Hey, Zenyatta, Have a Cigar!

By Jack Shinar

Striking parallels exist in the current debate between supporters of Blame and Zenyatta over Horse of the Year and the decision confronting voters in 1996 with Cigar.

Like Zenyatta, Cigar was assaulting the hallowed mark for consecutive victories held by Citation. And like the big mare, Cigar was beloved by fans. He liked people and loved the attention he received and the click of the cameras. He was a media sensation, attracting thousands of new fans who had never cared about racing, as well as the admiration of those who did. The grandstands were packed and Cigar's every race was eagerly anticipated on the national stage.

He would eventually match Citation's record in 1996, although a couple of his races weren't what people considered worthy tests. Doesn't that sound familiar?.

With a chance to surpass Citation, he was entered in the Pacific Classic. He was expected to easily win as the post-time favorite at 1-10 odds against a short field of five seemingly overmatched opponents. Instead, one of them, Dare and Go, dispatched him rather handily that day at Del Mar (pre-poly so it counted) to end the streak.

Cigar ran twice more before the Breeders' Cup Classic, beating a so-so field in the Woodward and dropping a head's decision to Skip Away in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. Though his aura of invincibility was gone, he was odds-on in the Classic, held that year at Woodbine. He fell farther back than usual in the early stages but charged five wide around the far turn. He mounted a final valiant charge that came up a neck short behind Alphabet Soup, who won by a nose over Louis Quatorze.

Cigar's year ended with a pair of important victories early in the season, the Donn Handicap and the Dubai World Cup (which as a foreign race, should probably have not been considered). But after winning the non-graded Mass 'Cap and something called the "Citation Challenge" at Arlington Park to tie the mark in July, he ended his career with losses in three of four starts.

There were some other strong contenders for Horse of the Year, led by Alphabet Soup. The California gray had captured the San Pasqual, Pat O'Brien, San Antonio and Goodwood handicaps, though he was controversially disqualified from his Goodwood win and placed third. And he was the best horse in the Classic.

But voters didn't blink, awarding Cigar Horse of the Year honors for the second year in a row.

Fifteen years later, Zenyatta may not merit the same kind of respect from the turf writers. Though she won 19 races in a row in undefeated style and left Cigar and Citation well behind, her 13 grade I victories -- including five this year going into the Classic -- are not considered worthy enough by many. 

One blogger on this website says the decision is easy: Blame beat Zenyatta in their only meeting; he's horse of the year. A second blogger here says it's a question of mind or heart. If you go with your mind, you take Blame. If it is from the heart, you side with Zenyatta.

I say baloney to both of them.

Zenyatta is the most influential Thoroughbred in American racing since at least Cigar. Taking into consideration all that she has meant to the sport, which has never been in more dire circumstances than at this time, isn't being emotional. It's doing our job. To simply parse PPs and award this honor to Blame because he won the Classic by a few inches isn't being objective. It's wearing blinders.

Anyone can see that Zenyatta was the best horse in the Classic and she was unfortunate not to hit the wire first. Blasted by a kick-back that she was unaccustomed to over those plastic tracks in California, she fell far, far back -- 15 lengths, 20 lengths -- and was still showing nothing as jockey Mike Smith began to ask her on the backstretch. On the far turn, though, she dug in. Against this top-quality field on a cuppy racetrack she clearly wasn't handling, Zenyatta fought through traffic and made up about a football field while overcoming the dirt in her face, a pronounced track speed bias, and slow fractions. She missed by a short head.

In 35 years of following racing, it ranks as one of the two or three grittiest efforts in a major event that I have witnessed.

Blame won and he's a tremendous horse. But everything went right for him on his home track that day. The Classic victory, and his light record coming into the race, do not merit Horse of the Year in the face of Zenyatta's accomplishments.

It should also be noted that in 15 of 26 renewals of the Classic, HOY voters passed over the winner of this supposed championship event for another horse they felt was more deserving.

Racing fans have clearly expressed their sentiment for Zenyatta. The polls I've seen all run at least 3-1 in her favor. The racing industry, deep down, knows she deserves the award as well and will look foolish in the eyes of the public if they don't honor her this time. Voters will feel the pressure to go with Blame and Claiborne Farm. But when the announcement is made at the Eclipse Awards in January, let's hope they did the right thing.

187 Comments

Leave a Comment:

swingdancer

Bravo!

11 Nov 2010 8:06 PM
sodapopkid

Amen Jack!   YOu said it all and then some. Thanks for standing up for whats right.

11 Nov 2010 8:13 PM
John

God, brilliant. Yes, brilliant! The only thing I would add is that is was Quality Road backing up into Zenyatta that actually cost her the race.  She had to check, swerve, pull up, check again, zig-zag, then go one wide.  Her splits were 23.80, 23.60, then 24.40 (with all the trouble) then a final charge of 24 flat.

In other words Zenyatta, falling so far back during the beginning of the race, actually had the race won going into the far turn.

Quality Road cost Zenyatta at least three lengths (24.40-23.60) and still lost by a nose.

Matter of fact, Australian Peter Ellis, a noted form analysis for over 40 years in the "Land Down Under" said to a radio audience in the hundreds of thousands that it was the the greatest horserace he has ever seen for a horse that finished second.

Wow.

www.thoroughbredtimes.com/.../zenyatta-commentary-horse-of-the-year-debate.aspx

11 Nov 2010 8:31 PM
AnOldTimer

Son, please, with all due respect, do not be talking trash about "my" Cigar!He's my all-time favorite and rightly so. Everyone has their favorite.I disagree because in 2010, Z ran in G1 races but not against G1 horses, no males, nor any full fields, in sunny CA on poly--then her connections take her to Churchill to race against all of the above: G1 winners, males, full field, cool weather (some horses like it better tho). Her connections are to Blame (excuse the pun) IF she isn't HOTY. Thank you for your time.

11 Nov 2010 8:35 PM
VirginiaHorselover

Wonderfully written Jack, and while I am fine with Zenyatta being horse of the year, I believe it should be Blame.

IMHO, and that's all it is, a humble opinion, I think the references between Cigar and Zenyatta are not a good reflection on the argument at hand. First, Cigar did not run in restricted races, with the exception of a couple that started the streak and the ungraded Mass Cap you mention, he ran in the best races, as a whole. Zenyatta, except for the Classic, did not.

Secondly, Cigar raced against the best competition, as a whole, of his generation. Zenyatta, did not.

Now I am not saying Cigar was always in the best races, facing the best competition, no horse is, but if you look back, for the most part, he was.

Also, Cigar got off to a dismal start to his career and was not coddled, Zenyatta in my opinion was. She could have raced in much better spots and against much better competition most of the time, but her connections chose to go a softer route. I believe it was to protect her undefeated record and it really stole something away from Zenyatta. People want to constantly harp on other horses not going west to take her on, but her connections weren't exactly up to bringing her east either. Planes fly both ways.

It also sounds to me like you are looking at her career as a whole for the HOTY award (I apologize if I am wrong). That should not be the case. I have stated before that it is horse of the YEAR, not of the last 2 years, or 18 months or of the career. Only her 6 races this year should apply. They were terribly soft, against mediocre at best competition, save the Classic of course, and in that race she lost. Blame raced in the better races, against better competition.

A final point, as I have said in other blogs, Going into the Classic, there were 4 recognized contenders for HOTY. Zenyatta, Blame, Quality Road, and Lookin at Lucky. Blame has beaten QR 2 times, Zenyatta and Lookin at Lucky. None of them have ever beaten him. My vote goes to Blame for a better year and for beating ALL of the major contenders for HOTY, not just Zenyatta.

I am not writing this to offend anyone, I love Zenyatta and wish her connections had done more with her, especially this year after they said they would do so. I just wanted to voice my 2 cents, like everyone else, and to say that if you really go in depth, th comparison to Cigar doesn't really hold up. Obviously Zenyatta has done more for the sport, but that isn't really what HOTY is about. It's about getting it done on the track, not how many fans this horse has versus how many this horse has. Thanks for reading everyone, and as always, until next time, may they all come home safe.  

11 Nov 2010 8:50 PM
RockHardTenGroupie

Mr Shinar.... I applaud you.  When others here on my favorite site and magazine are "wearing blinkers" you and Mr Haskins are there for the people who MAKE HORSE RACING.... the fans.  We need people with voting power to help speak for us, help speak for Zenyatta and her connections.  This award can not be left on the track... it has to be about the horse that made that particular year special. Zenyatta did that... Zenyatta brought people back to the sport that had wandered far astray.  Blame, though a worthy racehorse in his own right, was able to hold her off that night, he cant beat her in the hearts of all of America.  That isnt even a photo finish...

11 Nov 2010 8:55 PM
seatariat

Jack,

Well said!

She won five grade 1 races this year and almost won the classic under impossible conditions.  She made the 2009 and 2010 breeders cup successful and she brought new fans to the sport.  If she doesn't get hoty it will be a travesty.

11 Nov 2010 9:01 PM
Noelle Labowicz

The public has spoken.  Everyone has seen Zenyatta's accomplishments over the past 3 years.  She clearly deserves HOY honors yet she is continously overlooked.  She won the Classic last year and was not awarded the prize.  If they do not give it to her this year it will be a slap in the face to the horse racing industry and all that Zenyatta has done to revive it.

11 Nov 2010 9:10 PM
Zen's Auntie

She set 4 WORLD Records in 2010.

4

When was the last time that happened?

HOTY? At the very least.

11 Nov 2010 9:11 PM
QueenRachel

HOY is not determined by CAREER wins, it is determined by the YEAR. Blame should be horse of the year, he won 4 of 5 races all stakes. He beat dozens of grade 1 winners, including Zenyatta. Now I agree she is an AMAZING animal and it is NOT her fault that her connections kept her on the same campaign they have had her on for the last 3 years, BUT because of her campaign she does not deserve it. She hasent beaten anything this year worth mentioning, the biggest would be Switch. She barely beat these horses on her home tracks, none grade 1 winners. Okay, so she didnt like the dirt in her face, but Mike Smith said she handles the track fine. Yes she ran into problems, but that is horse racing. Im not trying to take anything away from her, but Blame earned the title. Just like last year Rachel DESERVED it. ZENYATTA IS AMAZING, EVERYONE KNOWS IT, she touched our hearts. But HOY is not based on that. She does not need horse of the year to prove she is one of the GREATEST FILLIES of ALL TIME!

11 Nov 2010 9:31 PM
Joan Dobbie

I have never followed the races before, though as a little girl I always read Walter Farley books and love horses.  Once, many years ago, I won $24.00 on a $2.00 bet on a horse named "JoanBette." or something like that. But on Thursday, the day before the Breeders Cup, I heard about Zenyatta on public radio. I went online and began watching her race after race on YouTube. I fell in love! This horse deserves HORSE OF THE YEAR! The fact that she lost one race by a nose is more than sad. That she should lose her prestige because of this is ridiculous. She has created more fans than any other horse ever, myself included. She deserved a win in that race and nearly got it, overcoming huge odds. If there is any way for the public to vote, I put my vote, hands down, for the great ZENYATTA!

11 Nov 2010 9:32 PM
speck

I agree with your reasoning and analysis 100%!!  Thank you!!  Zenyatta won Grade 1 races all year.  If those races are not "good enough" because the horses aren't colts, what does that say about the thoroughbred horse racing world?  I wonder what Goldikova would have to say about that?   Rinterval, St. Trinians AND Switch gave Zenyatta a run for her money in GRADE ONE races.  Enough already.  Zenyatta is THE Horse of the Year!!

11 Nov 2010 9:41 PM
Paula Higgins

Will you marry me? Only kidding! I am a refugee from Jason's blog LOL. Thanks for this wonderful blog in support of Zenyatta for HOTY. Let's hope the voters do the right thing.

11 Nov 2010 9:47 PM
sgunne

Great article.  I couldn't agree with you more.  Thanks

11 Nov 2010 9:55 PM
mbenes

Here, here!  Wonderful - thank you.

11 Nov 2010 9:56 PM
BlueHen

Hear, hear!!

11 Nov 2010 10:01 PM
Bettye

THANK YOU FOR GETTING THIS RIGHT!!

I felt had Zenyatta been allowed to run like she always does she would have won.  It broke my heart.

If Blame had won 19 going into the Breeder's Cup - yes, he should be Horse of the Year.  Since when does winning the Breeder's Cup give

you Horse of the Year?  Remember who won it last year.  Did she get Horse of the Year? Of course not!! I guess the powers that be would like to give it to a stallion to help his breeding contracts.  COME ON DO THE RIGHT THING AND LET THE QUEEN WIN WHAT SHE HAS EARNED!!!!

11 Nov 2010 10:06 PM
sylvester

What a bunch of rubbish.  Zenyatta's connections chose to protect her record and not showcase her talent like they said they would.  They did the exact same thing as last year which didn't merit a 2009 HOTY honor and 2010 doesn't merit it either.  Blame took on all challengers in Grade 1 against other Grade 1 winners.  In all of her victories this year, not one horse was a Grade 1 winner.  They gambled and lost.  Too bad.  She doesn't deserve HOTY.

