biggest Steve Haskin fans." :)

Cannot get enough of the big race and went back early this morning and re read Steve Haskins' article posted August 24, 2010, "Countdown to the Cup: And Then Came Blame"

which gives an insight into Blame and his training and personality which i had not remembered. I think it will help with accepting Blame and respect for the breeding process which produced this fine stallion. He is bred for strength of bone and i think that is what the emphasis should be instead of speedy fragile boned horses. Simply stated but so involved.

The article made me respect the ultimate fact that Blame was so gutsy and of course Zenyatta was right there with her own 'stamina,'

which was nothing short of a miracle.

I do not mean to be thinking out loud, but i felt this was an interesting article as are all of Steve's and it gives a little more perspective and it makes for good reading to meld with the present article.

Thank you Steve, the mold was broken when you took pen in hand and started writing about horses and horse racing. And i know i am speaking for everyone on this blog who appreciates the human side to the horse side that you emanate so perfectly.

An aside note: Zenyatta's Number was the number "8" and the BCC Race of course was Race No. 11, add up the numbers.

10 Nov 2010 10:23 AM

A beautiful piece of writing, thank you.  That's the bones of a fine movie script.  Perfect is boring.  Now Zenyatta's story is one to grab the heart.

10 Nov 2010 10:29 AM

Thank you, Steve, for taking the sting out of Zenyatta's "loss."  

I've thought the best "revenge" would be to breed Zenyatta to Blame (or are they too closely related?).  Maybe something fantastic would result, although I'm fully aware that great race mares rarely reproduce their greatness.

10 Nov 2010 10:34 AM
steve from st louis

How lucky we all are that racing has these stories to talk about, argue about, dream about. What an exceptional year for horse racing. We saw more column inches and more air time for all the right reasons and that can only help the long-term health of our sport.

And Steve, you proved again that when the racing gods dropped a gem in your lap, you sure knew how to polish it.

10 Nov 2010 10:42 AM

Mr. Haskins:

Thank you for the great article.  Kudos to Blame - very game horse - but Zenyatta reigns as queen and should be HOY.  The trip was certainly less than perfect and Mike Smith did everything he could with what he had.  Zenyatta managed to blow past all of the boys she supposedly couldn't run with (according to the experts)and it was clear to me that if she had two more of her magnificent strides she would have beaten Blame as well.  Very, very exciting.  I hope we get to see her again but I'm sure the Mosses and Sherrifs will do exactly the right thing for Zenyatta which is what makes them so great!

10 Nov 2010 11:04 AM
Karen in Texas

Beautifully written piece, Steve! That race was indeed one for the ages!

10 Nov 2010 11:06 AM
Between Friends

Everything you write is so incredibly beautiful. And the photos you shared with us of Zenyatta go so perfectly with your words. To see those photos after reading your column and the wonderful comments that accompany it provides a very complete picture of what will be remembered as one of the very best times in the history of the sport.

10 Nov 2010 11:08 AM
I Davis

Wonderful, stirring recap of the greatest race I've witnessed in a very long time. Although I'm a Rachel fan, I truly appreciate the greatness of Zenyatta, and I believe she has had the very best of trainers......they don't come much better than John. Shirreffs.  I'm hoping the Z is rewarded for her remarkable performance in the BC and receives the long awaited HOTY........she truly deserves it.

10 Nov 2010 11:15 AM

Steve,  I could not wait to hear what you had to say and I was not disappointed; you said it to a T.  Your words captured it all so beautifully.  I was there amongst the crowd and it was so surreal.. that was the first time I saw her live. I drove hundreds of miles to see her and was enthralled by her magnificence! My heart is aching like I have never experienced and I shed tears but you know,  your article helped me , it did.    Thanks again for the great story.

10 Nov 2010 11:20 AM

Slew, Happy Birthday to our USMC sons! ♥

10 Nov 2010 11:24 AM


You could teach your colleagues a lot about being positive, fair, and impartial. A well balanced account singing the praises of both sides, a breath of fresh air. Blame thanks you, Zenyatta thanks you, and I along with the rest of the demotic fans thank you. I hope detractors on both sides can finally put things in perspective and wipe the moue off their face and enjoy and celebrate both horses. We all have a preference for whatever reason, but when we come together in celebration, we are healthier and happier. This account finally displaced the ullage missing from the other stories/blogs.

THANK YOU again.

10 Nov 2010 11:30 AM

Hello friends.  I hope you had a good Breeder´s Cup weekend, I sincerely don´t.  I started my Saturday with a lot of excitement and full of great emotions, I was going to see the greatest racehorse of all time in her last race and my 2 year old filly with the name “La Diputada”, was the second choice in one of the two 160k main events in our Mexican Breeder´s Cup (COPA CRIADORES MEXICANOS).  Went to my barn early in the morning and had breakfast with my trainer. Like about 2 p.m., Mexico´s time, I return to the Hipodromo de Las Americas to watch, in a sports book located in the third floor, the juveniles, impressive Uncle Mo!!, then I waited there alone, (my girlfriend and a lot of friends where in a restaurant with view to the track waiting for me). I saw the GREAT Goldikova, I have no words to describe this mare, she is really incredible, the second best racehorse in the world and already one of my all-time greats for sure. Then came the moment I´ve been waiting all the year, saw her dancing, enjoying and giving all the fans a show that I don´t think we will EVER see again.  I can´t express what I felt during the race,  desperation, hope, joy and a sadness that I´ve felt very few times in my life. I had tears in my eyes, the room was full of old gamblers that really didn´t know the story behind Zenyatta and I thought I was the only one with a heart broken, I wasn´t.  An old horse trainer called Arturo was also crying,  he is a legend in Mexico with about 50 years in the business, he told me that I didn´t know how much he loves Zenyatta.  In those moments I really really hated, (right now I know that without reason) Mike Smith, this trainer told me that a race is of circumstances, and in that day, those favored Blame.  Well I was devastated and went down with my friends to watch the races of the Copa Criadores, all were stakes.  Like about 9 p.m. was the time of the stellar race, my race. La Diputada is a very beautiful 2 year old filly; she is very tall and leggy.  Her father is a stallion called Bold Legacy, he is a son of Seattle Slew out of Cara Rafaela, son he is half to Bernardini, he is a new stallion with a good future in Mexico.  I was happy and with a lot of hope, in the paddock she looked excellent and with great confidence, everyone was whishing me luck and sure we were going to win!!  She runs from the back and had a great kick, well I don´t know what happened, she didn´t run, I could blame the jockey and the trainer, but it is simple: THE THINGS NOT ALWAYS ARE LIKE THEY ARE MEANT TO BE”.  She was fifth.  I again was devastated, but with the hope of a new Mexican yearling that I recently bought in an auction that will run in 2011, he is called Cochiloco, you can search him in pedigreequery, he has a nice inbreeding to Storm Bird and Alydar.  This mix of emotions is what makes this sport the greatest.  From the bottom of my heart, thank you Zenyatta…!!   Let’s go forward my friends, good things await for all of us, we have the passion and the love, that is all we need!

10 Nov 2010 11:54 AM


I had a weird mix of emotions going into the Classic.  First, I have been affectionately following Quality Road during his 3 and 4 year old campaigns and watched how he has caught some really bad breaks.  Then, getting post #1 I thought, "Dang, he just can't get the perfect set up."

Secondly, I thought I'll love it if Lookin at Lucky, Blame or Zenyatta win this thing.  Lucky was set up perfectly coming into stretch and my anticipation was through the roof!  Then Blame burst through his gap and exploded from the pack and that was out of this world!  "Wait, the big girl is starting to roll!!!"

I don't think I've ever had such a "YEA!!!" moment in Blame's victory combined with such a SADNESS in Zenyatta's defeat in one race before!!!  

But then an overwhelming admiration came over me for Zenyatta in her defeat which prompted me to think that this performance will probably put her over the top in the HOY voting.  I wished Blame could have received the celebration he deserved but who can blame those in attendance as I guessed their emotions were amplified compared to mine watching on tv.

I wish they'd take Z to Dubai for an encore because she'd be America's representative but who knows.

All I can say is WOW for your article and WOW for the Classic!!!

10 Nov 2010 12:02 PM

The 2010 Classic was a race for the ages and defeat immortalized Zenyatta. In perspective, Blame's racing career cannot be mentioned in the same breath as hers...winner of the 2008 Ladies Classic, 2009 Classic and second by inches in the 2010 Classic.  Come on Seth, if you think your horse is that good, don’t retire him and let him run in 2011 and show the fans and more importantly, the newly acquired fan that Zenyatta so graciously steered back to the track.  Make Bull Hancock proud instead of immediately using center stage as a venue to market Blame’s stud career.  At America’s biggest venue your comments were distastefully inappropriate and leaned toward solicitation for potential gain rather that a cherished victory. No wonder our fan base hasn’t grown.

10 Nov 2010 12:04 PM

Now it's off to Uncle Mo, Awesome Feather, and the like!

Perhaps we'll see an undefeated AF take on the boys in the Derby.

Perhaps we'll see Uncle Mo square off with Frankel at some point.


10 Nov 2010 12:11 PM

That was truly an eloquent piece and apt description of a memorable Breeder's Cup.  Zenyatta's near miss moved me to tears even though I hit a bigger PK 4 with Blame holding on.  I was truly disappointed that the big mare didn't retire undefeated.  I loved the comparison of Zenyatta's loss with Slew's courageous effort in the JCGC.  Z's legacy is secure and your words put it in perspective.  Well done.

10 Nov 2010 12:11 PM

Dang, Steve! I'm writing this with tears in my eyes. Beautiful article. Huge Zenyatta fan here, so it's no wonder you brought me to tears. Thank you for the blog and summing up the 'Classic and what went on afterwards. Most of all, thanks for being the class act you always are. Hail Zenyatta! She's the best race horse I've seen in my lifetime and I will never be able to figure out anyone can't show her the respect she deserves and enjoy the ride she and Mike Smith have given racing fans. Ah well, it's their loss, not mine.

