Thursday, November 12, 2009

Zenyatta Wins the Classic: A Tale of Swoons, Votes, and a Turf Writer's Really Full Email Inbox


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

Uh oh.

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?


Frank said...

"Not a strong Classic field"?

Is he stoned?

Nine G1 winners in the race, including two near-certain division Eclipse champs (Gio Ponti, Summer Bird), plus Zenyatta?

What would a strong field look like? Superman riding Pegasus? Yeesh.

Anonymous said...

I'll comment on your question about a strong field. There were 4verified synthetic runners, 5 dirt horses that were set up to run career worst races, and 3 Euros whose form was in question after a long grueling campaign. Zenyatta on the other hand was on her fav surface, in her back yard or and ran in 4 races previously, and they were incredibly the softest spots available to run in. Passing on the Beldame, Go For Wand, Personal Ensign, Woodward, Pacific Classic, and Goodwood, did nothing for the sport, a sport whose fans begged and pleaded to see her face boys in the Pacific and Goodwood. So those dirt horses all flopped (0-14 dirt horses won a race in the 08 and 09 breeders cup) is that a stat you forget or is that selective memory. The turf horses ran ok and the Euros looked like tired foes. Maybe had Sheriffs not said earlier in the year we wont run against boys because that’s asking too much of her and before the classic we’ll have to wait to see who shows up. Maybe if those words weren’t uttered it would be different, maybe if J.J. and his placing the filly in 3 super tough races didn’t force their hand to try to do something big and it was their outlined plan all year that would be different. But sorry folks 1 race doesn’t make a season, Zenyatta’s 2008 season was much stronger than the 2009 and that will again leave the connections as they are right now, begging and pleading for HOY votes. My advice to the Moss’s take a lesson from Jess Jackson and allows the horse to pick up the HOY votes all year long. Not just on 1 day.
Rachel Alexandra Horse of the Year.

Keith - Triple Dead Heat said...

Zenyatta did not race enough to merit Horse of The Year. Great horse, absolutely - just not enough spectacular races.

The sport would get really boring if horses raced four times preparing for a November event.

I'll take RA's summer series everytime!

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Delila said...

A classic tale of the girl who prevails! Zenyatta is great, HOY or not.
Sue, thanks for your comment on my racing journal.