Head Turner - By Eric Mitchell

 (Originally published in the November 13, 2010 issue of The Blood-Horse magazine. Feel free to share your own thoughts and opinions at the bottom of the column.

By Eric Mitchell - @EJMitchellKy on Twitter

By Eric Mitchell

Following an emotionally charged Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I), the question for those deciding Horse of the Year comes down to this: On what side of the “head” do you stand?

On one side is the victor Blame. He is a brilliant son of Arch who has won six graded stakes, three grade I stakes this year. His record for 2010 is four wins and a second in five starts and earnings of $3,751,467. Most importantly, he beat Zenyatta on the biggest stage in the biggest race.

And then there is Zenyatta, who had her phenomenal 19-race winning streak ended by a head against a very deep field of challengers that included six grade/group I-winning colts. The Churchill Downs track had not been kind to closers during much of the Breeders’ Cup weekend, but she was there at the end, fighting with every desperate stride to the wire.

So which side of the head deserves to win Horse of the Year?

For the supporters of Blame, it comes down to the central theme at the heart of racing. The horse that crosses the wire first is the best horse. Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider’s homebred had a well-mapped-out plan for the year that ended spectacularly in the Classic. The colt did almost everything he was asked and knocked out some great horses along the way—Quality Road, Haynesfield, Rail Trip, Musket Man, and Battle Plan to name a few. His 2010 campaign—and Horse of the Year title is all about the 2010 campaign—reached its pinnacle in the Classic when he beat one of the sport’s brightest stars who not only had won 19 consecutive races but has the 2009 Classic against the boys notched on her girth.

Seth Hancock, president of Claiborne, spoke as a sportsman during the Classic press conference when he said: “Well, I thought the battle for Horse of the Year was fought about a half hour ago, and Blame won it. I mean, she’s a great horse, Zenyatta is. But she had her shot to get by, and she didn’t do it. So I don’t think you can vote for her. I don’t know who else you could vote for.”

This is nothing like 2009’s contentious Horse of the Year battle in which the two contenders never met. Blame and Zenyatta faced off on the track and one got beat.

If it were only that simple.

On the other side of the head is a mare who, besides putting together a record-tying 19 consecutive wins, had claimed five consecutive grade I races in 2010. The biggest knock against her all year is that she raced almost exclusively in California against her own sex, in races she has won multiple times, and against relatively small fields. The quality of the competition she beat as compared with the tremendous ability she possessed was always suspect. Why wasn’t she challenged more? Why didn’t she at least take on the boys in the Pacific Classic Presented by TVG (gr. I) or the Goodwood Stakes (gr. I), which was run the same day as the Lady’s Secret Stakes (gr. I) at 11⁄8 miles at Oak Tree at Hollywood Park. Zenyatta had won three grade I races earlier in the year at 11⁄8 miles—the Santa Margarita Invitational Handicap, the Apple Blossom Invitational Stakes, and the Vanity Handicap.

What the close second in the Classic showed, however, is that she clearly possessed equal ability and class as all the colts in the field, and she beat Quality Road, Haynesfield, Paddy O’Prado, Lookin At Lucky, Fly Down, and six others. She also energized a racing nation and turned casual observers of horse racing into yelling, screaming, sign-toting fanatics. Zenyatta took horse racing into the mainstream media, grabbing the attention of Oprah and “60 Minutes.”

Well why not share the title, as was discussed last year? Forget it. The best argument for splitting the Horse of the Year came last year when the two candidates ran in different divisions. This time, one won and one lost. There won’t be a shared title and a lot of voters will be torn, looking at the possibility that a horse with 19 consecutive wins could get passed over for a third time as Horse of the Year.

Voters have a choice to vote with their heads or vote with their hearts, and while experienced racetrackers and zealots on both sides will argue until they’re crimson, there is no right answer. 

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Leave a Comment:


I think Zenyatta's 19-1 record speaks for itself. The excitement she has created in the past few months. I have not seen since the 70's superstars. This is one fan who won't give up on Big Z over a head lose.

09 Nov 2010 11:57 AM

Rightly writen,Zenyatta probably should have recieved HOY in 2008 against a good but not great year by Curlin who after Dubai was average.RA got the nod in 2009 dispite racing against a poor group of 3 year olds ,and beating Macho Again .I believe some voters would change their for either year in retrospect

09 Nov 2010 12:17 PM

Zenyatta should be named not only the Horse of the Year, but also the Horse of the Decade.

Whether she raced her Grade 1s in California or elsewhere should be irrelevant.  She is truly the 'class' of all the horses in the country today.

She passed Blame a stride-and-a-half past the finish line, and she would have done so sooner had her jockey made his move just a stride or two earlier than he did.

She has energized the racing world as well as a mostly ignorant public and has garnered tens of thousands of fans for a sport that was getting close to going on life support.

There may someday be another like Zenyatta, but probably not in my lifetime (although I do hold out hope of Awesome Feather following in Queen Z's goddess-like hoofprints), but there will be many, many others like Blame.

Had Mike Smith made his move 10 strides earlier than he did we might even have been looking at a 2-minute race on dirt.  That is how incredible Zenyatta is.

Race Blame and Zenyatta 9 times more -- for a total of 10 -- and Blame wouldn't be so lucky.  I'd wager, barring a breakdown, which would be a tragedy -- that Zenyatta would win all 9 of those races, hooves down!  Mike Smith wouldn't be so cavalier about making his move the next time, nor would Zenyatta have as much initial trouble adjusting to the dirt in her face.

I agree; her connections SHOULD have taken her back East to race at least one other CD race to familiarize the great mare with feeling of having clods of dirt flying into her face (even though she won the Apple Blossom on dirt).  It is a shame that they didn't, but no fault of the horse's.

I know, 'woulda, coulda, shoulda,' right?  

But now it boils down to what HOY voters 'oughta' do:  Name Zenyatta the Horse of the Year, which is an honor she so rightfully deserves on so many levels and for so many wonderful and valid reasons, not the last of which is her impact on the sport and its fans, an impact that will be long-lasting and is the stuff of legends.

09 Nov 2010 12:49 PM
Richie D

Great article!!!  This indeed will be a very tough decision with one of these camps being very disappointed.  My vote is for Zenyatta.  While she did lose the head to head battle it is not quite that simple.  She lost by a head while running on a track she clearly disliked while the winner was on his "home court".  If this race were run at Bel, OP, GP etc. whould the result have been the same???  While both of these horses had great years Blames loss was much more decisive when losing to Haynesfield then the head defeat he hung on Zenyatta.  

I was lucky enought to see Zenyatta run in person 5 times so I realize my opinion is a bit biased but I will NEVER forget those 5 races, she has brought fans back to the track which should have NO bearing on HOTY voting. She has managed to make people feel good about racing again.  I doubt her legacy will be any different if she is or isn't HOTY.  Casual fans don't care about that they just love the horse.  

I would like to thank Team Zenyatta for allowing us fans to see her run in 2010 when they could have retired her last year and started making little Zenyattas!!!!

09 Nov 2010 12:55 PM

Share the title?! I was willing to do that last year, but not this year. I think Blame is a great horse, and he beat Zenyatta by inches, all out, ears pinned as far back as they could be. But, I think Zenyatta is a better race horse. She absolutely proved she belongs with the these horses that ran in the 2010 'Classic. I stand with Zenyatta. And, since I don't believe she will get Horse Of The Year, I remind myself it is Zenyatta who will be the one who is remembered and talked about in years to come. Not Blame.

09 Nov 2010 1:08 PM
average joe

With all due respect to Blame, but Zenyatta should not only be HOTY, but Horse Of The Decade for she only enhanced her position and standing in defeat ( a defeat NOT her fault ) as she was the better horse on Saturday, but was a victem of the ride and circumstances... All those pundits who found fault with her last year were all proven wrong... She can compete and beat the best the world has to offer on "dirt", she won more Grade 1's. Her only loss was a close one she could have and should have won unlike Blame who was soundly beaten that day he lost !

09 Nov 2010 1:14 PM

Voters needn't choose to vote with their heads or hearts.  A head vote is all that is needed.  The choices are, first, a horse that has run 13 times and is 9-2-2, with a 4 length loss in his next-to-last race. The other choice is a horse that has run 20 times, won 19, and has its only loss by a head bob over the horse that lost its last start.  The other choice also beat the other major contenders for HOY as well as the horse that beat the "winner" by 4 lenths last out. The "loser" experienced a new surface that many other horses have not handled well, had to steady and navigate through traffic, yet still was gaining with every stride and only missed by a head bob.  It is hard to refer to Zenyatta as a loser.  She proved once again she is the real thing. She is surrounded by quality people who have given her the best of care and made her available to the public. Everyone involved with her has been a class act. She has been kept sound and in competition for three years, a remarkable feat. She embodies everthing horse racing needs to be to attact new followers. She should have been HOY last year after she beat the boys with style, but she lost to Rachel. To tell the truth, I had been a Rachel fan (still am) and suspected Zenyatta would not do well against the boys but was I ever wrong. Zenyatta's 2009 BC win showed the Calfornia girl was the real thing.  I was amazed when Rachel was given HOY without even running a BC race, but it had all been decided beforehand. Now Zenyatta has run against the best available and narrowly missed, not because she hung or stopped, but because she ran out of track. To deny her HOY once again would be a travesty.

09 Nov 2010 1:23 PM

Blame is a very nice horse, but not a brilliant one and he showed that in the Classic.  He happens to be the best older male, but that does not make him world class.  He was not able to hold his advantage, despite the jockey giving him an ideal trip, as she was gobbling up ground in remarkable time over a surface that she was not supposed to be able to run on.  He was more lucky than good and I plead guilty to overestimating his talents.  

09 Nov 2010 1:25 PM
John T

Man O,War and Native Dancer were

two great horses who both lost once

in their racing careers and just as

those two are still on the lips of

racing fans so will Zenyatta regardless if she wins Horse Of The Year or not.

09 Nov 2010 1:27 PM

why do those who think Blame gets HOY, based soley on the win in the classic, overlook that Zenyatta won the classic last year and she did not get HOY. Let me remind you she beat all the boys last year in the classic and beat 10 of 11 in this years classic only to be beat by a head.  Zenyatta has proven herself as a great racehorse.  She deserves Horse of the Year.  She has earned it.

09 Nov 2010 1:29 PM

Seth Hancock says "I don’t know who else you could vote for.”  How about Goldikova?  She not only beat the best in Grage/Group Is, but beat them resoundingly.  She beat the males multiple times.  She won her Breeders Cup race going away.  She made history by winning 3 in a row and for those that talk about the good Zenyattas done for the sport as a reason, she's sticking around for a four-peat at 6 and not retiring at 4 like most American's, i.e. Blame, Quality Road.  

09 Nov 2010 1:30 PM
Fuzzy Corgi

Blame won the BCC by a hard fought head this year. Zenyatta trounced the field last year in the Classic by over two lengths. If a BCC win is the deciding factor then Blame deserves the HOY award. In the same vein, if the previous statement is true, then Zenyatta was robbed last year.

09 Nov 2010 1:30 PM

If the horse racing industry is wise and taking a long term view, Zenyatta will be voted HOY; unfortunately, the great decline in this industry suggests that the powers that be are not particulalry wise or able to see long term.  Congrats Blame, you deserve it.

09 Nov 2010 1:32 PM

For me it was decided on the race track and the one who won was Blame so he should be Horse of the Year. Zenyatta had every chance to face Blame before the end of the year and maybe if she did and won she then would be horse of the year but she did not and the one time they faced Blame won. So he deserves Horse of the Year. Zenyatta should have learned from Rachel Alexandra that if she wanted to be horse of the year she had to have a great year. The oweners of Zeyatta decided to gamble Horse of the Year in one race, because they believed that she will win. Well Zenyatta lost and they lost the gamble of Horse of the Year. The winner of the race, Blame, won the gamble and should be crowned Horse of the Year.

09 Nov 2010 1:34 PM
Gary Tasich

Zenyatta brought the crowd, increased attendance and handle. People went to see HER after the race. She's all the talk,a true champion and HOY.

Blame can be called Breeder's Cup Classic Champion but his body of work doesn't compare. She was BC Champion in 2009. Let's not forget Curlin finished 4th in the BC Classic and was still voyed HOY. Politics? Hmmmm?

Neither Rachel nor Blame have met her on her home court. Yet Rachel got HOY and the justification was the surface. She traveled across the country and ran spectacularly on dirt. There goes the argument for last year's boondoggle.

Zenyatta is a winner even in defeat. Blame barely beat Quality Road and Musket Man in the Whitney. Got beat by Hayensfield and only got Fly Down by a couple in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. He has a record of 12-9-2-2. Zenyatta put all those horses away at first asking and is now 19-1. Blame had a couple of shots at them to beat them. Have Blame travel across the country and meet her on her home track then let's see what happens. If he wins, then he's deserving. Best older horse, yes. HOY, no!

Even in defeat Zenyatta was the better horse. She got him two hops after the finish.

Intangibles like emotion to determine HOY? Seems like that's what the east coast dirt busters used to knock a great horse like Zenyatta last year. People will remember Zenyatta not Blame. She brought more to the game and the Breeder's cup than any other horse that competed.

Go back to my first comments and when you consider the totality of the horse it's an easy choice for HOY. ZENYATTA!

09 Nov 2010 1:46 PM

In a year where everyone seems to be retiring, I think Zenyatta should finally receive the honor she deserves. People weren't waving signs and screaming for Blame. He just retired at the end of his 3 year old year- where was he as a 3 year old? He wasn't even a contender in the Triple Crown last year. He swept in this year, beat Zenyatta, and now is going out to stud. He's an example of what the public expects from modern race horses- "retired" or broken down in what is any other breed's prime of life. Zenyatta came back as a 6 year old, ran soundly from the age of 3 and retires healthy- the fact that her welfare has always been paramount to her owners and her breathless style has been what captured the attention of the public.

This has been a mediocre year aside from Zenyatta's races. (Retiring the 2010 Derby winner before the season was even up, much?) Let her have the big honors and go to the breeding shed with dignity and grace.

09 Nov 2010 1:47 PM

Just what we needed, another blog about an award that will be decided by turfwriters. We, the fans, will not get a vote. So let the chips fall where they may. There is NO point in arguing the subject to death.

We were treated to two wonderful days of outstanding racing, with nearly full fields in every race. I'm sure it would not have been difficult to find a topic other than the HOY Award. Especially since it it being argued ad nauseum on another blog, on this website.

Disappointed in your choice of topic? You bet I am.

09 Nov 2010 1:48 PM

Voting for either horse has merit.  And why shouldn't Blind Luck be considered?  I think you can look at any of her losses, from my perspective, and her jockey did not serve her well.  Put her in position and she wins every one of her races in 2010, and, she traveled and backed down from no challengers.

Just food for thought.

09 Nov 2010 1:56 PM

How 'bout this? A grass race at the Currragh next June featuring "Zenyatta vs. "Goldikova" at 1 1/8 on the grass course.

Zenyatta is bred for the grass course.......and I believe she would run down Goldikova in the stretch. What a race that would be! But it probably won't happen (It should)!

09 Nov 2010 1:57 PM

Curlin and Rachel Alexandra both deserved their awards, and either could have been runner up had Zenyatta's connections chosen a more challenging campaign either year.  The same is true this year.  It is unfair to make voters feel guilty for voting for the more challenging successful campaign.  This argument is tired and foolish.  None of it means Zenyatta, the Shirrefs (I can never spell that name correctly), and the Mosses aren't worthy of all the adoration you wish to shower upon them - the horse is a genuine once-in-a-lifetime star, the people did everything in their power to keep her happy and healthy and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.  It's just that it doesn't mean she deserves Horse of the Year.  Make a new award for her - a lifetime achievement award is really more fitting anyway.

09 Nov 2010 1:58 PM

It's not a lifetime achievement award. What did the two horses do THIS YEAR?

All the Zenyatta zealots are actually going to ruin what ever chance she has.

09 Nov 2010 1:59 PM

  Blame is a great colt.  But he only won 3 grade 1 stakes this year and only two of those were what you would consider a deep field. He did'nt travel far, I did'nt even realize he was campaining.  I don't feel he did anything that special other than the BC, which he ran an awesome race and lucked out at the end that it was'nt another stride or two to the finish line !

  They are always complaining we need more fans, tracks are hurting, ect. ect. Who has done more for racing than Zenny ???  She brought more to the BC than they've seen in years.  The TV ratings were way and above normal ratings.  People who never gave a second thought to horse racing became advid fans.  She has done more for racing in the last three years than we seen since Secretariat !!  Not to mention her flawless win record until Sat. , which was actually her best race ever. How can anyone watch that race and not see she is the better horse ??  They need fans, they got them, if she gets looked over again this year, they deserve the loss of all the fans they have accumilated in the three years since Zen has been running.

09 Nov 2010 2:04 PM

She didn't win a single race against male horses all year.  She beat Switch carrying only 3 pounds more. Awesome Feather is more deserving of HOY than Zenyatta.   Give the award to Blame!

09 Nov 2010 2:17 PM


I believe the Horse of the Year award is going to be given to Zenyatta.  The arguments that have been made such as her 19 race winning streak, her draw to the sport, obviously her ability, but, I think her ability to almost overcome an impossible position in the field and, MOSTLY, the heart and grit she showed in a narrow defeat is what's going to put her over the top.

Zenyatta fans, take a deep breath, sit down, relax, drink a big glass of water, 2010 HOY is in the bag.

Mark it down!

09 Nov 2010 2:19 PM
Bob Bright

The best horse in the BCC was Zenyatta. She wins HOTY by daylight. These statistical handicapping nerds like jason shandler and andrew beyer infest racing publications with their goofy logic and is one of the main reasons the sport is backing up. The important racing public has already picked Zenyatta[HOTY] but the intellectual all knowing handicapping types keep spewing their nonsence and the potential long term fan leaves town.The sacred Beyer Speed rating is determined by some phantom formula influenced by whoever gives the man coffee and donuts that day. Maybe if we buy all of then a fancy new naugahide pocket protector they will switch to bowling or even better, figure skating.

09 Nov 2010 2:27 PM
Stephanie Lambert

It seems to me the horse that crossed the wire first last year was not deemed the best, are we changing the rules.... Zenyatta killed a field of horses on breeders cup day and lost to Blame by less than 6 inches,She ran down quality road, looking at lucky and all the rest, she won all graded 1 stakes this year, she went 19 in a row, she showed up, not with my heart but with my Head, she is HOY

09 Nov 2010 2:29 PM

The award is for Horse of the Year, not a life-time achievement award.  

Blame beat more G1 horses and far more impressive fields while Zenyatta ran the same races against the same mares like she's done the past 3 years.  

She'll get her due.  She'll be top older mare, and synthetic horse of the year (do they give awards for plastic?) and a unanimous vote into the Racing Hall of Fame in a few years.

But this year, Horse of the Year is Blame.  

Besides, Z never did pass him even after the wire.  2 more jumps?  Not necessarily so.  We must award on what was done this year and this year alone.

She'll be California's horse of the year.  Since her owners chose to keep her there for the vast majority of her career, that will just have to do.

09 Nov 2010 2:29 PM

What horse racing fan thinks Blame gets HOY solely based on his win in the classic?  No one does.

Only those whose only exposure to horse racing thinks this.  Look at the fields Blame beat.  FAR more impressive than Zenyatta faced.  

But if your exposure and interest in racing is just Zenyatta, the facts won't matter.  They will claim her G1 races are equivalent, but they are absolutely not.  

Blame beat classic winners.  Beat record holders.  And he raced on more tracks in more conditions then Zenyatta to do it.

If we're giving HOY now based on who "helped racing more" in 2010, even then Zenyatta doesn't deserve the award.  Secretariat has drawn more fans even in death. So the award would go to him.

But if we actually use our brains, it MUST go to Blame.

09 Nov 2010 2:34 PM
Ken B

Eric great article and well written

I like many think that the HOY contest should be measured about the accomplishments.

Zenyatta  - 5 Grade 1"s and second in another. It's not her fault nobody went out to California to Challenge her (they probably did not want to)

Blame - 3 grade 1's

As in the past few years The winner of the BC does not always mean instant HOY title

Just ask Racheal or Curlin

At least Curlin Tried to do it but we all know that more times than not Dubia horses are not quite the same afterward they return.

and Rachel I am sure it would have been a tremendous race but the owners elected not to run on synthetic tracks. but she still won HOY so where is it written that 5 grade 1's are not more valuable than 3??

