Eclipse Awards Voting Deadline Looms

The 2010 graded stakes schedule of major North American races concludes Monday with the San Gabriel Stakes at Santa Anita. Over the next week, many Eclipse Awards voters will be grappling with the selection of human and equine champions to be honored at the 40th Annual Eclipse Awards Dinner on January 17, 2011, at the Fontainebleau in Miami Beach, Florida.   Eclipse Award ballots were mailed to voters in mid-December, and the deadline for receipt of all ballots is Tuesday, January 4, 2011.  The equine categories include:
Steeplechase Horse
2-Year-Old Colt or Gelding
2-Year-Old Filly
3-Year-Old Colt or Gelding
3-Year-Old Filly
Older Male
Older Female
Male Sprinter
Female Sprinter
Male Turf Horse
Female Turf Horse
Horse of the Year
The human categories are:
Apprentice Jockey
When it comes to actual voting, there is only one rule: to be eligible for a vote, a horse must have made one start in North America in 2010. There are many opinions about what the qualifications are or ought to be but none are codified in the Eclipse Award voting rules nor is any direction given to voters in this regard. The goal is to honor excellence- nothing more and nothing less.
Contrary to popular belief, no one at the NTRA has a vote in the Eclipse Awards.  We manage the event for the industry but none of us at the NTRA has a direct say in the outcome.  The voting takes place among the following groups:
1.            Members of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters;
2.            Daily Racing Form writers and editors;
3.            Equibase chart callers; and
4.            Racing secretaries at NTRA member racetracks.
Votes are tabulated on a straight one-person, one-vote basis.  Last year, a total of 271 ballots were mailed and 232 ballots were returned (85.6%). Voters are required to rank three horses or individuals in each voting category.   The 1-2-3 voting determines the top 3 finalists except for Horse of the Year where there are no finalists.  The champion is determined by the highest number of first-place votes.  If a voter provides incomplete rankings (e.g. only a first-place vote) or attempts to split votes (in any of three positions), his or her vote in that category is disqualified.  
All voting takes place online through a password protected Website. The votes are tabulated and verified by an independent accounting firm.   I did not know that Rachel Alexandra was the top vote-getter for the 2009 Horse of the Year title until I opened the envelope live on stage last January at the Beverly Wilshire.  The same will be true next month when I open the envelope for 2010 Horse of the Year.
Especially with the popularity of Zenyatta this year, we are once again hearing from fans who want a say in the outcome of the Eclipse Award selection process.   Popular television shows like “American Idol” and “Dancing with the Stars” incorporate fan voting into the selection process with mostly great success.  Internet voting and text messaging are natural fits for this type of fan involvement.   But the Eclipse Awards, like the Academy Awards, the Grammys and other longstanding awards that honor the best in a particular industry, are not popularity contests.
But we have not forgotten the fans.  Similar to popular “people’s choice” awards in the movie, music and television industries, the NTRA has established the annual “NTRA Moment of the Year”.  For the past 12 years, we have been asking fans to vote for their favorite moment. Some of the winning Moments are happy snapshots in time—like Zenyatta’s 2009 Breeders’ Cup Classic win.  Others are tinged with sadness (e.g., Chris Antley with Charismatic after the 1999 Belmont Stakes, the passing of Seattle Slew, Smarty Jones losing to Birdstone in the 2004 Belmont Stakes).  This year’s winning Moment will be recognized at the Eclipse Awards ceremony and those selecting the winning image automatically will be entered in a random drawing for a $100 gift certificate to the Online Memorabilia Store. [link to page]
So, the voting has begun and will continue until January 4, 2011.  Now is the time to let your views be known. As the Eclipse Award voters wrestle with their ballots over the holidays, some will no doubt be looking for insight as they peruse the racing industry’s prolific trade and social media.   Take advantage of these communications tools.  And don’t forget that there are 17 categories in all.  With all the debate about Horse of the Year, perhaps too little attention has been paid to the many other top horses in other categories.  
Let me hear from you.  Who are the top candidates in some of the categories that may have been overlooked so far? 


Leave a Comment:

A Horse Racing Fan

The racing industry wants more involvement from the general public..why not let them vote? If Zenyatta doesn't get Horse Of The Year racing will have a black mark on it for years to come!

27 Dec 2010 5:22 PM
Jeannette B.

Are tickets to the Eclipse Awards dinner 2011 by invitation only? If not, how are they obtained?

27 Dec 2010 5:40 PM

Fans should absolutely NEVER get a vote in the Eclipse Awards unless a new award for Fan Favorite is introduced.

27 Dec 2010 6:10 PM
Fran Loszynski

I think for moment of the year it should be when Dublin and Backtalk sons of Afleet Alex and Smarty Jones walked down the track in side by side post positions, their fathers having been from the same area Philadelphia and both having run in the Derby. Talk about coincidences and a touching moment. I know there were tears in my eyes. Also Two sons of Afleet Alex Afleet Express and Afleet Again coming in first and second in the Pegasus, another unbelievable moment. Some will say "nay" but seriously think what were the chances of these two moments in racing happening!

28 Dec 2010 8:00 AM
Kathy Wilson

I certainly hope the voters for HOY do a better job this year than last. Even though Zenyatta lost the Breeder's cup the tremendous race that she ran should prove that she was the BEST horse in the race and the entire year. After all she DID win last year and still lost HOY. Everyone involved in her career should have awards from the owners to her groom for the care and planning that was given to her so she remained uninjured and healthly to hopefully give us many fillies and colts to carry on her legacy. I hope the voters take all of this into consideration before voting. Thank you.  

