Getting Out the Vote By Eric Mitchell

 (Originally published in the January 22, 2011 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
Owner Jerry Moss raised the issue of fan voting during a press conference four days prior to the Eclipse Awards ceremony held in Miami Beach, Fla., Jan. 17.

“The fans should play a greater part (in voting for Horse of the Year), and we need to figure a way to make that possible,” said Moss, who owns Horse of the Year finalist Zenyatta, who once again hooked up with Blame in a race, this one for the top end-of-the-year championship title.

Allowing fans a say in which horses get championship trophies is not a new concept. Europe’s Cartier Awards selects its champions with a formula that includes a point system based on performance in stakes races (40%) and points from votes cast by racing journalists (40%) and readers of the Racing Post and Daily Telegraph (20%). As a carrot for fans to participate, a Cartier watch is given to the randomly selected voter whose ballot includes all the names of the eventual champions.

A very unscientific poll of a half-dozen trainers, owners, and exercise riders conducted on the backside of Gulfstream Park the morning of the Eclipse Awards indicated support for the concept of fan participation.

“Wouldn’t that get people more involved in horse racing?” said trainer Jim DiVito. “We have got to figure out a way to get the younger people involved.”

Finding a way to incorporate a fan vote into the Eclipse Awards has been bantered about for at least 10 years, according to Alex Waldrop, president and chief executive officer of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association. The barrier is concern about the quality of the fan voting block.

“A fan-selected award is a different award than a professionally selected award,” Waldrop said. “It is the difference between the Academy Awards and the People’s Choice Awards. The model is the Cartier Awards. There is a fan voting block, but there is a question of whether it is a meaningful inclusion.”

To encourage fan participation, the NTRA did create in 1999 the “Moment of the Year,” which is selected by fans voting through the NTRA website. The Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) is the 2010 “Moment of the Year.”

Trainers at Gulfstream who were asked about the quality of a fan vote agreed Waldrop’s concerns were legitimate.
“It depends on what fans you ask,” said Rick Dutrow Jr. “There are a lot who only watch the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and the Breeders’ Cup. Still, I think it would be good because the fans would feel involved.”

Baseball fans get to vote for starting players in Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game. This system has had its own problems. For example, ballot stuffing in 1957 filled seven starting positions from the Cincinnati Reds’ roster and then-commissioner Ford Frick had to intervene. Fans lost their right to vote until 1969.

Waldrop doesn’t like the baseball vote as a model for fan participation because he said the All-Star Game is all about selling tickets.

He did say the criteria for selecting year-end champions was “pretty open-ended” and may need revision by incorporating a more defined selection criteria. What that might be is up to the Eclipse Award selection committee, which includes representatives of the voting blocks—National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association, Daily Racing Form writers and editors, Equibase chart callers, and racing secretaries at NTRA member tracks.

While the All-Star Game may not be the ideal model, Thoroughbred racing could learn from it. For example, a specific number of ballots used to be distributed to each ballpark. Only fans who attended games had access to ballots. Maybe fan ballots could be distributed at racetracks and offtrack betting parlors or votes given to punters with advance-deposit wagering accounts. All-Star voting is handled online now, but a card distributed at a racetrack could be printed with a specific code that gives access to an online ballot. One code, one vote. For ADW account holders—one account, one vote. At least this is a step toward qualifying the voters as fans who are genuinely following the sport.

If fan voting as part of the actual championships is out of the question, why not start a separate People’s Choice Award? Sure, it is a different award, but it gets fans involved and could include some tickets to the Eclipse Award banquet for some lucky voters. Engagement and involvement. Sounds like a win-win for horse racing.


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It depends on what fans you ask,” said Rick Dutrow Jr. “There are a lot who only watch the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and the Breeders’ Cup. Still, I think it would be good because the fans would feel involved.”

And do you know why?  It's because that's all they show on national television.  Unless you have cable to capture ESPN, or pay extra money for the premium TVG and HRTV channels, you won't see all the other races that go on all year.  It's a slap in the face to the sport itself.  ESPN chooses to highlight chess matches and spelling bees (these are "sports"?  really?) rather than show a couple of horse races.  NBC threw a bone to BRAVO with the Kentucky Oaks, and Bravo mucked up the entire day with chef competitions, "real" housewives opinions, and a moderator who seemed to think jockeys got to choose their own outfits.  "Oh, I'm looking terrible in yellow today; let me wear the blue silks."