11 Nov 2010 10:06 PM
ruffianruns

Well said.

I agree, and I think Zenyatta will be the Horse of the Year.

11 Nov 2010 10:10 PM
LAZMANNICK

Nice article Jack.  Emotion is a wonderful thing.  Of all the bloggers that I've read that have looked at this race subjectively and aren't trying to be politically correct, you are the one that hit the nail on the head.  A few more inches by a horse that traveled much more than the required distance and we wouldn't be listening to all this controversy.  Thanks.

11 Nov 2010 10:10 PM
PA Bred

You are 100% correct. Horse of The Year is about accomplishments but it can be about so much more. Zenyatta is the most charismatic horse we've seen in a long, long time. She draws fans, she excites the public and she is an awesome athlete. She was the best horse in the Classic and I think it was obvious to everyone. She missed by inches. With just a single break during the race, no one is even having this conversation.

11 Nov 2010 10:17 PM
Mike Relva

JACK

Thanks for having the guts to express what should happen. I agree a million per cent.

11 Nov 2010 10:20 PM
Zookeeper

What a treat to have a blog that is in favor of Zenyatta winning the HOY Award!

I'm cautiously optimistic but I won't hold my breath. Thank you for putting into words what the majority of racing fans know in their hearts.

I feel that the cards are stacked against her with the majority of the voters being on the East Coast and Kentucky. Even your own publication is tilted in favor of Blame and Claiborne Farm. It has been made very clear.

After reading so many writers demolish her accomplishments and verbally insulting her connections and her fans, I was beginning to lose faith that it could happen.

Thank you for giving us a ray of hope. We are rooting for her. Zenyatta is a phenomenal race horse and she deserves to be Horse of the Year!

11 Nov 2010 10:29 PM
LauraS

Well said.  Hope your colleagues are listening...

In 2010, Zenyatta raced in SIX Grade I races at FIVE different tracks on FOUR different surfaces (dirt, cushion, poly and pro-ride ). She won five of those races and lost one by the narrowest of margins after an atrocious trip to a horse running on his favorite track with the perfect trip. She carried 129 pounds in the Vanity and 128 in the Santa Margarita- more than any other horse this year handicaps, giving AT MINIMUM TEN POUNDS to the field - and won. Last Saturday, when she finally got running with a sustained drive that would comprise more than SEVEN FURLONGS, Quality Road spit out the bit right in front of her, causing her to have check and go wide, and then she had to weave around others as well. Blame had the perfect trip near the rail. And still she only lost by inches. Who did she beat this year you say? On Saturday alone she finished in front of GI winners Lookin at Lucky, Paddy O'Prado, Haynesfield, Quality Road, and Espoir City (a GI winner in Japan) and several GI-placed horses, passing them as if they were tied to a post.

Zenyatta ran her first quarter around 26.8 seconds - by far her worst ever. She was throwing her head at the dirt in her face and her stride was so choppy I actually thought she was hurt and Mike would have to pull her up. Then she put it all together: her other quarters were 23.6, 23.8, 24.4 (when Quality Road ran out of gas in front of her) and her final quarter in 23.8. If she'd ran her usual first quarter of 24 or so and QR not stopped her, she'd have finished right around 2:00 flat - and won by daylight. Just the momentum lost due to Quality Road cost her at least three lengths, maybe more. If only she'd trained longer at Churchill with a wall of horses throwing dirt in her face...

Two years ago, Zenyatta went 7-0, flew to Oaklawn and defeated the reigning Distaff champion ON DIRT by 4-1/2 in only her fourth race, won the Ladies’ Classic easily and lost HOY to Curlin – even though he LOST three times, including his 4th place in the Classic on an unfamiliar track. Last year, Zenyatta went 5-0 and didn’t win HOY partially because she didn’t fly and won the BCC “in her backyard on her surface” while the eventual HOY didn’t even bother to show up. This year, will she lose again after going 5-1, all Grade I’s, flying twice, and then losing by inches on an unfamiliar track (remember Curlin getting a pass for this?) to a horse who went 4-1, won only three Grade I’s with the BC “in his backyard on his surface”? The past two years the Classic wasn’t important enough to decide HOY and this year it’s everything? Do the Eclipse voters really want to go there? Blame is a nice horse, but not a great one. One of his GIs was after the leader was hurt near the wire and in the other one he defeated that now confirmed miler Quality Road at 9f getting 5lbs., and he lost the JCGC to the horse who finished next-to-last on Saturday. Some give him a pass for that due to a perfect trip for Haynesfield on HIS home track. Double-standard anyone?

Last year the international racing press was dumbfounded when Zenyatta lost – this year it will be the American popular press as well. The best ambassador racing's had since Secretariat would be publicly "dissed" by its establishment. What will that say to the new fans Zenyatta brought to the sport?

One last thought: Whatever happens in January, thirty years from now Blame will be the answer to a trivia question just like Upset and Dark Star. Zenyatta will be a legend.

11 Nov 2010 10:30 PM
Meghan

Agree completely. But, I must add, if there is indeed an East coast bias in the Eclipse Award voting, that probably hurt Alphabet Soup and helped Cigar.

11 Nov 2010 10:51 PM
AnOldTimer

On this Veterans Day, please observe, honor, and give tribute to the horses and the horsemen who served in our wars and recognize the vital role they played in the survival and final victory of the Allied armed forces. Thank you.

Sylvester, I liked your comments (& I was going to start my blog off with "poppycock" but thought it would be edited)! Thank you for keeping it real, Syl.

My  vote for top mare of 2010 would be Goldikova. Too bad she's a foreigner--was she bred in Kentucky by any chance?

To the author, your attempt to make comparisons in your article, your attempt to compare Cigar and Z, types of races and horses in those races, brought me to the opinion the article borders on absurdity and meant to push Z fans buttons. As there cannot be a comparison made of Z's career to Cigar's in all fairness to the sport and both horses--none, zilch.

And what is it about the truth that Z fans cannot accept? I am so sick about "winning 19 consecutive" blah blah blah--that is CAREER NOT Year 2010!

Also, as said in another blog, horse racing is for gamblers not for fans. Retire Z, put her on parade as retired AGAIN, but I am looking forward to the up and coming "new ponies in town" such as Awesome Feathers and other possible competitors for the Kentucky Derby. Let's move on.

11 Nov 2010 11:00 PM
AnOldTimer

P.S. Congrats and kudos to Claiborne Farms, an American institution and great longstanding contributor to the horse racing industry for 100 years. What an honor it will be for them if Blame wins HOTY. I don't think even the Mosses' could argue that.

11 Nov 2010 11:04 PM
John

Thanks Jack,

Someone with a clear head.  I've been over a Jason's blog.  Talk about depression.  It is a deep as can be.  Those Zenyatta haters are beyond help.  You know, Jason just resurrected all of the Rachel Alexandra fans that felt cheated to vent their frustration at Zenyatta and her fans.  Whoa, man, they are so depressing.

11 Nov 2010 11:05 PM
sushyne

Thank you Jack for injecting common sense and objectivity into this debate. (administrator of a facebook page that has grown to almost 4000 fans/hits since Sunday http://tinyurl.com/28ftqt8, including a petition for her)

11 Nov 2010 11:08 PM
Manny

Zenyatta will easily win HOY.  No contest.  How can anyone vote for a horse that gets destroyed by a overrated claimer, Haynesfield.  Or just lasts over a tiring broken down Quality Road. Or wins a race over a horse pulling up due to injury?

Folks, don't follow what Ed Fountaine said.  Zenyatta is the HOY!

11 Nov 2010 11:08 PM
Freetex

Go Jack!

What you have written is just common sense.  How in the world can someone, anyone, not see what the Queen overcame in the Classic.  She was a roaring freight train, a rocket-woman, with all heart and power.  She did it.  

I also must say I love Cigar.  He is well remembered in my home.  I saw him this past summer at Kentucky Horse Park and he is still quite imposing and loves his audience.  I stood near him when he was in his stall and we talked for quite awhile.  His paddock door was wide open, but he stayed and listened to me tell him how much he is still adored.

There is something about a horse who looks at you, really looks at you and you just know your inner beings are making a connection.  That is Cigar and that is the Queen.

I applaud you for standing up and calling out what we hapless fans know we witnessed.  Never, and I mean never have I seen such a gathering of spirit and fortitude as Zenyatta showed on her run to the wire.

If you can, please let Mike Smith know he is appreciated for being a superb jockey and partner for Zenyatta.  It is wonderful to see a jockey so taken with his charge.  Mike's face was overrun with a hugely stressed expression even before the race.  What pressure he had on his shoulders to win the race and take care of the Queen.  In my eyes, he did his job.

Thank you once again.  It is my fervent hope the negative sports' people will catch up to the rest of the world and recognize greatness that so obviously hit them square in the eye.  How can they not see?

11 Nov 2010 11:12 PM
ofelia

Wonderful and True! Zenyatta for HOY!

She showed she was the best horse in the Classic. Never has a horse shown such heart and grit when losing.

11 Nov 2010 11:14 PM
Draynay

Anyone can see Zenyatta was the best horse?  No she wasn't.  Blame was the best horse in that race and he proved it by winning.  Dakota Phone had no problem being 15 back going a mile and getting the job done.  Zenyatta did nothing on the track to earn HOY.  Compared to Blame Zenyatta is second fiddle.  She lost everyone.  When all the chips were on the line.  She lost.

11 Nov 2010 11:15 PM
Jimmy

Pure crap. Blame's light record? Are you kidding me? He ran in ONE less race then Zenyatta this year, but the big difference between the two campaigns were all of Blame's races were in OPEN FIELDS meaning any horse could take him on. You cannot say that about Zenyatta. Horse of the Year is about the best horse with the best campaign, and that is clearly Blame. Voting Zenyatta HOTY because she is popular, was on 60 minutes, talked about by Oprah, etc. is just lame. She had a chance to win the award on the track and came up a head short. That is horse racing.

11 Nov 2010 11:33 PM
shuttleworth

Awww, forget Horse of the Year... how about Horse of the 21st Century!... that's more like it! Blame may win HOY; and I'm not saying he doesn't deserve it, but he will be remembered as another "Upset" - a good horse that got up to beat a true Legend...

Also consider this: if Blame gets the same trip Zenyatta had, he loses the race by at least 10 lengths... Ultimately, Zenyatta got beat by Quality Road backing up on her around the far turn... just my opinion...

11 Nov 2010 11:41 PM
Joe

Dont forget '97. Gentlemen won Pimlico Special over Skip Away, Holly Gold Cup, Pac Classic and was ranked #1 all year, but got sick a few weeks before BCC and didnt enter, Skippy won BCC and HOY even though he lost straight up to Gentlemen. The Award has always been a joke anyway. Show me one handicapper on earth that would have Blame favored over Zen if they raced again next month. (not counting speed rating gurus that have blatant self interest involved.)

11 Nov 2010 11:46 PM
Nancy

Zen's Auntie - the world record for consecutive wins is far more than 19. So no Zenyatta broke no world records.

VirginiaHorselover - well thought out post, well done!

Turf writers should do the right thing - Blame HOY.

12 Nov 2010 12:05 AM
gary

Zenyatta soft schedule here, Zenyatta restricted race here, Zenyatta didn't travel here and there. Anymore whining?

Facts are Blame won 4 races out of 5 in Churchill downs. Blame works on that track and he definitely loved that track.

Zenyatta never worked that track or ever raced there. She was suppose to be a poly specialist. She spotted Blame 10 or more lengths and yet she almost beat the homeboy.

Well, Zenyatta had an advantage in the 2009 Classic at SA so say the whiners . She sure did but just like this race on dirt few supposedly knowledgeable handicapper pick her to win.

And there is no doubt in my mind, those still finding any little fault with Zenyatta are still fawning about forgotten Rachel.

12 Nov 2010 12:11 AM
gary

SYLVESTER...Sorry about your Rachel Alex...Alexan...Alex...

What's her name again? I already forgot.

12 Nov 2010 12:16 AM
Karen in Indiana

Before the Classic, neither one of my sons (both in their 20's and in a target demographic) were that interested in horse racing. They were tolerant of their mother, who they considered having gone off the deep end for this horse Zenyatta. One of them asked me why the big deal, she's just a horse. The other one started getting interested a couple of weeks before the race and would read articles I'd forward him (he's deployed in Afghanistan). After the race, which they both watched with their friends, they both were impressed and the one son told me he got it now. Neither one of them or their friends would have paid a lick of attention to these races if it wasn't for her. Three people I work with watched Saturday, one of them watched all the races on Saturday, just because they've heard me going on about her and were curious. The last horse who made such an impact outside of the horse racing world, at least in my lifetime, was Secretariat. The others - Seattle Slew, Cigar, even Curlin - were mainly important to those already interested in the sport. But to keep this sport alive and maybe even grow it, it takes stars who can bring in new fans. Otherwise, this sport is a closed circle catering to those already in it and it will continue to die.