28 Dec 2010 8:26 AM

I hope this year when the Horse of the Year envelope is open and read that we all hear Zenyatta's name where it belongs.  It should have been called last year and she certainly deserves it and has earned it.

28 Dec 2010 9:19 AM

Steeplechase Horse – Slip Away

2-Year-Old Colt or Gelding – Uncle Mo

2-Year-Old Filly – Awesome Feather

3-Year-Old Colt or Gelding – Looking at Lucky

3-Year-Old Filly – Blind Luck

Older Male - Blame

Older Female – Life at Ten

Male Sprinter – MagicalPerfection

Female Sprinter – Dubia Majesty

Male Turf Horse - Winchester

Female Turf Horse - Goldikova

Horse of the Year - Blame

The human categories are:

Owner – Winstar – Some say Jerry Moss who ranks 15th in money earning and 161st in the wins category, they have more wins as owners as John Sheriffs has as a trainer. lol

Breeder - Winstar

Trainer – Todd Pletcher – Its amazing that anyone would even think to mention John Sheriffs he had 14 wins for the year LOL, amazing he only ranks 30th in earnings and ranks 909th in the wins category.

Jockey – Ramon Dominguez

Apprentice Jockey – Tyler Caplan

28 Dec 2010 9:32 AM

Zenyatta was the HOY. Hopefully the voters acknowledge it.

28 Dec 2010 9:36 AM

Kathy if you take the emotion out you'd have to say the horse that actually deserved the HOY award is the one that ran in open company, defeated many Grade 1 horses in actual grade 1 competitive races and beat Zenyatta in a head to head matchup.  The same horse that had his ears pricked and straight up at the wire, whose jockey never hit him with a right hand whip and hand rode him to the wire.  HOY is Blame hands down.

28 Dec 2010 9:39 AM

If the Cartier can be voted by turf writers, horsemen and fans for HOY in Europe...why not open the Eclipse awards the same way...especially when TB racing is so much more available than ever before?  More fans are more involved than ever...and deserve to be recognized as something more than sideline bench-sitters.  

We generate the money for the purses for those races where a horse must prove himself/herself before anyone will pay any stud fees in the breeding shed.  We deserve a voice.  

28 Dec 2010 9:47 AM

People do recognize that this award goes to the connections and not the horse correct.  If Moss had wanted HOY he would have campaigned her as such, remember Moss and Sheriffs said that they were “NOT CHASING HOY” how do you as her fans after hearing them make that statement try to beg and plead for HOY with zero conclusive evidence as to what she did on the track to support you.  You all have taken shots at Blame, who I agree would be a Grade II horse most years, but if you’re taking shots at him what does that say for the mare that she had the whole length of the Long Churchill Stretch that you all said she would love to run him down and she couldn’t go by.  He is the better horse, and the results of the race give indication as to why her connections choose to skip the races of national significance that they ducked in order to try to catch Pepper’s Pride.  Unfortunately they couldn’t get past her either. Zenyatta certainly deserves champion older mare, and HOF and whatever else fan award you want to give her give her the lifetime equine achievement award but not once in her 4 year career did she run a 1 year campaign that was HOY worthy.  And to hear or see writers who have been around the game for years and years and watched HOY candidates run in ambitious, difficult races from January 1 – Dec 31 to deserve the award to want to “GIVE” it to a horse that was tested 1 time this year by a quality graded field of horses win or lose that is Not I repeat Not HOY worthy.  She had half the following of Rachel and ¼ the following of Smarty Jones, she brought out 12,000 to her home track in June, what does that tell you.  So please stop with the excuses and begging and unprofessional blogs every day about or saying goodbye to her, or the ½ page articles talking about everything she did except for what happened on the track.  Lets focus on get down to it gritty horses that were campaigned like champions not allowance horses. The top two candidates are Goldikova and Blame and Blame wins by means of a US campaign.

28 Dec 2010 9:48 AM

Since only one start in the US is necessary to qualify for HOY, Goldikova is the reasonable and best choice.

28 Dec 2010 9:48 AM
LouAnn Cingel of Union, Missouri

Zenyatta 2010 Horse of the Year!

28 Dec 2010 9:56 AM
Susan W are $350.00 for the black tie event and I lost the email I got, but you can call the Fountainbleu in Miami Beach and they can direct you (I believe that was actually one of the places to call for tix).


28 Dec 2010 10:09 AM

Goldikova should be Horse of the Year

28 Dec 2010 10:29 AM

I agree, IF zenyatta does not win HOY the horse racing Industry not only will get it wrong, the Industry itself will suffer even further for years to come. Anyone seeing these posts has to know that THEY MUST GET THIS RIGHT. Blame was horse for a day, Zenyatta is HORSE OF A LIFETIME!

28 Dec 2010 10:46 AM

does anyone have any recent news

concerning Life at Ten... where is

she?  is she alright? what happened

to her......

28 Dec 2010 11:35 AM
Mike Relva


We are in agreement,she deserves it.

28 Dec 2010 11:37 AM

If Zenyatta wins horse of the year, that award becomes a joke. Everyone that is voting for her is making the argument "there is no set criteria for HOTY...," and that is because they cannot make the case that she deserves it over Blame BASED ON WHAT HAPPENED ON THE TRACK IN 2010. Zenyatta is a terrific horse, and she was very nice for the sport, and her reward will come in 5 years in the hall of fame, but Blame was the best horse with the best campaign in 2010, and he deserves HOTY.