Do you mean to tell me he couldn't have done a little reading up on the subject before he opened his mouth?  How can you educate the potential fans if you never showcase the sport on TV?  I've been watching horse racing on TV since it began in 1952.  Never have I felt so desolated by the networks in their lack of coverage as I have in the past 10-15 years.  I've got HRTV now, but I really don't know how long I can afford it.  Can we please get the major networks to showcase our sport more consistently?

19 Jan 2011 9:37 AM

I think fan voting should be included, but it needs to be qualified fans.  I think it would be fair to let box owners at tracks with Grade I races vote.

19 Jan 2011 11:17 AM

Point system for races won wins my vote as long as a system recognizes that all G1 races are not equal.  G1 races that attract a very competive group of runners, races with higher purses, races i which track (or world) records are set, and races won by significant margins (say, more than 5 lengths) should be weighed more heavily.  For example, if a G1 race is won, give 30 points for $1m or more, 25 for $500K - up to $1M, and 20 for less than $250k.  If the race won has other G1 winners during the past 2 years, add 10 points for each such runner.  If race won has G2 winners during the past 2 years, then add 5 points for each such runner. If race was won by more tahn 5 lengths, give 20 points.  For track record, add 20 points. For world record, add 30 points. Both a track and world record is worth 50 points. Note that this system does not require that points are attainable, just that the values are assigned.  Such a system would take the bribes out of the process and recognize real accomplishments. Currently, HOY has become a popularity contest and not a deserved award. Knowledgeable fans have turned to betting races from other countries and avoid the quagmire of the NA scene.  I know that G1 races can still be fixed but we don't have the disgrace of what we see today during Eclipse 'voting'.  

19 Jan 2011 11:51 AM

I say that fans should have a say but I feel that fans should not get a vote until there are more races shown on TV like all of the Grade 3, 2, and 1s. Then fans should get a vote

19 Jan 2011 12:10 PM
Susan from VA

According to sgunne, the definition of "qualified" fans is based on money, rather knowledge of horses.  There are many fans of horse racing that follow all the races (or at least graded races), yet could never afford to own a box, especially at one of the "premium" type tracks.

19 Jan 2011 12:29 PM

box owners get to vote, but people by the rail don't?

Why not just give property owners a vote? Or maybe people who drive expensive cars to the track?

Your suggestion is not helpful, it is elitist and exclusive.

try thinking before you post.

19 Jan 2011 1:16 PM
E Rubens

The Eclipse awards are not like the Academy Awards at all. In the Oscars  the voters work within the film industry: writers, producers and directors, actors and the various craftsman. Each votes for what they consider the best in their respective fields and everyone votes for Best Picture. The Eclipse awards are more like The Hollywood Press Association. It seems to me the most qualified people are not allowed to vote: owners, breeders, trainers and jockeys, the people who work with these horses everyday and know a good well bred horse when they see one. Bluntly many of the voters in the DRF bloc do meet this criteria. Including the fans in some way would be nice, including some additional categories to recognize the contributions of back stretch workers is another good idea. The whole system should be overhauled.

19 Jan 2011 1:34 PM

Before the Eclipse Awards this year I wrote a letter to Alex Waldrop about the need for a fan elected peoples choice award. I also wrote in to the bloodhorse about an idea for a point system for the eclipse awards. If this sport really wants fans to get involved in the sport why not at least listen to some of the suggestions they make. I have seen great ideas on some of these blogs that would bring fans into the sport. Horseracing does almost no marketing. Last year every one of Zenyatta's and Rachel's races should have been on espn. Also the voting for the eclipse awards should be similar to the voting for the cartier awards. This gives the awards criteria, and it gives fans a vote, without making the eclipse awards a completely fan voted award.

19 Jan 2011 1:45 PM

I disagree fan voting would be an improvement to the Eclipse Award selection system. Selection to an all star team is generally no more than a popularity contest for so many of the more mainstream sports. I do not want to see the Eclipse Awards become a People's Choice Award. There are other outlets for that.

Zenyatta didn't need us to legitimately be crowned HOTY.

19 Jan 2011 2:54 PM
Lise from Maine


I think that the fans should be involve in selecting the Horse of the Year but the process needs to be monitored carefully in order to avoid cheating.

Without fans, would there be horse racing?

Involve us please.

