By Patrick Patten, of Handride
Like most racing fans, a number of members of the Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance have strong feelings about the meaning of Saturday's Breeders Cup Classic for the Horse of the Year race, Zenyatta's legacy, and related issues. We'll be highlighting some of these posts in the days to come.
In the last sixteenth of a mile I became a Zenyatta fan. I admit I was not a fan going in, and while I am, now, a fan going out, I can finally say why Zenyatta never appealed to me.
I knew she was that good, and I knew I was being short changed. I had seen the workouts, and I had seen flashes of her best in other races, but it was never displayed in full until Saturday. And for the fans of Zenyatta what they were given was enough I guess, but for me I did not like the game.
I imagine that at some point the perfect record became a burden for the owners and trainer. Because watching Zenyatta run on Saturday it was obvious the burden was not hers. The challenges: of tougher company and travel, would never have been a burden to her with the final gear she showed us all on Saturday. The gear Mike Smith had always talked about being there, and the reason why we all can’t stop talking about a second place horse (for probably another 3 months). I’m furious, upset, saddened, that we racing fans only ever saw that gear once. Out of twenty events to only see Zenyatta’s best one time is a waste of epic proportions.
This is the fault of horse racing. There is a game that owners feel responsible to play and HOTY voters feel the need to reward. Only in college football (and everyone loves the BCS) does a sport decide championships in such an absurd way. On the track Blame beat Zenyatta. It was close, there are excuses for Zenyatta, but by rewarding her Horse of the Year voters are saying…. Well I don’t know what. Are they saying that given 10 races Zenyatta would be Blame at least 6 times? Because I wouldn’t disagree; but that didn’t happen. Are they saying she had a better career? Again can’t disagree, but the title is Horse of the Year. Are they rewarding what could have been: Are people picturing her running down Haynesfield, closing faster than Blame in the Whitney, or even taking this year’s Pacific Classic? It doesn’t matter the reason, in any light voters are deciding with their heads, not with results. Hopefully at some point results will matter, and challenges will be taken head on. Do people not realize how much there is to gain in a loss?