28 Dec 2010 11:53 AM

The Eclipse Awards need a point system. This would not be that hard to put into place. Points could even be calculated for this year. Points would be based on the grade of the race and how many horses are in each field. Extra points would be awarded if a horse breaks a record or does something great, like win the Triple Crown, or the Filly Triple Crown. This would make HOY a performance based award, and the best horse would be chosen. Also there should be a people's choice award that fans get to vote for. The moment of the year award does not select and honor a specific horse. A people's choice award would do that.

28 Dec 2010 12:14 PM

I think that Zenyatta was a very very good racehorse but not one of the best of all times. Not with the limited campaign she had. She only ran twice in truely open company. .  

Rachel Alexandra deserved HOY last year and Blame should get it this year. I actually think that Goldikova and Blind Luck had more ambitious campaigns than Zenyatta did this year.

28 Dec 2010 12:30 PM

I calculated HOY between Zenyatta and Blame using a point system. The criteria is listed below.

Grade 1 10 pt + # of horses

Grade 2 8 pt + # of horses

Grade 3 6 pt + # of horses

Upgraded stakes 4 pt + # of horses

2nd place in these races will earn half the number of points as first place. 3rd place will earn half of the second place points.

Points are only awarded for races won in the US.

An extra ten points will be awarded to a horse that does the following:

-Breaks a record

-Wins the Triple Crown

-Wins the Filly Triple Crown

-Breaks the earnings record for colts

-Breaks the earnings record for fillys


- G1 Santa Margarita        17

- G1 Apple Blossom        14

- G1 Vanity        15

- G1 Clement L Hirsch        15

- G1 Lady’s Secret 14

- G1 BCC       10.5

Total 85.5


- G1 Breeders Cup Classic 21

- G3 William Donald Schaefer    14

- G1 Stephen Foster 20

- G1 Whitney        15

- G1 JCC 7.5

Total 77.5

Zenyatta is the winner based on this point system. I did not calculate any other horses so I don't know if they have more points than Zenyatta.

28 Dec 2010 1:11 PM

Zenyatta should be HOY. Why? Most ask especailly her detractors. Well Curlin came in 4th in his BCC and he still got HOY. Everthing Zenyatta ran against became a GII or GI winner. She ran on four different types of synthetics and dirt. HOY is not only about Excellence but Heart. Both of which she has. Durability she stayed "at peak" performance level and retired sound. That should stand for Trainer of the year as well.

Uncle Mo is great for 2yr. Old. Then you can't forget Gio Ponti for turf horse. Where would you fit Switch in? There are other probabilites for other divisons. But if Zenyatta doesn't get HOY it will be a travesty. Quality Road should be considered before Blame.

28 Dec 2010 1:51 PM

I am baffled by the idea that anyone would even consider a horse other than Zenyatta for Horse of the Year. NO OTHER horse has brought more people to their feet, handed more new fans into the industry, given as much hope to veteran fans or won more hearts...ALL WHILE WINNING RACES.

28 Dec 2010 1:52 PM
A Horse Racing Fan

Fans NEVER having a vote for the Eclipse Awards is the blue blood's attitude in the sport of racing. No wonder the general public doesn't care about about cultivating a fan base???  

28 Dec 2010 2:10 PM


Do I need to repeat that?

28 Dec 2010 4:35 PM

Zenyatta is Horse of the Year, no doubt about it.

28 Dec 2010 4:37 PM
Donna S.

Moment of the year: the passing of Personal Ensign, Horse of the year:

Queen Zenyatta.

28 Dec 2010 6:18 PM
Gary Tasich

"Z" is HOY....tough to win 19 in a row by any stretch....ever see a horse win like her while being at the mercy of the pace every a paceless race carrying 129 lbs.....setting records with 3 three-peat victories....record earnings....all this year....while spotting Blame that much distance and having to check and alter course when Quality Road impeded her....on a surface that is favored by Blame? What a phenomenal year.....! Name a horse that can boast the same. When Pepper's Pride won 19 State restricted races in a row, Baffert praised her and said it's very difficult to keep a horse healthy enough regardless of the competition and still win 19 races. Zenyatta's groom said it far as she's concerned she won... she hit her target. What a champion she is and will always be. This year and years to come. Rachel got a pass for not showing up last year and NONE of the east coast talent (FEMALES) wanted to face her in the Apple Blossom. The Z-team took care of their mare and she showed up EVERY time. When she did she laid it all on the line as everyone witnessed in the 2010 BCC. If she's not HOY material then you all are so jaded by Blame you can't give credit where credit is due. Watch the video of her at Lane's End.

If seeing that doesn't bring a smile to your face or warm your heart then you've got ice coursing through your veins. What a thrill watching her once again show what a champion she is only to come up a few inches short. That cements her as one of the greatest and only gives meaning to Blame's head bob. Zenyatta is truly deserving of HOY!!

28 Dec 2010 9:15 PM

Having been a racing fan all my life, and having seen many of the greats over the past 64 years, if Zenyatta does not get Horse of the Year, I will not only be disappointed, but soured on the sport beyond repair.

28 Dec 2010 10:20 PM

Let Blame be HOY, Zenyatta is for the ages.