19 Jan 2011 2:59 PM
Big Brown's Buddy

Ms.Chenery just started the Secretariat Vox Populi (People's Voice)Award, where a horse who has done much for the sport will be voted for by the fans (and a committee). No suprise that the very first VOX POPULI goes to the mighty mare,ZENYATTA! Chenery chose Zenyatta herself,this being the inaugural year. You can read more about it at

19 Jan 2011 4:41 PM
Mookies Hero

the breeders select the broodmare of the year for each state. All the breeders, jockeys, trainers and owners should have a vote, as well as the fans. and no handicap winners who is not high weight should be declared a winner for the awards. no other sport handicaps its stars. Quality Road would have beaten Blaine at equal weights. so only high weigh or weight for age races should be considered for points. look at Blind Luck and have de grace- who would have won if Blind Luck did not have to carry extra weights. what is wrong with you prople. Blaine did not really WIN the Whitney as much as handed the win by the handicappers just like Have de Grace was handed her win. And no one says Hava de Grace is better than Blind Luck so why say Blame is better than Quality Road?

Anyway thank god Zenyatta won HOY

19 Jan 2011 5:06 PM

You could leave it to local racetracks / HBPAs / State Breeder's Organizations to nominate a given number of fans.  Of course, in setting up any system, you will have to take into account the local bias.  

As I live in Nebraska, unless I travel, I'm never going to see most of these "big" horses in person.  So I'll have less of a bias than the fans who spend their weekends at Churchill, Belmont or Santa Anita.  

I definately would avoid a second "awards show."  Although, come to think of it, a show hosted by excited fans would definately be more fun than Monday's.

19 Jan 2011 5:13 PM
Soldier Course

Have a panel of fans, made up of representatives from the major racing venues (Kentucky, New York, Florida, California, Arkansas, Louisiana, etc.), and selected from a pool of applicants by a professional group within the industry.

The application could cover such issues as applicants' knowledge about, and experience with, racing. Once selected to serve on the panel, fan members would then have a vote in the Eclipse Awards. Fans serving on the panel could receive opinions and ideas from all other fans before voting. This way everyone would feel empowerment, the lack of which has heretofore caused resentment and frustration.

19 Jan 2011 5:20 PM

Not a bad idea.  It could certainly be weighted somehow, so it doesn't strictly become a popularity contest. But fan participation on some level could only help.  

19 Jan 2011 5:45 PM

Sophie15, Penney Chenery has made that happen with the inaugural Vox Populi award going to Zenyatta.

Ain't life sweet!

E Rubens: That is an excellent suggestion, and much less elitist.  And no one has yet explained to me why sports writers are more qualified than fans who watch racing every day, and go to the track.  One thing is true...sportswriters came up with the Eclipse awards, and that has merit.  

19 Jan 2011 6:42 PM
Queen Z

I think it’s a good idea to include the fans in voting for the HOY.  I have to agree that the fans should be knowledgeable about horse racing.  I also think that the qualified fans should be participating financially to the sport.  A vote for each ADW account sounds good.  But for the fans without an ADW account, he or she should visit their home race tracks or satellite wagering facilities several times before they can receive a vote.  Membership cards can be used to track down the number of times the fan visited the track.  If the fan visited the track several times a year, he or she gets a vote at the end of that year.   I am sure there are many ideas out there to improve the selection process for the HOY.  Including horse racing fans in the process is good.  

19 Jan 2011 7:08 PM

I totally agree with Slew. The national TV stations are totally mucking up their coverage of Triple Crown racing while at the same time they hold the sole rights to the coverage of it. Last year one of the big undercard turf races right before one of the Triple Crown races wasn't even shown at all. The station was to busy showing what people were wearing and eating. You had to wait for TVG to replay it later that day. There is no way we are ever going to get more fans to come to racing if people can't turn on the TV and find some of these races like we use to be able to do. Key preps to the Triple Crown races and the BC races were always shown on atleast ESPN. Now they don't even cover them. I also absolutely think fans should have some say in the Eclipse Awards. Racing is not just a numbers game, it also has alot to due with passion and the love for the HORSE. I love what Marylou Whitney said in her speech to accept one of the awards of Merit. ALL owners need to take the responsibility for the care(that includes after their racing career has ended)of their horses from the time of purchase throughout the horses life. Many people buy and sell horse, but to throw a horse away after their done making money for you or if they are not capable of making any money is DEPLORABLE!  You know what they say about Karma.