10 Nov 2010 12:37 PM
Cara (a voice for Zenyatta)

After crying, blaming Mike, feeling so depressed since I was thinking everybody is just going to say she couldn't cut it, I read this article today. All I can say is MAGNIFICENT ARTICLE!!! It is the BEST recap of "the race" that I have read. It could not have been written any better & I have to admit Blame was one of the horses I was concerned about taking the race. In an earlier comment I made this week I did not give Blame the credit he was due even though Zenyatta will be the horse I love & has brought so many people happiness!! ZENYATTA WILL GO DOWN IN HISTORY AS ONE-OF-A-KIND JUST AS SECRETARIAT DID & WILL ALWAYS BE MY PERSONAL FAVORITE, BUT, FORGIVE ME BLAME FOR NOT GIVING YOU THE CREDIT YOU DESERVE! I knew you were a threat when I saw that bloodline!! As for Zenyatta, I really don't think she's going to miss any sleep or meals (or become depressed like idiot humans such as myself); I think she will have a long, happy life & produce some heck of a "babies" as Blame will!! Here's a thought: how about a foal out of Zenyatta sired by Blame!! YOU MADE ME PROUD GIRL!!! I apologize to any criticism of Mike Smith; I sure as hell couldn't have done any better!!

10 Nov 2010 12:42 PM

What a superb article! I eagerly awaited your comment on the Breeders Cup Classic. You expressed so well the feelings of many thoroughbred racing fans. Thanks for your thoughtful insights.

10 Nov 2010 12:46 PM

I was there. Steve, once again you have captured the essence of a moving story in a way that no one else can. Thank you.

10 Nov 2010 12:56 PM

Thanks again for another memorable & enlightening piece of journalism that "transcends" the ranks of all other turf writing.  Seth Hancock should hire you to do his P.R.  I was trying to come to terms with, accept & appreciate the amazing race I had just witnessed & the efforts of Blame & Zenyatta.  Then came the Seth Hancock interview & I just wanted to explode.  You spoke up fairly & eloquently for all. If Queen Z has been the #1 ambassador for racing in recent years, you have surely been, & hopefully will continue to be the #1 keeper of the flame for many years to come.  Please don't head "out to pasture" anytime soon!

10 Nov 2010 1:19 PM
Dave A

Steve-Others have already said it better than I can, but thank you for your wonderful article. If one of our major networks was as fair and balanced as your article, we perhaps have all the bickering we do in this country. I appreciate the fact that you let us know relevant information about the horses and their human connections, which most of us as fans simply are not privy to. If there is ever a collection of your columns published, I for one would enjoy it immensely. Keep up the great writing, and thank you.

10 Nov 2010 1:20 PM

Thanks Steve for writing a balanced article. It is VERY sad to see people on both sides of the argument trying to diminish either of these wonderful animals. All they do is go out there and lay their bodies down everytime and deserve nothing less than our utmost respect. You can go and question connections all you want, they are human, but don't knock the horses. They just do what they do. Zen was never greater than in defeat and Blame showed real heart on Saturday. Thanks again Steve.

10 Nov 2010 1:25 PM

Since the Classic I've been thinking about why can't I just get past this angst surrounding the race and Zenyatta's loss.

After reading your column I realize now it is not just about her defeat in the Classic, the Horse of the Year debate, or the many conflicting opinions by writers and fans regarding Zenyatta and Blame.

Steve, when you said it was her last curtain call I got my answer.  I will miss the joy of watching her antics, her stare out into the crowd, her poses, her stature and the powerfully long strides she possesses.

I will Mike Smith and Zenyatta as a remarkable partnership.  I will miss John Sherriffs adoration and gratitude for training such a rare intelligent personality who is one of the greats.  I will miss the Mosses' understanding of how important it was for the fans to be near their remarkable Queen.

I will miss Zenyatta and as Mike Smith said, it hurts.

10 Nov 2010 1:26 PM

Thank you Steve for writing a wonderful story of a great day for horse racing and allowing us to celebrate the performance of two wonder horses instead of having to tear one of them down.  I so appreciate it, loved it and was worried I was not going to see one.

You have an amazing talent and thank you for sharing it.

10 Nov 2010 1:28 PM
Tracy W.

I've watched this mare since her first Apple Blossom--her fourth race. Long before the bandwagon, long before the dancing, and long before the publicity. Every race the same, heart-attack inducing burst of adrenaline.

I've had the great pleasure of seeing her in person, and the honor of watching her grow. I recall that she began her little dance not long before her Ladies' Classic victory. My mom pointed it out, and I shook my head and said, "well that's new". We thought, at first, that she was just anxious. I worried over it at first, but it turned out to just be her, in all her royal glory.

Of all the races I've seen, I have to say this was her greatest performance. A fitting finale. She lost to an exceptional horse, to fantastic people, and in front of an adoring crowd. I can gladly say I was in the stands for her final race--if it is, indeed, her final--and I can tell my children and my grandchildren that I saw the Amazon fly for the last time.

We met on Friday morning in the media room, Mr. Haskin. I was the shy little blonde girl hiding behind my mother clutching my hot chocolate. Meeting you was an honor, just as watching the queen run was. It was a great weekend.

Thank you for this beautiful tribute to the Queen of racing and her greatest challenger.

10 Nov 2010 1:39 PM
Eric rickard

I totally agree. The most amazing horse I have ever seen.

Fired every time. I am still in disbelief.

10 Nov 2010 1:42 PM

What happen to Quality Road, the biggest let down of The breeders cup apart from Zenyatta. He did nothing and the pace was soft for top caliber horse, so that excuse that they were flying is bogus. Something was wrong with hime that day, Zenyatta was awesome, she made up 20 lenghts, amazing!! wow!! Hope she runs one more time!

10 Nov 2010 1:43 PM

Great article Steve!  I always look forward to your articles.  Thank you so much!

Also, thanks to everyone else for keeping the postings free of the nasty HOY debates going on other places.  Very refreshing!

10 Nov 2010 1:48 PM

Mr. Haskins, Beautiful article as always!  Of course, I did skip over the comments by the smug Hancock.  Blame is certainly a wonderful horse, but...

10 Nov 2010 1:49 PM

It was a wonderful article, Steve, as usual.  I do think Zenyatta deserves HOY.  She answered every question they put to her.  She ran on dirt, she ran against the boys, she traveled to a different state.  She lost this race only because of the trip.  I don't think any blame should be on Mike Smith.  He made the best decisions he could at the time.  Hindsight what it is, I'm sure he wishes he had made a different decision, but with split seconds to react, no one could have done better.  One more stride and Zenyatta would have won.  She won more grade 1 races than Blame and certainly has a better lifetime record than Blame.  Her one loss was more impressive that Blame's loss.  If HOY is just about who won the Classic, then Zenyatta should have been HOY last year.  I will miss Zenyatta.  I appreciate the Moss's for keeping her in training this year.  I also would love to see her race again, but that's mostly because I think she was cheated.  It would be unbelievable if she won the Dubai World Cup.  I do understand that a race horse can't run forever without eventually losing that top form due to old age if nothing else.  Kudos also to Goldikova's owners for keeping her in training.  Horse racing needs it's super stars.  Zenyatta, as far as I'm concerned, you are one of the greatest racehorses of all time.  Thanks for the memories!  Good luck with whatever your future holds.  You will always be loved.

10 Nov 2010 2:33 PM
Mike Sekulic

Mr. Haskin, you have really outdone yourself this time! You always write great stories, but this one is the best, deepest, most touching one. And thank you for being reasonable in your assessment of ZENYATTA, she deserves nothing but the highest praise. She is one of the greatest horses of all time, and she's certainly the best filly or mare of all time. I can't imagine that she can be robbed of Horse of the Year for three straight years, can you?

10 Nov 2010 2:36 PM
just me

Steve, I had to think about your article for a while before commenting.  I really appreciate your story with all of the background and detail on Blame's connections.  Some of Seth Hancock's comments after the race seemed completely tone deaf.  Your story helped to put those comments in context which made them understandable.  

I do appreciate what Claiborne stands for and wish them the best.  Racing needs people like them; people who value the horse.

I have been a big fan of Blame all year.  I loved his Whitney. He is a wonderful horse and his connections are rightfully proud.  I wish that we could celebrate Blame more and I regret that he was overshadowed on Saturday. Too bad we won't have the opportunity to see them all more next year and build a rivalry for the ages.

I have been a big fan of Zenyatta for the last three years and have had the privilege to see her run three times including her two BC wins at Santa Anita.  I think that one of the reasons that Zenyatta's fans are so insistent and vocal in support of her is that she has been so badly treated by the good ole boys network in racing.  They (and here I mean Andy Beyer, Jason Shandler, and many other analyst) have been so repeatedly dismissive of her that it was more than a little insulting to the fans who, let's face it, were better able than the so called experts, to see her true nature.  

Saturday shut up the detractors but I think many fans feel that their grudging acknowledgement really isn't enough.  Hence the HOY lobbying.  

I also think that the sport needs to think long and hard about this episode.  Zenyatta and her team made racing accessible to many new fans.  And yet, racing's establishment has done nothing to honor and appreciate that.  They have belatedly taken advantage of it in their promotions.  Let's face it all those people tuned in, showed up and placed bets because Zenyatta was running.  They weren't there to see Blame or Quality Road.  And of course, neither Blame nor Quality Road will be around next year to race as five year olds (let alone at six) and build a legitimate fan base. Now they are off to the breeding shed.  Pity.  And a lost opportunity for the sport.