28 Dec 2010 10:42 PM

I believe that the horse of the year award should go to the horse that had the better year so my vote would have to be for Blame. He did had a better year than Zenyatta. However, this is not saying that Zenyatta is not a great horse I honestly believe she is the best female race horse in American Racing. However, she does not deserve the award. Just like other sports the MVP awards go to the player that does the most on the field and to me that was Blame because he gave Zenyatta her first carrer lost. If Zenyatta wanted to be horse of the year she should have gone to races like the Hollywood Gold Cup or the Pacific Classic but she did not so its her lost and no one else. Zenyatta will always be remebered forever, with or without the award. And the fans that she brought into this sport will never understand the award system of this sport or even care that she did not get the award or get it because she was the best horse they saw and she touched many people's lives. However, this does not make a horse of the year. Look at Smarty Jones he did the same thing and did not get voted for Horse of the Year. So to me Blame should be horse of the year just like last year when i said that Rachel Alexandra should be horse of the year and she is still a deserving recipit of the award.

29 Dec 2010 12:24 AM

If "excellence" is the criteria for HOY as this article proclaims,  then Zenyatta is the winner --by far.  She was 100% perfect last year and was denied --even though she won the very race against males  that is supposed to be so meaningtful THIS year. (How do you improve on perfection?) And---this year,she was 99.99999% perfect (No other horse reached THAT statistic.)  If she does not win this year, then racing is all politically and financially motivated  with no justice or credibility, and that award from this day forward will be meaningless to those of us who count the most --the people out here  who support the industry.

29 Dec 2010 9:44 AM

My vote would be for Zenyatta.  She won 5 Grade 1 races this year, tied the Record of 19 Straight Wins, became the Leading Female Earner (with 1 start in N. America), became the World Record Holder for 8 straight Grade 1/Group 1 Wins, raced at 5 different tracks in 3 states on multiple surfaces.  If you look strictly at races and don't consider the records you might say Blame has a slight edge but the edge is slight at best.  There were no great older horses for Blame to race against this year other than Quality Road.  Zenyatta beat the same horses Blame beat in the Classic.  If Zenyatta had been trounced in the Classic I might feel differently but she wasn't.    

29 Dec 2010 10:52 AM

Zenyatta is the most overrated horse of all time. She may have had the talent to be a top horse, but her connections kept her in an ultra conservative campaign that never let her show off her talents, and the only time she ran against real competition on dirt, she lost. Everyone on here wants to talk about 19 wins in a row and how she was a head away from retiring undefeated, but no one wants to look at the quality of competition or the fact that 18 of her 20 races were in restricted company. Not only that, but 17 of those 20 races were on the synthetic surfaces of southern California, and her biggest win ever came over a surface that has since been ripped out of the ground because it was a joke. If all that matters in this sport is record and record only, well then Peppers Pride becomes the greatest horse of all time. After all, she never lost a race, something Zenyatta cannot say. This whole voting process is becoming a joke this year. It was well known that coming into the Classic, 4 horses had a stake at HOTY, and the winner of the race should/would take home the award. Well, Blame won and he is the deserving winner. If the Mosses wanted to win HOTY, they could have put Zenyatta on a HOTY campaign, instead, they went right back to the SAME campaign they put her on last year. You know what the definition of insanity is? Doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result. When Blame is announced as HOTY, you have no one to be angry about but Zenyatta's connections. Enough of this crap of "oh lets just give Zenyatta the award." A prestigious award like HOTY is EARNED, and Blame EARNED HOTY this year. Zenyatta is a wonderful horse, but her award comes in 5 years in the HOF. And for everyone that talks about how much she did for the sport and how many new fans she brought into the game, lets take a poll in 2 years- I would love to hear the percentage of people that say their reason for becoming a fan of this sport is because of Zenyatta. I would be willing to bet that number would be similar to the number of HOTY awards Zenyatta has/will win....

29 Dec 2010 12:53 PM

Sophie15 - Interesting point system.  Makes sense.  Zenyatta showed up EVERY time.  Supporters are giving  Blame a free pass when Haynesfield cleaned his clock.  Every race has what is supposed to happen & then what does & why.  Z was THERE at the end of EVERY race, regardless.  Todd Pletcher for trainer of the year?  If Life At Ten could vote I'm thinking no way!

29 Dec 2010 12:59 PM

As I have said on other blogs, I fully understand loving a horse such as Zenyatta and yes, she was amazing but what really upsets me is the general concensus of Zenyatta fans is that Rachel Alexandra should not have won last year.  How can one even come to that conclusion?  Rachel was 3 years old, running EIGHT races last year, 3 against males.  First filly to win the Preakness in 85 years and the ONLY horse to win it from the 13 post.  She won the Haskell in devastating fashion and by the time she got to the Woodward, she was a tired horse and still sone against OLDER males by pure heart and determination, and actually gutting herself to do so and not regaining her form this year until late.  So many of the Zenyatta fans critique her saying that her Woodward was nothing because the horses she ran against were no good.  She set the stakes record for the Mother Goose while being eased the last 100 yards and was only 1/5 second off of Secretariat's track record.  How can one think this was not a HOY performance?  Yes, Zenyatta was undefeated in 2009 and won the BCC, first ever Mare to do so.  A marvelous accomplishment.  She raced a total of 5 times.  I am not belittling her accomplishments, in fact, I thought she would win last year because of the BCC but it didn't happen.  Why must you continually say that Rachel didn't deserve HOY after what she did?  Show me another 3 year old filly that has run that kind of year, please!  I don't understand why one must demonize a horse that beat your favorite.  I don't get it at all.

