My ballot

The Eclipse ballot stipulates that voters make three choices in each category; failure to make three choices invalidates the vote for that category. These choices determine the top three finalists in each category; the champion in each category is determined solely by the highest number of first-place votes.

In most cases, I spent more time on the second and third choices than I did on the first one; the champion vote was often fairly clear-cut, and I couldn’t help feeling that the second and third choices were something of an exercise in futility. Nonetheless, I made three choices in all categories except apprentice jockey, from which I abstained.

I’m posting here my three picks for each category, with occasional explanations for egregious (used here in the “conspicuous” sense of the word, and not, I hope, in the “conspicuously bad” sense) choices.

2-year-old male: Uncle Mo, Boys of Toscanova, To Honor and Serve

2-year-old female: Awesome Feather, Wickedly Perfect, Turbulent Descent

3-year-old male: Lookin at Lucky, Paddy O’Prado, Smiling Tiger

3-year-old female: Blind Luck, Evening Jewel, Devil May Care

Turf male: Gio Ponti, Winchester, Paddy O’Prado

Turf female: Proviso, Goldikova, Tuscan Evening

Older male: Blame, Quality Road, Haynesfield

Older female: Zenyatta, Life At Ten, Unrivaled Belle

Female sprinter: Dubai Majesty, Champagne D’Oro, Switch

Male sprinter: Big Drama, Discreetly Mine, Majesticperfection

Apprentice jockey: Abstain

Jockey: Ramon Dominguez, Garrett Gomez, John Velazquez

Steeplechase: Slip Away, Sermon of Love, Arcadius

Trainer: Jerry Hollendorfer, Todd Pletcher, Nick Zito

Breeder: Claiborne, Brereton Jones, Edward Evans

Owner: Winstar, Juddmonte, Edward Evans

Horse of the Year: Zenyatta, Blame, Blind Luck

I think that Goldikova is a magnificent and historic racehorse, but I don’t think that the Eclipse should be awarded on the basis of one North American start. Percussionist was similarly campaigned mostly overseas (two starts here, one win) and that’s why I left him off.

I know that the sprint category came down for most people to Big Drama and Majesticperfection; I gave the nod to Big Drama because I think a full year campaign carries more weight than one shortened due to injury. Discreetly Mine had three wins and one second in graded stakes to Majesticperfection’s one graded stakes win.

I admired the way Hollendorfer campaigned Blind Luck this year; he was the fourth trainer by earnings for the year (Pletcher, Asmussen, and Baffert had the top three spots), third in wins, and fourth in graded stakes wins. This was a category where the intangibles influenced me more than the numbers. Pletcher won his first Derby, which is why I put him second; and while Zito didn’t crack the top 10 in any category, so many of his horses were so close so many times that I felt that he deserved recognition. Again, in this category, intangibles ruled the day for me.

I don’t think that I need to explain why I voted for Zenyatta over Blame. It was a tough call; I can’t disagree with anyone who voted for Blame, and I nearly did myself. But history weighed heavily here for me, and it simply felt like the right thing to do to vote for the horse who made history, and who fell, arguably, a few inches short of being legendary.

25 thoughts on “My ballot

  1. Teresa – While I disagree with it I can certainly understand anyone who decides they will choose Zenyatta over Blame for Horse of the Year.

    What I don’t understand is how Al Stall, Jr. could have been left off of the trainers ballot and Nick Zito put on it.

  2. I should correct myself. I can appreciate the sentiment for the performances of Zito’s charges, albeit in losing efforts, in the major races across the course of the entire year.

    I just find it difficult to see a ballot without Stall’s name on it.

  3. Teresa:
    Have enjoyed your blog the past two years. Apparently I’m an anomoly in that I think HOY pertains to this year only, should be decided on the track and would therefore vote for Zenyatta!
    If the BC Classic were just the “7th at Churchill”, no one would debate that the 8 horse ran many lengths better than the 5 horse. I give a big edge to Z here.
    Z never had an off day in 2010 (2009,2008 either) despite unfavorable pace setups and racing at suboptimal distances (she is clearly a 10F+ horse), vs Blame’s JCGC loss.
    I give a nod to Blame for his Whitney win despite slow fractions and for beating better competition (although only a slight edge here, Switch and St Trinians are hardly ordinary horses).
    Add the positives and negatives and 2010 HOTY=Zenyatta

  4. Bill, point well taken. The trainer character was my most idiosyncratic, and Stall’s training is certainly worthy of recognition.