The Mosses have done so much to support racing, and, in particular, California racing.  We have really needed them.  Zenyatta has carried racing on her back for the past two years.  Maybe racing should do something special for her.

Just a thought.

10 Nov 2010 2:45 PM
hollywood guy

Brilliant Steve!  Funny how many of us just wait for your words. Thats how good you are. She ran the best race of her life in defeat, and her record may be blemished, but her name shines a little brighter. Gomez's strong ride made more than that small difference at the wire.  

10 Nov 2010 3:25 PM

Dear Steve,

Once again, I just love the way you write.


10 Nov 2010 3:50 PM

Great article, Steve, but I expected no less from you. You always put such a human touch to this sport that can have its dark and unforgiving side. There were plenty of ups and downs this year like life. I'm glad to hear Claiborne Farms isn't in it for the money, but I seem to recall a huge deal a while back when syndication, I think, began in the industry with Secretariat.

This deal then was to help another declining farm, as you know, although Riva Ridge helped the previous year. I am glad a "ghost of a" and declining farm, not exactly in the league of a Lane's End, Darley, or Godolphin, had a horse like Blame in the Breeder's Cup. He will go down in history as the one who beat the legendary Zenyatta by a nose in one of the finest expressions of determination I have ever seen (I'm talking about Z). I just hope the following statement does not strip Zenyatta once again of a HOTY award. "But Hancock knew Blame could be the future stallion to help Claiborne return to prominence, enticing breeders who prefer quality over quantity and the long-term welfare of the horse." She proved her excellence, her HOTY caliber, in only 1 race, a defeat ironically, along with basically having a better record than Blame. I would think Male Horse of the Year will bring good stud fees to Claiborne in addition to other profits from a huge byline "the horse that beat the Queen."

I so wish I could have been there with all those fans who supported her and the BC.

10 Nov 2010 3:55 PM

Zenyata-yada-yada.  Attention should now move to Uncle Mo.  WOW!  You've said it in the past Steve, the next Triple Crown winner will be the Juvenile Champ...  

10 Nov 2010 4:14 PM
The legend

Steve, after reading your article I closed my eyes and relived that thrilling stretch run of Zenyatta. Even though I bet on Blame in the Classic when I saw that mare making her move I jumped out of my living room chair and started to yell at the top of my lungs for her to get up. I wanted to see something special! I wanted to see perfection!

10 Nov 2010 4:20 PM
Bonnie in Houston

I've had a crush on you since I started listening to you on At the Races (baked potato, anyone?) and your writing just adds to that.  Before you get worried that I might be a stalker, I'm a 70-year-old grandma/horse owner/horseplayer, so you're safe.  :- )  Anyway, beautifully written.  I didn't think Zenyatta could win but her second place finish was glorious and validated all the hype.  And I'll follow Blame closely in his new career --not that I could afford his stud fee!!  Take care, Haskin!

10 Nov 2010 4:26 PM



10 Nov 2010 4:32 PM
Lethal Grande

Steve, you've put it all in balance and I agree there were no losers here. We fans and the thoroughbred industry are glowing with pride as we share the thrill of TB horse racing and its brightest stars with a general public who are being properly introduced to a sport they can invest their hearts (and $$$) in.

Our athletes don't cheat, demand outrageous perks or pay, and they don't self administer performance enhancing drugs. Our backside, jocks, trainers, owners/breeders have character and history with stories to tell. For the love of Pete! The industry is missing a most golden opportunity to advertise and advance by not acting as a unified body with a national advertising and marketing program. It's time to step up and join the ballplayers and auto racing admen and claim OUR share of the turf. We've got the stars and the venues -- do we have the commitment to unite while our audience is curious and hungry or will we be left at the gate? Blame, Goldi, and Z have given us everything. I know we owe them and their future offspring more than applause. Who's going to step up?

10 Nov 2010 4:44 PM

Here is an idea, introduce a new award at the Eclipse Awards and call it the People's Choice Award. This award would go to a fan elected horse, not just for performance but to a horse that captured the hearts of racing fans. Examples of horses that should receive this award are Barbaro, Lost In The Fog, Big Brown, and of course Zenyatta. Horses like these need to be recognized for their accomplishents beyond the racetrack, especially horses that bring more people into the sport. This award would also alow racing fans to actively participate in the sport by voting. The truth is that in the Breeders Cup Classic two horses ran their hearts out. We need to celebrate them both, one for outstanding performance on the racetrack, one for capturing the hearts of millions, and both for giving their all in the race of a lifetime. Please discuss this idea, I would like to hear other people's thoughts about it. I am also in the process of contacting industry leaders about this idea. Tell me what you think.

10 Nov 2010 4:47 PM
Steve Haskin

Again, thank you all for your wonderful comments. I am overwhelmed by them.

Bonnie, you ruined my stalker fantasy. I was hoping you were a 28-year-old stalker :) But thank you anyway. I am honored that anyone has a crush on me. And don't make fun of my baked potatoes :) I actually dont eat them that often.

MOmentum, I'm impressed you remembered that. Yes, Uncle Mo definitely fits the profile of my Triple Crown winner.

Thanks, Melissa, hugs right back at ya.

Mike, you never know with voters. They all have their own criteria.

10 Nov 2010 4:51 PM
Steve Haskin

Let me put my spin on the Seth Hancock comments. From a monetary aspect, Zenyatta getting Horse of the Year does nothing for her or the Mosses. It's merely an honor and nothing more.

For Seth Hancock, who is trying to rebuild the farm around Blame, Horse of the Year means everything to Claiborne. To have a horse of the Year standing there not only boosts the reputation of the farm, which has suffered over the years, it raises the monetary value of Blame as a stallion, Therefore, Hancock shouldnt really be vilified for campaigning strongly for Blame. It is too important for him not to campaign strongly and convince people, especially voters, that it's a no-brainer and Blame is the one who is deserving.

10 Nov 2010 4:58 PM

Mr. Haskin perfection in the telling Linda from Maryland,zookeeper and a few others great in your comments Thank you one and all

10 Nov 2010 5:13 PM

Hahaha Bonnie...I think we all have a crush on Steve...but not in a "stalker" kind of way. He just exudes class...not to mention he is a complete wordsmith, is totally in touch with his feminine side, and is completely fair..what's not to love??? And here it is Wednesday..and we just can't stop talking about Zenyatta's heart stopping performance....I know I can't stop thinking about it..I have watched it over and over and it gets better and more impressive everytime..A horse for the ages.

10 Nov 2010 5:18 PM

How about a Blame-Zenyatta mating. That would be a perfect ending!!

10 Nov 2010 5:23 PM
Susie and Erica

After reading your much awaited article and the ensuing comments, there's not much I can add except to say,

Thank you...    for everything!

10 Nov 2010 5:35 PM
Karen in Indiana

Steve, is there anything in the rules that says that Zenyatta can't win the Special Merit award? I looked & it's only been won by humans. It is understandable that Seth Hancock would be so determined for Blame to win HOY, for the reasons you've stated. This recession has been hard on all the farms and a stallion is much more valuable to a farm than a mare. What do you think the chances are that Zenyatta would go to Old Friends or Kentucky Horse Park? :-)

10 Nov 2010 5:57 PM

Steve I think your 'even' perspective is so right on... I can see why so many people love you. I too can understand why the man (Mr. Stalls) so desperately needs this award for Blame at the same time whole heartedly feeling Zenyatta deserves it. While not diminishing that sentiment I came to the conclusion that whether the 'powers that be' give the Big Girl her HOTY due or not, I researched the Eclipse 'Special Award' and by definition it describes Zenyatta perfectly and believe renaming it in her honor would be an appropriate nod for a horse that has done so much in contribution to the sport, mirroring to the world the imperfection of our humanity while giving it ALL WE GOT till we hit the finish line. If you are able to share the link to the petition to honor Zen in this way I believe it would bring a lot of satisfaction to a whole lot of people:)

10 Nov 2010 6:02 PM

Zenyatta (still) rules! Bless this gallant mare for injecting new life in to the sport of racing. While Blame ran a great race, it was Zenyatta's great heart and undeniable talent that stole the show.

10 Nov 2010 6:11 PM
barry parker

Zenyatta's run - best losing race i've ever seen!

10 Nov 2010 6:50 PM

Wonderfully written, thank you.  I have just one thing that puzzles me.  With all the talk about wondering what the thoroughbred racing industry can do to ramp up interest in the sport, I'm surprised that no one has suggested a Blame - Zenyatta match race.  I've mentioned it to several people and the response has always been:  "I'd watch."  It seems to me the industry to need to seize this moment before it passes.  Somebody needs to ask for a race.  

10 Nov 2010 6:55 PM
Eric Rickard

This is my second comment. I too, have been waiting for your prose. And I wasn't disappointed. Why anyone would put Zenyatta or Blame down is beyond me. They did it last year, too, with Rachel and Zenyatta. Everyone has their favorite. I have had many over the years. But this should not make people defile another's. Which ever horse is voted HOY so be it. In my mind and in the publics mind Zenyatta is "THE HORSE".  I don't want to rehash old points.  The pantheon of greats has to make room for one more. There should e no debate on that

10 Nov 2010 7:01 PM

Great article.  I was lucky enough to be there and the atmosphere was electric.  Both horses are deserving of HOY for what they did on the track.  Zenyatta should get the nod for what she has done for racing !!

10 Nov 2010 7:11 PM


Thanks for, as usual, putting everything into perspective. I had been checking for your comment ever since after the BC race. I felt I wouldn't get over the whole Zenyatta not winning until I read your article! It was great to hear about the "Blame" side of the story. Sadly most Zenyatta fans(I must confess myself among these people) just went straight to hating Blame's guts after the Classic. Thruth is, he's a great horse, ran a great race, and Claiborne deserves it just as the Mosses. He's not the bad guy. When it comes down to getting over Zenyatta's defeat, it's all about what you wrote: this defeat has enhanced her greatness and she is, definately, one of the "most amazing and unique racehorse of all time".