The Great Holy Bull Won HOY without running in the BC but he won 5 grade 1's in his champioship season.

it would be apalling if she were overlooked this year as she has done more for racing probably since

Secretariat,Seattle Slew,Ruffian ETC.

09 Nov 2010 2:37 PM

I remember last year, before we even knew Zenyatta was going to run in the 'Classic (vs. the Ladies Classic), I'd read online that after Rachel Alexandra's last race (in September, I think it was) that she had HOTY all wrapped up. In September! Forget the rest of the year and the fact Rachel Alexandra didn't bother to show up for the biggest race of the year. She already had the title "sewn up". Then Zenyatta comes along, still unbeaten, and wins the 'Classic, but that isn't good enough. It doesn't seem fair to me that "voters" can make up their minds before all of the races have been run, especially some of the biggest ever at Breeders' Cup. I have co-workers who know either nothing or very little about horse racing. I've told them about Zenyatta in the past months that I've worked with them. When she raced, they would come up to me and start talking about her winning or asked me if she'd won. After this year's 'Classic, I've had several co workers come up and talk about the race she lost knowing who Zenyatta is and telling me they were cheering for her. None of these people mentioned the name Blame. One guy asked me about the fight that broke out! These people know nothing about the sport. In our casual conversation in talking Breeders' Cup, the Borel/Castellano fight got top billing over Blame winning the biggest race of the year, but not over Zenyatta losing the 'Classic by a "nose" in my co-worker's wording. Zenyatta - HORSE. OF. THE. YEAR.

09 Nov 2010 2:39 PM

I do not imagine the east coast voters will vote for Zenyatta (as was so absurdly proven last year) but I also cannot believe possibly the greatest mare of all time will go to retirement without a horse of the year award. It IS THAT simple. Where is the justice in that!!!! For her or for thoroughbred racing.

09 Nov 2010 2:40 PM
Zen's Auntie

Horse of the Year? Horse of a lifetime.  

No one can ever doubt her greatness and how special Zenyatta is.  This passion soaked debate just serves to divide a dwindling fan base.  So sad that all the good she has done for racing seems to be unraveling in this debate.

I still have not been able to find the official definition of the set charging criteria, in writing, that all the voters should be basing their opinion on - and lets remember this is just that, A vote based on opinion.

In most “high point” awards everyone knows what points are earned for each placing ahead of time.  Grade 1 races are grade 1 races.  That must be accepted.  IF you feel strongly that a race is no longer a grade 1 then appeal to the body that establishes Grading  systems in the US until then it is what it is.  Every win is a win by a nose or 20 lengths that must also be accepted.  

She has raced in 6 Grade 1 races this year and won 5 out of 6 placing 2nd in the 6th. Blame has Raced in 5 races won 3 grade 1’s and a grade 3 and placed 2nd in the other grade 1.  He is a 4 year old male racing against similar aged and gendered horses.  Zenyatta, a 6 year old does the same, racing against her class.

Blame never went to California or farther west than KY and Zenyatta never raced in NY but this year 2 out of 6 starts were on dirt and she started in 3 states on 5 tracks.  Blame has been to 3 states and 4 tracks this year.  SHE has lost by 1 race by 6 inches HE lost 1 race by 4 lengths to a Horse she just beat by 20 lengths.  Zenyatta has one more win and 1 more race this year than Blame.

So I  agree he beat her by a short head but given her contribution to the sport overall this year alone and her travel this year – do remember she left CA to try and meet last years HOTY head on but was denied the opportunity as RA was not ready – I argue this is not as cut and dried as early bandwagon jumpers may have you believe.  Blame is a good horse and 6 inches better than Zenyatta that day when it was all said and done but – that shouldn’t Lock him for horse of the year.  It is after all Horse of the Year not Horse of the day – they gave out the trophy and prize money for that day already.

09 Nov 2010 2:54 PM

Quality Road, Haynesfield, Rail Trip, Musket Man, and Battle Plan are not GREAT horses. If there Great what word do we use to describe Secretariat, Dr. Fager, Smarty Jones, Man O' War and on and on...

Good milers, at best.

09 Nov 2010 2:54 PM

I can't believe we're having this discussion.  Zenyatta doesn't deserve it based on her 2010 campaign.  Blame does and he's the rightful winner.  It's her connections fault she'll lose.

09 Nov 2010 3:01 PM

I hope those who vote on these awards take the time to reflect on the year and what Zenyatta has done. Out of respect, I think she and all of Team Zenyatta deserve that. I’m very disappointed that the minute Blame won that many in the industry immediately came out and said he beat Zenyatta, hands down he is HOTY. Case closed. No one was saying that last year after she won (and Rachel didn’t even show up!) She won the BC last year and it wasn’t good enough. This year they said she’s only a synthetic specialist and she has to prove she can run against the boys on dirt. I think she more than proved that in the Classic. I think it’s unfortunate that last year perfection wasn’t good enough. This year, anything less than perfection isn’t good enough. I credit John Shirreffs for the way he trained her, took care of her and kept her healthy and happy. To race at the level she did, for as long as she did is amazing. How many horses are retired after one good campaign? Or get injured during a promising year? I truly believe Team Zenyatta campaigned her in the way that was best for her. She can’t help who shows up to her Grade 1 races. The only criteria to be voted HOTY is that the horse run in atleast one race in North America. I agree with John Sherriffs that it would be a slap in the face not to name her HOTY. But to whoever votes on these awards, go ahead, don’t vote for Zenyatta. Because you know what? She’s not horse of the year. She’s horse of the century. That’s something Blame will never be.

09 Nov 2010 3:01 PM

In what world does winning 5 straight Grade 1 races take a back seat to 3 Grade 1's? In what world does a horse who was ranked #1 all YEAR and still is even after loosing by a nose, not beat a horse who in their last race get trounced by a glorified sprinter?  Blame is a very nice horse, but he is not the horse of the YEAR.  Zenyatta is/was/and will always be HOTY.  She competed at the top of the game for over 3 years, and Blame did not.  Seth Hancock saying Blame took his show on the road......SAY WHAT???  What road.  being stable at Saratoga for 6 weeks is not taking your show on the road.  Zenyatta took her show on the road more than Blame did. Rachel ALexandra opened the door last year by not even competing in the B.C. and she still got HOTY.  She got huge weight breaks that enabled her to beat the boys.  Zenyatta has done 3 times as much in her 19 races than Blame did in his 14.  If Zenyatta is not named HOTY, we will lose all the fans we attracted this year because they will feel the award is not given to the Best horse, only the horse who won the Classic.  As Rachel ALexandra showed, that is no longer a requirement needed to be HOTY.

09 Nov 2010 3:05 PM
just me

Why are five grade i wins in California seen as inadequate?  Why is a grade 1 on the east coast more impressive than a grade 1 in California?  Hey, Life at Ten or Malibu Prayer or whomever could have shipped out to face Zenyatta. The fact that they didn't speaks more about Zenyatta's dominance then anything else.  She broken the record for consecutive victories, won more Grade 1 races and brought more people to the track.  If racing wants to be a big time sport again it better learn how to promote and highlight it's stars.

Time to wake up and smell the coffee.  She should rightfully be horse of the year.

09 Nov 2010 3:07 PM

There should'nt even be a discussion.  Blame has the more impressive resume for 2010!  The owners of Zen have had 3 years to run her against true competition and have chosen not to.  Thats not how you win HOY!

09 Nov 2010 3:09 PM

Great Article. And what a great BC we all got to watch. I have always thought to be considered for an Eclipse award a horse should have at least six starts(except for juv.)That being said Blame only made 5 starts this year. If I remember correctly HOY Mineshaft skipped the Breeders Cup. Both Curlin and Skip Away were voted HOY in the year they lost the Classic. Azeri was voted HOY with out every defeating the boys.

One only has to watch and read the media coverage to know who HOY should be. I've heard Zenyata's name on CNN,and other news outlets that never pay any attention to horse racing.I'm sure more people stopped to watch Zenyatta graze by the chain link fence than went to inspect Blame.Her connections should be commended for sharing her with us and making her available to her fans.They didn't need to bring her back this year.I'm greatful that they did.

The run she made in the Classic is one the will go down in history and ,for me, has just added to her greatness.There is not doubt in my mind who should be HOY. Years from now we will still be talking about her, HOY or not.

09 Nov 2010 3:10 PM

While Blame is a sensational, talented, beautiful horse he will be remembered by few. Zenyatta will be remembered by many, who may or may not be involved in racing. She is not only Horse of the Year, but certainly one of the best ever.

09 Nov 2010 3:13 PM

For me, it has to be Zenyatta.  In the classic, Blame had the much better trip (not to slight Mike Smith on his ride - he gave her the best shot that anyone could have) and only beat her by a head.  A few more jumps and she gets him.  Taking nothing away from blame, as he had a great year and finished it with a great race and in the Classic.  He was very game in the final 1/16 to get the win and my hat's off to him.  Still Zenyatta deserves HOY honors.  I know it is supposed to be about what happened this year, but her entire career should play a small factor.  She has brought a ton of excitement and attention to the sport, which horseracing really needs.  Her record speaks for itself.  I give her connections credit for bringing her back this year.  It would have been nice to see her travel more this year and face males more, but she can't help the competition she faced.  It would be tough for Zenyatta to lose HOY this year because of the Classic when Rachel was awarded HOY last year without even showing up for the big dance.  

With a cleaner trip or a little better luck in the Classic, Zenyatta gets her nose in front and this isn't even a discussion.  If Blame was perfect this year, I would have to concede the honors to him, but with that not being the case, Zenyatta all the way.  

09 Nov 2010 3:14 PM
Zen Fan

There is a right answer.  Goldikova should get HOY hands down.  Blame will go down in history as just"beating the Great Zenyatta".  Just like Onion did to Secretariat. He's a good horse but not a great horse.  Zenyatta is up there with Cigar, John Henry . . . What other race horse could have a bad trip, be 20 lengths back on a track she was struggling with and get beat by a nose against that 2010 BC classic field.  She's a great horse but she lost the BC.  Goldikova is the only horse in history to win the BC mile 3 times and she has ran all over the world and ran against some pretty good competition.  On a good trip I think Zenyatta could mop the track up with Blame and I'm not too sure Goldikova could too. Goldikova should get the HOY - hands down!!!

09 Nov 2010 3:23 PM

People please!!!!

F/M races are not equivalent to male races!!!!!!! Never have been and never will be!

She could have started against males but didn't. Males didn't duck her...her connections made that impossible! So to the people who keep whining that horses ducked her, sorry. She ran in restricted races!!! Please please I beg you tell me how they ducked her when they couldn't enter!

The fact that people would want to discredit Blame and deny him the title he earned is obnoxious.

Anyone who thinks the GI Vanity is on par with the GI Whitney either doesn't know much about racing or does, but refuses to acknowledge the truth because it doesn't help their argument.

She needed to win the Classic and didn't. Blame started from the same gate, also made up a ton of ground, was jostled in between horses in the stretch, bullied his way through which certainly cost him a jump or two, held off her late charge, hit the wire first, and galloped out way ahead of her! He earned it!

It's ok to love your favorite horse, but it's not ok to punish another who earned the title. If you owned Blame, how the hell would you feel? You would think your horse earned it too!

The vote shouldn't even be close! Blame all the way! If not, the right horse will be passed over for a horse whose connections attempted to manipulate the media, avoid the most meaningful races throughout the year the country had to offer (not the Milady, Santa Margarita, Vanity, please!)knew the formula failed in the past and the reasons why, and instead chose to follow the same losing path and cry afterwards.

I'm sick of hearing, "well Rachel didn't even run in the Classic and she got it, so why does Zenyatta need to win it." As if both horses had equal campaigns during the year. Rachel entered and won prestigious meaningful races against males 3 times and won, while Zenyatta raced in the usual fluff races. That's why her Classic win didn't put her over the edge.

Here is the key....every year throughout the whole year, Zenyatta dodged the events that would have solidifed her HOY status. What part of this do people not understand? Not every GI is the same! So enough with that crap! It isn't true ask any expert or historian! Read a book will ya!

09 Nov 2010 3:38 PM

If Horse of the Year means the horse with the best campaign for year 2010, the award ought to go to Goldikova. If HOY means the best lifetime campaign then by all means give it to Zenyatta. If HOY means the horse that won the Breeder's Cup, then simply Blame takes it.

Why do the fans of Zenyatta refuse to understand that though this magnificent horse is to be celebrated for all of her beauty, accomplishments, and superior connections; none of it is reason to change the meaning of the HOY award? Yes, give her Horse of the Decade. Argue that she is the best racehorse ever. I am right with you. But do we need another tired argument about lifetime achievement vs year long campaign?

My guess is that Zenyatta will win HOY, but it will be a shame as Goldikova accomplished a much more ambitious campaign in 2010.

09 Nov 2010 3:43 PM

Ok, here's the deal: Last year, HOTY went to a deserving horse who did not even compete in the BC Classic,or ANY BC race, based on her very impressive record in other races, thus denying Zenyatta the title for the second time. Now all of a sudden the defining criteria for HOTY as put forth by the Blame promoters is winning the Classic. So why not make Queen Z the retroactive winner for last year then?! You can't have it both ways!

Zenyatta was as magnificent in defeat as any winner ever has been, and based on what she has done for the sport overall she is the clear winner. Blame is a very fine horse, I am not knocking him at all. He is just not in the same universe as Zenyatta. In fact, impressive as he has been, I would love to see him race next year, but that's not to be either.

09 Nov 2010 3:51 PM
Point Given

You asked why Zenyatta did not challenge more or run in the Pacific Classic and in the Goodwood? The horse (Richard's Kid) who won both of those G1 races this year got beat by Zenyatta in last year's BC Classic by six or seven lengths.

09 Nov 2010 3:57 PM
Paula Higgins

That we are even having this discussion is unfortunate. It should be very obvious that this year the award goes to Zenyatta. By the names at the bottom of the posts I can see where we stand. The people who bet want Blame (the peanut counters) and the people who are giving this sport life want Zenyatta. If this sport, which has failed to rise to the occasion before does not give it to Zenyatta, well watch viewership tank. As Dr. Phil would say "How's that working for you?"

09 Nov 2010 3:59 PM

Come on people Zenyatta should be horse of the year she lost by a half nose she had a bad trip which is why she lost not because Blame is a better horse he got lucky plain and simple If Z got a better trip Blame would be in her dust like all the other horses that has ever challenged her. Goldikova is a champion but she doesnt stand up to Queen Z  I hope they keep her in training one more year so she can show them next year at the breeders cup   Horse of the year queen Z

09 Nov 2010 4:01 PM
The Bid

Zenyatta does not need HOY title to make her great. Whether she wins it or not, she will always be The Horse of The Year to her adoring fans. let's move on, and let Blame go to shed at Claiborne after a long tough career that he has had. If Blame had beat her several legnths, I might give him the title, but he was life and death holding on against an inferior female. It's East vs West and Male vs Female. same old story. But I guarantee all of you on here that  the voters are not stupid, and Zenyatta will be HORSE OF THE YEAR......

09 Nov 2010 4:03 PM

I'm an avid fan of horse racing.  I'm no expert but I Know the best horse when I see it!!! And she is Zenyatta!!!

09 Nov 2010 4:07 PM
Simply Majestic

@Zen's Autie "Horse of the Year? Horse of a lifetime." Not my lifetime, thank you.  

@ Robert "Rachel ALexandra opened the door last year by not even competing in the B.C. and she still got HOTY."

How long, exactly, have you been following this sport, perchance? Because winning the BCC was never, EVER a prerequisite, beating the best in the most challenging campaign is. Z's camp put all their eggs in the BCC basket with the soft campaign against dirt mares.

I understand that she can only race what enters, so then up the bar another way - try turf. Enter a race not restricted to mares. Meet the other mares where they live.

You don't get awards by resting on your laurels.

I agree with whomever mentioned that she definitely deserves the "Best horse with the most mediocre Campaign" award.

09 Nov 2010 4:15 PM

I invite everyone to go on You-Tube and watch the replay of the Jockey Club Gold Cup, where Blame was crushed by Haynesfield. Zenyatta. End of argument.

09 Nov 2010 4:16 PM

Mr. Mitchell...would you PLEASE give us the mailing address for the people that supposedly "decide" who gets HOY honors, so we can write ourselves and say our piece for who we vote for.  Thank you.

09 Nov 2010 4:21 PM

It's time that award voting is put out to pasture and that all involved be awarded points based on the number of wins accumulated throughout the year. Highest number going to Grade 1 wins down thru lowest number for restricted stakes. This would be for horses, jockeys, trainers & owners. It takes all of the subjectiveness of voting out of the equation and puts it down to hard and fast numbers.

btw I think Zenyatta should get it. I believe she is still the better horse.

09 Nov 2010 4:24 PM
Mookie's Hero

Blame wasn't the high weight in the Whitney so it isn't really a win is it? That is what is wrong with racing when gambling forces stars (Quality Road) to give weight to inferior opponents. Do they do this in tennis, in golf. Why is racing so stupid. And why so sports writers turn so so horses into pseudo stars? The only real true star is the public's star Zenyatta. She belongs to us. You didn't create her so you don't support her. But history will show your envy for what it is. And you and the whole handicapping crowd is the reason horseracing is a dying sport. No other sport punishes its stars by forcing them to lose to ordinary players.

And Blame is pretty ordinary without the weight advantage and the home track advantage. His performance at belmont speaks volumes about his ordinariness

09 Nov 2010 4:24 PM
Simply Majestic

@Paula Higgins "The people who bet want Blame (the peanut counters) and the people who are giving this sport life want Zenyatta. If this sport, which has failed to rise to the occasion before does not give it to Zenyatta, well watch viewership tank. As Dr. Phil would say "How's that working for you?""

I take deep DEEP umbrage with your statement.

So, you aren't really a fan of this sport unless you think Zenyatta is the second coming?

Get over yourself already.

09 Nov 2010 4:31 PM
Barbara S

Rags to Riches beat Curlin in the Belmont, but he still got HOY in 2007 after a 6 for 9 record versus her 5 for 6 record. Since both Curlin and Rachel Alexander were both owned by Jess Jackson, I can't help but wonder how "honestly" these votes were obtained.  This sport is famed for cheating and crooks, are the voters being bought?  Because of 72,000 fans at Churchill Downs, I doubt the only people who came from as far away as Australia to see one horse, did not come to see Blame.

09 Nov 2010 4:38 PM

Sorry again Zenaytta fans, she doesn't deserve it. No fault of hers. I believe she could have won anywhere. Her connections again took her out of the running. Its not about popularity, what shes done in previous years, its this year and this year only. And whether by a nose or a mile she got beat. It wasn't a mile and a quarter and a few more strides, it was a mile and a quarter. All the name calling, ifs, ands and buts are not going to change what happened Saturday. Trying to diminish what Blame did this year is juvenile and shows a total lack of racing knowledge. Anyone in their right mind knows he faced tougher competition then Zenyatta. Whether he is remembered in history has nothing to do with HOY. Zenyatta will be remembered HOY or not. And if you think a farm that bred, raised and raced a horse like Blame, and its their 100th year as an industry great, is going to be overlooked for HOY honors your sadly mistaken.

09 Nov 2010 4:45 PM

Horse of the Year. Horse of the Decade. Please. She's done so much for everyone. Zenyatta is and will always be the Queen of the sport of Kings...And whether she takes HOTY or not...She will have a special place in my heart now and forevermore.

09 Nov 2010 4:51 PM

Zenyatta horse of the year.Everyone loved Quality Rd. until Blame beat him and now he's HOY.I don't think so.She's had two years of being best.

09 Nov 2010 4:53 PM

My vote goes 110% to Zenyatta. Her record speaks for itself, and then the awful trip she had in the classic only to be "defeated" by a mere 4 inches? Blame barely held on to a horse that should have been beaten from the start of the race. Blame just got lucky with the head bob. Zenyatta deserves more that Horse of the Year. Taking nothing away from Blame, but with everything that went wrong the Classic should have been Zenyatta's. Kudos to Jockey Mike Smith for helping Zenyatta overcome all her calamities in the race! Mike Smith deserves an Eclipse Award himself.

09 Nov 2010 4:54 PM
bill marshall

Just comparing Saturday's races, Goldikova had a 116 Beyer and a -92 Roman.  Blame and Zenyatta received a 108 Beyer and a -70 Roman.  I don't put much faith in those figures, but for those who do, there's only one way to read them.  