    Ron, it was a tough choice: merits for both of them.

    Thanks both of you for such civil commentary and for sharing your opinions.

    • You make a good point, Bob – if I don’t think that Goldikova deserves the award off of one North American start, why include her at all?
      And while I don’t think that it took any particular courage to vote for her, I do wish that those who support her could also recognize the accomplishments of Blame, who is also clearly worthy of the award.

      I have utter faith, Bob, in your ability to be civil, even with a dueling sword in your hand; your several comments are a great track record. And Goldikova has an awful lot of support out there. Thanks for weighing in.

  5. IS IT HORSE OF THE WHOLE YEAR –
    OR HORSE OF ONE RACE ON ONE DAY?

    The one undisputed “fact” in the argument about who should be voted 2010 Horse of the Year, Zenyatta or Blame, is the fact that Blame beat Zenyatta by inches in a photo finish in this year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic. If this is the sole criterion for selecting Horse of the Year, then Blame, by virtue of this one race on one day in 2010, should be selected. And, not surprisingly, this is absolutely the fact, the race and the day to which most of Blame’s ardent supporters for Horse of the Year honors point to justify their conclusion. But are they doing so with blinkers on? Doesn’t this make Blame “Horse of the Day” rather than Horse of the Year? Are their comparisons of the achievements of Blame and Zenyatta over the whole year really even-handed or are they noticeably biased, lop-sided and dismissive of Zenyatta’s 2010 accomplishments? Is the debate clouded by glib but false comparisons between so-called “facts” in favor of Blame and “feelings” favoring Zenyatta, between claims of “performance” by Blame and the “popularity” of Zenyatta, between references to Zenyatta’s career achievements versus Blame’s 2010 record? Rather than relying on these loose and not very instructive characterizations, shouldn’t the Horse of the Year voters examine, fairly and even-handedly, all aspects of the two horses’ 2010 records?

    For starters, to address the first and most frequently expressed argument that Blame “earned” the Horse of the Year award by beating Zenyatta head-to-head in the Classic, the fact is that winning the Breeders’ Cup Classic has never been the sole or even main criterion for selecting Horse of the Year. It is after all one race, albeit an important race, on one day at one race track. In fact, since the inaugural run of the Classic in 1984, the race’s winner has been selected Horse of the Year only 42% of the time, in 11 out of 26 years, and never exclusively or even primarily because of the Classic win. Last year is an obvious example. Although Zenyatta won the Classic, she was not voted Horse of the Year. That honor went to Rachel Alexandra, who didn’t run in the Classic, but who had an extraordinary and unprecedented year of achievement as a 3 year old filly. And, it is important to note, on several occasions a loser of the Classic was still named Horse of the Year. Curlin is only the latest example. He finished 4th in the 2008 Classic but was, nonetheless still named Horse of the Year. In 1998, Awesome Again won the Classic, but Skip Away, who finished 6th, was selected Horse of the Year. Ironically, Awesome Again, like Blame, won the Stephen Foster and Whitney on his way to victory in the Classic. In 1996, Alphabet Soup won the Classic, but Cigar, who finished 3rd, was chosen Horse of the Year. So, historically, winning the Classic, even winning head to head in the Classic, has never been the only or even a primary deciding factor in selecting Horse of the Year, and there is no compelling reason why this year, all of a sudden, it should be.

    In addition to pointing to Blame’s win by inches over Zenyatta in the Classic, notably on his home track, as the main Horse of the Year deciding factor, Blame’s advocates make the following arguments in support of his candidacy, none of which, on fair reflection, really survive scrutiny, and all of which can be rebutted point by point to demonstrate their weaknesses:

    1. Zenyatta’s popularity and lifetime achievements don’t count in the race for Horse of the Year. What counts is performance in a given year.

    This argument is a red herring. It isn’t necessary to look at Zenyatta’s multi-year achievements and popularity, though they are unique, unmatched and historic. Just look at what she accomplished in 2010 compared to Blame.