I just love your articles!

10 Nov 2010 7:12 PM
Just me

Steve,  If HOY is really just all about stallion fees then why not call it "new potential stallion of the the year."  I realize that it doesn't produce money for the Mosses but I thought it was about honoring the horses.  Silly me.

10 Nov 2010 7:14 PM
Steve Haskin

Just Me, it is about honoring the horses, but the horses don't know theyre being honored, nor do they care. The people care, Jerry and Ann Moss care, because they feel strongly she deserves it. I am just giving a possible explanation why Seth Hancock was so bold in his comments. He was campaigning like a politician would. I'm not saying he went about it the right way and I'm not saying he didn't. He wants Horse of the Year. It is extremely important for the farm.  The bottom line is, people are going to vote for who they feel is most deserving, regardless of what Seth Hancock says.

10 Nov 2010 7:30 PM
Linda in Texas

Steve, a couple of questions, i am trying to find information on the why or what for the name Blame. I looked up the name and there were 4 other horses named Blame,1 born in GB in 1851 (M), 2 from The USA, one in 1921 and one in 1981.

Both were brown,earlier one a female, other one a male. And a male born in NZ in 1986.

The male born in the USA in 1981 was out of Far North and Patty's Fault!!  With the name Blame, i am wondering if there was a connection to Patty's Fault? Which brings up the second question.

Is it correct that a Thoroughbred cannot be registered with the same name of another living horse? I cannot find any information about the Blame born in The USA in 1981. Then of course the most recent Blame born in The USA in 2006,got that one.

Just wondered if you know the derivation of the name Blame? And

was the 1981 Blame a Claiborne Farm horse?

I digress, with money being behind the quest for Blame to be named No. 1 horse to help their reputation, is Claiborne Farms realizing any royalties from the movie that is in theaters now?

I am trying to be clever with my wording so i do not cast aspersions and negativity on anything here because everyone has been so well behaved. But your answer of 4:58 PM does beg for a comment.

So this HOY issue is about money, not necessarily the performance of the horse? Wow, who would have thunk it? My brain took flight of my senses for a moment with such truth being told.

I did look at Claiborne's list of Stallions and it has a healthy number of super greats. I hope the 2 million they are receiving for winning the Breeder's Classic helps out a little. And i mean that. And i guess is the reason Blame was retired within 24 hours of winning. Makes sense. But i looked forward to his racing some more.

Thank you Steve. Sorry i ask so many questions, my grandpa always said he could never just rattle off an answer to me, and have me be satisfied, i would always ask why and what. And at 70, i am too old to change now.

10 Nov 2010 7:31 PM


10 Nov 2010 7:39 PM
Ida Lee

Even in defeat, Zenyatta proves again she's the ultimate Racing Queen. I hope we can see her race again. It's always something special when she hits the track. And Blame...have a nice life pretty boy. You are something else.

10 Nov 2010 7:50 PM

If you want a great story and to see wonderful photos of our Queen, check out this site!  Steve, I'm sure you'd love it too, I don't know if you've already seen it but, here it is!  I hope you love it as much as I do!  "The Legend of Zenyatta!"

10 Nov 2010 8:27 PM

Thoroughbred Times

by Steve Bailey

Let the debate and the sniping begin.

Less than 24 hours after Blame’s dramatic head victory over Zenyatta in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) on Saturday, Thoroughbred Times began receiving letters and e-mails from fans stating their cases for which horse should be crowned the 2010 Horse of the Year.

As was the case during much of the year, when fans of Rachel Alexandra and fans of Zenyatta took turns bashing each other in their quest to prove who truly was the more talented racemare—a disastrous episode in futility from my point of view—shots have been fired and the gauntlet already has been thrown down by backers on both sides.

Claiborne Farm President Seth Hancock lobbed the first grenade only moments after Blame had ended Zenyatta’s quest for perfection and the fairytale ending that hundreds of thousands of racing fans and non-racing fans alike had been anticipating in the Classic.

“I thought the battle for Horse of the Year was fought about a half-hour ago, and Blame won it,” Hancock said. “She’s a great horse, Zenyatta is, but she had her shot to get by and she couldn’t do it. So I don’t think you can vote for her. I don’t know who else you could vote for.”

What Mr. Hancock said may be spot on, depending upon your point of view, but I am not here to argue for or against Blame for Horse of the Year. I also am not here to argue for Zenyatta for Horse of the Year.

I had the unique opportunity on Sunday to get a glimpse of how Zenyatta and the Breeders’ Cup Classic were viewed and digested by someone who, as they say, does not have a dog in the fight.

For more than four decades, Australian form analyst Peter Ellis has traveled the globe breaking down meetings, walking courses, and witnessing some of the greatest horses and races around the world.

Ellis was at Churchill Downs on Friday and Saturday for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships and, on Sunday, spoke to a radio audience of hundreds of thousands back home in Australia about what he had seen.

I was taken completely off guard by what came out of his mouth.

“I’ve been doing this for more than 40 years, and I can tell you that [Zenyatta’s] performance was the greatest that I have ever seen by a horse that did not win the race,” he told the host. “Some people will say that she shouldn’t be named Horse of the Year because she didn’t win. I would argue that her performance in defeat was much better than her winning effort a year earlier and should guarantee that she is named Horse of the Year.”

Whoa! Don’t hold back, Peter. Tell your listeners Down Under how you really feel.

“She was squeezed out of the gate, forcing the jockey to check up a bit, and then spent several hundred meters in a storm of kickback; that’s why she dropped back so far,” Ellis said. “On the backstretch, she got behind 20 to 25 [lengths] and I’m not sure anyone thought she had any business even catching up to that field much less getting back in the race.

“The fact that she was able to make up that much ground on a track that deep and cuppy and give herself a chance to get up and win it in the last strides is one of the most impressive efforts I have seen on a racetrack.

“Blame ran a great race; you can’t take anything away from him. He is a fantastic horse. But would he have been able to do the same? [Zenyatta] was the best horse on that racetrack, as she was in all of her previous 19 starts. By definition, isn’t that what Horse of the Year is?”

“Some people are going to argue that the horse that wins the Breeders’ Cup Classic against the toughest field of the year should get Horse of the Year, right? It didn’t work out that way last year, did it?”

Ellis also said he was struck by the way Zenyatta captured the hearts of racing fans and non-racing fans not only in the U.S. but all over the world.

“I have never seen a horse that touched people and brought them together like this one,” he said. “She seems to connect with people unlike any horse I have ever seen; even people who don’t follow racing at all.

“I rang a friend in Queensland after the races and he told me that his wife was extremely upset that Zenyatta had lost. These people do not follow American racing a lick, but they tuned in to see Zenyatta.

“Racing in America is not always seen in such a positive light in other parts of the world, but here is a champion and a story that people around the world are captivated and touched by. I don’t think people are going to realize just how special she is until she’s gone because there will not be another one like her.”

When the radio interview was over, I told Ellis that I doubted that Zenyatta would be named Horse of the Year based upon many of the pre-Classic writings by some of the sport’s most well-known Turf writers.

He smiled.

“That’s the thing,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if she’s Horse of the Year or not. She’s THE horse of the last 40 years. Which one do you think people are going to remember?”

10 Nov 2010 8:40 PM

No one read my previous comment so I will repost it.

Here is an idea, introduce a new award at the Eclipse Awards and call it the People's Choice Award. This award would go to a fan elected horse, not just for performance but to a horse that captured the hearts of racing fans. Examples of horses that should receive this award are Barbaro, Lost In The Fog, Big Brown, and of course Zenyatta. Horses like these need to be recognized for their accomplishents beyond the racetrack, especially horses that bring more people into the sport. This award would also alow racing fans to actively participate in the sport by voting. The truth is that in the Breeders Cup Classic two horses ran their hearts out. We need to celebrate them both, one for outstanding performance on the racetrack, one for capturing the hearts of millions, and both for giving their all in the race of a lifetime. Please discuss this idea, I would like to hear other people's thoughts about it. I am also in the process of contacting industry leaders about this idea. Tell me what you think.

10 Nov 2010 9:02 PM
Roberto R

I find it incredible how this horse Zenyatta has captured the imagination of the racing public all over.

If you think of the 2010 racing season it's all Zenyatta. If you don't believe it, read the blogs. Even if the writer dosen't support her, the fans go against the flow to back her up.

So I strongly feel that if the there is no bias, she should be HOTY.

Having said that, steve you're the best. You have incredible talent for the written word. In that aspect you're like Zenyatta...UNBELIEVABLE!!!

10 Nov 2010 9:08 PM
The Deacon

Very brilliant and touching article Steve, hands down one of your best. I have watched this race probably 40 times and each time I hope for a different ending. Zenyatta didn't lose, she just ran out of real estate. Her connections are what this sport is about, classy and respectful.  Mike Smith is also class act. I wish he wasn't so hard on himself. He did nothing wrong. Zenyatta's racing style is what got her beat. What served her so well for so long finally caught up to her. Just too much to do even with the long stretch of Churchill Downs. I love her as so many do, and I will deeply miss her.

With all of that said, I am going to sign off on these blogs for quite a while. The negative comments by the Draynays, and J. Shandlers, and the people who just want to hate this beautiful horse has left me very emotional and shaken. Some of the other blogs posted earlier were terrible to read.  I have been a true fan for 55 years, I have seen many of the great ones run and never in my life have I seen so much diverse love and hatred for 1 horse. All Zenyatta ever does is run her heart out and try and please and put on a great show. What goes through some folks head is beyond me.

I wish to thank all of the very nice bloggers who contribute so much to your stories Steve, the Paula Higgins, Zookeeper, Mike Relva, Lazmannick, Dr. D,  Abbie Knowles, and so many others I have not mentioned. It has been so much fun reading all of your posts.

