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HRN Original Blog:
Zipse At The Track

If you voted Zenyatta, you have to love Union Rags

As you all know the 2010 Horse of the Year award went to Zenyatta in a narrow decision over Blame, despite having been beaten by him in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. For many, this decision was the correct one for a combination of reasons: Zenyatta was the leader of the Horse of the Year race going into the Classic, having once again dominated the older mare division in undefeated fashion. And secondly, Zenyatta was perceived to have run every bit as an impressive race in the Classic as Blame did - having had to come from so far back without the clearest of trips turning for home - if not better than the actual race winner. This scenario sounds like a carbon copy of the discussion for Champion Two-year-old male of 2011.


Union Rags was the unquestionable leader of the two-year-old male division before the colts were loaded into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile starting gate. He was perfect in three starts, including impressive scores in the Grade 2 Saratoga Special and the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes. Meanwhile, like Blame, Hansen was one of the major contenders coming into the race, but with only romping wins in a maiden race, and the ungraded Kentucky Cup Juvenile, both at Turfway Park, he certainly had some ground to make up in the race for an Eclipse Award.


He may have made up that ground by scoring a front running victory on Saturday, but then again, maybe he didn’t. While Hansen carved out all the fractions, and relatively unbothered by company until the stretch run, Union Rags went wide on both turns from his outside post position, and then swerved in and out during the stretch before just missing his near white rival at the wire. Hansen won the race, but my friends at Trakus tell me that Union Rags ran 78 feet farther than Hansen did. That equates to approximately nine lengths. The final margin of victory was a head, the same margin that did in Zenyatta in last year’s Classic. Well that is, did her in for the race, but when the Horse of the Year winner was announced, it was Zenyatta who came out ahead.

 

Unless last year’s award was a lifetime achievement award, or a popularity contest, I ask you … What is the difference between voting Zenyatta over Blame last year and selecting Union Rags over Hansen this year?

 


 

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Older Comments about If you voted Zenyatta, you have to love Union Rags...

They are both Showing potential in hte racing industry. I thnk Hansen may win the derby.
other than both being thoroughbreds I fail to see anything in their actions similar
Hansen won the race, and that's all I care about. I think Union Rags is better, but when they hit the wire it was all Hansen.
racecaller, now that the CLARK is won and done what say you?
The Best Horse Won The Juvenile fair and square. Different Scenarios all around when comparing Z who was waaaayyy out of it in the beginning of The Classic, and spinning her wheels on an unfamiliar track. She still ran her heart out on a track she didn't like and still Won Horse of the Year. As for Union Rags he has been in worse trouble and still won. Let's just admit he wasn't better than Hansen this time! Maybe he'll prove that he can in 2012.
Horse of the Year can change depending on what happens in the Clark.
I agree HDG is H.O.Y..She handled Royal Delta easily in the Beldame.Passed on the Ladies classic and went all in on the Classic. I love it.
HDG H.O.Y.. Think about the year. She was the best.
Union Rags maybe will we the best 3yo next year, but this year Hansen showed he is best 2yo. Don't look in their career overal, don't guess what they will do in future. This year two undef. meet each other and Hansen won.
I feel HOTY is about voting for the best horse coupled of course with who had the best year. Best horse is my primary though. Go Mo
Hopefully the last year of the "what if" award was last year. Hansen won it on the square, he should get the nod.
if the average stride of a racehorse is 23-25 feet, that 78 feet equates to, what - 3 or 4 more strides?
I don't know about this one Zip, Hansen was quite impressive in the juvenile...
By the way, if the info I received is correct, The 78 feet further that Union Rags ran in the Juvenile than did Hansen is more of a difference than any other BC winner has enjoyed since they began measuring this. I mean 9 lengths ... that is huge!
I think it should go to Hansen. The horse was running on a track that seemed a bit biased towards speed and was taking a huge class hike. His maiden was stunning, his stakes debute at a much longer distance and against winners was just as impressive, then he takes it to a whole new level by taking on the best dirt horses from the west and east and beat them squarely in spectacular fashion. Union Rags is a fabulous horse, and yes he was closing, but one can't just look and say Hansen had it easy when he was up against it coming into the race. We all knew it would take a special performance by as special horse to beat Rags. Hansen is a special horse who gave a spectacular performance. He should be recognized for it.
The fact that UR did not run professionally should make a clearer case for Hansen, who ran a spectacularly professional and game race.
Brian, I see what you mean. I guess that argument isn't a very sound one. I just feel Hansen grabbed it in the BC Juvenile, but I didn't put it into words well. For example, Blind Luck as a 2 year old had a really nice campaign winning the G1 Oak Leaf and coming in second in the G1 Del Mar Debutante, however had a pretty tough trip in the BC Juvenile Fillies and ended up third to She Be Wild, who had a ground saving trip. I know these aren't the same situations at all, but I feel the sentiment is similar. However, I understand how many feel Union Rags should still be entitled to the award as he lost by a scant head. I think it will be a close one for sure, and I respect your opinion.
Brian, I see what you mean. I guess that argument isn't a very sound one. I just feel Hansen grabbed it in the BC Juvenile, but I didn't put it into words well. For example, Blind Luck as a 2 year old had a really nice campaign winning the G1 Oak Leaf and coming in second in the G1 Del Mar Debutante, however had a pretty tough trip in the BC Juvenile Fillies and ended up third to She Be Wild, who had a ground saving trip. I know these aren't the same situations at all, but I feel the sentiment is similar. However, I understand how many feel Union Rags should still be entitled to the award as he lost by a scant head. I think it will be a close one for sure, and I respect your opinion.
Agreed with Amdaman except for the 2009...Zenyatta didn't get rob of HOY...RA had a better campaign and she deserved it. One of the toughest schedule IMO...Zenyatta pep all year for the BCC.
HOY awards have become a joke. They have turned into a popularity contest. Zenyatta was robbed in 2009, Blame was robbed in 2010, and if the 2011 2yo Eclipse award is given to Union Rags, then 2011 will be the year that Hansen got robbed.

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Meet Brian Zipse 

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing since birth. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta. Before coming to the Nation, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. 
  
As Managing Editor of Horse Racing Nation, Brian authors a daily column as Zipse at the Track, or ZATT for short, and adds his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. Brian also serves on the the Board of Directors of ReRun Thoroughbred Adoption and is a Vox Populi committee member. 
  
A graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives in Suburban Chicago with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra, where he is a professional golf instructor when he is not following the horses.  

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