Going in to the BC, Goldikova had the most challenging campaign and coming out of it, outperformed all the others that ran this weekend.  So far as I am aware, the award is not named the North American Horse of the Year.  The rules make any horse eligible that races once in North America during the year.  Why not salute this year's best - Goldikova.

09 Nov 2010 4:56 PM

Blame WILL win.

Zenyatta SHOULD win.

Blame had his nose in front but Zen ran a better race. She ran a winning race and anyone who says she wouldn't have won is painfully biased; I was at the track, at the wire, and she passed him not a stride after they crossed. Mike Smith beat her, not Blame. But any reason to deny Zen will be taken and embraced. Another year, another "well she should have XYZ".

09 Nov 2010 4:56 PM

First of all, I want Zenyatta to be Horse of the Year.  It would be shameful for one of the greatest mares of all time to never be voted Horse of the Year.

Second, the word "great" sure is being thrown around a lot.   Secretariat, Seattle Slew, Forego, Ruffian, Cigar and Zenyatta are great.   Blame is a very nice horse and the obvious champion older horse, but in what universe is he a great horse?   If he makes it to the Hall of fame it'll be a shock to those of us who saw the others race.

Third, Zenyatta ran the much better race.   She had one horse beat at the quarter pole and was many lengths from the leader.   She must've ran her final quarter a full second faster than Blame, who didn't "hold her off" but was lucky to have been as far ahead as he was when she started her run.   It wasn't a head to head battle, but the best horse in the race closing like a rocket and barely missing to a much inferior and luckier horse.

Fourth, Zenyatta stayed in California most of the year, and other mares' owners knew where she was.   They could've showed up but didn't.   Those who did counted on her racing style to beat her because it was their only chance.   She did show up in the Apple Blossom, but Rachel Alexandra didn't.   Her connections knew when and where the race was but "didn't have her 100%", which is a clever way of admitting she couldn't beat Zenyatta.

lastly, pay attention to the trainers and jockeys who faced Zenyatta over the years, because they are more expert than any of us.   There is an unbroken chain of awe when they discuss her, and they know she is singular and special. Also, if you want to keep the fans Zenyatta brought to racing, you need to respect them enough o take them seriously, and they will all tell you she's the reason they are interested now.

09 Nov 2010 5:00 PM

"The competition" could not challenge Zenyatta on her home turf or anywhere else this year other than the BC Classic and she lost. I am a huge Zenyatta fan but if she loses HOY put the "blame" on her owners for keeping her in soft restricted races. HOY is for the body of work for the year not a lifetime achievement award or based on one race. For that reason the best horse to race in the USA this year will not win either. That being Goldikova. Although not exciting, Blame checked enough boxes to get the nod for HOY.  

09 Nov 2010 5:05 PM

Everyone yelps loudly that Zenyatta only raced in California.  Fine.  I did not see Blame racing in California.  He raced exclusively in the East.  Never once crossed the Rockies.  Only ran on synthetic once.  As we saw last year, unless you shipped to the other coast, winning the Classic doesn't matter in HOTY honors.  Face it, HOTY is a gimme to Eastern dirt horses.  Goldikova has traveled across an ocean more than once.  Has a stellar record.  True, she's stuck to one surface but she did what neither Blame nor Zenyatta has ever done: a Three-peat in a Breeder's Cup race.  But she won't get it.  She's foreign and turf.  Remember: HOTY is only for Eastern dirt only.  There's your qualification and result for this year.

09 Nov 2010 5:06 PM


Wonderful blog. I think you give the argument for either side quite clearly and present an unbiased view. I love it and thank you for it.

To me, what Zenyatta has done takes years to accomplish and has been cooking for the past 3 years. Yes Blame was spectacular this year, any other year I would give it to him, but I can't ignore what Zenyatta has done for horse racing and the records she has set.

My vote: Zenyatta

09 Nov 2010 5:08 PM

ps- Mookie's Hero

  I grew up watching Forego carry ever heavier weights.   It was the only chance the other horses had to win against him.   He was nearly unbeatable at weight for age.   The ability to beat others while carrying higher weights used to define the greatest horses.   I am shocked at how little the handicap champions carry nowdays, mostly because there's cheap money lying around and if a poor sport owner doesn't like the weight his darling is carrying, he can go somewhere else and win money.   The whole point behind a weight spread is to bring the field to the finish line in a dead heat.   I remember the great ones winning under heavy burdens and inspiring admiration and passion, two emotions sadly lacking in racing now.   Dr. Fager, Damascus, Forego, Seattle Slew, Ta Wee. Affirmed, Spectacular Bid, and Cigar all won under 130 or more pounds.  

09 Nov 2010 5:12 PM

I believe Zenyatta is the better horse, but I think Blame had a better 2010 season.  It has more to do with how she was campaigned then how she ran, but the horses she beat this year (excluding the Classic) were suspect.  And in the Classic she LOST.  

I'm disappointed because it is awful that she might retire without a HOTY title, but all they had to do was race her one other time against the boys and she'd have it clinched.  I figure on a synthetic track she'd have one this race NOT because she could handle the synthetic better but because she wouldn't have had the dirt hitting her for the first time.  

09 Nov 2010 5:13 PM

Well written article Mr. Mitchell but I disagree that there is no right answer.  The right answer for Horse of the Year is Zenyatta!!  There are enough comments that have already listed specifics so I won't.  Except to write that Blame did not defeat Zenyatta in the Classic, he crossed the finish line first.  Zenyatta ran the better, much more memorable race and in losing by a short head proved that she is the better horse.  I hope the 'fix' isn't already in for HOTY, that the powerful Claiborne does not influence the vote.  The sport wonders what can be done to get more fans and the day after Blame's BC win, he is retired to the breeding shed.  That was the first time many people heard about Blame and off he goes to be a stud horse.  It's almost always about the money and the politicking for HOTY minutes after Blame won the BC Classic is because that gets him a higher stud fee.  Zenyatta on paper ran and won more Grade 1 races in 2010.  She ran second by inches in the Classic.  If the Classic is the determining factor, then why wasn't it last year??  As another poster wrote, Rachel had HOTY locked up by Sept. 2009.  There seems to be a double standard.  If Zenyatta is denied Horse of the Year for 2010, it will confirm that racing lacks a soul.  Racing would have more fans if there was more heart in the sport; the horses have heart.  And the voters who vote for Zenyatta for HOTY will be voting with their heads and their hearts.  Zenyatta is a future Hall of Fame mare; will Blame ever be voted that honor?  I doubt it.  ZENYATTA for HOTY.  

09 Nov 2010 5:16 PM

Zenyatta is the brightest star that racing has seen in 20 years, and to deny her this accolade would be a huge injustice to the racing fans who adore her, as well to our great champion

09 Nov 2010 5:18 PM

ZENYATTA.....of course....geez!

09 Nov 2010 5:22 PM
Margin Matters

For over two years I've had to listen to people who believed with the conviction of a catholic priest that Zenyatta "Knows where the wire is". Defend her with mind boggling zeal when she only finished a head in front of mares that would be lucky to finish ITM in an Allowance Optional Claimer outside of California.All of them  claimed margin of victory doesn't matter. All that matters is who got to the wire first.   Now I'm reading these same people say that Zenyatta woulda, coulda, finished in front of Blame with another stride. They lack the class to appreciate his connections careful planning and this horses skill by denigrating him with terms like lucky.  

I was prepared to say that she should be allowed to share this award but once again her "fans" (most of whom won't notice her Hall of Fame ceremony, which is what they're lobbying for.) leave a bitter taste in the mouth. The Mosses gambled on one race and lost - Why on earth should they be rewarded for that?

09 Nov 2010 5:30 PM

This is the Horse of the Year- not the Horse For 3 or 4 Months. Blame made his first start when the year was already almost half over.

Battle Plan struggled home in the Foster after he was clearly hurt- he opened up 3 1/2 lengths and WATCH HIS LEAD change just as he had that large margin nearing the end of the race, Battle Plan changes his lead in obvious distress- he's falling apart as he tore his suspensory in his right front leg.

For somebody to say that Blame beat Battle Plan is ridiculous without a qualification.

HAD Battle Plan not suffered this career ending injury, we wouldn't be having this debate. Had Blame lost the Foster, combined with his trashing in the JCGC, there would be ZERO debate here.

Minus that injury- Blame has no chance to catch Battle Plan- everybody knows that!

Also, Ruffian never left NY/NJ and nobody was jumping up and down at her female rivals- even Foolish Pleasure wasn't the best 3 year old, yet for two years in a row Zen has defeated all- ALL THE best three year old males that would face her in the BCC.

Who else- great females.....Personal Ensign- ONCE she left NY/NJ- ONCE- and that was to race in the BC Distaff- NOT the Classic- the Distaff! Yet the DRF has Ruffian and PE as the two greatest females in NA history before Zen came along.

NOBODY can put up a strong case that either of the above have records that even come close to Zenyatta, but this isn't about that, I mention all that to show how stupid the 'She's a California horse' crowd is.

Blame didn't race the first 5 1/2 months of the year, won a minor stakes- then was blessed with Battle Plan being badly injured- then a photo against QR- what now??? In between all that he totally skips two months- doesn't run, then he gets DESTROYED in the JCGC by a NY breed.

Blame is an excellent horse - he had a great season, but is isn't the HOY- that is absurd.

09 Nov 2010 5:33 PM

Both horses had seasons that essentially threw all their chips in on the Classic and Blame won. It's simple this year! They both had a fair shot and clean trips in the Classic and Blame won. It's simple. Undefeated doesn't matter - that's a college football fantasy. Great horses all lose because they take on challenges. Zenyatta was great and is sure to be in the HOF, but that's not the issue here. It must be BLAME!

09 Nov 2010 5:43 PM

@Bill M:Just comparing Saturday's races, Goldikova had a 116 Beyer and a -92 Roman.  Blame and Zenyatta received a 108 Beyer and a -70 Roman.  I don't put much faith in those figures, but for those who do, there's only one way to read them.>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>


Goldie is a ONE DIMENSIONAL horse and when she did go beyond a mile- once- they ran two rabbits to help her. She is ONE DIMENSIONAL and had she run in the BCC she would have finished with Quality Road.

She is so great- why don't they run her in the Arc- Bill? Why? As the UK Daily Mail said; 'BECAUSE SHE CAN'T GET THE DISTANCE'.

She is great at what she does, but that isn't winning classic distance races- class dismissed.

09 Nov 2010 5:45 PM


AT 1:46 YOU CAN SEE THE DISTRESS THAT BATTLE PLAN WAS IN- he is desperate to switch leads and the pain must have been immense. He had the field easily beaten- no horse could have kept his drive with what he suffered!

We are having this debate BECAUSE he was injured and never raced again. If Blame loses that race- there is ZERO chance he even gets 1 vote as HOY unless it is via his connections.  

09 Nov 2010 5:53 PM

Let the horses records stand for themselves. Zenyatta won more races collectively than any other horse this year.

I've watched all of Zenyatta's races.

I was at THE RACE Saturday night. It was freezing cold.  She left the gate and remained further behind the field than I ever  recalled. A wall of horses passed us and then there was Zenyatta. My eyes moved to the big screen in the infield. My ears kept hearing how she was dead last. The roar from the crowd was deafening. I knew this tremendous horse would come around the turn and begin her run.

I was at the 16th pole on the stretch. I saw Zenyatta coming down the lane. She was moving like a freight train. One by one she went by Quality Road, Looking at Lucky, Paddy O Prado. She was literally covered in about 2 inches of mud. And she kept right on coming. She passed me and I thought she had the race won. In my heart she did. Any other horse would have stopped running. Any other horse would have finished 4th, 5th maybe 6th. Not the mighty Zenyatta. She just kept on running.

Definition of a champion: One that is clearly superior or has the attributes of a winner.

Zenyatta is and always will be a champion.

As I walked out with the crowd that night, it was really quiet. Some people were crying, not many were speaking.

I was smiling. I wasn't disappointed. Zenyatta won that night. And she was a better champion Saturday night, then any I have ever seen.

09 Nov 2010 5:58 PM

"People weren't waving signs and screaming for Blame." I love it--think I'll go have a Guiness.....

09 Nov 2010 6:11 PM
Fuzzy Corgi

tjconway, regarding your post at 1:57 PM, I love the way you're thinking but, are you crazy? Zenyatta's best distances are over a mile where Goldikova's best distance is the mile. Not to mention that the European courses are notoriously soft. Goldikova barely weighs 1000 pounds. Zenyatta is 1200 pounds. The big mare would be stuck in the mud. That would be a long way to go for Zenyatta to get a mud facial.

09 Nov 2010 6:12 PM

How can anyone watching the Breeders Cup Classic not come away believing that Zenyatta was the best horse in that field??? I was shocked when she didn't cross the finish line first and after a few days of digesting it or trying to I did alot of reflecting and I think it was the GREATEST race of her career. All I can think is WOW...how she lagged so far behind at the start which for most it would have been really hard to recover from - she was battered with mud and had to weave her way in and around a wall of the best males in the world and passed them like they were standing still, running like a freight train to Blame and missing by a nose. Two more strides and she would have won at a mile and a quarter no less.  Her race on Saturday was no less than a win - - she won our final approval and stamped out our doubts - she IS versatile, she CAN run on ANYTHING and with ANYONE.   She is beautiful, couragous and unwavering.  She's the ONE that we've sat watching and waiting for all these years - a phenomenon of sorts, a gift, a great champion that will go down in history and the stories will never end. I haven't  been so emotionally wrapped up in a horse since Secretariat.  I have a lump in my throat and my heart hurts. I feel like I'm saying goodbye to a great love.  I'm sad that I may never see and experience this again and I know I'm not alone.  How can a horse like Zenyatta leave the industry without a Horse Of The Year title.  We have that one last chance to give her that honor and this is it.

09 Nov 2010 6:14 PM
Zen's Auntie

Im sure if you owned her Simply Majestic, she would be the horse of a lifetime. Im no spring chicken I saw Ruffian, Big Red and Seattle Slew in my lifetime and She is right up there with them for me - so your entitled to pick your favorites too but her record does speak for itself.

It occurs to me you MUST be really, really old - when else in your lifetime has a horse gone 19 and 0 and then lost one by 6 inches? just sayin...

09 Nov 2010 6:24 PM
Elaina R.

Sometimes in life we have to change the rules and not be so ridged.  We have to step aside and do what's right.  that's possibly what's wrong with our society, we can't bring ourselves to do the right thing.  This year has one of those cases where going with the heart is the only way to go for HOY.  I could understand if it was the first year that Zenyatta missed out on HOY, but she was a contestant for HOY three times in a row.  Last year apparently it didn't mean anything that she beat the best boys in the Breeders Cup Classic, but apparently this year it means everything that she lost it by a nose hole.  Have a match race between Zenyatta and Blame only, and see who comes out on top.  We also didn't see Blame in California on synthetic tracks either, how about a match race at Hollywood Park?  If HOY goes to Blame, it will be So Not Fair, to Zenyatta and all of her many, many fans.  Awarding her with HOY in 2010 is the Right Thing To Do, Period.  Thank you.

09 Nov 2010 6:27 PM

Horse of the Year.... This title should definitely go to Zenyatta!

1. She is a Champion

2. She is a Lady and a Show-woman

3. Her record is 19 and a nose

4. At 6 years old and running with boys and showing them up like she did,she is a true champion!

And, these are all animals they have good and bad days, just like us, but they can't always tell us stuff, Zenyatta is a horse, a great, beautiful horse, who has proven herself time and time again, and shown that she loves to run, she IS Horse Of The Year, her record, her drive, her stamina, we can't hold the new (dirt)track against her, if you would have given her even 10 more feet, she would have won and wouldn't have even looked winded or worn out!!!

She has my vote 100% this year!!

09 Nov 2010 6:29 PM
bill marshall

Bladerunner, you better check your facts.  In the nine furlong Prix d'Ispahan (Goldikova's debut race this year) she had no assistance and needed none, pounding a field of Group 1 males at Longchamp.  She beat the best male milers in France, England and the United States.  One dimensional?  Well, using your standard most all horses are one dimensional.  Forego was not.  Find won the Hollywood Express at 5 and 1/2 furlongs to start the Hollywood meet one year in the '50s and won the Sunset Handicap at a mile and three-quarters to close the meet.  He was not non-dimensional.  So Goldikova is a Miler.  How does that disqualify her?  Of her three Breeders' Cups, she won the first from just off the pace, the second from dead last and this one from the middle of the pack.  Her style is certainly not one dimensional.  I have a vote and Goldikova will get it.  

09 Nov 2010 6:30 PM

"But for differences of opinion there would be no horse racing". M. Twain.

I turned off the telecast when they announced that Rough Sailing was to be euthanized. I came back to watch Goldikova's THRILLING turn of foot. If you want to remove debate then maybe Goldikova is the HOY, it's happened before. Yes? Could the Zenyatta vs Blame debate also be described as an old school vs new? There are races run for far less money everyday that were lost by a nose and can be rationalized away, but the bottom line is she had her chance, and was in her customary position relative to the second flight of which Blame was a part and didn't get there. She's a top 10 Filly or Mare but not a top 10 horse.

09 Nov 2010 6:31 PM

Are we gonna beat this question to death again this year.Awards are politics and money.Zenyatta and Blame don't care.Rachael did'nt last year either.Beautiful animals,who gave us great moments.Think I'll stand with them.I don't care either!

09 Nov 2010 6:32 PM
Dean Miller

Zenyatta is her own category.

09 Nov 2010 6:37 PM

So what if Blame's owners  have been in the business for 100 years or so. I'm happy for them. I bet if they had Zenyetta in 08 she would have already been crowned. It seems like some people like last year get things their way all the time.  They don't care about the sport they retire the horse and lock them away.Like all their riches. The heck with the ordinary people who long for that special feeling you get when you watch a beautiful animal come flying to the wire like that everytime even when they come up a little short. It still can take your breath away! Thank-You God for that special feeling!

09 Nov 2010 6:40 PM

@Bladerunnernyc - I think this is the 3rd thread now we've gone back and forth on.

While you're obviously a fan of the game, and I respect your opinions (although for the life of me, I can't figure out why you insist on trashing Goldikova), what I still haven't heard from you is any type of argument for Zenyatta.  All I've seen are arguments against Blame.  

I watched the race, and maybe you're right, maybe Battle Plan lost because of injury, or maybe he got tired, switched leads, and dropped off (you can only speculate when/where the injury occurred).  One is just as plausible as the other.  

At best you have a theory (it's a good one) to explain why you think Battle Plan lost, what I have is an undeniable fact; as he did in the Classic, Blame crossed the line first.

Quite honestly, even if Battle Plan holds on, a fair case could still have been made for Blame (head to head, stiffer competition), but it's a moot point.  He won the race.

Things happen in just about every race, and each one potentially changes the outcome. There are probably half a dozen "ifs" in every race.  They're fun to talk about, but the only thing that matters is who finishes first.  Drawing a line through a race is something handicappers do, I'm not sure it's reasonable to expect HOY voters to do the same, especially when you're asking them to toss out a win.

I will agree that the "stayed in California argument is weak", but when it's coupled with "and raced against short fields of 2nd rate mares", then it's a valid criticism.  Remind me again how many Grade I winners she defeated in 2010?

As I've said numerous other times.  She's an amazing mare, an all-time great, and would have a great chance to beat Blame if they were to ever face off again.  The bottom line, however, is that despite all the talent in the world, her connections didn't put her in the races she needed to be HOY - not without the Classic.  She didn't necessarily have to win the Classic, but I think she needed to finish ahead of Blame, and possibly Looking at Lucky and Quality Road.  2 out of 3 ain't bad, but the one she didn't get past is the one she absolute had to.

If she had beaten Blame..., but she didn't.

09 Nov 2010 6:45 PM
jody pie

Whoa! Both blame and zennys campaigns were subpar for hoty honors.Zen lost by a head , but haynsfield was in the next county when blame crossed the line at the gold cup.HOTY "GOLDIKOVA" And for the 2009 hoty, Rachel was the belle of the ball, eight great for eight while electrifying a nation on the way.Have Blame or Zenny run eight races in one year and neither one wins the classic.Way too much stock is put on the BC classic,Its just one race.

09 Nov 2010 6:51 PM
Roger Westendorf

Never has racing had such a fortuitous, and enormous, opportunity for positive public attention.  Blame and Zenyatta are both fit, sound, and at their peak in performance potential.  A match race during the holiday season at a mile and a quarter at a neutral, dirt track would rival a Super Bowl.  