Thanks as well Steve for inviting me into these blogs and allowing me to make them part of my life. Thanks also for help keeping this great sport alive.

Have a very safe and wonderful holiday to you and your family Steve and to everyone else on these blogs..........

10 Nov 2010 9:11 PM


I think that an outsider put it perfectly.  This comes from Australian form analyst Peter Ellis, whom has four decades of horseracing experience speaking to a radio audience of in the hundreds of thousands in Australia:

"I've been doing this for more than 40 years, and I can tell you that (Zenyatta's) performance was the greatest I have ever seen by a horse that did not win the race...this should guarantee that she is name Horse of the is one of the most impressive I have seen on a racetrack...Zenyatta was the best horse on that racetrack..."

10 Nov 2010 9:23 PM


Thank you for your balanced analysis.  I understand Claiborne's difficulties and I do admire and respect their operation.  I sympathize with their plight.  However, Seth Hancock and Garrett Gomez (in his ESPN interview) could have been more gracious and less aggressive in their comments and opinions.  I don't think Mr. & Mrs. Moss, John Sherriff and Mike Smith would have been so Crass. They are real Class, not a class act.

As for Queen Zenyatta, she is not only one of racing history's greatest females for the ages, but is also one of the greatest male or female!  The gender bashing/chauvinism in this sport in this country is shameful.  The press overlooked another Great - Goldikova!  She deserved and demanded greater coverage than she received.  The Wertheimer Bros. are to be commended!  And, they will return her next year God willing.

As for mating the Queen, I see only Sea The Stars in her future. Hopefully the nicks are good and one or the other of them can travel.  No one else is worthy of her, in particular - no American horse is!

10 Nov 2010 9:34 PM

Kru: Match races don't happen anymore. I can tell you right now..the industry would not embrace it and neither would the most devoted of fans. You would lose more fans than you would gain with such foolishness.

10 Nov 2010 9:41 PM
pinnacle boy

Great Read Steve....

I hope somebody puts this years run to the classic in a book form. With all the people involved it would be a great read....Are you listening out there publishing houses....

10 Nov 2010 9:48 PM

Steve - long-time reader, first-time poster.  I just wanted to thank you for a beautifully written article that captured a truly wonderful moment for racing.  Like many, I have been patiently awaiting your 'take' on this race and I could not imagine a more perfect, respectful analysis of the race.

As great as Blame is, all I could think about what how much more respect I had for Zenyatta after this race.  You summed it up perfectly and I just wanted to tip my hat.

Thanks again and I can't wait for the Derby Trail posts to begin!

10 Nov 2010 10:21 PM

Steve, Thank You for your beautiful column. It really captured the drama of the day perfectly and in an even-handed way. No one writes as you do: you love HORSE RACING and not horse betting and it shows.  

I haven't had the stomach to go to Jason's blog and probably never will again as I'm sure he's crowing about how "overrated" Zenyatta was/is and what a "beast" and how "great" Blame is (how quickly he forgets his other "beast" Quality Road!). Andy Beyer is busily downgrading the field that he earlier called one of the best ever simply because Zenyatta finished in the money - so the field couldn't have been any good after all. (I read his column by accident - I usually try to avoid it.) I've even read someone post they'd choose Unrivalled Belle as Older Female because she won the Ladies' Classic and another who says they'd vote for Uncle Moe as HOY because he's undefeated (Awesome Feather anyone?). Amazing what a little anybody-but-Zenyatta prejudice will do. Hopefully more people were blown away by her magnificent effort under adversity Saturday which only proved just how good she is.

I'd written a much longer post than this but decided it belonged elsewhere. I do want to end with what's become my sign-off lately:

Thirty years from now Blame will be the answer to a trivia question like Upset and Dark Star. Zenyatta will be a legend.

10 Nov 2010 10:21 PM
just me

Steve, I see your point about why Seth was promoting Blame.  I'm glad he's proud of his horse.  He should be.  I just want to make sure that isn't why people are necessarily voting that way.  

10 Nov 2010 10:52 PM
Gary Tasich

Check out Wikipedia for both horses and see the 2010 records set and horses beat by Zenyatta. A slice of heaven is as follows:

Zenyatta has won 17 Graded stakes races including 13 Grade I events and has defeated 5 Champions of 8 different awards: Gio Ponti (2009 Older Horse and Turf Champion), Sealy Hill (2007 Canadian Horse of the Year, Champion 3 Year old filly and Champion female turf horse), Summer Bird (2009 Champion 3 Year old), Ginger Punch (2007 Champion older female) and Espoir City (2009 Japanese Dirt Champion).

In Zenyatta's 20:19-1-0 racing record she has defeated multiple Grade I winners including: Quality Road (2009 Florida Derby, 2010 Donn Handicap, 2010 Metropolitan Handicap, 2010 Woodward Stakes); Lookin at Lucky (2009 Del Mar Futurity, 2009 Norfolk Stakes, 2009 Hollywood Futurity, 2010 Preakness Stakes, 2010 Haskell Invitational); Colonel John (2008 Santa Anita Derby, 2008 Travers Stakes); Richard's Kid (2009, 2010 Pacific Classic Stakes and 2010 Goodwood Stakes); Mine That Bird (2009 Kentucky Derby); Einstein (2009 Santa Anita Handicap, 2008, 2009 Turf Classic Stakes, 2009 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap); Tough Tiz's Sis (2007 Lady's Secret Stakes, 2008 Ruffian Handicap); Cocoa Beach (2008 Matriarch Stakes , 2008 Beldame Stakes); Music Note (2009 Beldame Stakes, 2009 Ballerina Stakes, 2008 Gazelle Stakes, 2008 Coaching Club American Oaks and 2008 Mother Goose Stakes). European Multiple Group I winners Rip Van Winkle (2009 Sussex Stakes, 2009 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, 2010 International Stakes) and Twice Over (2009, 2010 Champion Stakes, 2010 Eclipse Stakes).

Grade 1 winners: Paddy O'Prado (2010 Secretariat Stakes); Haynesfield (2010 Jockey Club Gold Cup); Awesome Gem (2010 Hollywood Gold Cup); Girolamo (2010 Vosburgh Stakes); Hystericalady (2007 Humana Distaff Handicap), Life Is Sweet (2009 Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic), Romance Is Diane (2006 Hollywood Starlet Stakes), Double Trouble (2008 Santa Maria Handicap), Santa Teresita (2009 Santa Maria Handicap) and Carriage Trail (2008 Spinster Stakes).

It's like a who's who..Blame who??

10 Nov 2010 11:08 PM

I'm not a man who is brought easily to tears, but you, Steve, have taken me over that edge.  Your remembrance of Slew's Jockey Cup loss to Exceller was my first reaction to Zenyatta's loss.  It was 1978 all over again.  So much heart, so much courage from both horses.  As Karen Taylor said after Slew's defeat, "I not crying because he lost, I'm crying becaused he tried so hard."  The sentiment fits Zenyatta as well.  It seems so meaningless that she will not, once again, be awarded Horse of the Year.  Awards are important, if you're keeping score.  But, when you reside among the Gods, as she does, they are of little consequence.  She is as good as I've seen, and I've seen most all of the good ones over the past 60+ years.  Thank you so much for, once again, capturing the essence of the moment.  

10 Nov 2010 11:08 PM

Thank you Mr Haskin for yet another poetic piece of writing. As a race fan I would love to see Zen run again and perhaps win the

Dubai Cup in March but something tells me that she cannot go out on a higher note than this "loss". I doubt any victory can enhance her legend more than this magnificent performance has done. To watch her amazing stride in the stretch carry her past opponents as if they were mired in quicksand is surely to witness the motion of an equine freak. A freak of equine nature that we will most likely never see again in our lifetime.

10 Nov 2010 11:14 PM

Gorgeous, Steve. Just gorgeous. If I may release some of the feelings that I have been struggling with over the last few days, please humor me. I am a sentimental person! But I'm not into fighting over who is #1 & #2, I love them all. Just one more than the others.

There was a deafening roar - 70,000 people screaming & pleading with all their might.

Trevor Denman chanting one horse's name - no doubt an incantation meant to free her from the confines of gravity itself & vault her to victory.

Then, another's name, then the wire, & a huge, exasperated wail from those same 70,000 souls.

Then quiet.

A few steadfast supporters of the colt cheered & celebrated. Everyone else was in shock.

Both Blame & Zenyatta galloped out around the turn. Garrett seemed to be talking to Mike but Mike was, in his own words, "devastated".  I felt like he looked. Wrung out, nothing left, crushed.   Zenyatta was blowing, but not done in. As a matter of fact it was so close that in the next stride she appeared to get the nod. She seemed a little tired but there was a light in her mud-caked eye. Surely that was the most fulfilling race that she had ever run! Man! She was so far out of it that I felt sick. Not even Zenyatta, I thought to myself. She just isn't going to fire, I worried. Was she ok? Would she even hit the board??  I have witnessed her incredible closing kick 19 times. But this was too much. Too many monsters in this race! HOW could this happen TODAY?

Mike said that if he could "pull this off you'll see something special". I know that this wasn't the fairytale ending that everyone expected. But by God! Did I EVER see something special! The sheer power of her sweeping strides as she circled the field in the stretch - one by one, all of the best horses in the country bowed down to their queen as she soared past. All, that is, but one.

The one horse in the race who was stubborn enough to deny her excellency. The one horse who was willing to take the blame, if you will, for denying her her undefeated throne. He stole the Best Older Horse crown from the lightning fast Quality Road. & now, sadly, it seems that he will claim Zenyatta's long overdue crown with the slimmest of victories in the Breeder's Cup Classic. HER Classic. Yes! This was HER race! HER second consecutive Classic! Everyone was there for this moment. To be a part of the party that is Zenyatta!