12 Nov 2010 12:26 AM
Nick G

Finally somebody wrote something that was sensible.  Everywhere I read from turf writers it's a foregone conclusion that Blame is HOY.  If Zenyatta were running in New York this wouldn't even be an argument.  It's silly, put things in context people.  We all saw the race, and although Blame was great, Zenyatta was truly remarkable.  Name all the other times we have seen a filly come from that far back on dirt in the biggest race of the year to lose by half a head.  If they wanted Blame to be HOY they should bring him back next year.  

12 Nov 2010 1:04 AM
Lady Valtaya

Blame is a nice horse, but he has been too lightly raced to compare him to Zenyatta. I don't think he would beat her again if they were to race once more. Give the title to Zenyatta, she has earned her laurels.

12 Nov 2010 2:17 AM
Raceon

Thank you and may the Eclipse award voters see fit in what we all know should take place in January.  People that say she lost the BC Classic and therefore does not deserve HOY, just remember that she beat every horse there that Blame did except herself and if she would have had the trip that Blame did there is no way he could have beat her.  I'm sorry that so many people chose to hate and not sit back and be thankful for what we have had with that beautiful mare.  My heartfelt thanks to Team Zenyatta.  

12 Nov 2010 2:57 AM
Bellwether

CASE CLOSED...ty...

12 Nov 2010 4:07 AM
queen z 4 me

She had all that trouble and STILL caught Blame by a small neck?  Imagine if she had NONE!  Blame would have been DONE!!!  Please!  It's Zenyatta or nada.

12 Nov 2010 5:37 AM
BarbarosDerby1328

Great article Jack. I fully concur on every point. Let's hope that the powers that be vote appropriately and award Zenyatta what is rightfully hers.

When I think of Horse of the Year, it strikes me as both lofty and noble. What should come to bear is not only their race record, but how that particular horse impacts their sport. Is it for the better or the worse? It's one thing to love a horse based upon his or her accomplishments, but has any horse in recent memory connected with the public as Zenyatta has? Has any horse in history for that matter?

Numbers, sheet ratings and Beyer figures may represent a horses' performance, but they cannot measure the connection that this wonderful horse has with the general public. Both near and afar. She embodies all that is right with our great sport, and how deep within the recesses of our society, that magical bond between horse and human is very much alive and well. Zenyatta is unlike anything I have ever seen, and her ability to touch our lives places her in the pantheon of all-time greats. Not only for her racing feats, but her transcendent ability to touch us on an intrinsic level unlike any horse with the annals of our sport. She is without a doubt the Horse of the Year, and unquestionably the horse of our lifetime.

12 Nov 2010 5:40 AM
Zen4Zen

Thanks for pointing out the apt analogy to Cigar in fittingly concluding that Zenyatta should be HOTY.

12 Nov 2010 6:17 AM
Bernard Mc Cormack

Most of the time Horse of the Year is an industry award where the average person observing the sport would care less about who won.  This year it is not like that.  They and we do care this time and horse racing should understand it might matter more this year to them.  It is not like most years and for all the point scoring that the racing media will be engaged in, it will make no impression on the wider sport observer.  Since this is a vote based on a body of work on the race track during the year a voter would be advised to think of what horse made the biggest impression on the wider world this year.  Horse of the year is a bit like Time magazine's person of the year. Sure there are a lot of choices but who made the biggest difference decides it.  The public are thinking about the horse not all the other stuff that we like to bring into it to make this logical.  I am glad that racing is in this predicament because it gets to chose what direction to head in.  This is one time voters actually do have a chance to make a bigger difference.    

12 Nov 2010 6:40 AM
Annie

You are absolutely right...Zenyatta has done more to bring new fans to horse racing than any other horse in modern history.  She DID run one heck of a race on Saturday, and voters should base their selection on her whole body of work.

12 Nov 2010 7:12 AM
Kelley

Zenyatta has earned HOY. Somehow even that just doesn't seem enough. Blame won 3 Grade 1 races this year. Zenyatta won 5. Ratings are up and attendance is up all because of Zenyatta. Did you hear the cheering at the Breeders Cup? It wasn't for Blame, it was for Zenyatta. She will go down as one of the all time greats. She deserves HOY. Blame does not even come close to her accomplishments.

12 Nov 2010 7:14 AM
Kathy Kimber

Yes Zenyatta should be horse of the year.  She has done so much for racing and a body of work should count.  She doesn't know what some people say about there being "soft" races.  All she knows is she went out there and ran her best she tried every time she never quit never gave up no matter what was going on.  I don't want to see her retired I really don't I want to see her race till she is ready to quit.  She may never reproduce herself in the breeding shed that is for the future.

   This horse is so special to us all I hope the Moss's condsider long and hard before they take her out.

   What a send off they gave Cigar and the garden when he retired.  Anytime I watch it I cry If they do decide to retire her I hope she gets a send off that is befitting to her.  Thanks Zenyatta I love you

12 Nov 2010 7:14 AM
Ruffian64

Who's Blame?

Zenyatta rules. She was an incredible gift to the sport that all her naysayers supposedly love so much. I feel sorry for them.

12 Nov 2010 8:10 AM
MGM

If Zenyatta doesn't get horse of the year its because  certain people have more than their share of influence. With what Zenyatta has achieved this year alone it calls for her to be HOY.  before that race i never really heard about BLame.  but say Zenyatta and people will chime in and talk all about her, her jockey, the owners and the trainer as well as the groom....can Blame do the same?  NOT!!

12 Nov 2010 8:18 AM
Fran Loszynski

I loved it when you wrote "Baloney" I laughed and said "He's right."

At any sport and horseracing included, the fan dictates how that sport is going to survive. Can you imagine a horserace with no fans- they should have a say if it's yes or "nay" Zenyatta did awesome on a track surface that would have made her seventh hadn't she been Zenyatta.

12 Nov 2010 8:32 AM
frenchycatz

Thanks for making a compelling case for Zen. She should be HOY. She's put racing on the radar for many for non racing people. She's been an amazing ambassador. Where is it written that only races should count? Shouldn't it be for a body of work for the entire year? How many new racing fans are going to be turned off if she is overlooked?

12 Nov 2010 8:37 AM
Darla

Finally someone who makes some sense about who DESERVES HOY!!!!  and please people leave Rachel out of this!  It's between Zenyatta and Blame this year. Quit dragging Rachel through the mud over and over. OH and by the way....Go Away Draynay!!!

12 Nov 2010 8:39 AM
MidwaySue

I can't believe your comparing Zenyatta to Cigar. Are you serious? I forgot, when did Zenyatta travel to Dubai and win the World Cup? Or was the world leader in earnings? Please, this is just another thread to start arguements. The Bloodhorse should be above this. You know its getting out of hand when Rachel is being brought back into the conversation. I didn't know we had an award for what a horse "ALMOST DID"?

12 Nov 2010 8:42 AM
Darla

One more thing....I don't recall any of these Grade 1 winners traveling to the west coast to take on Zenyatta on her home turf...I'm sure she would have welcomed them!!!

12 Nov 2010 8:43 AM
GoldenBroom

Said it before, I'll say it again...her record of 19 wins is an ALL TIME record. ALL HORSES - males, females. Were talking decades? A century of horse racing?! This is not a track or race record that any horse on any given day can go out and equal or break.

Why Zenyatta MUST get HOY:  

1. Her accomplishments - 5 grade 1 wins, 1 grade 1 second (by a nose) on 5 different tracks.

2. Set the ALL TIME win streak record this year

3. The number of new fans and media attention she brought to the sport.

4. A reward to owners who take risks. They didn't retire a successful horse at the pinnacle of her career last year...but brought back a 6 year old!

12 Nov 2010 9:08 AM
Shirley

Blame getting HOTY only signifies what I dread is true: This industry is a dying sport thanks to ignorance and elitism. Pay attention to your fans (and the new ones Zenyatta brought you) at the risk of your own demise.

12 Nov 2010 9:18 AM
scoots

The logic in this column is sorely lacking.  By all means, lets compare a horse who ran in against open company in three countries and five states taking on the best regional horses (Siphon was not considered 'an overmatched' opponent in the Pacific Classic) and the best in the world with a mare who stayed in restricted company for all but one race and never faced a single G-1 winner in her wins.  Zenyatta is the most influential thoroughbred since Barbaro.  And while he received support for HOTY there were an awful lot of sniggers that went with it.  BTW please explain the logic that Cigar's Dubai World Cup doesn't count towards Eclipse voting because it was a 'foreign race' but Alphabet Soup's Canadian Breeder's Cup does?

12 Nov 2010 9:22 AM
Slew

Thank you, Jack...you said it all.  For a change, I hope the sportswriters pay attention to the fans.  Some will, some won't.  What has been done for the sport by Zenyatta is immeasurable.  What she did on the track remains unbelievable still.  What a run!

12 Nov 2010 9:23 AM
dustywhipp

Thank you SO much for a well written article about HOTY, finally!!

Anyone who has seen racing before knows that the best horse does not always win. Though I have been a fan of Zenyatta throughout her career, I gained so much more respect for her with that amazing effort. Blame had home court advantage, Churchill Downs is "his" track. Zenyatta didn't look like she liked the track, and they threw everything they had at her, but she SHOWED UP and ran her race. The good horses are "there" at the wire every time they race. Zenyatta has been there too.

And when it comes down to it, is four inches really going to decide? Sometimes I wish there was an award for how much a horse has done for racing... the winner would be clear. Zenyatta has brought so many new people to the sport, she has changed lives... it's indescribable, really.

And if you really care about the sport, you have to respect all that Zenyatta has done for it.  

12 Nov 2010 9:23 AM
Sylvester

Gary, I think you remember her name.  Rachel Alexandra the Great.  The filly that won 3 grade 1 races against males on dirt like Genuine Risk, Winning Colors, Personal Ensign, and Serena's Song.  Don't worry, Zenyatta will always be remembered as the best horse on shredded tires. But since CA is wising up and switching back to dirt, her record will have even one more asterisk.  Too bad.

12 Nov 2010 9:31 AM
Kat- Big Red's Biggest Fan

Zenyatta- Horse of the Year

She has done so much for the sport, the fans

She is UNIQUE and Compelling! We will never see another like her.

We have been blessed to have experienced her.

12 Nov 2010 9:37 AM
Stacy

 How can you compare Zenyatta to Cigar? While I think Zenyatta is a good horse and definitely has her devoted fans, I don't think she is deserving of HOY. I have never thought that HOY should be decided based on the BC Classic alone. HOY should be given to the horse that runs the best campaign. Zenyatta's connections chose to run the same tired campaign as they have for the past two years against the same competition. Allen Paulson and Bill Mott ran Cigar against some of the best horses in the world. They ran him from NY to CA and even half way across the world in Dubai. Zenyatta was invited to compete in The Dubai World Cup this year. She had the opportunity to take on the best horses in the world (the race was won by a Brazilian bred) and cement herself as the best horse in the world.

  I do believe Zenyatta is deserving of an award - just not HOY. She should receive an award of merit for the wonderful career she has had and what she has done for the sport of racing. I just hope that her fans stick around long after she is retired. I was at Churchill on Saturday to watch the Breeders Cup. I was surrounded by several Zenyatta fans. Unfortunately, they had no clue that there was another mare running that day that was also trying to make history or that the owners of Blame were celebrating the 100th anniversary of Claiborne Farm. Horse racing needs fans - not just fans of one horse.

12 Nov 2010 9:52 AM
No_Class

Well written!  Zenyatta for HOTY and Goldikova a strong second!

12 Nov 2010 9:55 AM
Jason Shandler

Scoots: That's what happens when you put emotion ahead of reality. The facts gets tossed aside. Zenyatta was clearly the best horse in the race? Oh really. Her trip was the same one she always got. There were no excuses, no trouble. She just got beat by a better horse. Move on folks.

12 Nov 2010 10:02 AM
Breeder

Don't retire Zenyatta while she is still loving to run. Let the Beauty run until she no longer wants to be there. She loves us and we love her! Let her be with us!You may breed her forever and never see her reproduce herself. Who is the stallion that is her equal. He doesn't exist. Don't consider Blame...He is her 1st cousin.

12 Nov 2010 10:02 AM
Mrs. Mary Zinke

Dear Mr.Shinar, I thoroughly enjoyed your truthful words about the great Zenyatta. No other horse has been as thrilling to watch in the stretch run. She's been worth the near heart attack every time. I hope most writers vote for Zenyatta, so horse racing isn't damaged by a travesty.

To scoots, I'm pretty sure that North American races count towards HOTY consideration, but not European or other races.

12 Nov 2010 10:07 AM
goodwin

Thank you for saying what I think is the obvious - she was the best horse that evening, and the best horse doesn't always win. She's been ROBBED of HOY for two years running - give it to her, and keep her fans interested in racing. Don't alienate them!!! This is your big chance, voters (whomever you are...)!!!

12 Nov 2010 10:13 AM
Jeep Chick

Darla Said:

One more thing....I don't recall any of these Grade 1 winners traveling to the west coast to take on Zenyatta on her home turf...I'm sure she would have welcomed them!!!