09 Nov 2010 7:06 PM
Bob Bright

Zenyatta's stretch run in the classic trumps everything Blame has done this year, last year or might do if he were to run next year.  Or for that matter, all those east coast dirt track dandies who run a few times and retire.

09 Nov 2010 7:12 PM

Blame earned the HOTY title based on his body of work for the entire year which ended with a defeat of Zenyatta in thier head to head meeting. To her credit, she did not lose the award but her connections lost if for her AGAIN. The only way she would have beaten Curlin was if she beat him that year in a head to head meeting. She would have beaten Rachel last year only if she would have beaten males on multiple occassions. The Moss's took a big gamble that winning the Classic would be her only chance, but they misjudged the fact that Rachel had already won the award after the Woodward. After Rachel won it last year, Mr. Moss expressed how he would take on all comers this year. If that meant all comers in the races that she had won in the past he was correct. Zenyatta took the game to a new level, but her career will be summed up as unfufilled potential. One of the most glaring things that her run in the classic proved is that she should have been competing against fields of that level a long time ago. At this point,it's just a debate that gives her fans hope, but in the end just like in 08 and 09 it will end with an award for best older mare.

09 Nov 2010 7:45 PM
Mike Relva


Regarding your comments to PAULA, you don't have the first clue what you're saying. Why was ratings triple for the Breeders' Cup? Do you think fans tuned in to watch Blame and QR? LOL Maybe you NEED to get over yourself instead!

09 Nov 2010 7:49 PM

Paula Higgins,

"The sport" doesn't vote. Neither do we, the fans. The turfwriters do. Why are you even arguing over this? It's out of our hands. I can't believe that you are falling for this. Go read Steve Haskin's blog. There's a writer who can praise both horses and their connections and not ONCE does he mention the Award. There's still more than two months before we know the voters' choice. Do you intend to keep banging your head against the wall for that long? Get out of this sewer before you suffocate.

09 Nov 2010 7:57 PM

Blame holding on in the last inches isn't exactly BEATING her. Lets face it, he was getting run down. All that tells me is, if Z's trip was a slither better, she wins. She is the better horse, had a better year and desrves the HOTY. She was snubbed last year winning the Classic, she is the HOTY.

09 Nov 2010 8:04 PM

Zenyatta, hands down, should be Horse of the Year. Blame is a good horse, but Zenyatta is a great one the likes of which we may not see again. She has proven that tima and again, and she has done more for racing than any horse since the immortal Secretariat. Let's finally recognize her accomplishments with a well deserved HOTY title.

09 Nov 2010 8:12 PM
Campbell Camp

Zenyatta should win Horse of the Year for the following reasons:

Blame's first race of the year was a Grade 3.  All of Zenyatta's races were Grade 1 races.

Zenyatta was second by a short head to Blame in her whole career, HOWEVER, Blame was well beaten in the Jockey Gold Cup (frankly, spanked and hard) by Haynesfield who Zenyatta beat in the classic.  So if you consider Zenyatta raced 5 Grade-1 minus the Classic and Blame race 3 Grade-1's minus the Classic...how can anyone say she isn't deserving.  

This doesn't take into consideration what she has done for the horse racing industry these last couple of years.

As far as the argument that her competition was soft...that was out of her control.  Take Blind Luck for example, the trainer stated he would find another race if Zenyatta was going to run. You saw November 6th why Zenyatta couldn't get any "toughs" to run against her.

Respectfully yours,

A horse racing beginner

09 Nov 2010 8:14 PM

I was backside from Thursday until Sunday .  I am a longtime churchill downs racetracker and love the sport.  Blame had a wonderful year and I am proud of him, but his lost race involved a distance greater than a head.  Zenyatta overcame some obstacles to finish flying as she did.  Sunday, hundreds and hundreds of people came to see her at the stables.  Others paid $20 to park across the grassy area where she grazed.  I went to see Blame.  I was the only one there.  Zenyatta deserved HOY last year and she does this year too.  And while we are at it, the Owners of the year should be the Mosses for sharing this wonderful mare with the fans.  I watched them reaching over the tall fence lined with barbed wire to take items to sign and hand them back.  I saw Ann reaching up for cameras to take photos of Zenyatta as she grazed.  John Shirreffs should be trainer of the year  for keeping a big horse safe, fit and happy.  

Hands down, Zenyatta is is a different stratosphere .

09 Nov 2010 8:36 PM

I saw a 17.2hh, 1200lb freak of a race horse with a 26.3' long stride darn near overcome a bad ride by her jockey to beat a lightly-raced, nice colt. In addition to all the passion and emotion surrounding this great mare, there is actual science to explain her greatness. She's simply not ordinary in any way. She is a freak. Too bad she's a freak because racing's going to need a ton more just like her to survive. Unfortunately too many people that run the sport just haven't a clue. If you don't believe me, just ask Life at Ten.

09 Nov 2010 8:38 PM
Mike Relva


Trust me,there won't be a match race,nor should there be.

09 Nov 2010 8:43 PM

To deny her HOY once again would be a travesty.

09 Nov 2010 8:54 PM

Liz--That's what it's all about--thank you!

09 Nov 2010 9:22 PM
Wild Horses

I can't go down this road again this year, it's too disappointing. What will be will be and I would venture to say there would not be anyone on this blog who has a vote. The one thing I can say is Big Z is a horse of a lifetime and I'm so grateful she was there in my lifetime. LONG LIVE THE QUEEN for now and forever.

09 Nov 2010 9:40 PM
Mike Relva


Bravo! On point!

09 Nov 2010 9:46 PM
ron f

the connections of Zenyatta went all in and lost.Blame had the more substantive campaign.When you put all your eggs in one basket and it drops there is no recall.

09 Nov 2010 9:50 PM

I think Zenyatta deserves HOY. She won 19 straight races and lost the 20th by a nose or so. When you calculate the distance of 1 1/4 miles and transfer to feet and then consider the margin she lost by, it's probably less than one tenth of one percent. She's run on different tracks and against males in both  Breeder's Cup races. She's great for the sport and is just a fine specimen of the thoroughbred race horse.  

09 Nov 2010 9:56 PM


In what world does winning 5 straight Grade 1 races take a back seat to 3 Grade 1's? In what world does a horse who was ranked #1 all YEAR and still is even after loosing by a nose, not beat a horse who in their last race get trounced by a glorified sprinter? Blame is a very nice horse, but he is not the horse of the YEAR. Zenyatta is/was/and will always be HOTY. She competed at the top of the game for over 3 years, and Blame did not. Seth Hancock saying Blame took his show on the road......SAY WHAT??? What road. being stable at Saratoga for 6 weeks is not taking your show on the road. Zenyatta took her show on the road more than Blame did. Rachel ALexandra opened the door last year by not even competing in the B.C. and she still got HOTY. She got huge weight breaks that enabled her to beat the boys. Zenyatta has done 3 times as much in her 19 races than Blame did in his 14. If Zenyatta is not named HOTY, we will lose all the fans we attracted this year because they will feel the award is not given to the Best horse, only the horse who won the Classic. As Rachel ALexandra showed, that is no longer a requirement needed to be HOTY.

Robert 09 Nov 2010 3:05 PM  


Barbaro, Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta have done more for the sport of horse racing than ALL of the Blames out there.

They better get it, as the sport has suffered in the past and these horses have brought back FANS and brought in NEW FANS~!!

The increase of attendance at the Breeder's Cup, was NOT because BLAME was there, they were there to see Zenyatta, The Horse of the Year~!!!!!!!!!!

09 Nov 2010 10:02 PM

All I have to say is that this is horse of the YEAR we are talking about.  Not horse of CAREER, horse of the YEAR.  And it's important to keep in mind that while Zenyatta raced in three states and five tracks as opposed to Blame's three states and four tracks, Blame had the tougher campaign, befitting Horse of the Year.  Zenyatta's connections did the same thing they did last year.  Pretty sure it didn't pay off then, and really, it shouldn't pay off now.  People are saying that she won last year when it counted, when Rachel didn't even show up.  Well Zenyatta didn't win this year, and Blame DID show up.  As for the people saying that Zenyatta beat a horse by 20 lenghts that Blame lost to by four, I'd like to point out the fact that Blame also, in fact, beat the same horse by about twenty lengths, and, in fact, beat Zenyatta in the same race.  And as for people saying that holding on by inches isn't winning, what is it?  Losing?  I'm pretty sure whoever crosses the line first, wins.  That's the whole point of the sport.  Whether or not you're getting run down is another matter entirely.  I would like to point out that when Rachel won the Woodward over Macho Again, people were praising HER courage, not Macho's.  This year, it's the exact opposite: people are praising Zenyatta's courage, not Blame's.  Let's give Blame what he deserves.  He is just as courageous as Zenyatta, he beat Zenyatta the only time her connections raced her in a race fitting for the champion she is, and he had a tougher campaign all around.  Who cares if he lost by four lengths and she lost by a nose?  They both still lost!  And who cares whether she won 19 races in her career?  She didn't win them all this year!  She won against the same, questionable fields she's won against her whole career.  Bring her out of her comfort zone a little more often, and it will pay off.  She'd be deserving of this award.  She would have beaten Blame, Quality Road, Looking at Lucky, and everyone else.  But she would have done it more than once, and this discussion wouldn't be taking place.  Blame her connections, not her (no pun intended), but she doesn't deserve to win HOTY this year any more than she did last year.  And for those of you who say she DID deserve it, I'd like to point out that she didn't win.  So apparently the people who mattered in the voting (not that you don't matter, but you can't vote) didn't agree.  GO ZENYATTA, i love you with all my heart, and you're a better racehorse by FAR than Blame, and everyone else who ran in the Classic, or who ran this year at all, but the award belongs to Blame, and I hope he gets it, and I congratulate him for deserving it.  May the best horse win, and congratulations to both of you for one of the most memorable Classics ever.  Special congratulations to Zenyatta for the run of a lifetime.  I love you girly!

09 Nov 2010 10:08 PM

I'm afraid Blame will get and maybe deserve HOY.

But off to the breeding shed he goes. What a sportman Seth!

Zenyatta built a fan base.

Outide the racing world Blame will be an answer to a trivia question.

Zenyatta should get an Eclipse Award of Merit.

09 Nov 2010 10:10 PM

Zenyatta showed up for the Apple Blossom, but alas the competition didn't. If only they had...but then again who really wants to run their horse against Zenyatta?

09 Nov 2010 10:20 PM

Definition of a champion:

One that is clearly superior or has the attributes of a winner...


09 Nov 2010 10:24 PM

Blame won Zenyatta lost to the victor go the spoils. It has to be decided on the track and it was.  That is the difference between this year and Rachel. They met Blame won the battle plus he had a more ambitious year.  Game set match.

09 Nov 2010 10:24 PM


The argument for sharing the title this year is much stronger than last year because:

1) The comparison between Zenyatta's and Rachel Alexandra's campaignand achievement was like chalk to cheese.  Zen had only the Breeder's Cup victory in her favour last year.

2) This year, although Zenyatta lost in a photo finish, there is little doubt that she's Blame's equal and should lose no marks in defeat (her only loss of the season).

3) Blame didn't do his HOTY bid any favours when being humbled by Haynesfield in the JCGC.  In fact he lost several marks in that defeat.

4) Zenyatta won all her other Grade 0ne engagements, albeit that they were in weak (except for the Vanity w/ St Trinians) and restricted competition.  She won them all, narrowly but pulling the proverbial train.

5) Although Blame's claim to fame is that he captured the "scalp" of the "Dirt/Synthetic monarchy" in "His Royal Highness" Quality Road in the Whitney and Queen Zenyatta in the Classic, the latter has dwarfed his impact by the way that she has captured the hearts of the Racing Fraternity, like no other thoroughbred in recent times (including Rachel Alexandra last year).

5) Her celebrity status is not empty because she won 19 straight races and proved ON-THE-TRACK that she was the best of her generation in ability, whether on Dirt or Synthetics, although she wasn't given a fair chance to silence all the doubters more often.

6) Comparing the campaigns of both horses show Zenyatta running and winning one more race than Blame did, and in fairness, although he ran all his races in open company, he had no choice being a colt (a point that should be considered in order to be fair).

7) The HOTY title, being a celebration of the champion horse of the season, might run into credibility problems if it fails to honour/celebrate a worthy champion that,through no fault of her own, was not allowed to capture the title without controversy for a third straight year.

8) I feel that Zenyatta should be crowned this year, inspite of the reprehensiblly faulty strategy of her "bone-headed" connections (I mean that they were stubborn, inflexible and without foresight, causing the Mare not only to be stuck in California but also to be stuck on 19 wins with Pepper's Pride).

9) In order to be fair to Blame and his connections, he should also be crowned, thus sharing the title.

This is a very different situation from last year.  I think that Quality Road was the only horse in the BCC that could outrightly neutralize Zenyatta's claim to the HOTY with a narrow victory over her because of his record coming into the race.  Blame's JCGC loss severely hampered his status, hence our current polemics/dilema.

Let the title be shared this year.  Both horses deserve it. Plain and simple?  Maybesomaybenot but this will make everybody rest and breathe a sigh of relief.  

09 Nov 2010 10:34 PM

Not only do I beleive that Zenyatta should be horse of the year but, also horse of the decade!

I have followed racing since I was a child and watching the Great Secretariat run at Arlington Park. However, Zenyatta has far surpassed even Man o Wars record and even Cigar. I wanted to do a blog for her. But it looks like they retired Blame so he did not have to Face Zenyatta before the year goes out! He was just Lucky she had to come from so far back. What was her Beyers speed figure for the last furlong? It had to be tremendous!

I hope That she wins horse of the year in a land slide VICTORY!

Thank you,


09 Nov 2010 10:43 PM

It has always bothered me that writers will bandy about words like brilliant and great with such casualness.

Blame was certainly a very good horses. Brilliant he was not. Workmanlike...yes.

And, you know beating and being beaten by the "great" Haynesfield. Great? Haynesfield?

Battle Plan, now there's a great horse. G2 winner wasn't he?

Blame will never make the Hall of Fame. Simply was not brilliant enough or great enough to. He'll be remembered for one thing only, beating Zenyatta.

Would he be a deserving HOY? Yes. This year he would be. So would she. This year.

I'm not on either side of the coin right now, I'm just bothered by the hyperbole.

09 Nov 2010 10:53 PM

I think too much emphasis is being put on the BCC, its ONE race and crap/bad luck can happen. If horse of the year is going to be decided by who wins the BCC and who doesn`t, then why don`t you give the award then and there and save some time?

I say Zenyatta for HOY, if she doesn`t get it, racing should be ashamed.

09 Nov 2010 11:28 PM

Somethingroyal, love your name, dam of Secretariat.  Zenyatta is the better horse.  Blame got beat bad by Haynesfield in the Jockey Club Gold Cup.  Zenyatta never had a bad day like that, not ever.

09 Nov 2010 11:31 PM
Gary Tasich

Quality Road was Zenyatta's Achilles' heel...

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

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

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

To paraphrase the immortal Shakespeare, "a tragedy."

09 Nov 2010 11:35 PM

Mike, you didn't explain your reasoning.  Do you think Blame would beat her?  I don't think he'd have much chance.  But the point is that under the circumstances there's only one way to find out which is the real Horse of the Year and it's not by someone's vote, expert or not.  Since both the Mosses and the Hancocks think their's should get the title, they should be willing to put it on the line.  In doing so, they would honor the tradition that once was horseracing.  Besides, what's more likely to breathe life back into the sport right now?  Slots?


09 Nov 2010 11:40 PM

She didn't win a race with a G1 winner in the race all year.  She faced males in open company once and lost.  Blame beat her fair and square.  How can the horse that beat Zenyatta and other open G1 races not win HOY ?  To give the award to anyone but Blame would be a insult to the sport.  You win the award on the TRACK.  Zenyatta wasn't good enough plain and simple.

09 Nov 2010 11:53 PM

Blame was beaten by a sprinter (haynesfield) and he beat a sprinter (QR) - let's face it that's what QR should have been.  Blame couldn't make a triple crown race last year.  This year  the best horse he raced was  Zenyatta and everyone knows he never would have beaten her if she had a halfway decent trip.  I'm sure Mike Smith feels horrible and rightly so.  He was her Sully Sullenberger and it was up to him to get her out of trouble.  Goldikova while a wonderful miler, wasn't in the classic for a reason; she cant't get the distance to run with the best.  No HOY for her.  Of course Zenyatta should be horse of the year since she was screwed out of it last year and no other horse could have made that great run.  Look where  Rachel is now.  She got kicked to the curb when she  could no longer win for them after they gutted her.  I wonder if the turfwriters ever re-think their votes?  Probably not and they won't think this year either and then will wonder why fans dont't get behind a horse and follow it.  Why bother when their opinion goes unheard.  All that being said I hope the great Zenyatta now goes safely and sound into retirement and has a filly by Tiznow that is just as wonderful and charismatic as she is.

10 Nov 2010 12:09 AM

I don't understand...where does it say that filly or mare must run against boys to be voted HOTY?  Zenyatta is a mare.  She is suppose to run against her own sex.  The fillies and mares races she ran in were open to all comers, but many of her female competitors stayed away from running against her, and that's not Zenyatta's fault and she shouldn't be dinged for that.  Nor should her people be maligned for putting her in those races, and be accused of purposely doing it to keep her perfect record intact.  She's a girl and so she ran against other girls that came to run against her.  That she's such a superior horse that she almost won the BCC 2 years in a row is just something extraordinary.  But she's a girl, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with running against girls only, and yet still be qualified to be HOYT.  Over the years, only a handful of fillies or mares have been given the HOTY title, and almost all of them have run exclusively against girls.  Azeri and Lady's Secret come to mind,but they are not the only ones.  

10 Nov 2010 12:10 AM
christy tate

Blame and Zenyatta aren't the only two horses that should be considered, there's Quality Road as well. also, i think that Horse of the Year shouldn't be decided by one race, that a horse's whole season should be taken into account.

10 Nov 2010 12:34 AM

Zenyatta pulled in the crowd, at home, on line and at the track. Zenyatta is recognized by fans and nonfans of racing, why should she not be recognized by the news media, after all, much of what was written about was Zenyatta.  And believe me, I would not have traveled to Kentucky just because Blame was there.

10 Nov 2010 1:02 AM

Zenyatta showed that she can run with the big guns and she did it in style  giving them a huge advantage

until she picked them off one by one coming up short by less than a head. A slight miscalculation or a poor start should not alter her status as HOTY. She is pure class from start to finish.

10 Nov 2010 1:06 AM

maybe this, maybe that, shoulda coulda woulda. all of us sound like sratch records by now. who does not enjoy perfection. as humans we have been thought to do our best, do our best and hope for the best. well i tell you what QUEEN Z and her connection have nothing to cry about. she brought to our world throngs of new people. new people to the sport that was one time known as the sport of kings. if after all she has accomplished losing by a short head is as close to perfection as on can get. sometimes ive been saying she shoulda coulda woulda, but i know better and i know the animal she is. as garret gomez and al stall jr braggged about their horses ability to break off 12 second 1/8ths. I laugh, because even with the momentum check at the head of the lane that beast zenyatta last 1/4 was ran in 23:4/5 zenyatta dont battle or weardown opponents, no she justs blow by them. i wished there was a 16th to go as she engages blame, she would have left him standing still. you cant hook a freak of nature, no! they just blow by you. GOOD LUCK BIG Z in the shed AP INDY.

10 Nov 2010 1:18 AM

Blame ran in his division and lost one race.  Zenyatta ran in her division and lost no races.  It doesn't say anywhere that she has to race against males to get HOY.  Who made up that rule? Did Blame run in any handicap races?  Did he carry 130 plus pounds in any race?  Did he win every race going 6 wide?  He won by a headbob.  He's a good horse, and might be a great horse one day, but he has done nothing that Zenyatta has done.  All Hail Queen Z.  Hopefully, someone will have some sense this year, cuz she got robbed last year.  

10 Nov 2010 4:48 AM


10 Nov 2010 6:51 AM
Pat in Florida

Zenyatta.  Zenyatta.  Zenyatta.

10 Nov 2010 6:57 AM
Wayne A. LeBlanc

ZENYATTA (The QUEEN)is a clear Champion and should be Horse of the year/decade.Even SECRETARIAT (The KING) had a few races he did not win. This race was lost because of a few bad decisions made by Mike Smith.The Queen ran a GREAT RACE. I am VERY greatful I was able to see THE GREAT ZENYATTA RUN.