If the first half of her trip made me ill, the second half of her trip left me with no words. ALL of that ground to make up. ALL of those Grade I contenders to pass. & yet it rolled off of her towering withers like a summer rain. HOW did she get there?! How did 20 lengths off of the pace become a nose?!

Yes, she will be immortal now, all that more endearing in this near victory or slim defeat, however you like it. Blame? He IS Upset. He IS Dark Star. Although far more accomplished that either of those spoilers, I'm sure. Blame rocked this year! No doubt! Do I hope that he reclaims some of the past  glory for Claiborne Farm? Of course! Do I wish him a successful & long career at stud? Naturally!

Do I wish that he would have come back just one breath in that stretch on Saturday? Deep down inside where that romance for the races dwells in even the most ornery naysayer,

don't we all?

I feel better now. Thank you for your eloquent summary, Steve.

Long live The Queen. We LOVE you, Mike!

10 Nov 2010 11:24 PM

I hope the writers vote for who is MOST deserving, Steve.

11 Nov 2010 12:20 AM

Stableboy, I'm with you.  I think Blame sort of earned the right to have the first "date" with Zenyatta.  Not only that, but there is some interesting inbreeding with Roberto/Kris S and Forli in both of their pedigrees, yet Blame would bring Northern Dancer into the equation.  Does anybody else think that a mating of those two could produce an amazing horse?  

11 Nov 2010 12:40 AM
Ted from LA


11 Nov 2010 12:59 AM
Dr Drunkinbum

The Deacon

  I hope you read this, that you haven't disappeared yet. You expressed my sentiments exactly. Your posts have meant a lot to me and others here. You have a great attitude, tremendous knowledge, and some brilliant posts. I hope that I can talk you into posting on at least on some of The Haskin Derby Dozen blogs. Steve is the best writer in the world, and has the best blogs. Hope to see you there, and thanks again for your posts, and being the great man that you are. To you and all of the other posters on Steve's blogs, and to Steve, have a very Happy and Safe Holidays. I won't be around much either for awhile but I will be posting on The Derby Dozen blogs. Jan-June is when I am totally absorbed with the Derby Preps, SA, and GP, and The Triple Crown. Another great article Steve, among many superbly written this year. Thanks. And if Mo does have only two preps I will be trying to beat him. I probably will be anyway !!!!

11 Nov 2010 2:41 AM

Thank you so much Steve.  You so beautifully captured both the current events and the history, and perfectly balanced admiration towards Zenyatta and Blame.  Blame wins the race and heads back "home" perhaps having given Clairborne the Horse of the Year in this their 100th year of operation, while Zenyatta returns to California her legacy assured, her place in history among the very greatest(maybe THE greatest female in North America)  secured.  

11 Nov 2010 3:44 AM

Linda from Tx:  Blame's Dam is named Liable...and I believe that's where he gets his name.

AJ: Thank you for the excellent reprint from the Aussie perspective.

MCSlew: Agreed.

As far as HOY: think of this...what if the final nomination is NOT between Zen and Blame, but is Zenyatta vs Goldikova?  What then?  It's just another thought, not meant to spur more arguments, but meant to give folks pause.  I love Zenyatta; she's tops in my ledger.  But I believe I have been privileged to witness one of the greatest Classics we will ever see.  To overcome and endure is a stellar accomplishment, and the true mark of a Champion....and yet the words of Maxwell Smart keep ringing in my ears, "Missed by.....that much!"  I don't think she missed the mark at all.  The respect Zen earned in that one race overshadows every horse in America today...even Blame for whom I have the utmost respect.    

11 Nov 2010 7:18 AM
Fran Loszynski

I personally feel Steve, Zenyatta didn't lose, the track "did her wrong" She hit loose dirt rounding and Blame was on hard surface dirt-thus-Blame had better footing, it wasn't Zenyatta, wasn't Mike Smith-it was the old=fashioned racing track of days gone by when a stable track on a farm dictated the outcome of a race. I actually feel that's when we have "true" racing. It just happened to go Blame's way.

Thank you for the wonderful final words we will remember when the silence fills the stable area and the Kentucky wind embraces


Also Thank you great Afleet Express for taking my breath away!"

11 Nov 2010 8:39 AM

Y'know, Blame had to run the same race, the same distance with the same loud screaming crowd stressing him out, too, on the same dirt track and had to beat them all to be the winner...just like every other horse in that race.

She had to catch him...he had to hold off her late charge...he won.

Great race...2 great horses.

11 Nov 2010 10:52 AM

This was such a fantastic article, another Haskins classic. After four full days of not being able to watch the replay or read any article about the classic, reading this made me feel better.

The reaction of Zenyatta's connections (Mike Smith especially), countered with the appropriate but slightly cold and self-centered reaction and celebration of Blame's connections (Stall and Hancock especially), made me more proud to be from L.A. than I've ever been. This is really theme of the article, and it was on point.

The humility of the California contingent versus whatever Hancock and Stall had to say speaks volumes. Hancock and Stall should have watched the replay of Marylou Whitney and Nick Zito during the post-race of the 2004 Belmont. That was class. Saturday, Blame was the only one on their end with much class.

11 Nov 2010 10:54 AM

I wonder if there might be a chance for a Blame Zenyatta match up in the Breeding Shed  

11 Nov 2010 11:07 AM
Phil from MI


I need to briefly respond to your comments concerning HOY. For the owner of a 100 year old farm, Seth Hancock should understand that any real return he sees on Blame will come from the racing quality of his foals, not from how the yearlings look, and certainly not from being named HOY. Mr. P wasn't physically astonishing and wasn't a major runner in terms of big wins, but anyone would've taken him in the shed over the two time HOY from the same crop.

Further, if Seth Hancock was really looking long term, he'd see that Zenyatta being awarded HOY would benefit the sport and consequently benefit him and his farm. The potential impact of a horse like Zenyatta on racing in general far outweighs any award that Claiborne may receive

11 Nov 2010 11:21 AM

By far the best quote of the whole story is Dell Hancock saying she lost nothing in defeat. Thanks Steve!

11 Nov 2010 12:09 PM
Susan from VA

I just checked the Zenyatta-Blame cross on True Nicks and it only rated a "C."

A foal of Blame's sire-dam cross rated a "B+" and Zenyatta's breeding rated an "A+."  But we knew that already!

By the way, there are at least two Susans on here.  I am the one from Virginia.

11 Nov 2010 12:43 PM

Your article is "one for the ages." I was at Churchill Downs that day and you captured the moment as no one else has or could. I expected to cry win or lose for Zenyatta.  To my surprise, I did not that day or in the days that followed until I read your article and felt my eyes tearing up. I expect that will occur again when I next see that otherworldly being at her Hollywood Park home.

11 Nov 2010 12:54 PM
Soldier Course

I'm going against the tide of opinion here, but I am concerned that Zenyatta's "legacy" will end up being short-changed because she did not win last Saturday. The immediate sentiment that it doesn't matter that she lost will eventually give way to insouciance once the public becomes infatuated with its next racing star.

Remember when Tiznow won the unprecedented consecutive runnings of the Breeders' Cup Classic in 2000 and 2001? Guess what that accomplishment earned him when the book of racing's "100 Greatest Moments" was published a few year's ago ... an "honorable mention" somewhere down in the 120s. That insult is made even more inexplicable by the fact that the advent of the Breeders' Cup was ranked as the #1 "Greatest Moment" in the same book. I challenge anyone to reconcile those two rankings.    

11 Nov 2010 1:27 PM
Soldier Course

Phil from MI, re your 11 Nov 11:21am post:

Wonderful post, and true look at the big picture. Thanks for this.

11 Nov 2010 1:51 PM
Barbara W

The Deacon,

I, too, hope you're not gone yet, because I couldn't agree with you more. The two previous blogs I read before Steve's sickened me, especially the one who himself brought up HOY and then criticized posters for responding. I may read them from time to time, but I will no longer respect them.

I'm beginning to think Mike Smith is right (again)--there is no horse on the PLANET worthy of our Z.

11 Nov 2010 2:52 PM

If there is one thing that could make me sadder than the thought of horseracing without Zenyatta, it is the thought of the day you stop writing, Steve.  I may be judging you wrong, but your love of the horse and the sport just seem to shine through your words.  Yours are the only articles I can read without getting frustrated by hidden bias.  Thank you!

11 Nov 2010 3:51 PM
Kelly E.

Yet another wonderful work of art, Steve.  Thank you for your continued advocacy and love for our favorite sport and its amazing stars.

I was at the BC this year and will tell my friends and family about it for years to come.  My 5yo son is a fan-in-training and he was watching at home yelling "Go Zenyatta Go!"  When I got home, patted my on the shoulder and said "I'm sorry, momma. You did a great job riding her though!" :)

11 Nov 2010 5:00 PM
bob o

yes, it was a great, great race, but all of the comments about how it was the greatest race/performance of all times are absurd. The superlatives have been more about emotion of humans than the performances of the horse.(horse, becuase it is only the Z fans who are out of their minds)In this environment, it is possible for Zenyatta to be one of the all-time greatest female runners(possibly the best), and also terribly over-rated.  That is how crazed her following has become. Personally, I thought Blame's heart would be the difference, expected the result, and don't think it was a fluke at all. No horse had ever outgamed Blame in such a situation, and Z couldn't do it either. To me, it was a highly predictable result

11 Nov 2010 5:24 PM
Rhonda from Saskatchewan

What a great article and congratulations to Blame who needed all he had and a home advantage to beat Zenyatta.

Thank you Zenyatta, Goldikova,Gorella Ouija Board, Intercontinental, Life is Sweet, Azeri, Ashado, Ginger Punch, Rachel Alexandra, Rags To Riches, Sweet Catomine and all of the other great mares who we have been so privileged to watch over the last ten years.