    Grade I Races. Zenyatta won five Grade l races before the Classic; Blame won three Grade l races including the Classic.

    Weight Assignments and Concessions. Zenyatta raced under different and lopsided weight assignments and concessions, carrying 127, 123 and 129 lbs. in her first three races, spotting her rivals 11-16 lbs. in the Santa Margarita Handicap and 9-17 lbs. in the Vanity Handicap and carrying more weight in these two races than Blame carried all year. Blame, on the other hand, carried 118, 120 and 121 lbs. in his first three races. In the Whitney, Blame carried 121 lbs., a five pound weight advantage over rival Quality Road whom he beat by only a head. In the Jockey Club Gold Cup, Blame carried the same weight as rival Haynesfield, 126 lbs., and got beaten, handily, by 4 lengths.

    Margins of Victory and Loss. Zenyatta won by 4 lengths in the Apple Blossom and in her only lifetime loss, lost by 3-4 inches to Blame in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Blame lost by 4 lengths to Haynesfield in the Jockey Club Gold Cup and his greatest margin of victory was a length and ½ in the Grade lll Schaefer Handicap, his first race of the year.

    Racing Surfaces. Zenyatta raced on dirt and three types of synthetic surface. Blame raced only on dirt.

    Tracks, States and Miles. Zenyatta raced at five different tracks in three states, California, Arkansas and Kentucky. Blame raced at four tracks in three states, Maryland, New York and Kentucky. Zenyatta traveled more miles than Blame to race in 2010.

    Records Broken in 2010. Zenyatta either tied and/or broke several racing records in 2010 in addition to becoming the highest earning female racehorse ever in North America. She broke the record for the longest winning streak in major stakes races previously held by Cigar and Citation. She broke the world record for consecutive Grade/Group I victories previously held by Rock of Gibraltar. She broke the all-time North American record set by Bayakoa for total Grade/Group l victories by a filly or mare. She tied and then broke the record of Eclipse, the horse for whom the year-end awards, including Horse of the Year, are named, for consecutive victories without defeat. And prior to her narrow defeat in the Classic, she tied Peppers Pride for the longest undefeated record by a thoroughbred in American racing history.

    Intangibles. In 2010, Zenyatta, a six year old mare, relatively old by modern American thoroughbred racing standards, was brought back, at significant risk to her unblemished winning record, for a third full year of Grade l level racing, and with her, this year, came huge audiences, intense media attention and a sorely needed expanding fan base for the troubled sport of horse racing. For the second year in a row she came in second in the voting for a heretofore exclusively human award, Female Athlete of the Year – unprecedented. Blame, a four year old colt in his prime and in good health, has raced in graded stakes races for less than two years and is now retiring to stud, sadly never really having had a chance to show us his full potential as a racehorse, the lure of stud fees trumping the allure – and the better interests – of the sport of horse racing.

    2. None of these facts clearly favoring Zenyatta for Horse of the Year matter, because Zenyatta’s 2010 campaign was easier than Blame’s. Blame raced against the country’s best male horses and Zenyatta scored all of her 5 victories against relatively weak filly and mare rivals, never beating any Grade I winners.

    This is the “Zenyatta has a flimsy resume and only raced against girls” argument. It exudes more than a hint of horse-directed misogyny and like the previous arguments does not, in fact, survive examination under the lights. It would seem that, at least over the last couple of years, Zenyatta, along with Rachel Alexandra and surely Goldikova, not to mention earlier wins in Triple Crown races by Genuine Risk (Kentucky Derby), Winning Colors (Kentucky Derby) and Rags to Riches (over 2 time Horse of the Year Curlin in the 2007 Belmont), have demonstrated that there are some fillies and mares that can give the best of the boys a run for the money. In any event, serious scrutiny of the actual 2010 racing records of Zenyatta and Blame don’t really favor Blame or justify discounting Zenyatta’s performance this year.

    Blame’s 2010 Record. In Blame’s first race of the year, the 1 1/16 mile Grade III Shaefer Handicap at Pimlico on the Preakness undercard, Blame won by a length and ½. Previous Grade l winner Bullsbay was 4th.

