The shouts. The cheers. The thrills she provided when she won the Breeders' Cup Classic were immeasurable amidst the sea of horse racing humanity where I was enjoying the races. She brought a rousing finale to the day's festivities and a remarkable conclusion to her perfect career. Euphoria and adulation were freely available to the faithful as she stood in the Winner's Circle at Santa Anita.
So imagine my surprise when I cracked open the Sunday edition of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and right next to Tony Romo (so you know it's important), I read,
Zenyatta ... winner of the Breeders' Cup Classic, but the debate over Horse of the Year isn't settled
Gary West is gonna get a lot of mail.
Sure enough, his Sunday column, "It was Zenyatta's Day, Not Her Year", prompted some mail. Apparently, so much so that he had to respond via his blog, West Points. Now the Professor doesn't seem to be much of a rabble rouser, but he sure stirred up a bit of ire regarding Horse of the Year because of his astute and unwavering support of Rachel Alexandra's campaign, and opining that Zenyatta's win in the Classic, although "scintillating", it was "not a strong Classic field."
Talk about deflating.
Okay, I'm not a person with strong opinions. And I certainly don't have a vote for Horse of the Year. But somehow, to shrug off a perfect - perfect! 14 wins in 14 starts! - deserves something a little more special than just the Eclipse for Champion Older Female and a bale of hay. But as I said, I don't get to vote, just swoon.
As fellow swooner Tom Goncharoff commented on Gary's blog,
What Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta both accomplished this year was amazing and provided a much needed shot in the arm for a sport I love and make my living at. It's refreshing after such a great Breeders Cup to not have to make excuses for horse racing.
Let's give Horse of the Year to the both of them - they deserve it.
At this swooning moment, that idea sounds mighty good.
Regardless, Zenyatta's win - and her career - provided a much needed reminder how exciting and captivating horse racing can be. Is there an Eclipse Award for that?