And if Zenyatta doesn't win Horse of the Year for her body of work then they oughta make a special award in her name that transcends Horse Of The Year. What more has she got to do?

11 Nov 2010 6:17 PM
Will W

The race set up perfectly for Zenyatta: a 1 1/4 with plenty of pace - not the paceless 1 1/16's on CA synthetics she still managed to win. She was pinched back at the start and then was reluctant to level off with a first time experience of dirt in her face from a large field. She managed to catch up on a deep and cuppy track after falling back 20-25 lengths. The only question as to whether she'd win was posed by Jerry Bailey, and it was the same one he posed last year: Would she be able to weave her way through a large field as it would probably be too much for her to do to run wide and circle such a big field of quality colts. Mike Smith agreed with Bailey that Zenyatta would have to "cut some edges" so he took her to the inside in the final turn before angling wide in the stretch just as he did last year. By contrast, Blame had an unimpeded rail saving trip, mid-pack. He was the best of the rest - nothing more, nothing less from a horse that was destroyed by Haynesfield in the JGC. Excuses that he wasn't himself the day of the JGC don't cut it. He's never approached Zenyatta's unheard of consistency and the mare ran, perhaps, the greatest race ever in defeat. Seth Hancock was less than gracious in the winner's circle and was tactless in beginning to lobby for Blame for HOY in the wake of the emotional distress many in the crowd and viewing at home were going through just after the mare's heartbreaking defeat. Then was not the time. Zenyatta is not only HOY but the greatest horse since Secretariat. Moss owes it to the horse and to Mike Smith to let the mare return as a 7 year old, face the boys in the Big Grade 1s, and let her again contend in the Classic. Zenyatta deserves the chance at vindication after running the greatest race in defeat I've ever seen. All this from a Rachel Alexander fan who has been completely won over by this valiant race mare.

11 Nov 2010 6:34 PM

Want to know what I think? Well! I'll tell you anyway: They (whomever they are) should abolish the HOY Award. It is reducing what we have seen in the BCC to a heap of rubbles on all blogging sites, except this one. That's all I'm gonna say about the darn thing.

11 Nov 2010 6:59 PM

Will W...  Great post!  Thank you!  

11 Nov 2010 7:33 PM

Hey, Zookeeper, how is your boy doing?  I agree...  There is so much negative out there right now on other blogs, won't mention, Mr.Shandlers name! Whoops!!!  Sorry, that slipt out. Ha...

11 Nov 2010 9:02 PM
Linda in Texas

Bob o i don't think you really mean to call Zenyatta fans crazed followers. If you really meant it the way you wrote it, maybe this is not the blog you meant to say that on.

We are truly trying to keep it civil here, so as not to get stuck in the mire. However, since the author allowed it, i must defend us crazed Zenyatta followers.

I guess when we crazed Zenyatta followers cheered her on to win and she did, 19 times, it does get habitual, but not crazed. A feeling you won't have with Blame.

And i don't say that mean spirited.

And perhaps that race was indeed the greatest race those who watched had ever experienced. Their opinion, your opinion and my opinion of everyone's opinion for what it is worth. It was the greatest race i had ever watched and that is 61 years worth of watching races.

I do hope you were able to cash in on your predictable pre race predictions that Blame would win.

I don't bet, nothing wrong with those that do just have more time to enjoy the outcome rather than wonder if i am losing at the windows.

Will W. a very nice post, but Will W. i feel she is safe, she is sound, she has nothing left to prove. She is a trooper and a player and the only thing left for Zenyatta to do besides spend lovely days in the sun and cold snowy nights in a warm stall is to someday produce a magnificent colt or filly to carry on her legend.

The thousands or maybe millions of us who have loved her every step and breath will never forget her.

I feel thankful she was able to walk off the racetrack on her own Saturday, safe and sound. I just don't think it is worth the injury risk. She has nothing left to prove to anyone. I want her safe for a long long time.

And Deacon, safe journeys to you and yours. And same to Dr. Drunkinbum. I bet Steve will leave the light on for you both as we all have enjoyed your words of wisdom and look forward to more in the future.

Long Live Zenyatta!

And thank you Steve as always.

I am going to start harping "Book" to you myself. I know one is in that head and heart of yours just waiting to be told.

11 Nov 2010 9:14 PM

Great story, Steve, giving credit to both champions. I think the outcome illustrates why 19 for 19 is so hard to accomplish in open, top-class company. As the biker said, "S--t happens!" in the space between gate and wire. The Classic was such a race. Horses get pinched back. They get cut off. They get blocked by fading horses or walls of horses. The best in any race can lose when facing the rest of the best. When planning campaigns, choices get made and the consequences of them are what they are. That said, we saw a race for the ages with the best of the best giving their best and with no favors done for any of them. And that's as it should be. Zen will be remembered long after I am gone. Hopefully Blame will be too because he proved himself on Saturday and earned his place in history. As for Goldikova - she was and is phenomenal. Against girls. Against boys. Anywhere she runs. And if she comes back for Round Four next year, I will be cheering her all the way to the wire! This year's Breeders Cup races were truly thrilling. I think it will take me a little while to catch my breath again. Thanks to all the horses and their connections for giving us two such memorable days.

11 Nov 2010 9:25 PM

Steve, thank you for this article. Living in the West, we have experienced Zenyatta's magic for quite some time.  I understand that she will not be the recipient of the Horse of the Year award. But I am asking that you use your influence to help her to achieve a special recognition at the awards ceremony in January: a special award that recognizes the contribution that Zenyatta and connections gave to the sport; a special award for her unprecedented record and the fans that she brought to the horse racing industry.  Your input will help this great mare and her  connections to be recognized appropriately!  Thank you!


12 Nov 2010 12:10 AM

I appreciate Steve's articles on Zenyatta's impact in this year's Breeder's cup. Steve described the magic of her presence; her performance in the Classic; and the incredible effect she had on the fans that followed her to her barn.  Her connections have always let fans interact with this loveable mare.  Team Zenyatta deserves recognition (if HOY is not an option) for this wonderful experience who is Zenyatta (that they have so generously shared) at the awards ceremony next January. I'm counting on you to help make this special award a reality, Steve! Nick Zito was the first person to suggest this special recognition after the race, and I think he was right on the mark!

Thank you!


12 Nov 2010 12:19 AM

Soldier Course:

If we didn't know before Saturday, we were reminded again how hard it is to win 2 Classics.  Tiznow's feat, the manner in which he won both races, the competition he faced, and the timing of the 2nd win(after 9/11), make it one of the great accomplishments and make the 2nd win one of the great moments of my 21 years in the sport.  Way, way, up in the rankings.  Not in the top 100? A joke.

Think how many good.., scratch it, great horses have tried and failed to win their 2nd Classic.  Unbridled was a really good horse, but he was a well beaten 3rd when going for the repeat in 91'.  Cigar appeared certain to repeat in 96', and after he came sweeping up towards the lead coming into the stretch, his destiny as the first 2-time Classic winner seemed secure.  But then the wears and tears of 20 amazing races in a row began to take their toll, and he ran 3rd.  Skip Away was the favorite in 98' to repeat at Churchill, but he didn't caree for the track and he was also worn out by a demanding career that saw him place in 34 of 38 races.  Yet, even though Skip Away lost that 98' Classic to an undefeated horse that had also won the Stephen Foster and Whitney, Skippy was still awarded HoY.  Pleasantly Perfect won over $7million in his career, and the 03' BC Classic, but he could only muster a well beaten 3rd behind Ghostzapper in 04'.  Then came Curlin, who at the top of the stretch of the 08' Classic, seemed a strong candidate to join Tiznow as the only repeaters.  Alas, he faded in the stretch, and ran 4th.  

Then, sadly for many, Zenyatta joined this list.  However, she came closer to repeating than any of these other wonderful horses.  And she came this close even though her Classic win had come on synthetic and this year's Classic was being run on dirt.  The difference between dirt and synthetics was used heavily by the Curlin camp to explain their colt's loss in 08'.  Few horses have shown the talent and versatility to win gr.1 races on dirt and synthetic.  How about trying to win separate Classics, one on synthetic and the other on dirt?  Well, Zenyatta came a head short from doing just that.  And for all those people who detracted from Zenyatta's Classic win last year by stressing the fact that she won the race on "her home track", we would be remiss not to mention that she lost this year's Classic to a horse running on "his home track".  

The above list of failed Classic repeaters doesn't even include lesser known Classic winners that came back the next year, horses like Skywalker, Concern, Cat Thief, and Volponi. Nor does it include a horse like Alysheba, who in 87' lost the Classic by a nose and then came back to win the Classic in 88'.

12 Nov 2010 12:22 AM


Very well said.

12 Nov 2010 12:25 AM

And Zenyatta fans, we did get the Holllywood ending, last year.  Her win last year was amazing, with many saying it was the definitive moment in BC history, and the best race of the last 25 years.

For all the criticism the Moss' have received, they didn't have to bring her back this year.  Like I said, they already had their perfect ending, with Zenyatta a perfect 14 for 14.  

Was it worth bringing her back?  I say absolutely!  First, they wanted to beat Rachel.  That chance was denied them, and that seriously disrupted their plans.  I respect Rachel and think she was worthy of at least co-HoY last year, but I found it very telling that Jess Jackson pulled her from the Apple Blossom and retired her before the Breeder's Cup.  Even though Rachel very well might have won the Beldame and BC Distaff, his ego simply wouldn't allow him to run Rachel in a "lesser" race while Zenyatta was facing the boys at 10 furlongs, a race Rachel was ill-equipped to win.  But I digress.