She was only in races for fillies and mares so what good would it have been for a top colt to go there, she wouldn't have raced them.

12 Nov 2010 10:19 AM
Deb

Queen Z is racing.  She is the name that stays in your mind. She loved her job and had her own dance for the public.

People came to see her, not Blame.

She may not be the best, who really is?  All the great horses are different.  Blame will be remembered as the horse who beat her. There are so many great horses, love and enjoy the ones we have now.

She is "the horse" to so many people and she always will be even without the award.

THANK YOU California for sharing this great gal with us in the east.

We love her!!!!

12 Nov 2010 10:30 AM
LaLa

The only thing I dont understand is all these people arguing, saying Zenyatta never raced against the best..the G1 horses...

If im not mistaken, the breeders cup should have proved that arguement wrong. She passed everyone up; Lookin at Lucky, Quality Road, Haynesfield, Fly Down and even First Dude... So what exactly do we have here?? She proved she could beat the boys, no problem...Im willing to bet everything I have on her to beat them all in a rematch, including Blame! Like Sodapopkid said above, her fractions proved she had that race.. I just hope those certain people can look beyond there poor judgement and see that Zenyatta is easily Horse of the Year!!

12 Nov 2010 10:31 AM
Kelley

The HOY award is not the connections with the most longevity award. Who a horses connections are should have NO baring on HORSE Of The Year!

If they think Blame is so great, bring him back next year.He's 4, and SOUND. No need to whisk him off except the all mighty dollar to cash in while he got a fluke break of Quality Road stopping in Z's path. She was coming like a freight train and grinding him down. A horse winning 3 Grade 1 races by default is not HOY material. So far he's just got lucky.

12 Nov 2010 11:01 AM
SGrant

Absolutely spot on analysis. Blame is a nice horse, but not in Zenyatta's league for various reasons. A diminishing head's loss, given her obvious dislike of the track, took nothing away from Zenyatta. Blame, not exactly a household name, was running at his home track. Zenyatta, THIS YEAR, has brought more attention to horse racing than all of the top colts combined. She most definitely deserves to be Horse of the Year.

12 Nov 2010 11:12 AM
Zen's Auntie

Look who's here Hi Jason!!

I just watched the last 3 races from the BC the 6th and all commentary from ESPN. I had not seen it all in its entirety prior to the last evening and I have to tell you I was appalled by the ESPN commentators after the Classic. Im referring to the The off hand comment that Blame would get the HOY as matter of factly as “yep sunrise is 7:15 tomorrow”. I CRY BS.

This is Not cut and dry it is NOT SIMPLE as other Blog Masters (albeit the minority) have pushed on us.  Propaganda and brainwashing people, just because he has a sharp tongue, does not  make him right – wake up time.

Yes of course Blame won the race Jason. In that race on that track he was 6 inches better than her BUT PLEASE to say that besting her by 6 inches locks HOTY is Ludicrous.

When DO you recognize 4 world records? TEll me?  If you are not HOTY the year you run in only Grade 1 races losing only 1 by 6 inches and set 4 WORLD records surpassing the record of the great horse for which the award you seek is NAMED?

And while we are at it tell me when TB race writing Gurus are going to recognize GOLDIKOVA as the real Global HOTY based solely on the track performance?

You cannot deny this, there’s no room to wiggle its fact.  You can not hide behnd it's an American Award Goldikova  DOMINATED the best Milers in the world and won her race commandingly at BC. We are inviting the world to bring the best to the stage and subsidizing it too and then you say they cant be the best?  What DO you want? You cant cry "On the track" & "body of Work" and so forth and deny Goldi its WRONG.

Since you’re here I want to share another thought.  I think if Zen had won by 6 inches you would be SCREAMING for Goldikova. It's a tad predictable.

Its probably time now. HOTY just needs to come out and say what it really has become, an award for the best USA stallion prospect.  There wasnt one last year so the girls got to fight over the spoils and RA was amazing in her swan song.  Let’s just call it what it is and be done with it.

And Dray, you always show your are a player not a horseman.  Dakota Phone (my win pick by the way all the way back in OCT) caught a tiring ML who was fractious and nearly ran off prerace he was a bit too keen and never relaxed on the lead and DP caught him by 2 inches in a 1 turn mile. Props to DP he showed class Jerry said he prefers a longer distance anyway and ran like it.

As you know Milers were anxious to STOP last Saturday as QR illustrated well. The track got decidedly cuppier as the evening wore on and dew point dropped encouraging condensation.  Only the really fit horses went on, later day especially.

I continue to make no excuses. It was her race to lose and she did but like I said 6 inches 1 day does not a better horse make.

Oh and please dray could you go back to BAT for your TC pick I really like Uncle Mo and it would be a shame for him to have to use all theat tallent just trying to fight your mojo.

12 Nov 2010 11:16 AM
nostalgichorse

So by your logic, the horse that the public loves, and that receives the most media attention should be HOY, right? Forget the soft schedule, the nonexistent competition, the fact that only the last race of this year was against opponents even worthy of her. Forget the fact that her owners had a chance, a real chance, to pull in a mass of non-racing fans, had they of showcased her in more important races. Why the heck was she running all year in California? And if she was in California, why at least not try males? It was like winning the World Series when she won last year's Classic, and then her owners sent her back to the minor leagues. Why? Why try a formula that didn't work the previous two years and try it again for HOY? Why did it not work for her when she was against Curlin, but now Blame is not as worthy of the honor even though he actually beat her on the racetrack? What did he have to do this year to be considered HOY this year? Could his owners have picked some soft spots at Philly park, won them all, and then he could have been HOY after defeating Zenyatta at the Classic? The result was not a tie, and yes, the mare ran a heck of a race, but the best horse wins the race. By your logic, Barbaro should have been HOY, since he certainly garnered the most media attention, and brought the non-racing public to the sport, right? Had Zenyatta of won the Woodward, Whitney, Pacific Classic or some other races of merit this year, I would say, you know what sure...she deserves it. She deserves certainly a lot of accolades, for sure, but her owners do not deserve HOY since they chose spots designed to pad her perfect record, not to win top honors at year's end.

12 Nov 2010 11:26 AM
nostalgichorse

Darla- the Grade I horses Blame faced all year, could not have flown out to California and faced Zenyatta, because she ran in restricted races all year and none of them would have been allowed to enter.

12 Nov 2010 11:33 AM
nostalgichorse

The worst argument and I see it over and over again, is that Zenyatta only lost by a nose. I think it was a head, but that is neither here nor there. Why is no one claiming that about the races she won by a head this year (to glorified claimers at that)? Oh, I forgot those wins count, but not Blame's Classic victory! It counts when she wins by close margins, but when she loses by them, she actually still wins the race. Got it!

12 Nov 2010 11:37 AM
Stacey

Zen's Auntie,

What World Records did she set?

12 Nov 2010 11:38 AM
Gladiator

Hey Jack what is your zip code 90210? Come on Jack seriously quit complaining about Blames' so called great trip. Blame had to barrel through horses down the stretch and had time time for a smoke and a nap before Zenyatta tried to catch him down the stretch. Oh, and by the way she NEVER even passed him through the wire because Blame took off again when he felt Zenyatta coming up to him. Zenyatta ran a great race but, common Jack Stop it!!!!!!!!

12 Nov 2010 11:44 AM
Goldie

Thank you for a well written piece.  The "other" blog I wouldn't even respond to.  I figure I voted with my feet as they say.  One gets too weary of hearing that Zenyatta is not deserving of recognition.

I wholeheartedly agree with Laura S in that there is a double standard - with a capital D, capital S.

Zen won last year on her home track so it didn't count.  The Classic was not the defining, be- all to end-all race last year.  I just do not understand why it was announced prior to the race that this year it would be.  Is it because it was run in Kentucky instead of California?  Because it was on dirt?  Because there were no pesky Euros entered? Would it have been such a deciding factor if it had been at Keeneland instead of Churchill?

Perhaps Zen's connections should have run her into the ground at an early age instead of giving existing fans 3 years of thrills, and new fans something to cheer for.

I really hope that this year the industry, with the exception of the already self pronounced Blame voters, recognizes a truly exceptional racehorse and soon to be legend in Zenyatta.  Hell, I wish she had run for governor.....she would have won in a landslide.

12 Nov 2010 11:53 AM
Runfast159

My intention is to mostly ignore all these blogs and posts stupidly debating HOTY.  It took up 9 months of our time last year and it will take up 9 months of our time this year.  Zenyatta detractors will always be her detractors.  

That said, there are compelling arguments for both sides as witnessed in the articles and blogs that have come out since the race. You might have to have an open mind to appreciate that though.

What I MOST appreciate about Zenyatta, as I did about Cigar 15 years ago, is the way it brought my non-horse racing friends and family over to "my side" for while.

In 1995/96 my husband joined me in watching every race Cigar ran.  They became "events" for us and it allowed me to share with him a sport I was so passionate about.

For the past few years, it's been my son joining me to root Zenyatta on.  And Rachel too.  This is a 16 year old who thinks horse racing is "dumb".  But he was there when Rachel won the Preakness, the Haskell, the Woodward.  He was there with me when Zenyatta won the Classic, and through each and every victory of hers this year.

When it came to this years Classic, he wasn't going to watch.  He was watching our home town Ducks annihilate the Huskies which was far more important to him than any horse race.  I retreated to my room to watch the race alone. I was used to this....

Just before they loaded into the gate, here he comes to join me and one more time we watch her.  These moments in life transcend the significance of that single horse race.  A Classic race in every sense, shared, always remembered, together.  Parents appreciate these things like no other.  And this is what I appreciate most about the Cigars, Rachel's and Zenyatta's....

12 Nov 2010 11:58 AM
Ange

Yes, well written and very true. She does deserve HOY without a doubt. She was the best horse in the Classic that day. No other horse in that race would have done what she did, they may have made up ground but would have wound up 4th or 5th, well back. She was and still is the best horse running. And, I'm still hoping the mosses will let her keep running. She shows no signs of wanting to be turned out to pasture. Thanks big girl for the memories.

12 Nov 2010 12:04 PM
ManOWar

This is the only blog I've commented on re: this issue, and so it will remain; therefore, my comment is a doosie! Zenyatta proved one thing that cold Saturday night: the true face of the heart of a champion. Has this horse deserved to win HOTY based on her ability? CERTAINLY. Has this horse deserved to win HOTY based on her YEARLY accomplishments? Not yet. Please, everyone, look up your facts before posting. Some of these comments have been remarkable in their ignorance. Try watching the BCC and NOT staring at Zenyatta (hard to do, I know)...Blame also had trouble (had to bull his way through traffic to catch the lead). Zen had the same trip she always does: near the rail in the 1-2 path while FAR back, trying to weave through traffic on the final turn, then finally being taken outside to blow past her opponents. It has happened many times before. The difference this time was that when the big mare looked Blame in the eye, he didn't get intimidated and cave like so many others. HE FOUGHT BACK; who can say he didn't? He fought so hard; they both did. For those of you saying Zen sprinted past him just after the finish... She didn't. I was there at the rail on the 1st turn- I saw. She put her nose in front for a stride, but Blame came right back and blew past her for the gallop out. I was astonished...and heartbroken. She is truly magnificent. Do I think she deserves HOTY? YES. Do I think she should get it based on her 2010? Unfortunately, NO. I am one of those fans who wanted to see what she could do, and I feel her brilliance was wasted this year. I so wanted to see her grind the boys under her high heel this year. Her owners had the opportunity to showcase their great mare by running a truly historic campaign this year, but did not. After her mockery of the Classic field last year, Zen had EASILY proven her ability to compete against males... so why NOT make the attempt? The only reason not to was to protect her unbeaten record. All that work to retire her undefeated is now for naught, and this is what so frustrates me: the fact that Zen was NOT sent to dominate America's finest co-ed races to protect her record, so I didn't get to see one of the best racehorses in the world march a line of fire across America. SHE WOULD HAVE DONE IT, people! She could have completely destroyed most of the top races in the US had she been sent. An opportunity was indeed missed; the greatest mare I'll see in my lifetime was underserved by her owners... all for preservation of a win streak. Her legend will live on, yes. Blame will be only a trivia question answer, yes. But the BCC shouldn't have been the decider. Zen would have won HOTY months ago had she been allowed.

12 Nov 2010 12:16 PM
Lindsey S

Well said!  Both horses had great years, but you can't equate what Zenyatta did for the sport with facts and figures.  People wonder why this great sport is dying.  What kind of message does it send to the new fans to the sport if the greatest female racehorse of all time retires (if she is retired) without ever winning HOY?  PLEASE do the right thing!  What a lost opportunity if you don't....

12 Nov 2010 12:17 PM
Terry

Well said! It's hard to beat so-called "quality fields" when your competition avoids you! It's up to them to do the challenging. I read somewhere that if horse racing winnwers were determined, not by the horse's nose, but by whatever part of the body crosses the line first, then Zenyatta had the win based on her hoof being in front of Blame. I haven;t seen the win photo published anywhere to determine if that is true. Either way, the best horse put in the best effort, was moving faster than Blame at the end, and despite being second she should be Horse of the Year. Let Blame race at 5 and prove himself. He lost once this year, too, as so many people tend to forget, and lost to horses Zenyatta left in her dust in the Classic.

