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Breeders' Cup 2017

Zenyatta is Your Horse of the Year

Zenyatta finally got her end of the year award. Good for her. She deserved it. I can hear the supporters of Blame for Horse of the Year pecking away at the keyboard as I type. That’s OK, I understand, I get it. Like the past two years, this was a tough decision with two deserving horses. I’ve heard all the arguments. “A vote for Zenyatta is good for horse racing.” “Blame won the head-to-head meeting.” “Zenyatta came within inches of being undefeated for the year, and her career.” “Blame faced better horses this year.” “Zenyatta needed to win the award after not winning the past two years.” For me the decision, became pretty clear on the night of the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
For months I had made my Classic selection known, I expected Blame to win the big race. I was right, but just barely. Blame and Zenyatta put on a fantastic show, one that will go down in the annals of racing. It was good to be alive that night. A race like that is exactly why I love the sport of racing so much. What I witnessed that night resonates. Fully expecting to support Blame for Horse of the Year, I simply could not after watching the race unfold in front of my eyes. Zenyatta was that good.
Blame was that good too, but the Horse of the Year title was Zenyatta’s to lose, and she did not. That is why Zenyatta was my choice for Horse of the Year in 2010. Despite thinking Blame would win, I knew Zenyatta was the clear leader going in. She won five grade 1 races in five tries, and Blame was coming off a clear defeat in one of his most important races. Maybe if Blame had raced more than four times before the Classic, or had won more than one race against topnotch horses before, I would have rated my pick closer to Zenyatta going into the Classic. He did not. I know what you are thinking … who did Zenyatta beat?
As usual Zenyatta did what she needed to do. She had two main objectives in 2010, to face Rachel Alexandra in Arkansas, and to defend her Classic victory. Those other races were merely grade 1 preps for her two main goals. You can not hold it against her that Rachel was not prepared for the Apple Blossom. Zenyatta showed up and she toyed with who was there. Did she beat much in California? No, but St Trinians and Switch are not exactly chicken feed either. Keep in mind that Blind Luck could have faced her in the Lady’s Secret, but her connections chose to avoid Zenyatta. Avoiding Zenyatta has been a common theme the past three years.
In the end, I believe Zenyatta deserved the Horse of the Year, not for the sake of popularity, or as a lifetime achievement award, or not even because it is good for the popularity of racing. I believe she was the finest horse over the entire year. Agree or disagree, this is my opinion.
Zenyatta, and also Rachel Alexandra (I will have more on her in the coming days) were two of the best female race horses in American history. They brought out great emotion in us all. I will appreciate them both for as long as I live. Take a deep breath racefans, it’s finally over. Three years of heated debates over who should be Horse of the Year can finally be put to bed. I stand and applaud Zenyatta, but now it is time to move on. That’s the great thing about racing, there is always something exciting just around the corner to capture our imagination.


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Older Comments about Zenyatta is Your Horse of the Year...