10 Nov 2010 8:37 AM

Your comments tell it all Paul:

Blame will not make the Hall of Fame. Zenyatta will be in the Hall of Fame. Logic says give HOY to future Hall of Famers.

10 Nov 2010 8:41 AM
Abigail from Canada

Could I ask: What EXACTLY are the criteria for HOTY? I looked on the web but came up with nothing. Before I comment further, I would like this clarified, please.

10 Nov 2010 9:29 AM

First of all,Sorry, but Seth's first words were not that of a sportsman. OK, so maybe he was in shock, but it will be a while before I can go back to visit Claiborne.

Secondly and more importantly, I love Blame, but he was life and death to HOLD OFF the Big Mare. He had the dream trip, she did not. If they were both running back in a month, who would you be wagering on? Who showed the most guts? Who has the undeniable record? Who is the most consistant, despite the bias, the lone speed in the race, or any other excuse? We all know who it is. For anyone, ANYONE to deny Zenyatta the honor she deserves...Oh yeah and deserved in '08 and '09... this is not opinion, this is fact, for those that cannot see her greatness, especially after Saturday at Churchill, then those people have a lot more to learn and observe in the horse business. Zenyatta is a once in a lifetime horse.Let's not forget that Blame could not make up ground on Haynesfield. Is that the kind of horse that is truly deserving of Horse of the Year?      

10 Nov 2010 9:33 AM

Oh good grief. I cant believe this blood bath of a debate is yet again being discussed.As we have all seen winning the BCC does NOT guarantee HOY but if it weighs so heavily then who was most spectaculer this year in that race? Go watch each horses races this year. The answer is right there. Who won more races and what fashion did they run them in? Who was at the wire first or closest to the wire first in each of their races? The entire year Zenyatta had a total of 6 inches gap COMBINED for the entire year.Zenyatta wins hands down.

10 Nov 2010 9:39 AM

Any questions we may have had about Zenyatta's championship talent were set to rest in the BCC.  She didn't have to win that race to show how great she truly is.  What other horse could do what she did in the BCC?  Really!!  To deny her HOY is to deny what we all know and feel.  She has proven herself to be head and shoulders above the entire field of contenders for 2010.  Blame ran a good race.  He's a beautiful and very good horse.  Zen ran a great race with so many odds to face and overcome, and she is a great horse...for the ages.

10 Nov 2010 9:46 AM
Tom M

The BC Classic was a race of remarkable proportions. It will be remembered forever. Yes, Blame won the race but Zenyatta proved her championship prowess under the most trying of circumstances. I respect the arguments made for each. However, the race for HOY is a walkover. Zenyatta is the champion horse of 2010. So let it be written, so let it be said, so let it be done!

10 Nov 2010 10:10 AM
Zen's Auntie

Dray, Shall they start assigning grades to races After they see who pre-enters? or wait, after the final entry's or perhaps after they run a certain Beyer #?  who will make the new grade assignments after they race?  You Dray? Jason? Steve? Alex? Oh, I know lets have the turf writers guild do it by VOTE.  

Graded stakes MUST be accepted as the grading they are even if no one else shows up, even if the other entrants can take off 15 lbs to the top ranked entrants high weight.

5 tracks 3 states ALL grade 1's 6 races 2 on dirt all wins one loss by 6 inches after a poor trip and QR backing into her like he was standing still.  She was not good enough to what, Leap over QR?  that kind of hard check and then a renewed run after changing course to come withing 6 inches might not have been good enought to win THAT DAY but it was good enough to show her true ability which you continually trash.

Wasnt she supposed to finish being MM? ah, yeah??

You may not like her for HOTY which is just fine, but please, a BIT more respect.  

10 Nov 2010 10:24 AM
Dean Miller

Which one of these horses are we going to continue to be racing fans of?   They did great, on a regular standard.  Each of them though, are going to the breeding farm.  We're fans, in a way, we lose.    In Europe, horse racing is bigger, they will still see their superstar continue on, in Goldikova.   Anybody catch a lesson in that, somewhere?

10 Nov 2010 10:33 AM

ZENYATTA. She has done more than Blame has, earned HOY honors (again!), and deserves it. 5 G1 wins at four different tracks, over two different surfaces, plus SHE defeated most of the same horses Blame did when she ran 2nd in the BC CLassic! She has done so much for the industry. She truly has turned casual fans, or non-fans period, into screaming, jumping up and down fanatics! She has turned people onto the sport in a way that few horses can. She was the best horses in the BCC and arguably the best horse - male, female, bar none - in the world. She will be in the Hall of Fame, and who denies a Hall of Fame champion HOY?

You can make a case for Blame, but Zenyatta should be the clear winner this year. Blame is a very, very good horse. Zenyatta is a GREAT horse, and she has proved it countless times ... never more so than in her defeat. (And I hate to say "defeat," because the only thing that beat Zenyatta is a headbob).

Curlin won the award in 08 after a pretty bad loss in the Classic. Rachel won the award in 09 after not even showing up at the Classic, while Zen was denied it even after her SPECTACULAR victory against the boys. Why should the Classic be the deciding factor this year, then? Are the rules different for East Coast horses than West Coast ones? And who makes up these rules anyway? To deny Zenyatta HOY yet again would be a travesty. My hat is tipped to Blame, but my hat is off to Zenyatta.

She's earned it. She deserves it. And it's high time she gets it.

10 Nov 2010 10:53 AM
Sargent Friday

My video shows Blame increased his margin after the finish line was reached...which is neither here nor there...as the trainer of Bold Forbes, Laz Barrera, said about the 1976 Belmont Stakes..."the race isn't a mile and a half and two jumps...it's a mile and a half"

10 Nov 2010 11:10 AM
Abigail from Canada

Well, I did get an answer regarding HOTY criteria (for selection) and guess what? There aren't any! It's purely a subjective call, which would explain how the ugly head of bias and poor judgment can rear it's ugly head. If there were established criteria, the decision would always be objective. As for precedence in the Blame vs. Zenyatta debate, the following appeared last year when the heat was on for who deserved the title most:

..."The Breeders’ Cup is promoted as a world championship, but horses legitimately have earned Horse of the Year without winning in the Breeders’ Cup or even competing in it. Circumstances vary every year.

In 1994, Holy Bull was kept out of the Breeders’ Cup by trainer Jimmy Croll and still was Horse of the Year. In 1998, Awesome Again went undefeated in five starts, capping his season with a Classic victory in a field that might have been stronger than this year’s. But Skip Away, who finished sixth in that Classic, won Horse of Year on the basis of what many voters deemed a stronger overall season. Cat Thief won the Classic in 1999, but stablemate Charismatic, who was injured in the Belmont Stakes and didn’t race again, rightfully was Horse of the Year. In 2002, Volponi, a nice horse but not a superstar, won the Classic at 43-1 odds, opening the way for Azeri, who didn’t face males that year, to become Horse of the Year..."

No wonder these debates become so emotional. How can fairness be served when the whole thing is, essentially, a free-for-all?????

10 Nov 2010 11:44 AM

Zenyatta for sure.  She was 15 lengths behind the field for most of the race, Quality Road impeded her forward movement and she still flew to lose by such a small margin.  And, yes, what she has done for horse racing should be considered as well.

10 Nov 2010 11:53 AM

"Why was I taken to the winner's circle? Looked over at that big Amazon and never been so scared in my life! Can only dream about being that good." Their head photos at the end says it all about what they both were thinking.

So in all seriousness, it is an award for Horse of the Year which means...the BEST horse and no self respecting horseman really thinks Blame is a better horse. She ran, by far a more impressive race and even novices could see that. He's a nice horse that got a dream trip but she is one of the very few GREAT ONES! I am convinced he woud have lost to both St. Trinians and Switch had he been in those races so enough of the throwing cold water on her CA campaign.

10 Nov 2010 12:04 PM

I don't see any debate here at all.  Only emotion could lead one to vote for Zenyatta.  A reasoned analysis gives the award to Blame.

Let’s state the obvious:  Each lost one race.  Zenyatta raced in restricted company. Blame raced in open company.  Zenyatta lost to Blame in their only head-to-head match-up.

This award isn't about raising racing’s profile or a winning streak.  It is about the 2010 campaign.  I can't figure out why others are afraid to say it:  Zenyatta’s connections blew it.  They took a simple path to the BC Classic, putting all their eggs in one basket.  Didn't they learn anything from 2009?  Rachel, who was not a better horse than Zenyatta, won because she embarked on a truly ambitious campaign.  Zenyatta stayed at home in restricted company. She lost HOTY.  

Amazingly, in 2010, the Moss' and Sheriffs did the exact same thing.  She could have gone to the Stephen Foster, the Hollywood Gold Cup, the Whitney, the Pacific Classic, the Jockey Club Gold Cup, just to name a few.

To put it another way, Zenyatta's connections should not be rewarded for such an "unsporting" campaign.  Great horses should travel and take on all comers.  Cigar did.  He was great.  Zenyatta may have been just as great, but it would be unfair to the proven great ones that came before to bestow upon her the HOTY honor when the 2010 campaign was nothing more than a cherry-picked, relatively unchallenging collection of restricted races at primarily local tracks on a surface that keeps some of the best dirt runners away.  Her victories were by slim margins. Her times and speed figures were less than exceptional.

Sorry, it is Blame all the way.

10 Nov 2010 12:10 PM

Blame's win is diminished because he only beat Zenyatta by a head, but yet this rule doesn't apply to Zenyatta diminishing her win over Rinterval by a neck. Blame's win over Battle Plan is diminished because Battle Plan was injured, but yet this rule doesn't apply to Zenyatta diminishing her win over St. Trinians who lost a shoe in the race.

Even if Zenyatta had faced Life At Ten, Persistently, Unrivaled Belle or any of the other top eastern females and won - this still does not help her case. Wins in older F+M G1 races are easier than winning in older open G1 races. If they were just as hard, then they would not be restricted by sex.

Ironic that Blame is ordinary and average and proof is in his loss to Haynesfield. That doesn't help Zenyatta's case to be beaten by an ordinary average horse now does it?

Both Blame and Zenyatta had less than impressive years - Blame because he didn't run enough and Zenyatta because she ran in restricted races against sub-par competition. In the end it all came down to who won the Classic. Blame won and HOY should go to him. Not just because he won the Classic, but that win on top of his other wins outweighs what Zenyatta did this year.

10 Nov 2010 12:13 PM
Anita Franco

This isn't a tough decision at all, whether they "vote with their hearts or their heads", because they should both be with the clear choice.  Zenyatta is horse of the year.  All this article does is attempt to create more dissention and indecision, where there should be none.

10 Nov 2010 12:27 PM

Who did Blame beat this year in this so-called wonderful campaign?  The derby and belmont winners were out and he didn't meet the preakness winner til BC.  So he didn't even beat the best 3 year olds.  His time in the foster win equaled Rachel's time losing the la troienne.  He was badly beaten by a sprinter - haynesfield- and beat a sprinter whichis what quality road should have been.  So this is a terrific campaign???NOT!

10 Nov 2010 12:45 PM
Anita Franco

Times and speed figures "less than exceptional"????  She posts times in the closing furlongs faster than most horses do in the early ones.  You need to update your research.  She was running him down like every other "great" in that race.  He got lucky that Quality Road ran interference for him...the other "great" HOY contender for 2010, which was ironic in itself.  I see "great" bandied around quite cavalierly on east coast horses, and complete fantasia cast on Zenyatta, trying to justify what just isn't justifiable.  The fact is that, had these been the only 2 horses in the Classic, she'd have whooped him like the lesser horse he is.

10 Nov 2010 12:46 PM

TV ratings were up 182%. I doubt that was viewers tuning in to see Blame. If Zenyatta was not in this race, with her 60 Minutes coverage, I am guessing the ratings would have been flat at best. She deserves it, and so do her trainer and owners.

10 Nov 2010 12:49 PM
Jim Kahler

One step past the wire and Zenyatta wins.... not really....and besides if you shorten the race instead of lengthening it she loses by more. The race was 1 mile and 1/4 that is long enough. She wasn't there in time and lost..plain and simple. as far as it being her home track, what about Zenyatta who only left her home track 3 times in her 19 race career!! Horse of the year BLAME handily!!

10 Nov 2010 1:00 PM

Zenyatta is one of the greatest horses I have ever seen.  She displays beauty, grace, heart and power. She was unbeaten last year and won the BC Classic and didn't win horse of the year. I have always like Blame also. I think that if the race was run again the outcome might be different. The way she lost after being so far back, so close should count for something. On any given day as they say, it was Blame's day. This was suppose to be one of the toughest Classic's this year. She still beat 10 good horses.  So if they go by winning the Classic Zenyatta would have won HOY last year. She is the only horse in history besides Pepper's Pride to go 19-0. It is hard for any horse to go undefeated. There wasn't any comparison as of the competition between Pepper's Pride and Zenyatta. As far as Goldikova, I think the Europeans have their own HOY. I guess what I am trying to say is Zenyatt should be HOY

10 Nov 2010 1:19 PM

I'm rooting for Blind Luck

9 races...5-2-2

All Grade 1 or 2

3 yr old Filly Classic

Winning from a G-1 (8F) mile to a G-1 (10F) mile and quarter on

7 tracks, coast to coast

Dirt and synthetic

10 Nov 2010 1:20 PM

I cannot believe so many people believe 100% that HOY should be Zenyatta, and are dismissing Blame's accomplishments and career. He is a gritty, tough competitor....and for all those complaining about weight, Zenyatta towers over her competition, but got a weight allowance facing the boys. It is almost silly to have her face the same little fillies and mares also- talk about an advantage.It is not even an East/West thing- Zenyatta didn't even face males out in California all year. Why?? She proved she was the best horse after last year's Classic win, and her owners ran her against fillies all year. Why? When you win the World Series, do you go back and play in the minor leagues? The Mosses formula with Zenyatta lost HOY two years straight, and this year, they chose the same path. Did they expect different results? What if an older male (who always has an advantage with turf writers because they are not in restricted races) stepped up and beat her the one time he was able to face her all year after he already won the Stephen Foster and Whitney? It happened, and we now have a situation where the best horse was decided on the racetrack. It was not the past two years, and had a horse like Musket Man won the Classic with Zenyatta finishing a close second- Zenyatta would have still had a shot at top honors. Now, the top older male in the country this year beat her, so how can anyone who follows the sport, vote for her? Because she beat up some glorified claimer fillies in California repeatedly? No. Because she was 19 for 19- impressive, yes, but the HOY is for 2010, and this year she won filly races. Blame won the Whitney, Stephen Foster and the Classic with a second in the JCGC. It doesn't matter that his win was only a head in the Classic. Some of Zenyatta's great 'grade I's were by slim margins over far less competition than what was in the Classic. Mineshaft and Curlin both ran similar campaigns to Blame, and they were both rewarded with HOY. Rachel Alexandra did more than any horse in the past decade, and people are still complaining that Zenyatta was robbed of the award. Really? Azeri and Zenyatta are not the same either- although both followed the same soft campaigns. The difference is that in 2002 the only competition Azeri had for the award was a horse named War Emblem (remember him?) and an older horse, Left Bank that won one Grade I all year. Not true of Blame. Competition and the quality of races count.A male Grade I is not the same as a mare Grade I- never has been, never will be. A filly and mare can win HOY but they more often than not have to step outside their division. Zenyatta did only once this year and she lost...to Blame.

10 Nov 2010 1:36 PM
The Yankee


10 Nov 2010 1:38 PM
The Kidd

Zenyatta has brought me back to the race track after many years of non interest. She captured my imagination, an exiciting, beautiful horse. She has done more for the sport of racing than any other horse this year, and for these reasons I think she should be HOTY. Blame ran a great race, his camp has handled this win with class, and sportmanship.But Z. is the one that captured my heart, and I hope the voters will vote for her and give her this title that she so much deserves.

10 Nov 2010 1:40 PM

She is MY Horse Of The Year!

10 Nov 2010 1:43 PM

Justan- Lady's Secret faced males four times the year she won HOY. She won the Whitney (like Blame) and placed in the other three. Her campaign was most ambitious and nothing like Zenyatta's campaign...and the little iron lady weighed just over 800 pounds...for her to face males was a feat in itself...unlike Zenyatta who towers over most of the males, and is from a size standpoint at no disadvantage when facing males. She had no business being in filly and mare races this year- and if she loses HOY it will be because of that. She was great enough to win the Classic last year, she should have showed up against males throughout the year, and not just on the day of the Classic.

10 Nov 2010 1:44 PM

Well since it sounds like a tie for their racing ablity-the question is WHO DID MORE FOR THE SPORT!!! Zenaytta HOY!!!!!

10 Nov 2010 1:49 PM
horse pics

Bottom line?  Blame got lucky.

Yes, Blame ran a good race.  But Zenyatta was coming like a freight train.  Another stride - two at the most - and the end result would have been different.

This is a mare that has done all that has been asked of her (minus a few inches and that is easily argued that wasn't her fault).  She had to be steadied behind a tiring Quality Road, and that alone was more than the margin of her only loss.  That does not make her less of a Champion.  She has always brought her "A" game to the post.

I don't "blame" her rider either - you can only do the best that you can do at the time, with the information that you have then.  Who'd have thought that QR would give it up right then, leaving Zenyatta "loaded", with no place to go?

It is insane to deny her the HOTY honors based on this race.   This is a mare with a stride measured a foot greater than that of Secretariat.

This also is a mare that has drawn many thousands to the tracks where she has raced.  Many of those have never been to a racetrack before, or even seen a horse race.  I know - I've spoken to many of them.

I for one, appreciate that the Mosses, her trainer John Shirreffs, jockey Mike Smith, exercise rider Steve Willard, groom Mario and the others around her, have shared this wonderful mare with us.

10 Nov 2010 2:02 PM

Why are we even having this conversation?

Clearly, Zenyatta deserves of HOY.  I never seen a horse try as hard as she did to win the BC Classic. Her courage and grit alone gives her the right to be HOY. A few more feet she would of caught Blame.

ANd Blame, nice horses, but great? He retires with 9 wins out of 13 starts.

Compare that to Zenyatta's 19 wins out of 20 starts and how much she and her owners and her have done for racing.

10 Nov 2010 2:02 PM

Zenyatta is the whole package.

Even Andy Beyer now says she may well be the best ever American racemare. But somehow that isn't good enough! This industry is too focused on money and the value of semen. Personal Ensign was also unfairly denied HOY.

As Joe Drape recently wrote, the powers that be made a terrible mistake last year in not even allowing voters to consider a joint title. Now they are in another trap.

Blame is a nice colt, but giving HOY for three races seems a bit excessive. And yes, Zenyatta won the big one last year but was denied HOY-even though Blame beat her it was very close and the reward seems disproportionate to his achievements.

On the other hand, Zenyatta came up inches short but on balance did so much more...both on and off the track. You have to take a very hard nosed approach to advocate for Blame. It is abundantly clear that Zenyatta is the more exceptional and special of the two-as good as Blame if not better on the track and then some.  

10 Nov 2010 2:06 PM

Well Blame did get crushed in the Jockey Club Gold Cup.  Blames camps' excuse was a snail like pace and Haynsfield is a Belmont freak.  Im sorry but Z has faced sluggish paces throughout her career and never finished 4 lengths back ever.  East Coasters will say HOY is decided on the track, head to head and want you to throw out Blames loss as a fluke.  They will have no problem with Rachel ducking Z in the Classic last year to prevent her pummeling and preserve HOY honors.  And alas they will fail to acknowledge Z getting squeezed at the start losing a length, blocked down the backstretch and thru the lane forcing her wide and traveling at least 50 feet further then Blame during the race, and losing by a a quickly diminishing head.  Simple physics tells me who HOY should be.

10 Nov 2010 2:17 PM
Big Lou

In the last 60+ years that i have been watching horse races,never have i seen a horse more willing to win a race than Zenyata.

Mr Hancock said his horse won the race he should be HOY.Well then what happen last year?Don`t get me wrong Blame is an outstanding horse just short of Zenyata.

10 Nov 2010 2:17 PM

Herein lays the problem. There is NO clear criteria for what exactly constitutes HOY Honors.These debates are useless and should not be taking place. Emotions, tangibles, intangibles ect ect should not be debated. Invariably no matter which way it goes there will always be hurt feelings and injustices felt on either side. A Mile race is 1 mile. Not a mile and a little bit. A mile and a quarter is in fact 1 1/4 mile. Not a mile and a quarter and a little bit. A Grade 1 race is a grade 1 race. Not a Grade 1 and a little bit. We do not have a plus or minus added to graded stakes races. We can not change what is just for convenience to help an argument either way.It is what it is.