    In Blame’s second race of the year, the Grade l Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs, Blame won by ¾ length over Battle Plan, who came up lame with a torn suspensory in his right front leg. Previous Grade l winners General Quarters ran 3rd and Macho Again ran 10th. Blame’s winning time was an unspectacular 1:49.37. What is interesting about this race is that a couple of hours earlier, in the Grade II Fleur De Lis, 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra, soon to be retired because of her so-called subpar performances in 2010, won her race over the same track and conditions in 1:48.78, leading to speculation that she, instead of Blame, likely would have won the Stephen Foster had she been entered in that race instead of the Fleur De Lis. Rachel Alexandra earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 108 for her win in the Fleur De Lis. Blame earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 102 for his win in the Stephen Foster. Battle Plan’s losing Beyer Speed Figure was 101.

    Blame’s third race of the year, and by far his best before the Classic, was in the 1 1/8 mile Grade I Whitney Handicap at Saratoga, where with a 5 lb. weight advantage (121 lbs.), he beat Grade l winning favorite Quality Road (126 lbs.) by a head. Both Blame and Quality Road were assigned Beyer Speed Figures of 111. 2009 Grade l Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird was 5th.

    After that, instead of the risk of having Blame face Quality Road for a rematch at equal weight (126 lbs.) in the Grade I Woodward Stakes at Saratoga, Blame’s connections elected to race him as the odds on favorite in the 1 ¼ mile Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont, where, unfortunately, he got his hooves handed to him on a platter in a 4 length loss to Haynesfield, a previous grade II winner who had finished 4th behind Blame and Quality Road in the Whitney. Previous Grade l winner Rail Trip ran 5th. This is the race that Blame aficionados and advocates for Blame as Horse of the Year want everyone, particularly the Horse of the Year voters, to forget, discount, excuse, ignore and disregard, as it casts somewhat of a shadow on the quality of Blame’s 2010 body of work.

    Finally, in his fifth and last 2010 race, the Breeders’ Cup Classic, Blame faced Grade l winners Paddy O’Prado, Espoir City, Lookin At Lucky and Zenyatta, as well as Quality Road and Haynesfield, and perennially competitive Musket Man, Fly Down and First Dude. He won, holding off Zenyatta by inches. Quality Road finished last and Haynesfield, who had beaten Blame in the Jockey Club Gold Cup by an uncontested 4 lengths, finished second to last. Both Blame and Zenyatta were assigned Beyer Speed Figures of 111, matching Blame’s earlier best Beyer Speed Figure in the Whitney.

    Zenyatta’s 2010 Record. As previously noted, Zenyatta won five Grade I races in 2010 before the Classic. And although she did not beat any Grade I winners in those races, she did beat horses that had previously beaten Grade I winners.

    St. Trinians, whom Zenyatta beat in the Vanity Handicap, had previously beaten Grade l winner of the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic, Life is Sweet, in the Grade II Santa Maria Stakes at Santa Anita. In the Vanity, raced the same day as Blame’s win in the Stephen Foster with a Beyer Speed Figure of 102, Zenyatta had a Beyer Speed Figure of 103 and St. Trinians a Beyer Speed Figure of 102, same as Blame’s that day. Do these not count because they were earned by mares instead of a colt? Although speed figure assignments don’t represent an exact science, they do suggest that the competition was somewhat comparable. Or are they are totally meaningless and to be disregarded when a comparison benefits Zenyatta?

    Zenyatta beat Switch in the Grade 1 Lady’s Secret. Previously, in the Grade ll Hollywood Oaks, Switch had beaten the winner of the Grade l Las Virgenes at Santa Anita and likely Eclipse 2010 Champion 3 Year Old Filly, Blind Luck. In addition, Switch just recently won the Grade l La Brea Stakes at Santa Anita, and is now herself a Grade l winner.

    Like Blame, Zenyatta also beat all the Grade l winners who raced in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic, if only by a few inches less than Blame. She earned the same Beyer Speed Figure of 111 as Blame, equal to his best, short of hers, and even Andrew Beyer, a perennial deep discounter of Zenyatta’s skill as a top quality racehorse acknowledged after the Classic that “she’s as good as Blame.” If you adjust for accuracy this deep discounter’s praise, Zenyatta is likely one of the greatest racehorses of all time, including this year.