19 Jan 2011 10:05 PM

I don't changing who votes for Eclipse Awards is the answer. More to the point, why aren't there some definitive, measurable qualifications for HOY?  Currently the parameters are so subjective and vague you can pretty much make a case for any number of horses in any given year.  Remember Ghostzapper and Smarty Jones? That was nearly as ugly as the past two years. Clearly define the definition of and qualification for HOY and at least everyone will know WHY the winner was chosen.  

19 Jan 2011 10:14 PM

I like the idea of People's Choice Awards.  You could do the same categories as the turf writers.  Leave the point system to the   experts (and there really needs to be one). I don't want to have to evaluate margin of victory, track record etc., that stuff means nothing to me.  I have watched horse racing all of my life but only the triple crown races because that is all that I knew existed until a few years ago.  I live in Alabama, no racetracks here.  I got TVG about 4 years ago and have been in horse heaven ever since.  I added HRTV about 2 years ago.  I truly did not know this horse racing world existed.  This is what is really really crazy Churchill Downs is only about a 5 hour drive.  How is it that I didn't know that there was horse racing twice a year at CD for several weeks in the Spring and the Fall??  NO MARKETING NO MARKETING NO MARKETING!!!!!!!!!!!!!

19 Jan 2011 11:09 PM

Take the people out of it.... do a straight point system, and make it right.  You would never "vote" to see which horses are entered in the Derby or other big races would you?

20 Jan 2011 7:15 AM

I like the idea of a People's Choice Award.  Fans--especially fans swept away by the emotion of love for a particular horse--should be able to see their votes count.  

But the votes for Eclipse, HOY, etc., should remain separate and be made by professionals.  And perhaps more should be made of that distinction.  HOY should not be a popularity contest and perhaps will not always go to the fan favorite.

No offense at all to Jerry Moss, but these days I think hard about his suggestions.  LOL, it was that the Breeders Cup alone should determine who got HOY; if we'd followed that idea this year, his horse would not have won it.  

So let's give thought to having the public vote, because that's a good idea, but make sure we retain the integrity of what is already there.

20 Jan 2011 7:32 AM

Queen just eliminated disabled fans who cannot get to a track...not quite fair.  Cartier Awards has a point system based on stakes races, sports writers' votes and fans' votes. Can we not just follow their lead?

20 Jan 2011 8:29 AM

I,for one would like to congratulate Jerry Moss for churning out a great PR campaign purposfully directed at those so called turf writers - some of whom, wouldn't know a horse race from a merry-go-round; again, congratulations Mr. Moss - you've succeeded in turning your great race mare into the Bristol Palin of the horse racing world ( and that's not meant to be a compliment ).

The Eclipse -especially HOY - should be and should have been left to an objective analysis of the exceptional performance of our horses ON THE RACETRACK and not be left to the fickle whims of a 'reality show' crazed public.

What we got this year was a "people's choice award" and not truly an Eclipse.

In this climate,the most deserved horse- Blame, who proved his superiority ON THE RACETRACK- well, he never had a chance.

20 Jan 2011 8:43 AM

Put the ballots in horse racing publications. Obviously, if a person has an interest in racing they know DRF, The Blood-Horse...etc. Make them mail-ns, too. I think people put more thought into something that requires a little effort, not a click.

Before that, can we all start a petition to NBC to keep races out of the hands of the "Real Housewives"? Please?

20 Jan 2011 11:08 AM

With all due respect for those that oppose fan voting, I think they underestimate the sophistication of the fan. There are fan organizations and some serious bloggers in existence today, ThoroFan,Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance (TBA) and HANA,immediately come to mind  . Why can't we begin this process by inviting a representative(s) of these fan organizations/groups to have a vote on the Eclipse Awards? Their membership could be polled and a "voice of the fan" included in the process.  Lets just start now and not wait until we get it "perfect". Its not neurosurgery. Lets not miss the "Zenayatta Effect"

20 Jan 2011 11:56 AM
Soldier Course


I respectfully take exception to your characterization of Jerry Moss as waging a PR campaign for Zenyatta's being named Horse of the Year. If anything, the opposite is true.

The Mosses and Zenyatta's other connections showed remarkable restraint and professional demeanor in the face of an inexplicable bias against their champion for two years.

Finally and thankfully, Zenyatta's connections spoke their minds when they were asked to do so.

At a press conference at Keeneland last October, John Shirreffs was asked specific, detailed questions about how he would feel if Zenyatta lost Horse of the Year for 2010. Mr. Shirreffs made it clear that this would be an injustice hard to bear, even if she lost the 2010 Breeders' Cup Classic. Thereafter Mr. Moss let it be known that the time for consolation prizes for his daughter was over.