12 Nov 2010 12:17 PM
dbjr8

Jshandler-you amaze me!  I can't believe you can actually write the sentence "she got beat by a better horse" with a straight face.  The scarier thing is that you actually BELIEVE it.  Makes me wonder if you are truly qualified to make any judgements on HOY.  Especially since you give no credit to Zenyatta for any of her accomplishments.  Your dislike of this horse shows through in all of your comments and your blogs.  Blame is a solid racehorse, who ran a great race with a perfect trip on his  home track.  And still she was inches from catching him at the end.  She didn't run the same race, she was squeezed at the break and ended up further back then she usually is, dealt with dirt in her face for the first time, and still charged through.  She has amazing heart.  Your entitled to your opinion on HOY, but it would be nice if you could open your closed mind and give Zenyatta some credit for all of her accomplishments.

12 Nov 2010 12:18 PM
Between Friends

"Move on, folks."

Sounds like a certain blogger is afraid that people aren't paying enough attention to his negative comments.

Thank you, Jack Shinar, and thank you, Steve Haskin, for giving us a choice and great columns to read.

12 Nov 2010 12:25 PM
Saratoga AJ

Well, I believe you will be in the minority when the results of the voting is announced. Fan polls and the NTRA poll means nothing, as we saw last year.

Blame will probably win it. And I am in no way saying that Zentatta is not a magnificent horse, one of greatest ever and perhaps the best filly or mare ever.

She will probably be rated higher than the 3 horses that finished ahead of her in the HOTY voting in the next BloodHorse Top 100 list, with  the possible exception of Curlin. But if they use the same criteria that has been traditionally used in the past, Blame will get HOTY.

12 Nov 2010 12:28 PM
Katie

GoldenBroom,

Pepper's Pride retired in 2008 with a perfect record of 19 wins for 19 starts. Zenyatta is NOT the only horse who won her first 19 starts. and it's NOT about life achievement, it's about having a better year, a more challenging year against better horses. Except the Classic, she won against the same fillies all year long and lose her only time against male this year. You can't say that running the same races against the same horses is very challenging, the owners were just trying to keep her undefeated, just like the races of pepper's pride

12 Nov 2010 12:35 PM
Sue MacPhee

To LauraS - you got it right! (I think in some of her races she spotted her opponents 18 lbs) Thanks so much. And Draynay...your argument is tired. The venom against Zenyatta after everything she's done (and this year, too) is so thinly veiled it jumps off the screen. As far as I'm concerned she put the males to shame in both Classics, and one colt got ahead of her by inches - and he had a great ride, too. I, too, wish her connections had brought her out east for a race to get her used to it. But after seeing the way she caught up Saturday (not to mention in 2009), I have little doubt she'd have beaten the boys with regularity. HOTY no question.

12 Nov 2010 12:46 PM
GJU

Jack,

THANK YOU for your comments! Not to take anything away from Blame. I'm shocked he went off at 5-1, but yes, I'd love to see Zenyatta win Horse Of The Year, (and I do believe she is a better horse than Blame). We get it Jason. You aren't voting for Zenyatta as HOTY. Big surprise. Move on is right.  

12 Nov 2010 12:48 PM
Jack Shinar

Scoots: Extremely logical. Cigar was 1-10 but his opponents weren't considered overmatched? Zenyatta won all the G1s she ran in before the BC (and she beat beat plenty of them again that day) and since no one else was willing to take her on, there weren't any other G1 winners to beat. That's perfection for you.

Jason: In probably the silliest remark from last year's HOY debate, you said Zenyatta could win the Ladies' Classic on Friday and the BC Classic on Saturday and you still wouldn't vote for her. Don't hurt yourself with those blinders on.

12 Nov 2010 12:54 PM
Blue Blue Sea

Baloney is right. Only it's in your column, sir, not the others. HOY goes to the best horse in that year. Not the emotional favorite.

12 Nov 2010 1:10 PM
Freetex

That's just it, we are not moving  on until we are heard for once.  Just what kind of winning pool would there have been without all the wagers on the Queen?  Who would have watched the Breeders Cup anyway?  

For heaven's sake, take advantage of the moment.  A racing star of Zenyatta's magnitude may not be arrive, (if ever) for a very long time.  She remained sound, healthy and fit for more than six years.  She' still hereeeeeeeee.

Please try to be objective.  If the HOTY is just about the Breeders Cup Classic, then you know what, you owe her big-time for both the last two CLASSICS, and for that matter the last THREE.

Guess I get a little emotional.  Jack Shinar gets it and many other sports writers do as well.

What a run she gave us, what a run.  What a horse!

Finally, believe me, Zenyatta's reign will forever long.  Greatness comes along so seldom that we can hang on to, because guess what, she didn't leave the stage, she owns it.  Sometimes a horse just reaches her fans like no other.  

Just think about what she has done for racing.  Please, give it a little time and give it some thought.  

12 Nov 2010 1:36 PM
BC Winner

Shirley I guess it was you who mentioned the elitism.

Don't blame the industry for the HOY vote, we can't do anything about it. It's the writers, NTRA block mostly racing secretaries and the DRF.

We in the industry saw the support she brought us. Increased viewership, increased attendance and increased handle. Not just a slight increase, off the charts increases. That's better than any old HOY award from a bunch of writers, better promotion of our game too. THEY should be thanking her too since people who never would have read their stuff read it because of her.

Really there wasn't a clear cut year long outstanding performer against the best company.

Some of the ones Blame beat beat him or barely lost to him yet fell apart at Churchill. Horses for courses.

Move on Jason? What in the world will happen to your blog if they do?

12 Nov 2010 1:37 PM
Lonnie

Thank you for saying what the rest of us are feeling.  We waited last January to hear if Zenyatta would get Horse of the Year and she didn't.  This year there should be no other horse that deserves and the horse racing fans will not get over being passed by twice.  She deserves it and she earned it in her three years of racing.

12 Nov 2010 1:42 PM
Berit

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

12 Nov 2010 2:14 PM
Soldier Course

Jack:

Thank you so much for your article. It has given me second thoughts about canceling my B-H subscription.  

12 Nov 2010 2:16 PM
dave

If Zenyatta's restricted races had been the Ogden Phipps, the Go for Wand, and the Beldame, would the East Coast turf writers have been as hysterically anti-Zenyatta? Just asking.

We're in a sorry state when a five-race campaign is seen as a championship season. At least Blame beat a better group of older horses than last year's nags, though the loss to Haynesfield could be seen as embarrassing.

12 Nov 2010 2:18 PM
karen williams

I am sorry but I disagree with you..as much as I like Zenyatta; I believe Blame deserves to win this award...he did a whole too that no one seems to want to give him credit for;

I believe Zenyatta should have won last year but Blame deserves it..he put in a powerful performance; I think Mike Smith had her too far back as he did in the past with Tiago...

Give it to BLAME.....even though I really like the big mare....if this keeps getting nasty I am no longer going to be a racing fan...

12 Nov 2010 2:31 PM
karen williams

ALso, please dont compare ZENYATTA TO the MIGHTY CIGAR.....Her owners put her in races with much inferior horses in all but two races..and she lost the last one....Cigar and Zenyatta are not in the same class...she lost fair and square;HORSE OF THE YEAR..BLAME

12 Nov 2010 2:38 PM
Redydoc

Amen, brother!  Z E N Y A T T A

12 Nov 2010 2:39 PM
Fuzzy Corgi

Let's just give HOY to a cheap claimer that was randomly picked from a hat by a blindfolded toddler. That would make about as much sense as giving the award to anyone but Zenyatta this year. In defeat (by a diminishing head) this amazing mare showed more ability than any horse I have seen on the track in many, many years. Then add that to her wins and the choice for HOY is easy except to those wearing full cup blinkers.

12 Nov 2010 2:42 PM
Zen's Auntie

STACEY,

Ok Just one more time -

I hate to copy and paste but here you Go:

...March 13th won her 15th in a row a grade G1 spotting the 2nd place horse 10+ lbs.

On April 9th she showed up Over 1000 miles from home to face the Reigning HOTY who couldnt make it and won her 2nd Grade 1 of the year tying  Cigar, Citation and  Ribot for most consecutive modern day TB victories.  

On June 13th she broke that World Recognized record with 17 consecutive wins.  In doing so in a grade 1 race she also succeeded in  tying the World record for most grade 1 wins in a row.

thats one.

On August 7th she Broke the world record for most consecutive grade 1 wins with her 18th consecutive  Victory tying the record of Bayakoa for most grade 1 lifetime won by a filly or mare. Tying the great Eclipse (remember these are Eclipse awards ) for most consecutive wins

Thats TWO

On October 2nd she Broke that record of Bayakoa winning her 13th Grade 1 and also surpassed Eclipse to rise to 19 in a row.  She also surpassed the great Ouija Board for all time earnings by a NA female racehorse

Three and FOUR

On Nov 6th she came over 2000 miles to race in the BC Classic and lost her first race to place 2nd by a short head (she may be the only female to ever place 2nd in the classic too Im not sure)earning enough $ to surpass all Female race horses in Earnings. .....

Zen's Auntie 11 Nov 2010 1:27 PM

You can go read the whole thing on the SIMPLE Blog of Jasons's

This isnt made up its fact

Hate is often driven by fear - dont feer her revere HER. LOL

GO BANDBOX!!! You too Dancinginherdreams

12 Nov 2010 3:47 PM
Ashley NYC

Rachel Alexandra fan converted to Zenyatta camp right here (waving hand frantically)!!  I was firmly for RA winning HOTY last year as I did and still do believe she had a much tougher campaign against better horses.  That was my opinion for last year and I now have to say Zenyatta fully deserves HOTY this year.  I refuse to get sucked into this debate because there are a ton of arguments on each side - some valid, some misguided.  What I will do is point out a couple of personal observations - call it food for thought - that don't necessarily weigh in my opinion of who should be HOTY, but are just interesting tidbits nonetheless:

1. In the Classic, if Blame had gotten the trip Zenyatta got and came up a short head/nose short, would anyone still be arguing for him to be HOTY?  Highly doubtful, but not because his race wasn't well run, rather because no one would CARE.  The powers that be in racing need to give more thought to those who care what happens in the HOTY debate, because in the end it's the caring that keeps the sport alive.  Honestly, even those who argue for Blame to get HOTY don't actually care about him in any meaningful way - certainly not in the way Zenyatta's fans are well-documented to have a connection to her.  Harsh, but true.

2. How long will it be before a race is named in honor of Blame?  Hmmm, will it ever happen?  Certainly won't happen while the horse is still racing (as it did with Zenyatta) because that ship has sailed.  I know this has no bearing on HOTY, but is just an observation because racing honors its greats by naming races for them...  I think it is not too much of a stretch to say Blame might never be called a great horse.  Very good in 2009 and 2010?  Of course.  But in even just five years, he will be forgotten.  Zenyatta is not only easily a great racehorse, but one that will never be forgotten.  

3. I really think the general public will never even know who is voted HOTY, regardless of the outcome, so I'm not sure the argument holds up that potential fans will be lost if Zenyatta doesn't win.  What one horse does any non-racing fan remember from the years 2004, 2005, and 2006?  Pretty easy - Smarty Jones, Afleet Alex and Barbaro.  Definitely not Ghostzapper, Saint Liam and Invasor.  Racing would flatter itself to think any non-racing fan has even heard of these recent Horses of the Year.  Whether that's a good thing or bad thing is beside the point - it's just true.  So Zenyatta fans, please comfort yourselves in knowing whatever happens in the HOTY outcome, the sport will not suffer and Zenyatta will long be remembered by the public as the best horse of 2008-2010, if, unfortunately, not in any one of those three years.  Somehow the last statement doesn't make sense in my head, but I guess it makes sense to those who think she shouldn't be HOTY.

12 Nov 2010 4:19 PM
Kim

Cigar had a better season in 1996 than Zenyatta had this year. Consider that, in 1996, Cigar:

-raced 8 times, winning 5, with 2 2nds and a 3rd

-traveled extensively, winning races such as the Donn Hcp, Dubai World Cup, and Woodward S.

-equaled Citation's win streak, which hadn't been done since Citation ran in the 1940's

-became the highest earning racehorse of all time

-won twice while carrying 130 lbs.

-beat good racehorses such as Unbridled's Song, Soul of the Matter, and Dramatic Gold, and lost to horses like Skip Away (considered by many to be an all-time great)

In 1996, Cigar ran in California, Florida, New York, Massachussetts, Illinois, Canada, and Dubai, in races that attracted the highest level of competition available. He did things no horse had done before, and lost a few races by small margins.