    Regarding Zenyatta’s so-called “subpar filly and mare competition,” notably, a review of race footage suggests that she had an easier time beating the country’s “best male horses” against whom she and Blame raced in the Classic than she had getting past St. Trinians and Switch in those sissy Grade l races she ran in California. And also in connection with the claim that Zenyatta didn’t race against enough Grade l horses during the year, it should be noted that several Grade I horses avoided Zenyatta, including 2009 Horse of the Year, Rachel Alexandra, in the Apple Blossom, and likely 2010 Champion Three Year Old Filly, Blind Luck, in the Lady’s Secret. In contrast, Zenyatta didn’t duck her biggest challenges. She was ready and willing to take on in the Apple Blossom, 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra, in early 2010 considered to be the best racehorse in America. It was Rachel Alexandra who wasn’t ready and backed out of the race. And Zenyatta showed up and put it all on the line in the 2010 Classic, against all the Grade l “best male horses,” on dirt in a foreign venue, missing by only a few whiskers to a good horse racing on a familiar track.

    There is no doubt that Blame is a good horse and that he had a relatively good year and ran a great race in the Classic. But Zenyatta deserves to be voted Horse of the Year for what she has done in racing and for racing this entire year.

    In racing this year, Zenyatta won more Grade l races than Blame. In the Classic she beat all the same “best male horses” that Blame beat. She earned the same Beyer Speed Figure in the Classic as Blame. She never lost to any horse by 4 lengths going away like Blame lost to Haynesfield in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. She showed up big time and ready to fire for every single race, not only this year but in her whole career, and her only lifetime loss was by a few inches. This year she broke or tied records for consecutive wins, Grade l wins and earnings. Zenyatta’s 2010 racing performance has been phenomenal.

    What has been even more phenomenal, however, is what Zenyatta has done this year for thoroughbred racing. She has brought crowds, new fans and unprecedented and glowing media attention. She has brought goosebumps and thrills, joy and, on one occasion, heartbreak. And she never stopped dancing.

    Zenyatta is the horse of the year. She is the horse of the decade. She is, so far, the horse of this century. And we will never forget her.

    Kate Wheeler
    Baton Rouge, LA
    (225) 247-6718

  6. Wow Kate, but Teresa did vote for Zenyatta. Where were you when I needed help pitching Goldikova for at least a minor award like Female Turf Champion. I am pleased the lady showed notable courage for a New York gal in voting for Z. I accept her rational for the only one race but then Goldikova’s name should not appear at all. Second to Proviso and not appearing on the HOTY tally is worrisome. I am trying to be civil as I search for my dueling sword.

  7. TERESA YOU MADE THE CORRECT DECISION…
    ZENYATTA IS THE HOTY. HORSE OF THE DECADE.
    ZENYATTA IS TRULY THE HORSE THAT PUT RACING BACK ON THE PLAYFIELD. THANK YOU FOR RECOGNIZING HER NATURAL ABILITY AND CHARISMA.

  8. Zenyatta was legendary by the time she entered the starting gate in the Classic this year. Her performance there just cemented it. I agree with your selection of the big mare as HOTY, but again, win it or lose it, it’s irrelevant to her reputation. She’s bigger than the award.

  9. I commend the legion of Zenyatta supporters but the steggering enthusiasm is having a negative bounce. I agree with Ms. Brooklyn Backstretch, Blame is an awfully nice horse and should be considered as a possible suitor for Zenyatta, although I think the owners will choose Tiago.

  10. The clear choice for HOY is definatly Zenyatta. while Blame is a marvel… Zenyatta has by far brought more back to this industry than most. Her achievements far surpass those of Blame. Yes he is a good horse. But this year should go to Zenyatta. Children scream for Zenyatta, they fell in love with the dancing horse who brought the crowds to their feet. All the posters that the kids drew for her, how can anyone turn that away? Its more than just the dollar amount to the industry. You have to look at the whole picture.

  11. OOHHH Bob…. By pedigree standard…. it should be Summer Bird ,Curlin or even Scrimshaw . Dont turn away from Dynaformer he has alot to bring to the industry if it were his offspring. it might just be another kentucky derby winner in the future. My personal choice for suitor would certainly be Scrimshaw. We havent seen one of Shams lines in the midst in some time. dont forget about that wonderful gene pool.