We need, and there should be a point system in place. There should be no voting because then the above plays and has a huge political weight. Politics do not, and should not ever come into play in horse racing.That is why races are run in the first place.

In HOY Honors, and divisional honors only Grade 1 races should come into consideration and play. There also needs to be a point spread from first to second to third to keep it honest and the honest to goodness best horse wins HOY.Not one that bangs out multiple seconds and thirds against one who actually wins the most. 9 points for first in a grade 1 race. 6 points for second in a grade 1 race and 3 points for third in a grade 1 race. Then we have the BCC which according to most should weigh heavier but history shows us it is not the be all end all deciding factor nor should it be. Yet, we do want it to weigh the heaviest. Therefor, the BCC should be 15 points for first, 10 for second and 5 for third. No emotions, no politics and no shoulda woulda coulda's. Highest point earner wins. PERIOD!!

Under THAT point system, do the math. There is our HOY. End of discussion.

10 Nov 2010 2:25 PM

Blah Blah Blah Zenyatta is already Horse of the Year! Blame got lucky that is all there is to it.

10 Nov 2010 2:39 PM


Only difference between Curlin and Zenyatta is that when he lost the Classic, he had races like the Dubai World Cup, a prep in Dubai where he carried 132 lbs, the Stephen Foster, the Woodward, and and the Jockey Club Gold Cup.

That is the big difference you are not seeing. The supporting races on his campaign were GI male company featuring the world's best. Pretty nice back up with a loss in the Classic!

The Vanity, Santa Margarita and Clement Hirsch featuring Rinterval and 50-1 Dance to My Tune CANNOT BE CONSIDERED equal to the races aforementioned for Curlin. Therein lies the difference that people refuse to acknowledge, but that every horsemen knows the vast difference between. Filly/Mare races are not on par with the Dubai World Cup, Stephen Foster, Woodward, and JC Gold Cup.

Would you claim they are?

10 Nov 2010 2:40 PM

Draynay...I had thought maybe time had changed you...wow..was I wrong. To say that HOY was decided on the track is comical to me. Last year it wasn't. Please stop with the maddness. To say Zen beat "nothing" all year and Blame did is getting old. The competion Blame beat is also the competion that beat him. Zen put them all away in a few swift strides. Go ahead..keep your blinders on....the only ones missing out is you.

I do have one question. Hypothetically speaking..if Zen would have come out on top...is she automatically HOY?

10 Nov 2010 3:12 PM

Horse of the year voting is going to be a bloodbath. Goldikova is going to take more than a few votes away from Zenyatta..........while Blame will keep his solid supporters. I just hope everybody realizes that HOTY is just a place in time.

That being said, let me throw out 2 more names just to get everybody riled up

1) Rock n' Roll Heaven (Harness)

2) Uncle Mo (just for the hell of it)!

10 Nov 2010 3:18 PM

If you base HOY on one race, then Zenyatta should have been HOY last year. She more than deserves the honor this year, even in defeat.

What a joy she has been to all race fans. Zenyatta and all her connections are class acts.

10 Nov 2010 3:58 PM

Zenyatta, this year and the decade.

10 Nov 2010 4:13 PM

Like Time magazine's "Person of the Year", HOY is not a points or numbered based honor.  Not only is it about achievments, it is about who dominated the sport for most of the year.  It's not about the best race, but the best horse who raced this year.  In your heart of hearts, if you are truly a race fan, you know it can only be Zenyatta and she should be collecting her third consecutive HOY award.

"Restricted" races?  See Secretariat as a two year old.  

10 Nov 2010 4:24 PM

Zenyatta should get HOY. Besides what she has done on the racetrack Zenyatta has done more for the sport since the days of Secretariat. Blame ran a clucker in

the JC Gold Cup. If he won that race he would deserve HOY. Zenyatta ran past Haynesfield and missed Blame by inches. She won more grade ones and is a better  horse hands down

10 Nov 2010 4:31 PM

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

10 Nov 2010 4:45 PM
mike williams

There is quite a bit of sex bias when it comes to females versus males in horse racing in North America.The male bias is that female race horses are not equal to male race horses when it comes to competition on the race track. We have seen this several times.The remarks of some of the so called experts on horse racing are so biased that any potentially new racing fan would be completely be turned off,of the sport.If Zenyatta is not awarded the HOY for 2010, I like many others will just pack up our bags and exit the door on horse racing.

10 Nov 2010 4:49 PM

The award is called Horse of the Year...not "The Horse that one the Classic", not "The Horse with the most number of wins" nor is it "The Horse who ran in most open races" etc. Zenyatta brought mainstream attention and new fans to our sport. That makes her the "horse of the last 3 decades". She holds THE RECORD for number of wins at the TOP LEVEL. That is an all time record - not a record held at a certain track, not a record held at a certain distance...all horses, all races, all distances, in over a HUNDRED YEARS...NONE have EVER won 19 in a row and this is the year she set the record. Enough said.

10 Nov 2010 4:52 PM

The strongest argument that is being made for Blame for HOY is that his 3 grade 1 wins were against males. Zenyatta won her 5 grade 1's against females. Well last time I checked, Blame is a colt and Zenyatta is a mare. Why are people trying to compare these horses as if they were the same gender?? In my opinion, if Blame is so good, why did he suddenly retire? How about his connections show some intestinal fortitude and come back to defend your title like Zenyatta did? And why on HIS home track was he barely able to eek out a 1/2 a head victory over a mare?

Zenyatta is the true HOY. She's not only the greatest filly/mare of all time, she very well could be the most exciting race horse to have ever lived, moreso than even the great Secretariat. Can anybody honestly say that Secretariat's 31 length romp in the Belmont was exciting? With her closing style and monstrous stride, Zenyatta's races have been the most exciting contests I've witnessed in almost 40 years of watching racing.

Horse racing needs to do what's right and give HOY to the most deserving of all North American horses...the great Zenyatta !!

10 Nov 2010 5:09 PM

Nostalgichorse Your argument is old already....No one is listening. I love Rachel Alexandra to the end of the earth and back but it was her and Zenyatta that brought all the attention to racing and unfortunately it was Rachel's hard campaign that ruined the horse she could have been. I don't know about you...but I would have liked to see her stick around for a couple more years..... If a mare Grade 1 is not as good as a males grade 1 then they need to change the grading system.because I don't think that is written anywhere. Zenyatta's size has nothing to do with her not having any business taking on other mares. Also...just for the record....it is Zenyatta everyone is still talking about..even in her defeat. That speaks volumes about her.

10 Nov 2010 5:35 PM

Pepper's Pride won 19 in a row.  As usual Z-lots play fast and loose with the facts.  Classic matters, Classic does not matter.  More Grade 1 wins matters but last year Rachel had more Grade 1 wins but that didn't matter.  Blame won the head to head battle.  That along with his stronger year-long campaign equals horse of the year.

10 Nov 2010 5:54 PM
jody pie

Zenyatta could have raced every race this year against DONKEYS,and you know what?She would still deserve HOTY.the soft schedule argument holds no water what-so-ever after she dusted every quality horse that Blame beat this year in the BBC.You cannot deny the best horse in the world Hoty just because her connections were totally void of any trace of common sense.How about some human compassion and give it to zenny For Mike Smiths sake,poor guy,thats hard cheddar.

10 Nov 2010 6:27 PM
Mike Relva


Ok,here's your explanation. A match races places BOTH horses at an unnecessary risk for your and others' entertainment. Enough said.

10 Nov 2010 6:34 PM

I think you have to reward Zenyatta with HOTY for all that she has done for the sport. I guess the question should be what is HOTY supposed to recognize? If it is only meant to recognize the horse that has won the biggest races of the year or beaten the best talent than that is one thing, but if it is also meant to recognize the horse who has done the most to help draw attention to a sport the desperately needs more fans then Zenyatta should win hands down. Also, there seems to be this knock against Zenyatta for racing against weak competition. Is that the fault of the horse or her connections? If other trainers won't race against her should she be penalized for that? Sometimes the great ones scare all the competition away, like Secretariat in the Belmont. Also, is it the trainers obligation to put their horse in the races they are likely to win or the ones that present the greatest possible challenge? Ok, so she raced on synthetics most of the time, why is she faulted for that when horses who race on dirt all the time and win like Blame are not faulted for choosing to race only on that one surface? Also, remember that prior to the Classic her other races on dirt were two of her best so she proved she could race on dirt and win, Blame did not prove the same on synthetics.

10 Nov 2010 6:44 PM
Rachel Fan

I like Zenyatta (one of those odd people that loved both her and Rachel), but give credit to Blame.  I was there and he got squeezed at the rail for a good part of the race and the 1 slot was deep, all the jockeys were trying to run in the second and third track.  Zenyatta split  horses in the stretch and Blame got bumped and sandwiched between Looking at Lucky (he came in on Blame) and the inside horse(came out on Blame) and he had to muscle his way to the lead. His jockey went to the whip and then hit him left handed twice and the last 12 or more strides to the wire hand rode him....after they crossed the finish line Blame galloped out alot stronger than Zenyatta.  She is a great racehorse and what she has done is not short of amazing.  The next day the Louisville paper had a picture of her and her face was covered with dirt..it was heartbreaking to see.  Mike Smith didn't do anything wrong, if anybody wants to blame someone...why did they wait until Wednesday to ship her in to Churchill?  The track is much faster than the synitic and feels different under their feet, maybe if they had worked her on the track it would have been something they would have noted. No one knows how horse of the year will pan out...it's suppose to be for the year and how grueling and agressive their campgain was....it will be up to the people who get to vote that will deceide......it doesn't take away anything away from either horse.

10 Nov 2010 6:50 PM

Horse of the Year needs to go to Zenyatta - she should have had this honor last year, if winning the Breeds Cup Classic means so much, then why did the honor go to Rachael. Zenyatta beat all the top race horses in the Classic this year except Blame, plus won more graded stakes races, she deserves to be recognized for this year.

10 Nov 2010 7:38 PM

Blame did not win thast race - he got extremely lucky and that should not be celebrated.  Zenyatta has done more for the sport that Blame could ever think of doing.  It was Zenyatta who got over 70,000 people to show up last Saturday - not Blame.  It was Zenyatta who tripled the tv ratings for the Breeder's Cup - not Blame.  It was Zenyatta who won 19 races in a row, not Blame (and Blame didn't WIN the race, he just didn't get beat but would have had Zenyatta not had to overcome a plethora of issues which, had Blame had to contend with, would still be trying to pass the finish line).  It was Zenyatta, not Blame, that the people cheered for after the race.It was Zenyatta, not Blame, that people came to see not only in the days leading up to the race as well as the day after the race.  It is Zenyatta, not Blame, that has changed people and how the public views thoroughbred racing.  It is truly saddening to see how much bloodhorse panders to Claiborne Farms and how obviously skewed anything written is to them and their horse (how much are they "contributing" to your company)).  Blame is, in no way, shape or form a better horse than Zenyatta but you and your company, as well as other puerile individuals, will campaign for Blame rather than for the TRUE champion and Horse of the Year - Zenyatta.  Zenyatta belongs in the same category as Secretariat (although you probably would have campaigned against him as well) - Blame should even been mentioned in the same company.  Bloodhorse's lack of professionalism and objectivity is beyond sad.

10 Nov 2010 8:13 PM
Roberto R

If the sport writers write for the fans, then for the life of me why don't they listen to them. I read all the blogs about the BCC and all I see is Zenyatta. Yet, sports writers talk about; don't include emotion, he hung on for first, Claiborne is historical,etc.

Is this a sport or a business for the insiders to make a profit. Probably both, but its sustained by the race going public (fans). So if you believe s i n c e r e l y in the fans, give them what they want. When you talk about the 2010 racing season, all you'll remember is the year of ZENYATTA.

PS: There should be more Steve Haskins.

10 Nov 2010 8:14 PM

Sophie15, I like your idea and that would help keep fan based interest. They could feel like they could take part.

10 Nov 2010 8:55 PM

Reposted Comment:

I don't think anyone read my comment before so I will repost it.

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

10 Nov 2010 9:00 PM

She has been denied the prize the last two years. If one is going to stand by the old adage that the best horse won (which know isn't true), then Curlin's 2008 crown is a farce, isn't it?

WAKE UP, you sports writers and NTRA good ole boys: the BC Classic had 3 times the viewers this year over last and it wasn't to see Blame. You wanted a "savior" for racing? You got it! Now don't let her down (again), because you will alienate ALL those NEW FANS she brought to your sport!

10 Nov 2010 9:33 PM

Jody pie...your comments were spot on.  I can't understand this "inferior" competition angle being used. Who says???? They didn't look that superior to me as she swept passed them like they were standing still. In fact...they closely resembled the fillies and mares she had run against. Actually..I take that back..Quality Road and Lookin at Lucky didn't even hang on as long and hard as some of the fillies she has raced this year. They folded like a deck of cards.

10 Nov 2010 9:47 PM

Here we go with Horse of the Year -- again! I think Blame should get it just because he was put in races no matter what the competition. The Mosses again seem to think that Zenyatta should be Horse of the Year because of her Grade I wins (all against fillies and mares) and because she was undefeated up until this year's Classic. This is the same thing that lost her the Horse of the Year title to Rachel. Say what you will about Jess Jackson but at least he knew how to map a path to a title: Rachel ran and won three races against colts at three different tracks and won them all, two of them earning alot of Brownie points: the Preakness and the Woodward. Zenyatta is a great racehorse and deserved more -- she proved in the 2009 Classic she could handle the males so why didn't she run in at least one grade I race against them earlier this year? Last of all, Zenyatta is not alone in not winning the Horse of the Year: Personal Ensign did not win it in 1988 and Alysheba did, even though he didn't go undefeated that year. And out where I live I saw Peppers Pride run and retire undefeated at Sunland Park. But there was no Filly or Mare of the Meet for her that year: instead that went to Sky Mom who raced at Sunland once but won the Winstar/Sunland Park Oaks. Had Pepper raced against the boys once that year (or at least run in one of the races that were run on the day of the big Winstar (now Sunland) Derby) she perhaps would have won the title because she was certainly quite talented and strong enough to take on and defeat any of the males that ran out here!

10 Nov 2010 10:03 PM
Yvonne and Maurice Kirby

Hi - Zenyatta is not only the Horse of the Year but she is the Horse of the Century.

10 Nov 2010 10:53 PM
Gary Tasich

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

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

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

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

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

10 Nov 2010 11:03 PM

ZENYATA - PERIOD she lost by the smallest of margins to the best older male horse (on a track surface that Blame raced). Zenyata can't pick the track however, she ran well enough to win had (traffic trouble) or would have won. The only reason she faced small fields in CA is that everyone was ducking her including Blind Luck. Zenyata should have been HOTY last year winning the BCC instead it was given to a horse who beat 2nd tier males.

11 Nov 2010 12:50 AM

I don't know where some observers are getting their "facts", but I watched the Classic replay a half dozen times, and I never saw Zenyatta ever pass Blame in the gallop out.

Truth is - she never passed him; wouldn't have if they went another eighth of a mile or three more times around the track - he was not going to let her by. C'mon let's all accept what a great racemare Zenyatta is but lets give Blame his due. It was his day and his year  

11 Nov 2010 7:36 AM

@Bladerunnernyc Goldikova one dimensional? Are you insane? How is a horse with her record one dimensional? She steps up every year and faces males she never avoids a challenge. So your saying to be considered a great horse then she has to spend her season running in restricted race in the US? Since when does surface or distance make a TRUE great? Maybe you should start looking outside the box that is american racing and see what else is happening around the world. Goldikova will always be a TRUE champion she never shirked a fight, has consistanly faced the boys and is a 3 time breeders cup winnner so again how is she one dimensional?

11 Nov 2010 8:43 AM

There is only one thing I can say!



11 Nov 2010 8:55 AM

Look at their ears on the Finish Line photo -- Blame's are back, Zenyatta's ears are pricked. That tells you who had more left in the tank.

11 Nov 2010 12:22 PM

@Sophie15: Great idea! It is what the fans think that really matters, after all no sport would be anything without them.

The award in question is Horse of the Year-which horse has run consistently the best for the entire year-not just who won the BC Classic. Also which horse has done the most for the sport of racing needs to be considered. I think we know who is #1 in both of those categories.

Also a BIG THANK YOU to the Mosses for allowing Zenyatta to race as a 6 year old. That alone has done a lot for our sport

11 Nov 2010 12:46 PM

Someone mentioned Lady's Secret faced males four times the year she won HOTY. It stated she won one race and placed in the other three. So winning, even if against females doesn't account for anything? Just throw Zenyatta in races against males and if she finishes in the money that's enough to make her horse of the year? She'd won 19 consecutive races going into this year's Breeders' Cup Classic. She lost that race by a few inches and showed what she's made of. As I remember, Lady's Secret was run into the ground. I would NOT want to see that happen with Zenyatta. If it means she doesn't get Horse Of The Year, so be it.

11 Nov 2010 2:32 PM

If the argument for Blame is that he won the Classic, then Zenyatta was robbed last year. She lost one race this year, but so did Blame.  The way that she lost this year's Classic is the very reason she should get HOY, passing a field of horses in the final furlongs with that tremendous stride of hers only to lose by inches was heartbreaking to Zenyatta fans but no one can deny that the end of that race was absolutely thrilling.  That alone should win an Eclipse for moment of the year.  She now holds the world record for consecutive grade I victories, and in last year's Classic, she beat the horse that now holds the record for the second most consectutive Grade Is, Rip Van Winkle. She is the only horse to win two different Breeders Cup races, she's the only mare to have won the Classic, her 19 consecutive wins,  the list of her achievements goes on.  Look at the list of the terrific horses that she has beaten over the course of her career.  Most important is what she has done for racing this year.  She brought so many fans back to the track and captured the imagination and attention of the general public.  She's one of the greatest fillies ever, it would be a travesty if she didn't get HOY.  As with Upset, Foolish Pleasure, and Dare And Go, years from now, even if he's as successful at stud as Mr. Prospector or A.P. Indy, Blame's great claim to fame will be that he was the only horse to have finished a race ahead of the great Zenyatta.  I'm sure Blame's owners will use that to market him.

11 Nov 2010 2:53 PM

If they really wanted HOTY they should have done what Jess Jackson did last year - NOT run in the BC.  

If this years classic were run again in a week, Zenyatta would be 1/5.  Unfortunately, last year the title went to the 2nd best horse and I fear this year it goes to the 3rd best horse.  But in my book, it should be 1) Zenyatta, 2) Goldikova, 3) Blame.

11 Nov 2010 2:58 PM


When was the last time the racing community saw a positive image of horse racing in Sports Illustrated, 60 Minutes, Oprahs Top 20, fashion magazines and almost every media venue including newspapers, radio, and television? In this instance, the portrayal of horse racing is not about illegal medication/drugs, horses breaking down, trainers suspended, jockey misconduct or horses tragically discarded to “kill pens”. No-it’s about a horse trainer that took the time to let his horse mature, didn’t burn her out which allowed her to race when others are retired, injured or euthanized because of irreparable injuries. And, it’s about the owners that had the intestinal fortitude to wait for her to be ready to race and a jockey that truly cared -in the end racing has a wonderful example of what this sport could be. ESPN’s coverage of the Breeders Cup Classic tripled because of a non-race public wanting to watch “The Mare”. People responded with genuine affection and esteem at her racing career and her final race in the Classic. These people were not horse race enthusiasts-they were everyday people that heard her story and wanted to be part of it,

Last year the voters rewarded the mare for what they thought had the better winning campaign. Whether or not you believe that, what came true in 2010 was the mare couldn’t return to her previous form which ended her racing career. That’s a loss for racing. Zenyatta blessed us with another year of racing because she has been carefully managed and her welfare took prominence over an arduous campaign that would have left her spent. In my opinion we rewarded the sacrifice of Rachael Alexander for Jess Jackson’s ego.

Now the voters have another chance to make it right. What a tragedy to downgrade and dismiss Zenyatta’s racing year and career-what a horrid testimony of racing politics. Zenyatta won 5 grade 1’s, was ready and present to meet the 2009 HOY Rachael Alexander at Oaklawn and carried more weight than any of her male or female counterparts she raced against. Her 2010 Breeders Cup Classic race was spectacular and although she was the best that day, she lost by inches.