29 Dec 2010 1:27 PM
Fran Loszynski

To Peggie: don't go sour on the sport if Zenyatta doesn't win. We need people like you that love the sport and AfleetAlexforever has many good points about Blame that I never thought of or watched more closely-I too want Zenyatta to win; but horseracing is just that "a horserace". If we go sour on the sport what will the great racehorses that are yet to come do without us cheering. When Ruffian suffered his accident and died; I missed alot of races of other great horses, but never again. They missed my cheers and my hands sweating on the track rail. Take Heart.  "It's A HorseRace".

29 Dec 2010 2:48 PM

American Eclipse Champion Female Turf Horse: Tuscan Evening...I can accept Proviso.

If this was an International Eclipse Champion award I would choose Goldikova, but then, if the Ecplise awards were International, Goldikova would be my HOY, too.

Blame: HOY

Zenyatta: an American Treasure.

29 Dec 2010 2:57 PM

zenyatta did not break a record

tie of 19 straight wins... the old

record was 16 straight wins and she

broke that with 19 straight wins.

big difference..

29 Dec 2010 7:11 PM

I am baffled by the idea that anyone would consider giving Zenyatta HOY. She certainly didn't earn it on the track, and the arguments that she's done so much for the sport and brought so many new fans to racing are as full of holes as they are irrelevant to consideration for the award.

Here's what "Queen Z" has done for the racing industry in the US.

Racing in Massachusetts is STILL on life support. To call the situation dire would be a gross understatement. There is still NO racing in New Hampshire. Rockingham Park remains a depressing ghost town. New York City Off-Track Betting Corp shut down despite the existence of "Queen Z". For a while there it looked as if there might not be any racing in Maryland next year, which put the status of the second jewel of the Triple Crow in question. Was that "Queen Z" in her teal and pink cape that swooped in at the last minute to save the day? I didn't think so. New Jersey racing is still in a precarious state and as a result Monmouth Park still doesn't have a schedule for 2011.

And that's only five states. Zenyatta has done nothing for the sport of racing as a whole. All these "new fans" only showed up to the track when SHE was running and they proved themselves to be a classless lot. I was disgusted by the silence that greeted Blame when he was brought to the winner's circle after the BCC.

Congratulations, you showed the world what a bunch of one dimensional, sore losers the Zenyatta Zealots are. You should be ashamed of yourselves. I'm just relieved that most of you will lose interest in racing after the Eclipse Awards are presented.

29 Dec 2010 8:01 PM

Most of the divisional champions are gimmes.

So should the Horse of the Year.  After reading several point systems such as Bill Shanklin and Jon White, as well as the comments from Allen Jerkens and John Nerud one has come to the conclusion that Zenyatta is and will be easily voted the HOY.

Here are my top five for HOY:

1.  Zenyatta - landslide winner, finally gets her due

2. Blind Luck  -  will carry the torch for after Zenyatta

3. Goldikova  -  finally recognized even in Europe

4. Uncle Mo  -  best two year season in years, but worry about his pedigree

5. Blame  -  seems like every race had some sort of excuse, explanation or story of why he actually won

29 Dec 2010 10:12 PM
Robin from Maryland

I too feel that the "Queen" should be HOY.  Do I really think she will be awarded such honors???  Doubt it!!!  It was apparent last year that the voters DID NOT appreciate what she did; so, why should they do anything different this year.  Despite all that, to me, Zen is not only HOY, BUT, HORSE OF A LIFETIME!!!  Can't say anything more.

29 Dec 2010 10:33 PM


Do me a favor and look up the 2010 racing records of the horses that Blame ran against this year before the Breeder's Cup.  I think you will be shocked to see that Quality Road was the only real competition he had.  Just because the races were "open company" doesn't mean the competition was stellar.  

29 Dec 2010 10:49 PM
Zen girl

In my opinion Zenyatta is not just Horse of the Year but Horse of the Century. I have been around horses all my life and she is like no other. I am sorry that more people have not experienced her in person...she is the Queen.  And not only a beautiful animal but with a competitive spirit and talent that few can match. Her record of 19 straight wins should be enough. The racing industry will do itself a grave disservice not to make her Horse of the Year.  The east coast may not fully understand her popularity but it is her heart which people connected to.  Sometimes God gives you glimpses into greatness and for me Zenyatta is it.

Racing is in trouble for a multitude of reasons.  One is they have done little to protect horses after racing and continue to race 2 year olds hard and the public doesn't like that.  Another is you can sit on your couch and watch races without ever entering a track even betting from home. And the competition from other sports and activities had made going to the track a more occassional event.It used to be one of the only places you could gamble - now it is just one in a long line.

Zenyatta did bring lots of excitment and people to the track in California and thousands came to see her at BC. They were routing for her.  That is why it went quiet at the Breeder's Cup when Blame won. One head bob and the whole thing would have been differnt.  I was at the finish line.  She had the momentum. People were disappointed that after such a tremendous effort, this special horse didn't get one last go at the winner's circle. She is a winner and people wanted to share that experience with her.  Blame is certainly a great horse and so is Rachel Alexander but Zenyatta is so much more.  It will be interesting.  The Eclipse voters will get a chance to include the public by making Zenyatta Horse of the Year.  She is the people's choice and she should be their choice too.