The horses that stood the best chance of beating him for Horse of the Year included Alphabet Soup, whose wins for the year (aside from the BC Classic) included a pair of Grade 2 races and a Grade 3. Skip Away, who beat him in the JCGC, also had wins in the Grade 1 Haskell and Blue Grass Stakes, which of course are restricted to 3 year olds. While Skip Away was already considered a very good horse, his wins for the year weren't really on par with Cigar's, and Alphabet Soup hadn't done enough before the Classic to put him into serious contention for HOY. Cigar became pretty much the obvious choice for the honor, because he had clearly done more on the track than any other horse that year.

This year it's just not so clear cut. It's true that Zenyatta ran in 6 Grade 1's, winning 5. But those 5 wins were against fillies, none of whom was a Grade 1 winner, and she wasn't exactly a world traveler, unlike Cigar. Her competition for the HOY award had done enough pre-BC to put himself into contention for the award if he won the Classic, which he did. The races Blame ran in were open to any and all competition, unlike Zenyatta's races, which were only open to female horses.

It's unfortunate that Zenyatta may never get HOY. The blame for this should be laid at the feet of her connections, who had the chance to do great things with this unique mare, but instead chose the path of least resistance for the most part. I believe that Zenyatta is an all-time great racehorse, on par with Cigar at the least, but she didn't do as much as Cigar did on the track. To say that because Cigar received HOY, so should Zenyatta, is myopic and overly simplistic.

In the end, whether Zenyatta wins HOY is not really important to her legacy. I guarantee she will get the recognition for her career that she deserves, when she is elected unanimously into the Hall of Fame. That will be the most fitting award for her. Her career as a whole is unique and extraordinary; there is no shame in the fact that, during each individual year she raced, there was another horse that had a slightly better season than she did. None of them can equal her career as a whole, but that's not what the HOY award is about.

12 Nov 2010 4:24 PM
Gladiator

ManOwar take a look at the blimp shot of the stretch run through the wire. Zenyatta never gets in front of Blame past the wire. Not even an inch!!!! Otherwise decent post.

12 Nov 2010 4:25 PM
Saratoga AJ

The simple truth is when there is a dominant colt, they will always get HOTY over the filly, unless she beats him. A great example is Personal Ensign. She went undefeated in 1988, even beat the Kentucky Derby winner (Winning Colors) and the colts in the Whitney at Saratoga. Enough to win HOTY? Well no, she lost out to Alysheba, a dominant colt who won 7 of 9 races in 1988.

The only fillies to win HOTY beat colts consistently like Busher in 1944, Twilight Tear in 1945 and Rachel last year. Or in Azeri's case in 2002, there were NO colts deserving, it was a very weak year for them.

So

1) Blame was a dominant colt &

2) Blame even beat his top competitor for HOTY, Zenyatta head to head.

Unless the voters totally abandon the traditional rules to HOTY, Blame has to win it. There is no other way. The career record has nothing to do with THIS year. Nor does the emotions of the Zenyatta fans.

I love Zenyatta, but have to stick with tradition.

12 Nov 2010 4:26 PM
Stephanie Lambert

Damn Straight! well said well put..... hoy is Zenyatta...Period.

12 Nov 2010 4:29 PM
Zen's Auntie

Karen (and not just you) F&M races must be considered legit and Grade 1 races are the best F&M races.

Gender specific races are in fact are needed to showcase female talent and for the whole continuation of the sport. Some are Handicap races where the top ranked horse carries the most weight.

My point is, Owners do not get to pick who comes and races against thier entrant. It seems silly to have to say that but it seems like Z is taking the Blame for not racing more worthy ladies.

You can only enter Grade 1 races and win them. Connections can not do more its not logical to expect more.

The Z team went to Oaklawn. RA was unable to show up. It cost the Big Mare Big $ (60% of 5 Million is a heck of a lot more than 60% of 500K) and set the tone for the rest of the year "sure bring the amazon to us, we cant wait to get our gals some Grade 1 stakes placings"  but the answer also includes "dont expect her to face our bigger names and make them look bad we cant have that..."

So she acts like a lady and what - you cry foul?  Come on, why is it ok (and there are a few exceptions here I know but primarily) for the great Bayakoa to face a career of females and be respected - why is it ok for the awesome Azeri to face females and get respect.  Even Shuvee one of the greatest of all times mostly stayed with like company - well save the JCGC when it was LONG.

Anyway I like the Big Mare too - Its troubling to me to hear folks belittle her. But Im sure she couldnt care less.  What I hear from folks is its mostly because they claim to be entitled to More out of her as she is "that good". Well im not surprized - we are a greedy bunch in the US God love us - more is better who can argue with wanting more of the best.

Im just glad she gave us all she did.

I myself am NOT always a "racing" fan (most recent racing low points  poor  Life at Ten and of course Rough Sailing)  but I am always a fan of the horses.  Racing involves ego and people (EWW PEOPLE) the HORSES are the purity of the sport.

God bless all the Horses.  

So who is your favorite 2 year old?

12 Nov 2010 5:00 PM
mike williams

I am in total in agreement with you.If Zenyatta does not get HOY, the ability of this sport to attract new fans and survive will be in serious doubt.

12 Nov 2010 5:17 PM
jimthepimp

I think that Zenyatta is the best mare that I have ever seen on a racetrack. With that said she in no way deserving of HOTY because she didnt beat any horses this year that were even around at the end of the year. I know Switch wasnt good enough for the Ladies Classic but did ran well in her BC race. Blame ran against some of the best all year long. Zenyattas connections should know by now that you dont win HOTY be running in one big race a year. In that race she ran a big one and still lost in championship fashion. She got the respect of all that watched that race. It was amazing to see her heart and try to catch them. Blame ran against the best competition this year and won in the head to head match. It is sad but the truth is that she just doesnt deserve the award. She has been great for racing and I will always think of her as one of the great horses that I have seen. The breeders cup is the biggest races of the year but they cant be seen as the only thing that you have to win to get HOTY. Horse racing needs the owners to put on a few good shows during the year. Thats not the owners fault it is horse racing fault by not making it hard for them not to take a few more chances. This isnt a Zenyatta thing as it is the way horse racing has evolved. It is bad for horse racing because the industry has to find a way to be in the news during the year.

Im surprised that nobody has discussed this but in hindsight it probably would of been beneficial for Zenyatta to ship to CD a week or two before the race to get used to the CD dirt. I know that Zenyatta is always off a bit slow but she looked uncomfortable the first quarter of a mile. Thats where she lost the race and she needed to be just a little closer. Mike Smith was trying to get her to go but this was the first time that she had to try to go quickly on this dirt. I know this is hind sight which is always 20-20. I think it would of made a difference but maybe it wouldnt of. On another note of this bunk that John has been telling everyone for a year that Zenyatta doesnt ship well, well that is just bunk, Zenyatta looked very comfortable from the time she got to CD. She even acted like she liked the opportunity to go on vacation. We have all seen horses that dont take shipping well and Zenyatta is just not one of them. I just wish that she had won the race because that would of been great for horse racing. But if you are going to lose a race this was the way to do it. She ran her heart out and I will always have fond memories of her. Both of her BBC Classic races will stay in my mind forever.

12 Nov 2010 6:45 PM
Samantha

BRAVO! You should send this in to the voters, PERFECT! And Zenyatta was definatly the best horse in the feild, she had everything wrong happen and she still came up a head short, that just shows how much she can still do under pressure.

12 Nov 2010 7:55 PM
Manny

karen williams,

Blame will never, and I mean ever be voted HOY over Zenyatta.

Nor does he deserve to be.

12 Nov 2010 8:01 PM
John

I've just read that Hall of Fame trainer Jack Van Berg got so sick and tired of some calling for Blame to be the HOY that he is personally headed up a campaign to make Zenyatta is voted HOY.

You go Jack!

12 Nov 2010 8:03 PM
Carl

"Picture it"; the chorus to "Handel's Messiah" going off in my head when I read this article. "Hallelujah...hallelujah...etc...". Even so, I don't hold out any hope of Zenyatta winning "HOTY" because I just don't see people doing the right thing. The same guy you reference in the story has nothing coherent to say when you bring up the fact that the horse of the year last year not only did not win the classic, she did not even show up for it. But, she got his vote, along with a lot of others who thought her campaign was so much better than the undefeated horse that won all those grade ones-and-the "Classic. That's why fans like me will drift away from the sport now that Zenyatta is retiring. The world out there right now is too ugly to dwell on negativity. You would have to be out of touch with reality in order not to have seen that Zenyatta was the best horse in the Classic. In fact, it was not even close.

12 Nov 2010 8:31 PM
Zen's Auntie

Sorry Nancy,

The accepted world record for "Modern day" consecutive TB wins without loss (not state restricted) is now 19 like it or not Zenyatta set it THIS YEAR - Tied I will admit with the state of NM racer Peppers Pride.

Yes she now has a loss on her record so she is No longer undefeated I get that.  

Eclipse has 18 in a row. Cigar Citation Ormonde and Ribot have 16

She Currently has the WORLD record for most Grade 1 stakes in a row too with 9 -  

She has the current grade 1 win record for females in NA too with 13.

Money wise(According to available records right now) Zenyatta is Currently the top money earning Female in NA ever too - by alot more if our Girl Rachel hadn't been all used up and made it to the Apple Blossom but let me stick to reality.

Zenyatta also broke other smaller regional records such as 3 peating in two Grade 1's the C Hirsh and the Vanity. which hadnt been done ever before

I dont make this stuff up Nancy its FACT. you want me to pass you the ketchup so you can SWALLOW it?

12 Nov 2010 8:52 PM
Cowboy Adventure

What a wonderful article; I had just about given up hope on the Bloodhorse. Thank you for bringing back some balance to the publication!

12 Nov 2010 9:00 PM
Calzen

I must admit, I am one of those who immediately and solidly supported Blame for HOTY, but many of my fellow bloggers have me changing my mind. Without question, Zenyatta was the most INFLUENTIAL horse in 2010, and did the most (by far) for horse racing and it's future.

A deserving HOTY

12 Nov 2010 9:08 PM
LauraS

For those whose personal criteria for Horse of the Year require multiple wins against older males in Grade I races and/or on East Coast dirt tracks, please contact the following horses so they can return their awards:  Rachel Alexandra 2009 (only one win against older males); Azeri 2002 (no races against older males, no races on East Coast); Point Given 2001 (no races against older males); Charismatic 1999 (no races against older males); Favorite Trick 1987 (two year old - no races against older males); All Along 1983 (no races on dirt); Affirmed 1978 (no wins against older males); Seattle Slew 1977 (no races against older males); Secretariat 1972 (two year old- no races against older males); Fort Marcy 1971 (no races on dirt); Personality 1970 (only one win against older males); Moccasin 1965 (two year old AND female - no races against older males ); Native Dancer, 1952 (2 year old - no races against older males) and 1954 (only three races, one of them an allowance and another a sprint that would be ungraded today); Count Fleet 1943 (no races against older males); and, to top them off, Man O’War 1920 (only one race against one older horse, in Canada).  

Given the above criteria that some advocate, THREE TRIPLE CROWN WINNERS wouldn't have been Horse of the Year that year, and Man O’War and Native Dancer never would have been.  

12 Nov 2010 9:45 PM
Mike Relva

KAREN WILLIAMS

If others' opinions prevent you from being a "racing fan",so be it! Let me know when another horse comes along that generated such a widespread impact,ok?

12 Nov 2010 9:57 PM
Gary Tasich

Well written. What a joy to finally see the voice of reason starting to shine through.

Zenyatta is such a classy warrior....she deserves HOY!

12 Nov 2010 11:05 PM
sherpa

Jack, I always read and enjoy your race recaps and have often wondered why you don't have a BH blog, too.  Let me just say, I'd have loved to see more like this over the past 2 years! ;-)

Thank you!  ITA with your take!

------------------

12 Nov 2010 11:10 PM
Lavafan

You've got to be kidding if you compare Cigar's 1996 campaign to Zenyatta's non-campaign. Cigar won the Donn impressively over a future handicap star in Wekiva Springs, he then went to Dubai after 2 weeks off from quarter cracks and beat a very good field, with yes, grade 1 winners. Lots of them. He then went to Mass, which is the only one of the races that compares to Zenyatta's this year. He beat them handily in a very good time. Then the Arlington Challenge, against BC winner Unbridled's Song and Met Mile winner Honor and Glory - how many grade 1 winners did Zenyatta face before the BC this year? Exactly 0. Then to CA, where he faced the mighty Siphon and they blazed incredibly fast fractions, so he lost. However, he still beat Siphon, multiple grade 1 winner. Then to the Woodward, where he won, and then he was barely beaten in NY by Skip Away. Clearly the quarter cracks and hard campaigning had caught up with him, but Zenyatta raced in 3 states this year, against non-grade 1 winners in all but 1 race, and Cigar ran in 4 states and 2 foreign countries. Not at all comparable. Every race he ran in was open to anyone who wanted to enter. Zenyatta ran in restricted company all year except the BC, against very moderate competition.