  12. Well done, Teresa and all! The heated and passionate debates across the racing horizon are exactly what the industry needs to prosper and engage fans from the young and old to the newbies and oldtimers!! Hip, hip, hooray HOY! I seriously doubt Blame, for all his gretness could generated so much passion.
    The Eclipse HOY is defined as honoring excellence.

  13. Given where she is, it seems like AP Indy is the most likely suitor for Queen Z.

    Personally I’d have shipped her to Europe to Cape Cross or Sea The Stars, but I prefer distance-going turf horses.

  14. I am squarely in Zenyatta’s camp but I believe the connections very conservative plan for 2010 put the ladies quest for HOTY in doubt. As you can tell from my previous pleadings, I prefer sassy little fillies and mares with big hearts and Ferrari like motors. Back allot of years ago I was leading a very classy colt to the paddock for the Man A War at Belmont Park. Right behind me on the walk over was the most eloquent little liver chestnut mare I had ever seen. I kept looking back and trying to slow down so she would pass me but this big boy was towing me to the saddling arena. The colt won the race. The mare was in the twilight of her 40+ race career and finished about seventh but she was special. I was hooked. Zenyatta and Goldikova are better then this mare but it would provoke some heated debate, without a doubt.

    Since, Teresa gives us an opportunity to espouse our opinions and dreams I will proceed.

    If Zenyatta were my pony I would have.

    1. At the very least worked her in company over the CD surface. For as long as I can remember this track has been unpredictable.

    2. Shipped her to Saratoga for one of the filly/mare Grade 1 races. The argument she didn’t like to travel is questionable.. This mare wouldn’t have cared less. If she wasn’t about to be a brood mare some slick cowboy could be roping steers off of her in a few months.

    3. Work her on the Saratoga or Belmont grass. If she didn’t like the lawn then she could try the Belmont main track or ship down to Monmouth .If you think the fans are out of control now, what do you think if she was dancing around New York. The set-up is perfect. The skeptics are fading. She might already have sowed up HOTY in RA fashion. The coup de grace is yet to arrive.

    4. If she liked the grass then we go for the whole magilla. Being a glory seeking adventurous sort I would skip the Belmont/Monmouth start and ship to Paris for the Arc. Strolling along behind the field until they make the last right hander into the stretch at Longchamps, would generate thunderous noise heard at every track on the planet. Mikey turns her loose and the big babe starts picking off the back markers rolling towards the front. She might not get there but she would scare the hell out those Euro dandies and head to CD with the French Foreign Legion as an escort. Game over, the trip is for blowing kisses, autographs and new French dance moves.

    “If she fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that her place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat”. T. Roosevelt

  15. Maureen, you say that it’s “more than the dollar amount.” But is it, really? Without dollars through the window, racing won’t survive, so while I appreciate that Zenyatta raised racing’s profile, particularly this year, and arguably brought some more people to the race track, I don’t see any evidence that she encouraged more people to bet, or that more people will regularly come to the track now that she’s retired.

    I hope that I’m wrong, but I fear that her influence on racing will be ephemeral.

  16. Zenyatta, Blame, Goldikova and all the rest of 2010’s contenders aside, I think the greatest example of horseracing’s soul resides right here at Brooklyn Backstretch.

    Afterall, where else can one find such literate opinions expressed with such constructive abandon for the simple good of the game. Three cheers to Kate Wheeler for her extraordinary treatise on the subject of 2010 Horse of the Year, three cheers to every other Brooklyn Backstretch contributor — today and always — whose well-thought-out additions regularly grow the conversation and three cheers to our favorite professor of equine intelligence and holder of the flame, Teresa Genaro.

    Teresa, you may have suffered the weight of responsibility with your duty to vote, but we have gained from your experience and the conversation you have enabled.

    Thank you!

  17. Teresa, The Zenyatta phenomenon demonstrated there is potentially a huge fan base. I think you are right about it not generating much window traffic.

    The horse can generate the interest but the horse racing intity needs to support the horse with promotion and marketing. This year Zenyatta was pretty much a one mare band supported by her own team. The horse racing oganization[?] or whatever stood around enjoying the ride. A windfall gone astray.

    Reason. Horse Racing is not a stand alone operation with unified leadership, management and promotional divisions like every other pro sport in the world.