Asked, and answered.

20 Jan 2011 2:29 PM

Fan voting is a nice idea but seems hardly practical and fair.Some are horse racing fans.Some are more-so fans of certain horses.Some are new and have little perspective on the history of the sport and its changes ,both good and bad. HOTY should not be simply a popularity contest.Voting in a highly popular but lesser achieving horse would not help the sport.Because of the emphasis on a few big money races,horses run less so we don't get the intense multi-race rivalries like ,Affirmed/Alydar,Sham/Secretariat,Alysheba/BetTwice/Ferdinand,or Sunday Silence/Easy Goer that pull in more fans.We need that to bring more fans to horse racing not just part time/special event fans.

20 Jan 2011 3:06 PM
Bill Daly

I would say that the HOTY award  - regardless of who is franchised to vote - needs a set of objective criteria which must be given consideration.  Since "Year" is part of the title of the award it just seems natural to include only performances in a given year.  The fact that some voters probably factored in her entire career led to Zenyatta's selection.  I cannot argue with anybody's selection since there are no criteria now.  I do think the fan should have some voice similar to the Cartier model.  I think MLB went overboard trying to make the All-Star Game vote nothing more than a popularity contest.  We don't need that.  A sound reasonable set of criteria is all that is needed.  I would add that the criteria be weighted as well.  For example, grade 1 wins vs. males should count more than victories in grade 1 female races.  I keep hearing Zenyatta proponents talking about her victories in grade 1 races restricted to females as tantamount to open grade 1 races.  This is just rubbish.  End of rant.

20 Jan 2011 4:27 PM

If the quality of the fan vote is a concern, then why not give a vote to subscribers of the major racing publications such as The Blood-Horse, Thoroughbred Times, and the Daily Racing Form?  That would be one way of ensuring that the fans who vote are truly knowledgeable about the sport.

20 Jan 2011 4:58 PM

unfortunately, unqualified people who have little knowledge about political issues are allowed to vote in this country.   so goes democracy

most of the turf writers have no clue either.   adding fans probably would not be a good idea b/c super saver would have been voted top 3 yr old, if they had a say

20 Jan 2011 5:20 PM

Create a People's Choice award for fan voting if fans really feel the need to prove something through a popularity contest and owners wish to engage in slick PR campaigns.

The Eclipse awards should keep what integrity remains and be awarded solely on the basis of what happens on the track. Open Grade I races should always be given the most weight - since this is where the best of the best go to run. A campaign run over multiple states/tracks should also be given more weight. Shipping causes a great deal of stress and this is where the very good are weeded out from the great. HOY should always be the total package.

20 Jan 2011 8:03 PM

Since the fans have a proven track record that they are right about the best horse one-third of the time in any given race (favorite winning percentage), a fair point system is the only way to go with open G1 wins garnering the most points. Blame got robbed.

20 Jan 2011 9:05 PM
Karen in Indiana

Basically, what Alex Waldrop just said is that fans are not intelligent enough to use reason in their vote. But you know, these are not cars racing. Sometimes heart is a good thing. Which is better for racing - the way it is now, with 'professionals' doing all the choosing, leaving fans frustrated or realizing that the trade-off for having an involved, passionate fan base is that some years the choices may be based more on emotion? Cartier awards system sounds like a good balance: a win-win solution.

20 Jan 2011 10:23 PM

Racing needs to unabashedly "pimp itself out".  It's going to be empty and depressing at Aqueduct tomorrow .... and the slots, although needed, are going to bring goodness knows what cast of new characters.  Racing seems so uncomfortable operating in the current day and age.  The Mosses seemed to get it, maybe because they are rock and roll and racing is their hobby.

20 Jan 2011 11:11 PM

Television does not take horse racing seriously as a sport.  They have made that abundantly clear.  I remember last year, I believe it was ESPN coverage of some of the Win and You Are In races for the Breeder's Cup NOT EVEN showing Gio Ponti's race.  They were too busy showing some stupid Hank story or Kenny story about the local deli.  They would never do something like that during Wimbledon or NBA Playoffs would they?  What does the NTRA do again?  

21 Jan 2011 12:18 AM

MacKenzie - I respectfully disagree that Zenyatta has become the Bristol Palin of horse racing.  I have heard many many people in the business praise her as the best or one of the best they have ever seen.  I hardly think she is a joke.