If Zenyatta gets HOTY, it will tell me definitively that it has turned into a popularity contest and I might as well get out of following racing. I hope voters base it on accomplishments and who they ran against, like they did with Awesome Again and Skip Away, with Skip Away simply beating better horses all year than Awesome Again did. I couldn't stand Skip Away or his connections, but he deserved HOTY. So does Blame - he's simply gone out and beaten the best horses around in open competition.

Zenyatta fans - blame Zenyatta's connections if she doesn't win. Had they entered her and won a single SoCal race against colts, the award would likely be hers. Instead, they hid from the likes of Awesome Gem (whom I love, but he's not that good).

12 Nov 2010 11:46 PM
Becky

One word....GOLDIKOVA

12 Nov 2010 11:47 PM
ron f

IF BLAME IS A TREMENDOUS HORSE THEN SPECTACULAR BID IS GOD.

13 Nov 2010 12:04 AM
hypatia

I know this is crazy, but could we, oh I don't know discuss this without slagging off other horses?

Yes, yes; I know you love the horse that your backing but to insult and mock these creatures who bravely tear around courses on matchstick legs for our benefit is just infantile. (RIP Rough Sailing)

That said, I love Zenyatta, I think she's brilliant and I would be perfectly content if she were to win HOTY. But you do look kind of silly proclaiming her to be the greatest horse/mare ever when a mare who has a much more impressive record won that day. It was just a few races earlier.

13 Nov 2010 1:19 AM
MAT

I agree that Zenyatta should be HOY on the basis of her 2010 accomplishments.  5 G1 wins > 3 G1 wins. Blame was humiliated in the JCGC. And he ran in a G3--what's up with that?  Zenyatta ran exclusively in G1 races and traveled more than he did, ran on more tracks and was CLEARLY the best horse in the Classic.  No other horse running this year could have done what she did in that race.  My hat's off to her.

She's a once-in-a-lifetime horse.

13 Nov 2010 1:36 AM
Racingfan

Great article Jack!  I hope you have a vote in all this!  HOTY should go to the BEST HORSE of the year and I believe she proved that without a doubt. She was even the BEST horse in the Classic even though she lost. Too bad some people whose job it is to cover racing can't see greatness when it is staring them in the face (Jason)!     LauraS:  excellent post!  And lastly, if Zenyatta's 20 race career does not count, then Claiborne's 100 year history most certainly should not either!

13 Nov 2010 7:39 AM
texaszippeee

Another AMEN!  Zenyatta is the horse of the year!

13 Nov 2010 9:06 AM
Old Yeller

Zenyatta, should have horse of the year. Let's hope by some devine intervention her connections get their rear's up and she she ain't going out like that and return to Churchill next year to take a crack at the Classic again. I know she could do it. Probably I'm dreaming in color but wouldn't it be something ! Oh well take's what being a racing fan involves. The great one's always leave on a heartbreaking note, just this decade. Smarty Jones ( the heartbreaker at Belmont and the less than sportsman like jockey acts ) Big Brown ( the SHOE thing ) Zenyatta, ( a weird race right, but she almost did it ). Honesty ever BIG one something weird happens. I expect it now.

13 Nov 2010 9:43 AM
Zookeeper

For those who clamor that Blame never let Zenyatta pass him after the finish line, that assertion is simply NOT TRUE. There is a photo on Zenyatta's Facebook page that shows her with her head clearly in front a stride or so after the finish line. So stop saying that. SHE DID HEAD HIM.

I know it doesn't change the outcome of the race, but it sets the record straight. If you really care about FACTS, check it out.

13 Nov 2010 9:48 AM
On the Track

Last year, everyone called for the leading candidates to meet on the track. That would be the only fair way to determine Horse of the Year.

This year, the leading candidates did meet on the track and Blame won.

P.S. It does not matter if Zenyatta was ahead after the wire or if Blame never let her go by, or who beat who on the gallop out. The wire is what counts.

13 Nov 2010 10:11 AM
Zookeeper

Denying that Blame won the race would be foolish. To keep repeating that Zenyatta never got her head in front is just as foolish.

That's the only point I made. Repeating a lie, no matter how often, doesn't make it the truth.

13 Nov 2010 11:29 AM
Shelby's Best Pal

Thank you for this well thought out article.  Zenyatta is the most influential horse in racing today.

13 Nov 2010 11:38 AM
Tina

Awsome! Thank You, someone at long last tells the true story of the greatest mare of our time. Only Ruffian could have even come close to Zenyatta's effect on the world of horse racing." Zenyatta the Great" thats what the headlines should say. Would make a nice T-shirt don't you think?

13 Nov 2010 12:08 PM
Zeeman

Not a post about HOY, but, to "Golden Broom": can you spell Kincsem?

History did not begin in the year 2000. There is no need to distort or ignore the past in order to render rightful  praise to Zenyatta. It only undermines your credibility and does not flatter the mare.

13 Nov 2010 1:56 PM
lobieb

Queen Z, what can I say. You have brought in a lot of new racing fans, that is for sure and I myself love you dearly,,,,,,but as much as I love you I do not think you should get HOY and that honor should go to Blame. I have watched all your races for the last 3 years and think you are super but in most of those cases the fields you encountered were not of that high caliber.  Blame has raced against the best and in fact I have gone to see him run and he has raced against the BEST.  It is not your fault that your connections kept you from showing your true potential and again say I think you are one that could have proven a lot of people wrong if you had raced against the best.  Still you have united a lot of people, myself included and for sentimental reasons I would vote for you but realistically I would vote for Blame as he has proven he is a great horse for the year 2010.  I know that it might satisy people if there was a tie between you and Blame but that again will never happen.  Long live Queen Z and may she enjoy all the love people can award her.  

13 Nov 2010 6:34 PM
Whisperoak

Crap! Now we have the BLOGGERS going on about the 19 race record, and the fact that Zenyatta was influential to the sport! That is NOT what HOTY is based on! It's based on race performances, not who did what for the fans!

13 Nov 2010 7:22 PM
Linda in PA

Horse of the year is not a popularity contest!  It is what the horse has accomplished through out the year.  Things like what kind of race, and who is in the race count.  Did their owners and trainers take risks with the horse? Did they race him or her out of their comfort zone? Horses that are not asked to take risks or be challenged through out the year don't have a good chance against horses that have been asked to take chances and race out of their comfort zone.  Zennyatta was not asked all year to be challenged or race out of her comfort zone except once and she lost.  She ran a terrific race to be sure and proved she was a great race mare, but she still lost.   If she had been in more open races against all (male and female) and won just a couple, I would agree that she deserves Horse of the year even with the loss in the Breeders Cup.  I think there is a lot of emotion overriding common sense and then there are some that do not know much about racing throwing their two cents in the mix.  Great horses are defined by who they run against and what kind of races they run in.  If you look up the first top ten horses in the Blood Horses best horses in the 20th century you will see that all of them took many risks and took on all.  None of them played it safe.

13 Nov 2010 9:26 PM
John

Whisperoak,

The Eclipse Award for Horse of the Year is determined by the "performance during the racing year is deemed the most outstanding".

Arguments aside, I believe I've heard Zenyatta's performance in the Classic described as outstanding several times, but I've never heard that decription given to Blame's performance even once.

13 Nov 2010 9:54 PM
Matt

I hope Jerry and Ann Moss will let Zenyatta race 1 more time so she can tie the record of Man O'War.  I put her in that catagory.

13 Nov 2010 10:51 PM
LauraS

The Horse of the Year Award is a subjective one - the criteria at present is whatever the individual voter thinks it is. The voters are drawn from three groups consisting of Daily Racing Form writers, other racing journalists (print media only, no electronic media thank you very much) and racing secretaries - no trainers, breeders, jockeys, or owners. An estimated 70% are based in Kentucky or further east - the three groups aren't obligated to release who their voters are or even where they're from so we don't really know unless the individual voter chooses to tell us.

As seen from my earlier post above, the "criteria" changes from year to year, the only absolute being a horse had to make one start in North America. That's it. Is it the horse who most dominated his/her division? Is it restricted to the top dirt male 3 and up? Is it a horse who stepped out of its division? This automatically would DQ all two year olds and virtually all females (and where can an older dirt male go? Turf? Sprint?) Turf runners, no matter how dominant, are almost always excluded (only All Along and Fort Marcy have won) and sprinters, no matter how good have never been seriously considered to my knowledge - not even Ta Wee who was nearly invincible and carried huge amounts of weight (140 lbs in one race) and beat the boys on a regular basis. Extreme bias is given to non-sprinting dirt males three and up with the occasional blip. That's just the way its been. Again, the only "rule" is one start in North America. The rest is each voter's opinion, with their biases and all. Their opinion.

This year and last, some people keep saying "it's horse of the YEAR not career".  Well, tell that to Native Dancer in 1954. He won one allowance race in April, the Met Mile in May, and an overnight 7f handicap in August and then was re-injured and retired. Three races in a time when 10 or more per year was the norm and none over a mile. Only one that would now be GI. Native Dancer was the first television superstar of racing. Everyone loved him, not just racing fans, and he was every bit as popular as Zenyatta is now. He won Horse of the Year in 1954 for his CAREER and his contribution to racing - not what he did or didn't do on the track. And rightly so.

Zenyatta deserves Horse of the Year, both for her excellence on and off the track this year and for her body of work. Both have precedent.

14 Nov 2010 12:03 AM
Maria K.

Amen to that! Zenyatta the most deserving to win the HOTY.

14 Nov 2010 12:48 AM
Saratoga AJ

Matt:

How about she race TWO more times and tie another all time great's record. After all, they share much more in common.

Both lost their only race in a 1 1/4 mile race at Churchill, both in the biggest race(s) of the year, both had bad trips (he even more so than Zenyatta), and both lost in furious late stretch charges that fell exactly the same diminishing head short.

I'm talking about the "Grey Ghost" of course, Native Dancer, who finished 21 for 22.

www.youtube.com/results

14 Nov 2010 7:16 AM
Slew

Cigar did go to Dubai and win.  Somehow, I feel that Zen's not done yet. Hmmmm...tapeta...perfect.

Look out Meydan!  Maybe...

14 Nov 2010 9:47 AM
Tina

Hail to Zenyatta, sounds to me overall that HOY is now based on this one race. Seem to recall it did not work that way last year, when she showed the worlds best at that time how it was done. Kudos to Blame he did get lucky and win this one. Do not believe HOY should be based on that alone this year if it was not last year.

14 Nov 2010 10:12 AM
1959gal

I'm still bitter that Zenyatta was not voted HOY last year when she was undefeated, had done nothing wrong in her career, boosted racing and won the Classic!  Zenyatta over Blame for HOY!

14 Nov 2010 11:18 AM
Zen's Auntie

Zen’s  LIL Bro Souper Spectacular (what kinda name is that unless you own Campbell's) wins his 3rd in a row! In the 1st at Aqueduct.

This Giantscauseway colt is tiny compared to his big sis and frankly doesn’t resemble her at all.  Making me leery about the idea of taking Zen to GC but that’s another topic.

He's a gritty little cus though - getting a head in front between horses.  Apparently he's a bit of a pill good job Johnny V!

14 Nov 2010 12:44 PM
Mike Relva

HELLO MR.SHINAR

Hope you continue to write your accurate opinions regarding Zenyatta's quest for HOY. I always considered it a gift the Mosses' raced her another year,although many so called fans thumbed their nose to the fact. When a horse comes along that captures the imagination of the public,translating into interest with idividuals that don't watch racing,then it's special. When I hear certain blog hosts,and so called fans slam Zenyatta,I always remember the array of HOY trainers,great writers that are of the certain opinion that Zenyatta is truly indeed a Superhorse that ranks high on the list of past greats. I'll take their opinions any day over others' that doesn't have the slightest clue what greatest is.

14 Nov 2010 12:48 PM
Max

Linda in Pa,

Your're so right.  Getting beat by four lengths by Haynesfield in the JCGC does not quality for HOY.

14 Nov 2010 1:39 PM
Richard

I am glad to finally read a blog that echoes what I have been trying to say for sometime, Zenyatta deserves HOTY honors because of all that she has done for the sport at a time when attendance is down at every track in the nation including Churchill. For those who say Blame deserves it based on wins for this year I would say this, how would he have fared on a synthetic track? Zenyatta nearly beat him on his home track and those who support him talk like he beat her easily, he did not. Also, if you ignore the will of the fans in making HOTY decisions than you alienate the very people that horse racing desperately needs. The hard core gamblers, the ones who don't care about the horses other than whether or not they win money on them and the rich owners who see this as just a fun way to throw around lots of money are not keeping this sport vibrant and alive. If Blame deserves HOTY honors than Zenyatta deserves horse of the decade. Name me one other horse in the last ten years that has so captured the publics attention and adoration. I would say that she even surpasses Smarty Jones in popularity.

14 Nov 2010 2:11 PM
maryann727

Thank you Jack Shinar for supporting Zenyatta for HOY.  She was by far the best horse in the 2010 Classic even if she fell short of the win by a few inches. And she is without a doubt the best race mare I've ever seen, a horse for the ages.  We'll never see another like her.  Deep closers just don't consistently win race after race.