30 Dec 2010 1:27 AM


Outstanding post. Some people want us to hold our noses with Blame and vote for him.

Ain't going to happen.

Zenyatta is the symbol of what the Horse of the Year Award stands for.


30 Dec 2010 1:43 AM

According to the official Eclipse definition for Horse of the Year is..."horse regardless of age, whose performance is deemed the most outstanding for the racing year".

Now please help me out.  How in the world is Blame losing to a horse by four and a half lengths considered outstanding.  Consider all in the fact that the same horse just lost to an ex-claimer a few backs.

Further, how is winning a Grade 3 considered outstanding?  What's with that? A Grade 3 race?

Again, how is beating an injured horse in the Foster considered outstanding?

How is struggling to get past a tiring Quality Road all the while getting 5 lbs from him considered outstanding?

Sorry, Blame does not pass the smell test.

Zenyatta, the winner of 5 Grade 1 races and being the best horse in the Classic is considered outstanding.

30 Dec 2010 1:49 AM

The award is for excellence. Blame had a great day and is the only one to have any bragging rights when it comes to Zenyatta. Good for him.

However, is there any doubt who was actually the best horse or the day and showed what a true champion is made of.

Curlin ran 4th and was HOY. Rachel didn't even show up and was HOY. Curlin only ran on one surface. Zenyatta 3 different synthetics and 2 dirt.

Rachel beat the boys but not the same quality Zenyatta did 2009.

Zebyatta won at a 1 1/4 miles the American Classic distance against the best in the world. Rachel never went past a 1 3/16. In fact if there had been two more jumps she would have been beat by Mine That Bird. So, if the race had of been at a 1 1/4 should of Mine That Bird been HOY.

She beat the best males in 2009 and all but 1 in 2010 in a very troubled trip.Is to be denied because of surface? Competition? How phony. So this year she spots them 16 lengths, has everything go wrong and then gets beat by a head bob proved she can handle surface, over come extensive problems, and still provide a photo finish. I will also bet if there had been another 10 feet she would have won.

Let's see, the excuse was that Curlin only got beat because of the synthetic surface. So why is it there a pass on Curlin and not Zenyatta. Curlin lost by 4, Zenyatta by a dirty head bob. Double standards??? Appears so!

Has anyone even taken into consideration that the of the toll than had to have occurred over the  extreme attention that was placed on Zenyatta from the day she arrived in Kentucky.

She handled it well and racing has to take their hat off to her connections for allowing the public to participate and be part of her legacy. But, it certainly had to raise her stress level. Would "Shug" have allowed the public to do the same at his barn?

However, her connections have never once noted or used this in any way as an excuse.

In fact, I can't remember a time when any of her connections have ever made an excuse?

I believe Tom Amoss said it best in his commentary during on last year's Breeders Cup and HOY.

If Zenyatta is not HOY of the year there will be no doubt about the fact of that there is an extreme East Coast prejudice. That there is no consideration for fair play, and that the top levels of racing are exclusive and not inclusive.

The final out come will then be that the award has no credibility from that day forward.  

30 Dec 2010 8:04 AM

Undefeated Turbulent Descent has a substantial Beyer advantage over Awesome Feather and other 2yo Fillies ( see stats at )

TD's campaign started too late for a BC entry (MSW Oct 3rd). 94 Beyer in Hollywood Starlet is fastest for 2yo filly all year at 1 mile or longer.

30 Dec 2010 11:13 AM

Gary Tasich: While Zenyatta had 19 wins 17 in filly/mare and 2 in open and I have LOVED every minute of watching this phenominal mare...she is no Cigar. ♥ He is the best winning streak horse in my lifetime.

30 Dec 2010 2:54 PM

Well, one thing that’s become clear with the publication of statements on who’s voting for Horse of the Year and why is what a haphazard selection this is.  There isn’t any real criteria or standard of excellence that’s used.  Each creates their own standards and votes by that.  There have been instances this year where one set of reasons for voting for a horse have been the same reasons for not voting by someone else.  There’s no consensus; it’s an aggregation that happens to yield a result.  Whoever isn’t selected should probably feel relieved.  It would be interesting to see what would happen if actual horsemen were to vote.  Academy Awards voting is more equable.  At least they don’t have the pretense its objective.  What a sham and what a waste.  And if you think this year is any exception, take a look at some of the quotes in Claire Novak’s column on Horseracing/

30 Dec 2010 3:44 PM

Blame has never needed "excuses" why he "actually" won; winning 9 of 13 starts is almost 70% of all his starts! He's never been worse than 3rd, and he was second in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, one of the ultimate tests, esp. considering how inconsistent horses can be these days. He also captured the Stephen Foster, Fayette, Clark, Whitney, oh, and the Breeders' Cup Classic, driving hard to keep his place. Not a spectacular drive-away but a respectable win. Look around my room and you'll see Zenyatta is an honored horse in my Roladex of good horses, but she's not Horse of the Year. Fantastic overall, but not OF THE YEAR. One race as last year proved, does not qualify HOTY. She is older female, though, by far. Take it away, girl.