    Problem. Horse racing is a support activity for the breeding industry. The horse is pushing the cart instead of pulling it. You can’t generate a fan base when most horses have a 10 minute career. Under todays standards Forego would have been retired after 5 races.

    The owners and trainers of those lovely colts we saw at the BC a short while ago are planning how few starts can they make and still make the Derby. The ideal scenario would be 3 starts{triple crown] and cash in. The breeder/owner has hobbled racing. Strong independent leadership would correct that problem.

    Everybody talks a good game, blue ribbon panels are formed but at the end of the day we are just tip-toeing around the problem.

    Horse racing[?] needs to grabs the reins. But the jockey can’t be a guy who owns the horse, the track and a breeding farm. I think this is called a confict of interests.

  18. If Zenyatta did not win Horse of the Year last year by winning the BC Classic, how in the world is she eligible to win HOTY now by NOT winning the classic? Very simple: Her body of work in 2010 did not include a WIN OVER ANY COLTS. You cannot bestow an Eclipse Award (emotionally) by how Zenyatta appealled to crowds throughout her career, as popular as she is. Her owner, trainer, and jockey were too confident in her winning the BC Classic, and did not prepare her thoroughly enough to endure everything the Classic might dole out. This includes kick back from the dirt track surface, and her one dimensional running style,
    where she always comes from way off the pace, has to go wide because she is so huge. She should have been schooled long ago on how to lay a little closer to the pace, how to accept going between horses in tight company, and having to do what she is told a little more. They as a group let her “train herself” and although you can’t force a horse to run completely out of its comfort zone and style, it does need to learn to adjust to varying racing situations so it can WIN. Her loss in the Classic is not her fault- it lies with all her connections who should have been thinking for her a little more…
    As unpopular as this will be…Zenyatta should have been taken on the road more last year, to give her a huge body of work to fall back on in case she didn’t win the Classic…For instance, she is super sound, travels well, and likes all tracks and surfaces. Well, duh, why not start off last year with a trip to any of the big ‘Caps available, or better yet, a trip to Dubai? Zenyatta could have competed well and probably beat any colt in the country last year. At least, at a mile and a quarter. Hence, more schooling at laying closer to the pace in shorter races at a mile and an eighth. You can’t give Horse of the Year title to a mare that was kept at restricted to same sex races all year. How can you justify that? I think a smart move would have been to send her to Japan for their Cup. Just a month after the BC Classic,and she was fit and sound. Why not chase Curlin’s all time leading money winner title? They could have done so much more with Zenyatta if they wanted to. I think the connections were afraid to because since the horse was so popular, if she got hurt racing, they would have to suffer the wrath of the PETA community. So they played it safe- entering her in race after race against the same So Cal mares that were obviously no threat to her win streak. I give lots of credit to Jess Jackson for campaigning Rachel the way he did…No Classic BUT HOTY! Her total body of work spoke for itself…Hope I didn’t offend anyone, but this needed to be said. Thanks…

  19. Really like the Bob Bright comments…My sentiments exactly…Why not try her on the turf? Jess Jackson did that with Curlin, and what a respectable finish in the Man O’ War! If Zenyatta was that good on synthetic, and that good anyway, she should clean up on turf… What a waste…Who was not thinking?

  20. Sorry, Kate Wheeler, that Zenyatta did not win ANY race against ANY colts in 2010. Period. You can’t win HOTY by only winning against fillies and mares. You have to understand the criteria for voting. It is not a “lifetime achievement award”. It is an award for a body of work for the calendar year it is designated for.
    In order for a mare to win HOTY, she HAS to beat the colts. As much as we all want to support “girl power”, the fact remains that Zenyatta had to beat the boys to get her title. For all she has done for racing, I am in full support of her receiving a “lifetime achievement award” to show appreciation for her generating a growing fan base and being such a boon to racing. However, you need to vote with your head, and not your emotional heart, and understand how the voting is done each year. Regards…

    • Maggie,

      I’m pretty sure that Azeri didn’t beat colts when she was named Horse of the Year in 2002. I’d have to check for sure, but I think that all of her races that were against fillies and mare.

      Also to clarify: there are no criteria for voting for Horse of the Year.

      Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.

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