Zenyatta's legend, and legacy was already secured with last year's Classic win.  She added to it this year.  5 more gr.1 wins, including another on dirt, as well as winning under 129 and 127 lbs.  And she brought even more people to the track, and to the television.  Hollywood Park hadn't seen a day like the Lady's Secret in a decade.  Then there was the 60 Minutes segment, the piece in O, and all the other stories written about her in mainstream papers, magazines, and journals.  Her pulling power wasn't fully realized, however, until the Breeder's Cup, when she helped bring in a rating 3x that of last year's telecast.

Most knowledgable racegoers seem to agree that Zenyatta's legacy was only strengthened in defeat.  True, she lost her perfect record and the perfect ending she had achieved in last year's Breeder's Cup, but she gained more admirers, and finally won over most of the sketpics.  No, she is not a synthetic specialist.  Yes, she can travel, and yes she can compete with males on dirt.  Yes, she can spot a field of the best male horses in the world a 20 length head start on dirt, and still be in the photo.  And after two years of hearing the complaints of Eastern horsemen and racing observers about how hard it is to transfer form between dirt and synthetics, Zenyatta comes  a head away from winning a Classic on synthetic and then another Classic on dirt.  Can someone say versatility?

So, the perfect ending was denied Zenyatta.  But I always felt like it was asking just a little too much for the racing gods to give Zenyatta two perfect endings.  She'll always have the 09' Classic.  And though not victorious, Zenyatta will always be remembered fondly and with respect for the 10' Classic, and for bringing racing into homes that would have otherwise never been interested.  In the end, the racing gods simply made Zenyatta share the perfect ending with another admirable horse, Blame, and Claiborne.

12 Nov 2010 12:58 AM

If Steve will indulge me, I'm going to try and remember a post I made on another blog, which the writer chose not to post.

The world has turned upside down on its axis and is spinning in the the opposite direction.  The mighty Andy Beyer finally praises Zenyatta for her courage, and provides a 111 rating for both Blame and Zen in the BC Classic.  It shows even the most ill-informed can be enlightened by the feats of an accomplished mare...unless your name is J____.  Well J_____ has his opinion and I have mine.  What we have in common is that neither one of us will get to vote for HOY, so neither opinion really counts for that much.  (Unlike the Cartier Award in which fans do have a say).  All I ask of folks is that no one disparages any horse in their rants (not happening here on Steve's blog, but plenty of venom elsewhere).  I think Blame ran a sensational race, and dug down deep when he had to.  I also believe Zenyatta proved her mettle in that same race, and gained even greater admiration by the way she closed so miraculously on Blame.  Mere inches separated her from perfection, while those same inches enshrined her greatness more certainly in racing legends.  Do I think Zenyatta is the best we have?...without a doubt!

12 Nov 2010 8:44 AM
Linda in Texas

Slew-while Steve was away, i like you, found myself on the other blog which you also were denied a post on.

There goes that east coast bias again, i am from Texas. I ponder his being able to vote for HOY and at the same time write what should be a middle of the road article about the BCC. Giving attention to his previous biased statements on who should get HOY even before the BCC, i was interested in what was being said. After reading many vile and hate filled comments about a horse for God's sake, i had to respond.

The gist of the statements began to take on a life all of their own. It became clear to me that reasons for wanting Blame horse of the year were that Claiborne is having monetary issues. They need a star attraction for breeding purposes. I do not feel that those are criteria for Horse of The Year. It mattered not of course that Z won more Grade 1's than B.

That was never taken into consideration and if they were, people blasted Z because she ran and won on plastic. If she is a plastic running horse, then maybe all of those she beat in the BCC should practice on it!

Also mention was made of east coast versus west coast, and finally one poster slipped through and made the comment on that blog, that Blame being horse of the year would give the superiority or some such word back to the male gender.

Aha, i had hit a nerve as i had made all 3 of those same observations in my unposted post. I said $$$$$$$$$$$,

east or west coast, and male or female were not what i would expect the criteria to be to vote for HOY.

Plus i touched on the emotion being taken out of the mix which he clearly stated should not be allowed when voting. Well, he certainly enjoyed the praise placed on him when he predicted Blame as the winner and was correct. Did he not feel emotion? He won at the windows when he bet, so i suppose Mr. Non Emotion probably gave his winnings away, God forbid there be any emotion. I wrote that maybe if he spent some time in a box with Mike Repole and his family the next time Uncle Mo races, that emotion just might rub off on him. Must have gotten under his skin and too close to the truth. When will he learn that emotion is not one of the 7 deadly sins?

So join the club Slew of File 13 posts not posted on that other blog. You said some truthful things that he could not handle.

Slew, he does get to vote for Horse of The Year, i believe i am right. Unless you were referring to another J in your post.

On the other pressing issue.

Thought about you when Jerry Jones finally realized all of us out here in the hinterlands were right.

Only problem with his new interim coach, Garrett, is that Jason is the one that has been calling the plays all along, not Slug. Out of the list of prospective Coaches, i like Mike Pettine. Young, tough looking and can identify with the players.

12 Nov 2010 11:25 AM
lisa ford

Dear Steve, I have never appreciated your fair minded writing more that I do now while re-reading your coverage of the Classic. It shows with amazing attention to detail all that is at stake in a great race like the one we witnessed last saturday. But what is most incredible is how you combine that reporter's acuity with a true love of the sport-one that allows you to celebrate the great gift that Zenyatta has been to us all. Thank you Thank you for doing it all-you're brilliant, you're wise, and you're filled with passion. We love you Steve.

12 Nov 2010 2:32 PM


Thank you for your wonderful comments, here and on Jason's blog. You posted there only once but it was a very strong and compelling plea for Zen's fans to leave the fray and the mud slinging that was happening over there. Like you I cannot believe the choice of topic, such a short time after the race was run.

Mr. Haskin gets it. This is a time for celebration. A time to reflect on what we have seen. A time for giving praise to two horses who showed such grit and determination in a race that no one will ever forget.

Many here have given credit to Zenyatta for lifting them up out of a depressing time in their life and in this country. Like Tiznow, after 9-11, she told us not to give up. He never did and neither did she. The result was different by mere inches but the message was loud and clear. In victory or in defeat, you can achieve nobility of heart and soul.

I hope you keep posting. I never get tired of reading your thoughts. Like Mr. Haskin, you are an inspiration to remain calm, cool headed, fair and logical when the forces around one try their hardest to drive one to madness.

12 Nov 2010 2:41 PM

Mr. Haskin, I posted a comment, in response to Linda in Texas, submitted just before my last one. Was it objectionable? or did the cyberspace monster get it?  

12 Nov 2010 5:18 PM

Thank you Zookeeper for those wonderful words.  I respect the heck out of you as well.  

Of all the problems in horse racing, I don't think one of them is loving a horse too much.  

12 Nov 2010 11:22 PM

Your best writing ever!

13 Nov 2010 7:52 AM
New Mexico Race Fan

Zenyatta will probably not win HOY because of 1 loss. She should have been HOY in 2009 when she won the Breeder's Cup Classic and was undefeated but because the race was at Santa Anita on synthetics her performance wasn't deemed worthy. She has won on dirt too

but not on the race tracks that decide HOY apparently. Zenyatta is one of the legends and will be remembered by racing fans and those who only saw her on 60 Minutes whether or not the racing establishment bestows its highest award to her.

13 Nov 2010 12:09 PM
Raye Source in NM

Excellent written story displaying over whelming emotions of the participants.  You are very good with words in recognizing the feelings transcended from the crowd to the most seasoned race tracker and horse person.  If Queen Z could read, she would approve.

15 Nov 2010 9:31 PM

I just read your story again Steve.  Very good stuff ...after a week of reflecting on the event and savoring the moments.  No one can describe them in written form like you.

Looking forward to your thoughts on this year's HOTY debate.

16 Nov 2010 4:46 PM
Terry C

Zenyatta is not only the Horse of the Year, Horse of the Decade, and Horse of the Century, she is among the top 5 or so horses who ever ran.

It is amazing how some of the "experts" apparently don't believe their own eyes.  Anyone who "saw" the race knows that Zenyatta was clearly superior.  There was no stretch duel where Zenyatta had ample time to pass Blame.  She was gaining with every stride after probably the greatest drive ever.  She proves her superiority over dirt,the best males, harsh racing luck, and still the pundits want to quickly give the Horse of the Year to Blame forgetting his Gold Cup trouncing.

Some would even rather give it to Goldikova, a grass miler who probably couldn't beat Quality Road nor Rachel, even this year, over that distance.  I notice they weren't anxious to put her in the Classic at a quarter mile longer, or even for the Lady's Classic at more than a mile.

If Zenyatta doesn't win Horse of the Year, then the "honor" is a meaningless indulgence in subjective bias. The good will and enthusiasm that Zenyatta has created for the sport during her 20 races will be destroyed by the cynicism of the biased ones with eyes that do not see and votes that they do not deserve within a sport that can do without them and their moronic bias.

17 Nov 2010 4:03 PM
Kathryn Cogswell

Dear Mr. Haskins:  With this work, you have accomplished what great writing does -- it changes the reader.  Thank you for illuminating the intricate pieces of all that made the BCC'10 more than the sum of its parts.  You were able to enlighten the heroic components of this heart-stopping race with its history, going very far back indeed.  The future of all these principals, as they impact one another, is something to smile about.  Thank you for this.

03 Dec 2010 2:38 PM
Donna from Baltimore

This is a great piece.  I didn't know those things about Blame or his connections - and I am glad to have read them.  I am as rabid a Zenyatta fan as anyone, and I was absolutely devastated when she lost - but every horse out there was there to win, every jockey doing their best to win, and that is as is should be.  I would never want the Queen to win a race against competition that didn't give it their best, too!  I also feel no other horse could have given the performance Zenyatta turned in.  Blame won the race, but the Queen wasn't defeated!

22 Dec 2010 8:44 PM

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