21 Jan 2011 12:21 AM

Access is a huge problem, as commented by others. I am several hours from a harness track, that races on a limited schedule. Otherwise, I am 8 hrs from a track. I live in a state that does not allow online/tv betting, which drives me to drink. And, I do get TVG, but had to pay quite a bit more, about $35+ per month. I had to get a block of sports shows, which I don't watch, in order to watch racing. Thank goodness, I have that. I can't wager. But, I love the sport, and follow it online. But, without the live racing, it would be a daunting task. I am sure there are many others who experience this same frustration in attempting to follow our beloved sport!!!

21 Jan 2011 6:43 AM
Billy's Empire

Way to Go MacKenzie. IMO, Zenyatta got Sympathy votes. She won b/c she's a fan favorite, and not the best horse. That would be Blame. I was listening to the radio this morning, and they were interviewing people that actually had a vote in the Eclipse awards

(jeenie Rees, Jody Demling), and 4 people from the Courier Journal in KY had votes. They all voted for Blame. It seems the people who live and breath the industry in KY everyday got the vote right, as they all voted for Blame, b/c he was the best on the track. Zenyatta is great. She was fun to watch and had tremendous heart, but Blame had a better campaign. Zenyatta got a Special Eclipse award, the older mare award, the HOY award, and a new award that was to be made up just to honor the mare.

If the fans voted, it would be a complete joke of an award. Most do not watch enough racing to warrant a vote. And after reading the blogs, there is so much animosity, hate, and anger towards certain trainers, horses, and demographic bias, that it would not be a vote to honor a true Champion. They got the vote wrong this year, and they are supposed to be  people in the know in the industry. I am proud of my Courier Journal voters. They got it right

21 Jan 2011 10:25 AM

Why not allow breeders vote?  One vote per horse registered with the Jockey Club for that year.

21 Jan 2011 1:36 PM

if your a zenyatta fan for hoy and blame wins, or vice versa, it's not the end of the world. it's only certain people's decision, not mine not yours. academy award show will never change my mind on what my favorite movie was, why should hoy be any different. are the moss's going to love z any less if she dosen't win, will blame's stud fee drop to 10k if he's not hoy. JUST AN AWARD SHOW FOLKS. p.s. thanks susan from va., took the words right outta my typing.

21 Jan 2011 2:00 PM

Bravo to Slew's comments above.  I also do not have cable.  I go over to my mother's house to watch the Breeders Cup because she gets ESPN, but she doesn't get TVG or HRTV and I can't afford the time to make the trip to her house very often anyway.  TV networks used to to a good job of covering horse racing, but ESPN does a pathetic job.  How I long for the days of Jim McKay!

21 Jan 2011 2:10 PM

I say let the fans vote. Why not? After all, the 2010 HOTY won because of popularity, so it already seems as if the fans had a vote. If the horse most deserving of HOTY based on what happened on the track cannot win the award (Blame), then let the fans have a vote since the HOTY award pretty much has lost its credibility.

21 Jan 2011 3:03 PM

Maybe a People's Choice award is a good idea. Maybe then we can get rid of the venomous exchanges the past two years have sparked. Hey, we all have our heroes. I love The Tin Man and Kip Deville and yeah, Peppers Pride too (in recent years.) Having a vote for a fan-oriented award would involve people and give kudos to both the equine stars and the connections who present the horses for our enjoyment. HOY should always remain an achievement-based honor. As I said, I was overjoyed for Peppers Pride's accomplishment but I would never have even imagined her for HOY. The heart and the head don't always walk to the same beat.

21 Jan 2011 3:31 PM

Sorry Michelle, but I beleive that you misunderstood: I never intended to dismiss Zenyatta as a joke. I have the greatest deal of respect for her as the "great race mare" that she is; my impication was to draw attention to the fact that 'stuffing the ballot box' through whatever means( in this case, a cleverly crafted media campaign) does not give us a HOY that was the most deserving athlete this year.

John Shirreffs and Jerry Moss knew exactly what they were doing when they began campaigning

long before the race was run. It was intended to become a media affair to support Zenyatta whether or not she was to be victorious against the best competition of her racing life - this 'move' left most racing professionals scratching their collective heads:it is a valued tradition in this sport that superiority is earned on the racetrack and by extension the HOY award should belong to the runner who proved his/her superiority the old fashioned way - by actually earning it!

21 Jan 2011 5:57 PM

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