In countless industry publications the racing community looks to slots, wagering changes and countless other solutions to generate more public interest and attendance. I have had the privilege of being at all but 5 of Zenyatta’s races, traveling from Oregon, and experienced first hand the huge surge of attendance wherever she was entered. Her persona attracted new excitement in horse racing- people who would otherwise tune out, tuned in.

If horse racing doesn’t wake up-the only people coming to the track will be owners and trainers.


11 Nov 2010 3:41 PM

Zenyatta deserves to win Horse of the Year - and this comes from someone who though Rachel Alexandra deserved it last year.  Blame's argument for the title is pretty weak.  It was Zenyatta's year.  I agree with other posters that it's irrelevant that Zenyatta's 5 Grade 1 wins were over fillies and mares - these happen to be her peers.  It was extremely ambitious and sporting of her owners both to campaign her this year and to attempt the Classic again.

There really seems to be a sexist element to the thought process that says open male Grade 1's are somehow worth more than open female Grade 1's.  Zenyatta dominated her division and left a strong, positive impression that will be remembered 30 years later.  Blame did not dominate his division.  He's a nice horse, but not a strong candidate for Horse of the Year in the presence of an overwhelming candidate like Zenyatta.

I hope Zenyatta's owners will consider campaigning her again next year.  She's still a great athlete who seems to love the racing lifestyle, and there are many years to be a broodmare once her racing years are over.

11 Nov 2010 4:26 PM

Been around race tracks and horses all of my life; first I'd ever heard that you could measure how much a horse had in reserve by the position of their ears.

Watch all of their races this year - and you'll see that Zenyatta's ears are always flicking in her stretch run - and then watch Blame's races and you'll see that he pins his ears back when he engages - it's just a matter of style.    

Again (if you can force yourself to watch the finish of the Classic one more time)- watch the gallop out - and you'll actually see which horse has "more left in the tank".        

11 Nov 2010 5:20 PM

A reminder to all the people who are knocking Blame's record or loss to Haynesfield......he beat Zenyatta.  Do you think she would have beaten Haynesfield in the JCGC?  Look at the time for that race.  Very similar to the Classic.

Also, Blame's first loss was to Beethoven (who won a GII next out) at 6 1/2f.  Second was to Guam Typhoon at 7f.  

We all know that G1 races in open company mean more than G1 races in restricted company.  A G1 is not a G1.  So Zenyatta won the same races she won last year against inferior competition and her connections should be rewarded for that?  While Blame's connections ran against the best fields of older males available.

What kind of message does that send?  Put your horse in the softest possible spots and you can be rewarded?

The precedent has been set that a filly or mare only wins HOY if there is no dominant older male that year.  This year there is.  Same as in 2008.

In 2008, Curlin won a prep in Dubai then the DWC, Foster, Woodward and JCGC while finishing 2nd in the G1 MOW on turf.  Zenyatta had 0 wins in open company.  Case closed.  Dominant older male wins.  

2009 Rachel Alexandra wins the Oaks, Preakness, Mother Goose, Haskell, Woodward.  A campaign never been before seen.  Two wins against 3yo males before becoming "the first female of any age to win the 56-year-old Woodward, and the first 3-year-old female ever to win a Grade 1 against older males on dirt since the system of grading races began in 1973."

Sorry.  Zenyatta may well have been the best horse the last three years but her connections played it too close to the vest.

HOY should not be a lifetime achievement award.  

The 19 for 19 is kind of fluff anyway.  Zenyatta never had to face precocious two year olds and her races were mainly run on a surface that played to her strength.  And before anyone says she may have been better on dirt, her BC Classic this year was two seconds slower than last year, this year's Apple Blossom was the slowest 1 1/8 race she ever ran, and her '09 Apple Blossom was the slowest of her first 7 races at that distance.  

Her defeat in the Classic, as valiant as it was, proved that on dirt she is about as good as Blame when he gives her three pounds.  Blame who some of you claim will be forgotten so easily.

I applaud her connections for putting her first, but aside from the Apple Blossoms and this year's BC, she raced every race with the conditions in her favor. In SoCal on synth (she scratched out of the only race where the track wasn't labeled fast), and all but two had a circled F.  

11 Nov 2010 5:22 PM
Hanover Bill

This one is a no brainer, Zenyatta wins it hands down. Anyone who watched the Classic should realize that if the race was ten yards longer Zenyatta wins it for fun, she was totally outrunning Blame down the stretch. There should have been no way that she catches this field after being so far in the rear unless she is truly one for the ages, afterall these were the best horses in the world and she caught and passed all but one and given that extra ten yards she would have passed him also. Blame is a great horse but Zenyatta is "one for the ages", this is no contest, Zenyatta is "Horse of the Year".

11 Nov 2010 5:29 PM

As they say, compare "apples to apples."

As we know, Zenyatta lost by a nose in the Breeders' Cup Classic to Blame in a TWELVE horse field, whereas the 1 loss Blame had this year he lost by 4 lengths in a SIX horse field.

Also, the distances were the same in the races where Blame & Zenyatta lost their only race this year.

11 Nov 2010 5:34 PM

Blame and Zenyatta...sorry  ~~ I think Goldikova should receive HOY honors..  Like the name implies, Horse of the year --is based on THE  YEAR --and coulda, shoulda, woulda, doesn't help your horse if any horse fails to match up their talent to like competition.  The only horse that raced harder and tougher competition, is Goldikova  ..sorry guys.. I know my vote doesn't count, but wow -- great horse in Goldikova- that horse went after stiff competition and set stakes records doing it..against the boys ..

11 Nov 2010 6:02 PM

Yes, Zenyatta deserves Horse of the Year this year.

Even in defeat, she came out a winner. A head loss in November does not take away the whole years achievements. Nor does it take away the extraordinary good this horse has done for the racing industry. Why was the attendance up at this Breeders Cup? They were there to lay eyes on Zenyatta. To watch the beautiful mare run her race the way she always does. In this race she did more than before. From the disadvantage of the dirt, from the poor start and having to check behind Quality Road to the BLAST to get to the line, she was much the superior horse in this race. She is much the superior horse this year. No one can take that away from her. Not since Secretariat has any horse done this much for the racing industry. The racing industry should indeed honor her for all she has done.

She proved, despite her loss, that she was the best horse on the track. I cannot think of any other horse who could have overcome her position in the race in the home stretch....not even Blame.

She brought to racing what no other horse has done in decades. Horse racing is not the sport it used to be. Yet, she rallied the people, brought them to the track, riveted them to the TV screen, and was the topic of conversation.

Truly, the horse of the year should be one who, in 25 years will still be talked about and remembered as if they were still on the track. A horse who is mentioned in the same sentence as all of the horse racing greats. That horse is Zenyatta.

Zenyatta’s stretch drive in the Classic was nothing less than magnificent and she PROVED she has abilities that are extremely rare and she should be recognized and awarded for that talent.

How many fillies and mares can even competitively race against the boys?

You know the answer to that too is very few.

Her performance in the Classic should have made believers of non-believers but there are those who just can’t get past the hype.

Whether or not you want to admit it, Zenyatta is one in a zillion

Zenyatta was the best horse on that racetrack, as she was in all of her previous 19 starts. By definition, isn’t that what Horse of the Year is?”

11 Nov 2010 6:25 PM

Goldikova is exceptional no doubt. The Europeans do have their own year end awards in which I am sure Goldikova will receive her just rewards. The problem with giving Goldikova an American Eclipse award is she ran here 1 time this year. In the WORLD Championship Breeders Cup Mike. If we were to award her HOY with 1 North American start it would set a precedent you could race 1 race and win HOY. Not a precedent we want to set.

11 Nov 2010 10:46 PM

Zenyatta came east once, and her competition ducked away from her and ran elsewhere. The fact that she beat "poor" fields shows she scared off the competition! Instead of running for second money, other good mares chose to win elsewhere. They could have come to California to challenge her, but didn't. And how could those who ran against her become Grade I winners when Zenyatta kept winning those races herself and denying them the chance?

Let Blame race at 5 and prove that he is good enough. If he is, then he will be Horse of the Year next year. Oh, wait. His connections chose not to do that and retired the horse before his star could be tarnished by potential losses at age 5. If Seth Hancock believes that Blame is that good, then he should run Blame in 2011 and prove it, just like Zenyatta and Goldikova did!

12 Nov 2010 12:42 AM
an ole rail bird

HOY is the horse with the best record for the year, thus Blame wins. Zanyetta wins award for best human interest story. case closed!!!

12 Nov 2010 2:46 AM
Sue F

I have read all these comments mostly for Zenyatta being HOY, those against saying who did she beat? She beat all the competition that had the guts to race against her, that's not something she has control of.  Many considered Ruffian one of the best fillies ever, she never raced anywhere but out east.  I was at the race and watched that mare, way behind, make her move passing all the great colts of the year like they were standing still and anyone with a brain knows she would have passed Blame with one more stride. Now does that come down to the trip or what? ZENYATTA HOY !!!!

12 Nov 2010 10:30 AM

This is award is for the horse that had the best year, not the horse who had the best career. Zenyatta is popular directly because of her career and her win streak, not because of anything she did this year.

I watched every one of Zenyatta's races this year. Those G1 fields she raced against are no comparison to the fields that Lucky and Blame ran against. Zenyatta beat Rinterval by a neck. Rinterval was 55-1 and a non-factor in her BC race.

Z fans, stop giving Z credit for "coming from behind." That is the way she runs every race. It is her choice to run the first mile slower than everyone else so that she can close.

Stop blaming M. Smith for her being so far back. Smith urged her along in the backstretch. Otherwise, she would have been farther back even. A horse like her runs her own races. She simply underestimated how quickly she would be able to pass these horses in the homestretch.

Stop saying she lost by a nose or 6 inches. She lost by a head. A horse's head is longer than 6 inches. No big difference? Then why do you keep saying it was a nose if the distinction is no big deal?

Stop saying she had Blame in a couple more strides or just ran out of time. Watch the tape. Blame never let her get past. Even in the trot out, Blame stayed in front of her. The reality is that she gave it everything she had (with a whipping from Smith like I've never seen before) to just get within a head. She had nothing left at the end. Blame immediately started to stretch his lead past the wire.

Open G1 races with males are OPEN to females, meaning any horse that is good enough can race. G1 races for females are CLOSED to males, meaning the best horses are potentially not allowed. So, sexism has nothing to do with it. Open G1 races are tougher fields than mare only G1 races, period.  Zenyatta proved twice that she can run with the best colts, but her owners chose to only race her against mare only G1 races for the other 18 races of her career. In my mind, that makes any comparisons with great male horses unfair.  Race against the males if you want to be compared with them.

12 Nov 2010 4:07 PM


Asking Blame and Seth Hancock to "prove it" seems counter-intuitive to me.  They proved it last Saturday.  Though I believe that Zenyatta has nothing to prove either, I am tempted to repsond by saying that based on the on-track results, Zenyatta has to prove that she can beat Blame.

As much as I don't like it, based on the ecomonics of standing a BC Classic winner at stud, it is easy to see that Hancock isn't ducking anyone, just taking advatage of an economic opportunity.  In the best interst of the sport, no.  But difficult to argue with as Hancock runs a business that needs the revenue that Blame will surely generate.  Yes, Claiborne does need the revenue.  They aren't what they used to be economically.

12 Nov 2010 5:06 PM

Sue F.,

Actually, Zenyatta never passed Blame.  Not one, two, five, 10 or 20 strides past the wire.  Watch the replay. Just because she closed fast doesn't mean she would have won if the race was longer.  Also, as others have noted, the race is 1-1/4 miles.  Not 1-1/4 miles and an extra stride.  (Last I checked, I have a brain.  The question is, do you have eyes?)

12 Nov 2010 5:14 PM

Why does the knock on Zenyatta for not seeking out "better competition" keep being posed when She didn't enter her Grade one races with the condition that no Mares considered worthy enter.  Isn't she the incumbant Champion in the Older Filly and Mare Division?  Weren't those races also open to the top three year old

Fillys in the Country?  You would think the top Fillys and Mares in the East would have jumped at the chance to Stamp there Names in History by beating Zenyatta.  Why didn't they show up in those races? Because their connections knew it would be a waste of Time and Money.  They can't touch Her, she toys with them, so stop crying about who She didn't face prior to the Classic.  The Fact is She didn't avoid any Horse and Raced in the Classic two years in a row providing two of the most incredible performances in the History of the Race.  

12 Nov 2010 6:21 PM

Stop talking about Goldikova until she runs in the Classic.  She is a Turf Horse.

12 Nov 2010 6:24 PM

Oh MacKenzie,

You said it yourself regarding the Pricking of Ears.  It's style, same with the Gallop out. Some Horses shut down and don't gallop out fast. I do agree with you on one thing, we finally saw Zenyatta empty the tank and the Fact is you don't understand anything about the track conditions and the fractions She had to run to lose by a head.  If you chose to cross the finish line with a quarter tank in a volkswagon thats fine, however, I prefer the Corvette (Zenyatta).

12 Nov 2010 6:42 PM
jody pie

OHH !!! Zenyatta,its not how you win or lose,"ITS HOW YOU DANCE,DANCE,DANCE" what a beautiful soul.This is how the world will remember her for the rest of eternity.The HOTY award is for the fans,to Zenyatta,her award lies in the hearts of her fans.DANCING WITH THE STARS next year? how about it ZENNY dear.

12 Nov 2010 8:03 PM


I read your post and loved it.

12 Nov 2010 10:34 PM


13 Nov 2010 10:20 AM
Bev C

Lets see by ground miles in two races alone Zen traveled 1,637 one way for the race at oaklawn and 2,091 one way to the Breeders Cup how many ground miles did Blame travel in his two furthest races in 2010 . Remember this is just one way miles . The argument she did not go anywhere is ridiculous . Blame should have raced on  the west coast  and on something other than a dirt track if he wanted to be named horse of the year . Very easy schedule his trainer picked for him .

13 Nov 2010 4:59 PM

I honestly think that Zenyatta deserves to be HOY. She has done so much for the sport, and is probably the most revered horse since Secretariat and Ruffian. We will most likely never see a horse of this caliber for a very long time. Zenyatta has proved her talent to the racing world, and yet people still doubt her. I mean Blame beat her by what, a mere three inches? The fact that she has never won HOY before is frankly absurd. She deserves it. The award should go to the better horse, not just to Blame because he beat her.

13 Nov 2010 5:13 PM

Bev C,

I know that you are being sarcastic, but really, you are reacting emotionally.  You must understand the monumental differences between open company and races restricted to fillies and mares.  There was nothing easy about Zenyatta's schedule.  Agreed.  But by virtue of the company she kept, it was far easier than Blame's.  There is no reasonable dispute with that fact, regardless of the emotion that is percolating to the top.

13 Nov 2010 6:56 PM
Just Sayin

Eric Mitchell,

You mean that horse that couldn't get past a New York bred (Haynesfield) in the JCGC and beat an injured Battle Plan in the Stephen Foster?

In fact, is this the same horse that was beat by Regal Ranson in the Super Derby?

Keeping it real...just sayin

13 Nov 2010 7:34 PM

In 2010, Zenyatta raced in SIX Grade I races at FIVE different tracks on FOUR different surfaces (dirt, cushion, poly and pro-ride.) in THREE different states.  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 in a handicap, 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 a near perfect trip. And still she only lost by inches.  In the Classic 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. Blame's GI conquests this year included the now-confirmed miler Quality Road (last in the Classic) while getting 5 lbs. at 9f; horse-for-course Haynesfield (next-to-last in the Classic) who later dusted him in the J C Gold Cup; and Mine That Bird the one-month wonder. Blame's other win was in a G3 race against an even weaker field.  His fields were really not that much better than hers - they were just male.

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 injured 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.

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 a couple of 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? 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?

Zenyatta now has a record of 20-19-1-0-0. She has attracted the mainstream press and public more than any horse since Secretariat and brought positive instead of negative attention to a sport in trouble. If she retires without once being named Horse of the Year what does that say to the public? The best ambassador racing's had since Secretariat would be publicly "dissed" by its establishment. Is that what the racing needs?

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.

13 Nov 2010 9:24 PM

I can bet you that Zenyatta would not have been trounced at 10F by Haynesfield. She was never beaten more than a head.

13 Nov 2010 9:49 PM

A difficult decision, but in my opinion Zenyatta should be horse of the year.  Her 19 wins and 1 second is all the evidence we need.  I take nothing away from Blame, but Zenyatta has done more for racing than any other horse in a very long time.  Not only has she shown us the part of racing that we rarely see (the true love of such a wonderful creature by the Mosses', John and his wife, Mike Smith, and all of team Z), she has become a star of tremendous magnitude.  Because of Zenyatta's unique and beautiful personality, she has become #1 in the hearts of her fans. How could there be another horse who is worthy of being Horse of the Year?  I think it would be unthinkable to pick another horse over Zenyatta.

14 Nov 2010 1:21 AM

The biggest untruth posted here is that Zenyatta passed Blame before or after the finish line.  This never happened. Zenyatta was the one who was out of gas and she was not going to get by Blame.  Gomez said he purposely had something left just in case.  The stupidest comment on this entire blog is that Goldikova is 'one-dimensional'!  Name another horse who won three consecutive Breeder's Cup race being obviously the best horse in each one and I will retract my statement.  Blame deserves HOTY.  He won the head to head.  Z's connections campaigned her too conservatively.

14 Nov 2010 2:31 AM


I'll agree with you on a thing or two- as a matter of style, Zenyatta does pull herself up with relative ease at the conclusion of a race;in perspective,the remark that I made was actually in response to a comment as to who may have had more "left in the tank" - my reference was that it's next to impossible to come up with that conclusion by the position of their ears.

And yes- I'll also agree that what's in reserve has a lot to do with the condition of the track on that day( somewhat cuppy - but most agreed that it was "fair"), the pace of the race and "the trip"- that each Blame and Zenyatta had - no doubt, Blame had a dream trip;Zenyatta's was a bit more of a challenge - but at the end of the day, as they say - well,that's horseracing. Her racing style (as fine an athlete as she is) is always going to put her in a more compromising position.

Blame arguably has more tracking speed- a style that's more conducive to dirt racing- yes, it puts him at a greater advantage at Churchill or at most any other dirt track. And- on this day and on this track where they all decided to come together to race,to exhibit thier dominence, his style prevailed - and he prevailed.

Consequently, he is - by definition, a champion.

C'mon - give credit where credit is due. No doubt: Zenyatta IS A GREAT RACEMARE.

And Blame -  he's by far more than proven to most knowlegeable and truly objective fans what he's made of.

The Corvette to Volkswagen comparison is a bit absurd - and if you were a fan of the sport - and not just immersed in Zenyatta- mania you'd probably know better.

14 Nov 2010 10:23 AM
Mike Relva


Some of the same people cry that racing is in a sorry state,downhill,etc and then a horse like Zenyatta comes along that has done much for racing with increased interest,high ratings for the Breeders' Cup and can't get respect. It doesn't make sense!

14 Nov 2010 2:48 PM
Bev C

Pinewood .

 i did not mean to be sarcastic as that is not my gig . I was merely pointing out to those who have been saying over and over than zen did not go anywhere the differnence in tracks she ran on the millage between compared to the dirt races and close to home races blame ran on . why you would choose me for your nastiness is beyond me however i wish you a good day and maNy enjoyable races to view in your future

14 Nov 2010 3:14 PM

I recommanded that Zenyatta is 2010 HOTY because of her loss was short head than Blame's loss was about between one to two lenghts????? But after the wire on BBC, She got front over Blame...So, she is HOTY---DO IT!!!!! :)

14 Nov 2010 10:31 PM

If HOY is tied to the Classic win, then what's the point? Just hand it out with the winnings and move on. But if it's about something more, then I don't understand how there is a debate. Anyone who has seen Zenyatta run -- anyone who saw her run in this last Breeder's Cup -- and is still wondering about horse of the year is missing the horse for the Industry. Not one person watching that race could say Blame was the better or faster horse, even though, yes, he did got to the wire first. Has Blame thrilled and inspired anyone other than his owners? Blame is the Luckiest Horse of the Year, for sure, but this year's actual Horse of the Year (whether officially or not) came in second at the Breeder's Cup.