Below are quotes from Draynay with dates and times posted; the first was a response to Steve Haskin's blog and the second is part of the one he posted here.  Within 18 minutes, he managed to post two opposing views, contradicting himself.  What goes?

"Zenyatta is the greatest of all time.  Thanks Zen for the memories."

Draynay 11 Nov 2010 10:57 PM

"Anyone can see Zenyatta was the best horse?  No she wasn't...  Zenyatta did nothing on the track to earn HOY.  Compared to Blame Zenyatta is second fiddle."  

Draynay 11 Nov 2010 11:15 PM

Zenyatta for Horse of the Year.

14 Nov 2010 4:38 PM
jlp918

Thank you for the great article.  There have been some really open-minded and well-thought out blogs written about Zenyatta.  While everyone is entitled to their opinion, I grow wary of stupid remarks by people who simply want to be irritating and controversial and bloggers with condescending attitudes who need to take their own advise and move on themselves.  For those who may be interested, check out a blog about Zenyatta written by Bob Ehalt on NTRA.com.  

14 Nov 2010 8:24 PM
Redraven

I raise my glass to you! Bravo!

14 Nov 2010 8:51 PM
daisymae

Horse of the Year should not be based on 1 race, but on accomplishments in this year. Zenyatta's defeat showed what a great horse she is. She should have won that race and I believe she is the better horse!

15 Nov 2010 9:14 AM
beej56

Thank you, thank you, thank you for acknowledging her greatness and legacy.  Quite refreshing and much appreciated.

15 Nov 2010 9:18 AM
Elizabeth

Best blog supporting Zenyatta for HOY as of yet. Well said!

15 Nov 2010 10:46 AM
clarinetmama

AMEN!

15 Nov 2010 11:30 AM
stevebiscuit

I don't know AJ, Zenyatta had a pretty rough trip. Besides, running down Dark Star isn't the same thing as running down Blame.

15 Nov 2010 12:04 PM
Soldier Course

Whisperoak:

Then why are some of Blame's HOTY supporters, including at least one B-H blog writer, pointing to what Claiborne Farm has done for racing in its 100 years? That has a lot less to do with "race performance" than Zenyatta's three years on the track.

15 Nov 2010 1:48 PM
Mike Relva

SOLIDER COURSE

Great point! Claiborne isn't the end all.

15 Nov 2010 9:27 PM
Saratoga AJ

stevebiscuit:

I believe the Dancer had a tougher trip, battered on both turns (he had a target on his back being such a bid favorite), and had to close into a SLOW pace at the end. Dark Star had the perfect trip pace wise. The fact ND almost got there is a testament to his greatness. (as was Zen's, of course).

Zenyatta's problem is she got off to her usual leisurely slow start. But getting off to a leisurely slow start against fast colts on dirt is tougher than slower fillies and mares on synthetic. That's why she fell back so far and was left with so much to do. At 10 furlongs, she still can get there in time with a FAST pace, as she almost did.

But at 8 1/2 or 9 furlongs, which were the distances she ran in all but two of her career races, she would have been up against it vs. horses this fast. If she gets off to her usual start, she may be left with too much to do in a shorter race. If Smith uses her more early, and forces her closer to the pace, it may take away some of what she has left for the stretch run. This is the problem every deep closer can encounter, even one as magnificent as Zenyatta.

We'll never know, but it makes for a good debate.  

A good question to ponder is just what exactly that diminishing head cost Native Dancer in how he is ranked on the all time list.

Would it had made a difference in say, the BloodHorse Top 100 list? Currently he's ranked #7. But what if he got up in time, ended up 22 for 22, and would have become the only career undefeated Triple Crown Crown winner in history?

And let's not forget he is the most influential stallion of the second half of the 20th Century, though both his sons like Raise a Native,etc., and daughters, like Natalma,etc., mother of Northern Dancer. He is the father or grandfather of a bunch of Derby winners. You can trace almost every contemporary great horse back to ND somewhere in their pedigree.

16 Nov 2010 10:02 AM
Bet Twice

Jack,

Where have you been for the last three years?  We've been stuck with Jason and Tom, being chastised for having an opinion and for being passionate when we could have been having fun with you!  

Make your blog a permanent fixture, its nice to have someone with a different point of view.

Saratoga AJ,

I thought the Native Dancer comparison was very flattering to Zenyatta.

Slew,

I'm secretly hoping she goes to Dubai too, but maybe that's asking too much.  I wanted her to go this year (instead of waiting for a race with Rachel.)  We all saw how well that worked out.

16 Nov 2010 9:37 PM
Mike Relva

JACK

I echo what BET TWICE stated.

18 Nov 2010 10:22 PM
Slew

I really must take note...Before the BCC, most turf writers were beating the drums for the Beast from the East, Quality Road.  They never even considered Blame because Blame had a 3 pound advantage in the Whitney.  And then Blame lost to Haynesfield in the JCGC.  After the BCC, those same turf writers suddenly jumped on Blame as HOY.  And all Blame can say is..."get off my back!  I won the race, but none of you gave me credit before I ran that race.  What changed?  Where were you on November 4th?  I was brilliant, and so was the mare.  Just how did your "Beast" do?"  

Blame ran the best race of his life, and he won.  Zenyatta ran the toughest race of her life, and she was the only other horse within inches of the finish line as Blame crossed it.  Without the two of them, it would have been a boring race of horses going backwards.

I believe Zenyatta showed the steel resolve of a Champion unwilling to give up.  For that, and 19 wins, I think she deserves HOY.  Some folks feel Blame deserves HOY, and that's okay too.  What I cannot fathom is the mind of folks who have the utter gall to send death threats to Blame.  Come on!  If you can't respect Blame, don't call yourself a fan of the sport.  You are simply a purveyor of mayhem and chaos, and you have no concept of the definition of sportsmanship.  You really need to back away from your computers and get a life!  And to those who keep saying that in twenty years, Blame will just be an answer to trivia...how could you?  How do you know whether or not he'll produce the sire power generated by the likes of Northern Dancer or Mr Prospector, or Seattle Slew, or AP Indy?  You don't...so stop saying something so asinine.

I guess I'm just airing my pet peeves for this week.  I hope the turf writers get it right this year.  It's in their hands.  Myself, I simply cannot imagine a horse going into HOF without a HOY Eclipse.  It's long overdue.

Bet Twice...she's retired now, so Dubai may be out, but if memory serves me well...she retired last year too.

And I don't mean to discredit QR.  (He and Espoir City, Haynesfield, and First Dude simply ran each other to the ground in the first mile of the BCC.  I think they're all quite brilliant in their own right and their own distance.)

19 Nov 2010 9:16 AM
Racing

Blame barely won the Whitney receiving much weight from Quality Road. I discount that win. All Grade 1's should offer no allowance conditions or handicaps. Blame had a perfect trip in Classic and Zenyatta... She needs to be HOTY.

23 Nov 2010 1:12 AM
Linda/Maryland

" ONE RACE " does NOT get you Horse of the Year, nor does ONE LOSS Cost you HORSE OF THE YEAR~!!!

It's ZENYATTA ALL THE WAY~!!!

24 Nov 2010 9:28 PM
Michelle

Zenyatta beat everyone who lined up in the gate against her except Blame.  She traveled to Oaklawn NOBODY showed up to face her. NOBODY flew to California to take her on - no Rachel, no Life at Ten, not even Blind Luck who is stabled there.  What does that tell you?  She beat somewhere around 100 horses in her 20 races -NOT the same old horses over and over again!!!  Please know the facts before you start dismissing everything she has done.  She raced in 6 Grade 1's this year, winning 5 and placing in 1.  She didn't race in New York though so it doesn't count - give me a break.  

26 Nov 2010 12:19 AM
Barbara W

Beautifully written column. If Zenyatta gets snubbed yet AGAIN this year for HOY, it will signal to me that horse racing has a death wish.

I mean no disrespect toward Blame; I'll look forward to meeting him at Claiborne. But Zenyatta ran the race that we'll remember when we're in the nursing home.

27 Nov 2010 7:39 PM
Matthew W

I have a better one for ya: 1978, look up the records of Seattle Slew and Exceller, and you won't believe Slew got the Eclipse over Exceller (for older male)...They gave it to Slew because, in defeat, he appeared to be the better horse--Zenyatta lost at least a dozen lengths--just gave them away--most voters I know seem to think the better horse ran 2nd--on paper, Blame, like Exceller, looks pretty good--but like Seattle Slew, Zenyatta was the better horse.

27 Nov 2010 9:26 PM
Matthew W

It's likely there will never again be a female horse favored in The Breeders Cup Classic--Zenyatta was favored twice....

27 Nov 2010 9:30 PM
Matthew W

It all depends if the voters think Zenyatta was beaten--or Zenyatta was defeated---it is mine and many other's opinion that Zenyatta was beaten--but she was never defeated! I used Exceller's 1978 record as proof positive---he won, I think 8 of 10, at least seven Gr I's, was 1-1 vs Slew, who was 5 for 7, with a race at Suffolk and I think an alowance race--in both cases, Blame's and Exceller's, they won--but they were upstaged by an iconic horse, running an iconic race---Zenyatta will win HOY this year!

27 Nov 2010 9:39 PM
nay nugget

I repeat my choice from another blog once again. You are right on!!

"HOY should go to the horse who does the most for the sport on AND off the track. Zenyatta wins hands down. No other horse in years has captured the attention of so many fans. HOY is no different than any MVP award in other sports which take into account on the field and off the field accomplishments. Many an MVP has been won by a player with lesser stats than another but who led in the locker room and off the field as well.  Getting beat a swollen nose after overcoming trouble against a horse the quality of Blame doesn't lessen her accomplishments. If those two went 10 times and each had a clear run Zenyatta would win the next nine. There is clearly one horse who captured the world's attention all year and who put the face of the sport on a much bigger map. Zenyatta not only excelled on the track but did more for horseracing than any other by a mile."    

nay nugget 23 Nov 2010 2:22 PM

29 Nov 2010 2:26 PM
Jim C.

Jack,

Great column.  Well done.  Keep up the good work.

30 Nov 2010 7:54 PM
Slew

Mathew W: In 1978 Affirmed won Horse of the Year, (not Slew) because Affirmed won the Triple Crown that year....although Slew did beat both Affirmed and Exceller in previous races in 1978.

In 1978 Slew won the Eclipse for best Older Horse...he had previously beaten Exceller by 4 lengths in the Woodward before the JCGC.

Slew won HOY in 1977, when he won the Triple Crown.

I can almost guarantee that any horse who wins the Triple Crown will be HOY...but that hasn't happened since 1978.

01 Dec 2010 10:17 AM
Virgil

Donna Barton Brothers checked with a voter for Eclipse Awards.  The only stated criteria for a horse to be eligible for an Eclipse Award is that they win 1 Grade I race in North America that year.

06 Dec 2010 10:26 PM
emhart

Who even heard of Blame before the Breeders Cup?  Give it to Zenyatta.

17 Dec 2010 11:26 AM
Stretchrun

Humans arguing over human awards for recognition by more humans to line human pockets.

Zenyatta herself is happily munching carrots and looking forward to the day when she is turned out full time, while we get our lingerie in a twist over who gets a funky statuette and the right to inflate their breeding prices--she's laughing at all of us!

19 Dec 2010 3:25 PM
BLAME for HOTY

Baloney Jack your are voting from the heart like many of her follower who most of them never seen a race horse before. It's about competition her connection pick and choose her races against so so field trying to pad her winning streak. Blame beat a very good G1 field, he's the HOY.

25 Dec 2010 7:50 AM
Mrglassoniongirl

Zenyatta for HOY! I think it would be a major disapointment in the voters if they went with Blame, he great, but not as great as Zenyatta, to put it simply.

28 Dec 2010 3:46 PM
Zen's Fan

Your analysis is amazing!Thoroughly enjoyed your article. Let's hope the voters will think clearly and vote for the best horse in more ways than one - Zenyatta!!

11 Jan 2011 6:42 PM
PomDeTerre

Zenyatta in a landslide.  Not only was her record better than Blame in 2010, but Mr. Stall's arrogance in BH's very recent article "Moss and Stall Weigh In on HOY" place's him very near Blame's upper tail.

What that mare has done to raise the level of the sport is on a level of Secretariat, Cigar and the other elite horses we have been priveleged to watch.  She has earned this award this year.

13 Jan 2011 10:37 PM
Horse Racing Fan

I agree on everything u say. Zenyatta is an amazing horse so is Blame im not taking anything away from him. But Zenyatta stunned made out hearts beat fast just wondering if she will get up in time. She thrilled us. I mean Blame did it some but not like how Zenyatta did. Blame amazing horse loved him but Zenyatta captivated my heart when i first saw her race. I love Cigar too. Zenyatta deserved it. She didnt win by the poor races she raced but how she captivated us with her running style her heart thrilling passion of running u can tell she loved running. I cant wait to see her foals and Blame's foals. Love Zenyatta and Blame and every racehorse the same way.

18 Jan 2011 1:15 AM

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