Great question Craig. Female horses have had an amazing run of late, and I would add Zarkava and Vodka to that list as well. Do I think that this is part of a major transition of power in the breed ... absolutely not. Rather it is simply a few great horses coming along together that buck the norm. In the mid 40's Busher, Twilight Tear, and Gallorette had a pretty good run as well. By the way, failure to include Sea the Stars in the best of the past three years is a mistake.
brian....the 3 best horses of the last 3 seasons have been females....zenyatta, goldikova, rachel alexandra. do you think that this portends that fillies/mares are starting to catch up to the colts in athletic ability, or did we just have 3 extraordinary fillies that could run with the boys??
Dubby, Zenyatta is HOTY for 2010.............Quit crying......hahahahah
And now Zenyatta is getting a very first time award called the "Peoples Choice Award" also known as the new 'Secretariat "award, IT is an award that Secretariat's owner came up with, and she is giving it to Zenyatta in its first year of induction. Lord , does it get any better than this for Zenyatta.
There have been countless speedy horses of the year...Find another one, any year, any track, any era that ran like this one CONSISTENTLY.
With all due respect, its not about loving the horse or not, people loved Smarty Jones but the horse that had the overall better year went on to win the HOY award, it hurt at the time but it was legit, now had Smarty won it wouldn’t have been warranted other than the fact that he was more popular and the household name. what irks me is not that she won, the horse won the award by doing what her owners asked of her (albeit very little, less than any HOY in the history of the award) but it’s the fact that these writers are not willing to come out and say, yes I voted for her due to her popularity, her dance, her 19/20 lifetime record and the fact that she is a special horse. If that were the case it would be fine, but in anyway to try to talk about what occurred on the track, which as is stated, she ran in 5 prep races to get ready for the BCClassic, but whats sad is her career is about 7 prep races in 08, 4 prep races in 09 and 5 prep races in 2010, her career revolved around 3 races, and she only won 2/3. This is not about the horse as I’ve been called a hater over and over again, it was about her connections campaigning her as if she needed to prove that she could beat allowance quality fillies with 0/14 and 1/16 lifetime records over and over again to prove her greatness. Then the eclipse award voters, going only on sentiment and not looking at what happened from jan1-dec 31. But its over now and we should move on, the * can now be raised on her 2 breeders cup wins and the * will or should be placed over this award in 2010, the * being for a HOY awarded or literally given to the most undeserved connections for the most lackluster campaign in the history of the Eclipse awards, talk about a black eye on the sport. Wow, it leaves you speechless.
  • Show All 5 Comments
  • dubby30 · Dance to my tune 1/15 floating heart 1/9 striking dancer 4/13 pretty unusual 2/9 made for magic 0/14 · 2469 days ago
  • dubby30 · Zenyatta certainly deserved female Horse of the Year in Southern Cali, but they bought the HOY award, congrats to the Moss's at any cost. :) · 2469 days ago
Finally,someone got it right! Yes,definitley the right choice. I have only ONE problem with your article-Zenyatta won the 5 G1 races in 2010, PLUS 3 G2's,for a total of 7 races in her 2010 campaign. Blame raced only 5 times all year,G1's tho' they may have been. Other than that,kudos on a wonderful article! PS-Zenyatta is NEVER over! Her FB fanbase has jumped to over 60,000,and has over 500 fans on her website. Busiest girl in retirement!!
  • maylene24 · She raced 6 times, all G1's. She did run any G2's at all. And even if she did, 3+5=8 not 7. · 2470 days ago
  • dubby30 · maialou68 did u do research before posting that? · 2469 days ago
More Rachel articles? Can't wait.
Rachel articles are coming ... I promise!
Brian, this is not about Zenyatta, although I do feel that she deserved the award. I just don't want the Eclipse awards to devolve into popularity contests. That's why I am against fans being able to vote for the Eclipse awards, as some are suggesting. And please, please, please give us Rachel maniacs some more articles about her. Thanks as always for your thoughtful comments.
I'm speechless, I really didn't think she had a prayer; which means I am deliriously happy for Zenyatta..she is more than deserving of HOTY. The classic inches loss after such a miraculous run will always hurt but this definitely takes some of the sting out:) Long live Zenyatta!!
dubby, Why arent you on your own blog? NO one wants to read your crap today, they are all rejoicing in the 'standing room ovation' award that named Zenyatta for HOTY, arent they?
Excellent piece Brian. May I also point out the talent she gassed in the BCC? They were barely second thoughts to her as she set her sights on Blame. To come from behind at such a distance and sustain a late charge to catch that colt like she did is phenomenal. That performance alone is a HOY run.
Don't forget the Grade 1 winners Zenyatta beat in the 2010 BC Classic - Espoir City, Haynesfield, Lookin At Lucky, Paddy O'Prado, and Quality Road.
Thank God Switch won the La Brea. Otherwise, we would be celebrating the first HOTY to not have any wins against G1 winners.
  • StaceyCoyne · Actually, that's exactly the case. None of the f/m that she raced had won a G1 at the time of the race itself. Declaring Switch a G1 winner retroactively doesn't cut it in my book. · 2470 days ago
there is good evidence that SOME behavior is transmitted via the broodmare even though they are not long enough together to make a huge bit of difference
The information in the article is correct ... Zenyatta ran a total of 6 times in 2010, winning 5 grade 1 stakes, before her 2nd place finish in the Breeders' Cup Classic.
....."it was good to be alive that night".....sums it up for myself and many. Thanks Brian!

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