30 Dec 2010 7:18 PM

Way to many of you are way to wrapped up in this HOY thing. Truth be told the race for HOY between Zenyatta and Blame I think the fans should have a small percentage of the vote maybe have it weigh in at 20% or something similar. My reasoning is, that w/o the fans where would Horse racing be? I like the point system by someone on this blog, would be interesting to see other horses like Blind Luck or Life at Ten. No way is Pletcher top trainer wish Life at Ten wasn't in his barn. As much as I don't like giving a award for one race Goldikova was probably the best horse on BC day and the year. She had better competition and proved her superiority on BC day. Blame and Zenyatta can't claim that kind of competition, in fact I think they were about even as far as quality of competition. Life at Ten for older mare her campaign was far more challenging than Zen's although I do think Zenyatta is the better horse.

30 Dec 2010 7:33 PM

For those choosing Blame as HOTY, you are making a subjective decision that he had the "better year" or the "tougher competition".  The actual statistics compared head to head do not show that. I have read several comparisons of their seasons based on different point systems so far, and each time Zenyatta has won. The fact is that you are all penalizing Zenyatta for running almost strictly against females.  As if ALL males are superior, therefore Blame's competition was so much tougher. The only top rung horse he beat was Quality Road and Zenyatta beat him too. Some of the same people had said previously that if Lookin At Lucky had won the Breeders Cup, he should be HOTY in spite of running almost strictly against 3 year olds, so the "open company" argument does not hold water either. So I say, for once, give credit where credit is due and give Zenyatta her award!

30 Dec 2010 9:09 PM

Alex, while I think the "moment of the year" award is a step in the right direction to allow the fans to be involved, I do not think it is the same as having a "fan favorite" horse to vote for. I also think the Eclipse voting should be changed to a point system to take out the subjectivity that denies certain horses their due. If there are those who still REALLY want a vote, maybe it could count for a percentage of the total points (maybe 10 or 20%). I believe England does it in a similar way to that..?  And lastly, I strongly feel the rules need to be changed from one start in the US, to including only horses "based in the US". No horse who runs once or even twice here should get the Eclipse in my opinion.  When our horses win in other countries, I do not see us winning their top awards and rightly so.

30 Dec 2010 9:32 PM

As this was said by a trainer. Every year we have a horse of the year but there is only one Zenyatta! No matter what she IS the horse, whether she wins or loses HOY it will not take away anything from her fans and what she has given us. She is our horse of a lifetime.

30 Dec 2010 10:29 PM

Zenyatta is the Horse of the Year fir 2010~!!

31 Dec 2010 1:18 AM

While taking nothing away from Goldkova, the Eclipse Awards represent the best in North America.  A shipper coming to the states for a single starts, then being placed back n the plane for the return trip home, no matter how great, should not be eligible for this award.

31 Dec 2010 7:00 AM
Mary in VT

The way this year unfolded I was of the mind that the Classic should decide Horse of the Year. That is .. until I saw how that race unfolded. I had completely failed to imagine a race in which Zenyatta didn't catch a break. Zenyatta didn't even catch a piece of a break and nearly caught Blame who had every step his way on his favorite track.

Many times I have heard tv commentators, turf writers, and others in the know point out how the best horse in some race didn't necessarily win due to circumstances. So I know it happens. And you know it too. And that is exactly what I saw in this year's Classic. Based on that one race, if I could have either horse, I'd take Zenyatta. And I love Blame. Loved him in every one of his races. Loved every step he took. Zenyatta showed me more.

So what befouled her in the Classic? The horse whose connections insisted she was better on dirt? It wasn't Mike Smith, that's for sure. He did all that was humanly possible on her behalf. Wasn't that post race interview the saddest thing you ever saw? He couldn't bare to have her rep tarnished so he took it all on himself.

But she looked like hell on that track early on. She hated it. My theory is that she was not properly prepared for the race of her life on dirt against the toughest field she would ever face. For Pete's sake, couldn't they have found her enough races against overmatched fillies on DIRT so that she would have a chance to get well used to dirt in her face? The short field in the Apple Blossom clearly didn't have the potential to do it. By the time you get to the Classic, dirt in the face should not have been the major factor that it was. To me, it is unthinkable that they let their dedicated come from the clouds runner go into the Classic at Churchill Downs completely unprepared to have buckets of dirt in her face. Couldn't they have worked her behind enough other horses to simulate the dirt she was gonna get thrown at her in the Classic? These people do have other horses? Hello? Why didn't they just tie one leg behind her back? Heck, if it was me, I'd invent something mechanical if I had to in order to get that horse used to running with lots of dirt in her face.

Three years running Zenyatta's connections did not execute a nimble enough campaign to have HOY all sewn up prior to the Breeder's Cup, and then they feel bad when they don't get it, and make us feel bad too. But that is exactly what has beaten them twice so far. Curlin didn't win the Classic but still got HOY because of his impressive body work prior to the Breeder's Cup. Rachel Alexandra didn't even run in the Breeder's Cup and still got HOY because of her unprecedented 3 YO campaign prior to the fall championships. At least this year it was closer, with several horses standing about equal with each other so that a win in the Classic could very well hand it to them.

Zenyatta hated that dirt in her face and ran very poorly early on. She was waaaaaaay too far back. She was not moving comfortably at all. How she overcame that I will never know. But overcome it she did. She overcame her lack of preparation for the race of her life, she overcame her synthetic career, and she left good horses for dead while coming just a few inches shy of catching Blame who was enjoying the perfect trip on his favorite track. Quality Road. Left for dead. Lookin' at Lucky. Left for dead. So many other Grade 1 winning males. Left for dead in the Classic.