15 Nov 2010 12:26 AM

Justme raises a good argument.  Why aren't the Grade 1 races for fillies and Mares as historic as the grade 1 races on the east coast?  Where is that written in the point systems for HOY?  The east coast based fillies and mares never came to the west to meet Zenyatta in her races.  They were head and shoulders, literally, less accomplished that Zenyatta so why does the reining top mare HAVE to travel east to prove herself?  Curlin got his second HOY for his whole year campaign, so why not Zenyatta?  Because he was a stallion (and therefore worth more money breeding 100 times a season not once) not a mare?  Remember, if we do not have mares, we do not have foals.

15 Nov 2010 9:32 AM

Although Zenyatta is a great race mare looking back a very short time (last year) tells us that there is not enough vote coming out of the West that can get her the HOY title so lets just hope she stays around a little longer. I for one cannot wait to see the foals Zenyatta and Rachel A. deliver.

15 Nov 2010 3:20 PM

If the magnificent Miss Z loses HOTY, it will be the stuff game shows are made of.  Example:

Who was on the only horse to beat Man-O-War?

Who was the only horse to beat Native Dancer in the Kentucky Derby?

Who was the horse that got Horse Of the Year after Zenyatta won 19 consecutive races getting beaten only in the Breeders Cup?  Answer:  ------

clock ticking. Alarm Answer:  I don't know. By the way, what's a Breeders Cup?


For once, I hope the deserving horsee gets the award.  I thought Zenny should have gotten it this year.


15 Nov 2010 3:22 PM
Dances With Hooves

The 2010 records speak volumes about WHO should get it...a GRADE 1 is a grade one!! It is NOT Zen's fault other horses (ala Blind Luck) didn't face her...she was at the emercy of who showed up. Yes, it would have been thrilling to see her in the the Hollywood Gold Cup or the Pacific Classic but she DID win 5 GRADE 1's as opposed to Blame's 3 Grade 1's and she CRUSHED the rest of the Classic field which is touted as being one fo the deepest fields in BC history. She had a horrid trip on a track that defied MANY closers all weekend and yet she still managed to come within a half a head of a desperately holding on Blame who had a perfect trip and saved a TON more ground than she. One stride past the wire Zenyatta was a half length in front of Blame. In fact, take a look at the head on photo and you will see that one stride past the wire Zenyatta is a half a length in front whiel Blame's back feet are still in the light from the finish line. MUCH the best horse cam ein second and while Blame's win qwas awesome for Claiborne, he will not be regarded in any history books except possibly as the ONLY horse to beat the Gentle Giant/Mighty Mare. Zenyatta DOES deserve HOY just as much as Blame or any other horse on the ballot. To deny Zenyatta this honor when she has done more for this sport and more for track attendance/handle than any other horse in recent memory would be an injustice. Let's hope the voter's use a slight bit of sentiment and rationally look at the records of the two biggest front runners before pushing the button. Zenyatta IS the horse of the lifetime and many of us will not liely see talent and brilliant and personality and character and UNDEFEATED in 19 starts anytime soon. DO the right thing voters....ZENYATTA in 2010!!!!

15 Nov 2010 6:05 PM

Blame will be the answer to a trivia question, while Zenyatta will forever be etched in our hearts.  The fans have no vote for HOY, but they have spoken loud & clear!

15 Nov 2010 6:29 PM


"Fair Track", ask Baffert what he thinks of the track that night.  Do you know who that is?  He knows a little about training and Track Conditions.  I believe he said all his Horses ran the same, "empty at the 1/8 Pole". The track was tiring, not conducive to winning from too fast early or too far behind early positions.  Again, you said it yourself, Her style puts her at a disadvantage and thus Her record is even more impressive.  

Thanks for the (not a fan of the sport) comment, However I am a converted Zenyatta Fan.  Like most, I was highly doubtful of her prior to last years BC, then impressed but still apprehensive prior to this years BC.  After this years Classic, I have no doubt She is the Greatest Race Mare to set foot on an American racing surface (other than Turf)and I have my opinion what She would on that surface as well. Had she won this years BC, She would have to be considered in every conversation about who is the Greatest Race Horse ever. Arguably, She still will.

Good luck, "Race Fan"


15 Nov 2010 6:46 PM

Why is it so hard for people to understand that Grade 1 races restricted to fillies and mares are not the same level of competition as Grade 1 races in open company?

No one is saying she had to come East at all.  There are plenty of Grade 1 races in open company she could have entered and in Cali and her connections did not put her in them.

If she is supposedly one of the all-time greats, then why didn't they put her in the best races?  Who wants to be the first one to say that the fields in the Santa Margarita, Vanity, Lady's Secret, and Clement Hirsch were as good as the fields in the Santa Anita Handicap, Hollywood Gold Cup, Pacific Classic, or Goodwood?

Her races sure aren't the equivalent of the Whitney, Foster,  or JCGC.  

And you can say Blame beat a breaking down Battle Plan, but the best horse Zenyatta beat this year (St. Trinians), raced against males at a 1 1/4 (finishing 6th) before meeting Zenyatta, has been on the shelf since that race in June and isn't coming back until 2011.  So what's really the difference?

I hope that all the new fans Zenyatta brought to the sport take some time to learn about the sport so they can understand what they are watching.

15 Nov 2010 10:21 PM

    The Breeders Cup is suppose to decide Eclipse Award catergories.  Personally, I thought going into the race, whomever won the BC Classic, whether it be Blame, Zenyatta, Looking At Lucky or Quality Road should be named HOY.  Leading into that race, they all had done enough to be named HOY.  It was simply going to be who won on that day.  I still haven't change my opinion.  Bad trip, track biased, etc shouldn't matter.  Blame won, Zenyatta didn't.  I take nothing away from her unlike some others who believed going into the BC Classic she was a synthetic wonder and that's all.  She proved she belonged and anybody who still questions that after the BC Classic, in my humble opinion, simply doesn't know horse racing.

    We are talking about 2010 so quite frankly, when it comes to HOY this year, Zenyatta's 19 consecutive wins doesn't matter.  What does matter is her 5 consecutive wins leading into the Classic and was that enough to win her HOY with or without a Classic win.  The answer is no, she needed a Classic win.  Like I stated in the previous paragraph, there will be some who simply say it was a track bias and suspect trip that kept her from going 6-for-6 this year and she only lost a head.  They might be right, but if you allow that argument for her, then you have to allow that argument for Blame in the Jockey Gold Cup when Haynesfield was loose on the lead through pedestrian fractions.  You simply can't do that.  Fact is that Blame got to the wire 1st in the Classic and should be voted HOY.  Zenyatta should be a close 2nd.  I guess you could say just a head back of him.

16 Nov 2010 12:06 AM

Laura S,

    Double standards work both ways you know.  Zenyatta won 5 GI races, that's true.  But didn't she barely get up in time to beat Switch who by her 2nd place finish in the F&M Sprint, pretty much confirmed herself as a sprinter?  So if you're going to discount Blame's win over Quality Road because Quality Road appears to be a confirmed miler, then you have to discount Zenyatta's win over Switch as well.  You simply can't knock GI wins regardless of the competition.  If that's the case, then every one of Zenyatta's GI wins this year are irrelevant.  Name another GI winner she beat in any of those 5 GI races she won this year.  I don't know of any.  There probably was 1 or 2, but I honestly can name any.

    Zenyatta is a great mare.  She's the best in the last 25 years and maybe even the best ever.  She has captured the hearts and imagination of many racing fans and created many new racing fans.  That's something that is invaluable to an industry that's struggling.  However, I don't believe that's a criteria for HOY.  It's suppose to be what happens on the track.  Yes, it's a shame she will never be voted HOY.  She should have won it last year.  However, just because she didn't win it last year and she was denied what she probably deserved, doesn't mean you give it to her this year based on that and then deny another horse who also earned HOY fair and square.

    Now if this were a case like say Lookin At Lucky vs. Fly Down, then I would say give it to Zenyatta.  What I mean by that is, Lookin At Lucky won The Rebel Stakes, The Preakness, Haskell and finished 4th in the Classic.  Fly Down finished 2nd in the Belmont, won the Travers and finished just ahead of Lucky in the Classic.  Should Fly Down win the 3-year old Eclipse award this year?  No, he hadn't done enough leading into his narrow placing over Lucky to deny Lucky that honor.  You can't say the same for Zenyatta vs. Blame.  They both had done enough, it was simply who was going to win and Blame did that.

16 Nov 2010 12:43 AM

I say Zenyatta HOTY. Although she lost by such a slim margin I felt she was the best horse in the race and here's why. After such an awkward 1st quarter, her secon, third, fourth and fifth quarters went like this: 23 3/5ths,23 2/5ths, 24 2/5th, 23 3/5ths. For a horse that usually ticks off all 23+ quarters after her initially slow start what happened in that 4th quarter of 24 2/5ths? Ahhh, she came into a stopping HOTY candidate and had to search room to get around and outside of him, once clear again she let loose with her custom 23 3/5ths, only to have her head and neck up in the photo finish. If she had been in her long stride at that point her neck would have been down and her head out and she would have won by at least a long nose. It was the luck of the year that Blame won.But is he the better horse? No I don't think so. Unfortunately we won't see him race again as he has been retired.And please note, he won 4 of his 5 races at CD.  

I also read above some references as to what has been raced against her this year. It was well publicized that Blind Luckm a possible starter in Zenyatta last race, the Lady's Secret, ducked her and instead went to the easier Cotillion. Hollendorger said he wanted no part of Zenyatta. Earlier in the year (another race on dirt that Zenyatta did show up for) Rachel Alexandra, pointing for the Apple Blossom ducked out of that one too, after her owner had the purse upped to 5 million and had the distance changed, and even had the day of the actual raced set back a week for his filly. And you wonder why Zen was running against what she was running against all year? She went East and the good horses went elsewhere.

One more thing about her competition. Of all the horses that these two ran against this year only one,Switch, who beat Blind Luck this year at a distance, was the only horse in a Breeders Cup race that got a placing.She ran second.

16 Nov 2010 8:12 AM
Tai 76

Again the Mosses went with the fluffy campaign. hurting their mare.  If only they had brought her our to face the males in Open

16 Nov 2010 4:10 PM

Once again,a great horse can run on any surface. The mare is a superstar. Once again we have a colt going to the breeding shed off a ever so slight win over a mare that I think ran past all the other colts in that race. Yes he beat her, but if they raced again a 100 times we all know what the outcome would be. She would beat him again and again. Yes the racing gods were with him on that day. We all know the promoters of stallions have already started and the voting system is not set up that great for  west coast horses, but she is a great horse. I will take one of her over 1000 Blames. Yep you heard it here. Youy won't be able to find him with a search warrant when his offspring hit the track. Maybe Mongolia! sorry for the ramble I did not take my meds today. LOL

16 Nov 2010 6:44 PM
Dances WIth Hooves

P.S.~ Let's also not forget that in 2010 Zenyatta broke a WORLD RECORD for the most consecutive Grade or Group 1 wins. That is an accomplishment in itself and DID occur in 2010.

Zen's 2010 achievments:

5 Grade 1 wins, and 1 Grade 1 2nd, 5 different tracks, 4 different surfaces (yes synthetic tracks BUT Pro-Ride, Polytrack, and CUshion Track are all different materials and compositions), 3 of those races on dirt (outside of CA).

Set 2 NOrth American records, broke two others, and was the only mare to ever win the Clement Hirsch, Vanity, and Lady's Secret 3 consecutive times. If sentiment needs to be throw in there she was featured in the New York Times, 60 Minutes, Oprah, W MAgazine, and Sports Illustrated. She defeated Japan's Champion Dirt horse and manyother Grade 1 winners in the Classic, including the horse that beat Blame in the JCGC, all this after running over a tiring and cuppy track, being hindered by a stopping Quality Road and trying to chase down Blame who ran less distance with a perfect trip. Her accomplishments speak for themselves and some neighsayers just cannot respect those accomplishments because they fear too much sentiment (you know, the kind that brought MORE FANS to this sport and to the BC attendace than any other horse in recent history) would get in the way of decrying her accomplishments. Pretty sad when people have to argue against a good and viable thing at the risk of sounding like sour grapes.  

16 Nov 2010 8:14 PM

Zenyatta, hands down.

16 Nov 2010 9:27 PM


   Once more back at you.

With all due respect to Bob Baffert's reputation as one of the best in the game, his opinion on the condition of that track would, I'm afraid, be as biased as that of most trainers who've just experienced a major whuppin' to the star of their stable. I wish I had a dime for every time I've heard a trainer say " he/she just didn't handle the track today" (excuses invariably always fall back on the condition of the track)

Baffert brought over, what - only two this year: Lookin at Lucky ( I heard him as much criticize Garcia's ride as I did his bitchin' about the track condition) and Gabby's Golden Gal

( who's fittness for a Grade I after a 10 month layoff was somewhat questionable ).

That's why I referenced the track condition as being described as "cuppy - by most,( and I repeat "most" - Bob Baffert, notwithstanding )found the surface fair.

If the surface was as unkind to front runners,as you suggest was Baffert's opinion - then it was advantage - Zenyatta (and wouldn't that diminish the brilliance of her amazing run  - with everthing in front of her backing up?).

Point is - the late pace in this contest came down to only two very fit combatents;and as I remember - she came up a head short.

She may have won the hearts of millions with her effort - but the battle for dominence is won on the race track.

The Champion and the most deserving horse for Horse of the Year is BLAME.

And that's my opinion -

Good Luck to you "Zenyatta fan"

16 Nov 2010 11:24 PM

Last year the Mosses said Zen would have a different campaign this year.  She did not,  once again running against the same overmatched fillies and mares as the last three years.  Why not run her in the Pacific Classic?  That would have been something. Shen probably would have won, but we will never know will we.  The Mosses had also "retired" Zenyatta after the 2009, even thought she remained in training.  Then when she lost out in HOY she was "unretired",  and unfulfilled campigned  promises were made. That is why she doesn't deserve HOY.  She did not dance the dances,  she ducked.  Sure Life at Ten, Unrivaled Belle could have gone to California to race on the synthetic surfaces but why?  Their owners had not made promises to that effect.  

If losing to Haynesfield was so significant and Zen's beating him by 20 was so great what about Blame beating Zen.  The head margin does not cancel that out.  As for Zenyatta having to weave her way through horses....that is what deep closers do (unless they get lucky and have Calvin Borel get one of his rail-skimming trips).  No one was shedding tears over RA when she was running D'tara, Pass the Point and Cool Coal Man into the ground in the Woodward. After putting those tree away here came Bullsbay and finally Macho Again. (Asiatic Boy was in the field as well) That was her running style. And I don't know what angle people were seeing the BCC at but Blame Never let Zen get past him.  Was she catching him?  Yes.  Did she pass him?  No.  Look at old replays of Flanders and Serena's Song for horses that appeared that they would be passed, but refused.  Lastly someone wrote about Rags to Riches beating Curlin in the Belmont. Yes she did, that was another great race to watch.  Rags beat Curlin by a nose after that thrilling stretch drive.  Curlin was not getting past her.  He lost the Belmont to a filly and still won HOY.  Curlin lost the Kentucky Derby to Street Sense and still was HOY.  Two weeks later he turned the tables on SS in the Preakness and beat SS by a head after another stirring stretch drive.  So just maybe his placings in all three triple crown races that year and wins over older horses and a BCC win is what got him the HOY.  For his sencond HOY he did win the Dubai cup and the Stephen Foster.  His owner did venture out and try the turf.   they didn't just stay and run against "soft" fields all years.  Also there is a movie out right now called Secretariat that has a lot of non-horse racing fans talking.  Some have seen it more than once.  That could have a little something to do with record ratings.  

17 Nov 2010 12:45 AM


    Yes, Blame won quite a few races over the Churchill surface and yes I guess you can say it's his home track.  If we're using that argument, then holy crap, Zenyatta won 17 of her 19 races over her home track(s) so to speak including the Classic last year so we have to knock those, right?  Discount anything Blame did over the Churchill surface and you have to discount anything Zenyatta did in So Cal.  It works both ways.

  As for your comment concerning the Apple Blossom this year, yes, Rachel did not show up.  But you're absolutely incorrect concerning your other points.  Her owner did not have the pursed up, he did not have the distance changed and he did not have the race set back a week.  That was all Oaklawn Park's doing to try and attract both mares.

    I guess here's my real question, Blame could not run in any of the races Zenyatta did this year other than the Classic for obvious reasons so why didn't Zenyatta go to them?  I know, I know, she shouldn't have to, right?  If I'm not mistaken, the Whitney and the Clement Hirsch were run on the same day this year (August 7th).  The Whitney was even run at a distance that was 1/16 mile longer than the Hirsch which should benefit Zenyatta.  Blame, Quality Road, Haynesfield and Musket Man were all there.  If she shows up and beats them then, then Blame beating her in the Classic by a head might not carry as much weight because they would be even head-to-head.  No, her connections put all their eggs in 1 basket and rolled the dice in this year's Classic.  They lost.  It's not Blame's fault so why should he be punished?

17 Nov 2010 4:08 AM

Zenyatta, Zenyatta and yes Zenyatta, if it were my choice, she would be Horse of the Year.  With that said, Blame is also a great horse as is Goldkova, however she ran in the Mile, not the Classic, therefore should not be considered?  Wow, so many Questions.....Only on answer to settle the question and the vote..Bring all three together for one great Race to settle the question once and for all.  Clearly with only three horses, not one of them could get in trouble, it would be simply Raw Talent that would win out, the winner would be Horse of the Year.....

After all, both Goldkova certainly could have run in the races Zenyatta ran in.

We would all love to see Zenyatta race Blame again at a mile and a quarter..

Will Zenyatta Retire?  Should she be Retired, she loves to run and loves the crowd....

17 Nov 2010 12:13 PM
Lost Code

If Blame had trounced Zenyatta, that would be one thing but he didn't.  He's a wonderful race horse but Zenyatta's performance in the BCC was spectacular compared to his, even if short by a head.

If I could, I would vote for Zenyatta.

17 Nov 2010 12:30 PM


The problem with using Baffert's view of track bias at Churchill is that his horse, Lookin' at Lucky, who was supposedly negatively affected by the alleged bias, ran next to Blame through the majority of the race. If there was a bias that hurt Lookin' at Lucky, it should have hurt Blame's chances as well.  The point, of course, is since Blame ran on and won, he must be something rather special.  

17 Nov 2010 4:36 PM


The fans can speak all they want. They talk about the 19-1 record, the bad ride, the track bias, Blame's luck, Blame's less than stellar competition throughout the year, Blame's likely limited place in history, Blame's lack of HOF credentials, etc.  The problem is, the fans, as demonstarted by their comments on this blog, are speaking from their hearts and not with their heads.  Blame beat Zenyatta in thier only meeting. Blame won all year agaisnt open company, Zenyatta did not. That's about all that counts in deciding the 2010 HOTY.  The rest is just conjecture, sour-grapes and unbridled emotion.

She lost to Blame.  She is second best this year.

17 Nov 2010 4:44 PM

To the genius who complained that Personal Ensign was unfairly robbed of Horse of the Year: Not one person of the hundreds who voted that year thought she deserved it over Alysheba. And people wonder why the Zenyatta Zealots in this argument have no credibility.

17 Nov 2010 4:47 PM


You wrote:

"Not one person watching that race could say Blame was the better or faster horse, even though, yes, he did got to the wire first."

Precisley to the contrary!  The entire sport is based on finding out who gets to the wire first; who gets their fastest. The horse that does is better on that day. Using facts, not emotion, no one could say that Zenyatta was the better horse. Blame's nose was on the wire first.  Unless you want to toss out the most basic horse racing fundamental, Zenyatta was second best that day. (Try going to the window and tell the cashier "even though my horse reached the wire second, I'd like the money because everyone knows my horse was best.)

17 Nov 2010 4:56 PM
Jody pie

Blames HOTY campaign, The G3 Shaefer Hcp, "SERIOUSLY" Trounced by Haynsfield in the Gold Cup.That leaves ONLY three G1 wins.This is just not enough to be gifted with HOTY.Unfortunately for Zenyatta i'm afraid the Mosses did her a great disservice this year.Its just sad that the third best horse this year "Blame" will probably receive HOTY when the most deserving candidate will be insignificantly brushed aside, and that is the truly Great,"GOLDAKOVA"

17 Nov 2010 7:29 PM

the fillies that zenyatta raced during the year such as switch, st. trinians, rinterval,gave her better direct competition than the likes of haynesfield, quality road, musket man, fly down did.  if qr was so good, why does he do so terribly at the big dance?

13 Jan 2011 9:27 PM

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