And we finally got to see what we have all been wanting to see .. Zen full out. I will never forget THAT as long as I live. Admit it. You won't either. AB-SO-LUTELY unreal. Can you say that about Blame full out? Or does he just fit in well with a bunch of other nice horses you have seen race?

So .. first place money in the Classic can by no means be the decider here. Not the way this race unfolded. Not by a long shot. But the Classic does decide it for me. Zenyatta did more, showed more, overcame more than all the rest of that field of horses combined. Zenyatta should be Horse of the Year.

31 Dec 2010 3:29 PM
Robin L., Ventura, CA

I vow that if Zenyatta is not named HOY, it will be the last Eclipse Awards broadcast I ever watch.

31 Dec 2010 6:57 PM

Fran, thank you for mentioning that touching moment with Curlin and Backtalk--I am a loyal fan of Backtalk and even though he isn't his father, in my heart he is! Happy New Year!

31 Dec 2010 7:39 PM

It is a very difficult decision for horse of the year.  There is no criteria other than at least one race in North America.  The question comes up with regard to the choice because do you vote for the horse that one believes can beat the competition or do you vote for a great horse who has also made a massive contribution to the industry which seems to be failing at a great pace because of a lack of leadership. The voting is left to ones opinion and some of those voting may have their own agenda.  Just as the people who blog, everyone has a strong opinion.  It is apparent that a horse does not need to nor is required to win the BC.  The 2009 Horse of the year did not run in the BC nor was she entered.  Then there is the issue of the Eastern tracks vs the Western tracks.  It is my opinion that whether the horse runs in the East or West is not a factor.  Running on dirt, turf, asphalt, flour, wet, dry, rain filled tracks, or snow makes no difference. Mare or stallion or gelding-I don't care.  What I care about is a horse who won five grade 1 races, beat most of the top boys in racing (except one of course) and a horse who has made a massive contribution to the racing industry. And, there is no question that the racing industry needs mega stars.  Therefore, I don't see how there could be any question regarding Horse of the Year.  Her name is Zenyatta.

01 Jan 2011 5:42 PM


That's the problem, isn't it? Zenyatta might in fact be the better horse but her connections never let her prove it on the track. And now we'll never know.

02 Jan 2011 2:55 PM

I would love to see Zen win HOY but won't be surprised if she doesn't. She ran in grade 1 races all year so the opinion that she ran against "nothing" is exaggerated.

The thing is, the Mosses ran Zenyatta in the exact same races she ran in last year. They knew those races weren't good enough to get HOY, even if she won all of them. So even if people think the races she ran in were against good competition, based on last year, we can conclude the voters didn't think so. It wasn't good enough last year, and they knew that. So they can't complain if they lose this year. If they wanted HOY, they should have run elsewhere. It doesn't matter that she ran in grade 1s, that she did so well, because last year dictated those races weren't good enough. They were basing a lot on chance- that zenyatta would win all the races like last year, AND no horse would have a decent campaign to compete with her. Neither of those came to be, so they can't whine about HOY.

Yes, she was campaigned appropriately, and taken slowly, allowed to develop. None of these things are bad. The owners shouldn't be pressured to race in spots they don't think are right for their horse. So it's stupid she loses horse of the year for being "conservative", only racng in 6 grade 1s (only...) but oh well.

They knew the criteria last year and ignored it. The races she ran in 2009 weren't good enough for HOY and they ran her in the same ones again. What do they expect.

02 Jan 2011 7:53 PM

Sports Illustrated Top 10 Female Racehorses of All Time:

03 Jan 2011 5:20 PM

The Breeder's Cup Classic does not decide HOY.

04 Jan 2011 2:39 PM

Goldikova's crushing win over a quality field was an absolutely memorable moment.  But Blame gets Moment of the Year for his thrilling win over Zenyatta in the Classic.  It was his day, as shown by him striding away from Zenyatta on his own after the finish line, he wasn't tiring at all.  I just don't think she catches him on that day, regardless of whether she hadn't had the bad start, minor traffic woes or any of the the other variables fans have pointed out.

So does that also make Blame HOY?  Sure you can make a case for him - a strong case.  But I still give it to Zenyatta due to the clunker Blame threw in the JCGC. If he had made any sort of competitive run at Haynesfield at all down the stretch, I would go the other way and vote for him.  But at the end of the day, Zenyatta won or nearly won every race she ran in this year including the one against Blame and he did not.  He's still at least the Champion Older Male and that's a proud accomplishment.  I wasn't expecting Goldikova to make the ballot in this category and I'm wondering which of the two favorites she'll take more votes away from.

And Todd Pletcher is hands down Trainer of the Year.  And no, I won't take it away from him for his mishandling of Life At Ten in the Ladies Classic.  And I personally have good cause to hate the guy, she was my key bet for the whole BC!  Nevertheless, his overall year was by far the best of any trainer. And if he does win, I don't want to hear any nonsense about "East Coast Bias" from the conspiracy nuts.  Two of the three Trainer Of The Year finalists are West Coast-based this year.

06 Jan 2011 11:48 PM

I don't feel HOY should go to Goldi only because she raced here once.  Do you think the Euoros considered an American horse for their HOY award?  Call me prejudiced, but I'm for an American horse for HOY.  In the BCC,  Blame won by a headbob.  Z won in 2009, and still didn't get HOY.  Who's to say the horses she ran against are any better than the horses Blame ran against.  Blame is a great horse, Zenyatta is a greater horse.  Give her her due credit.

07 Jan 2011 8:26 AM

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