It's Official: Horse of Year Zenyatta Finally a Bride
Zenyatta, whose brilliance and charisma resuscitated a declining sport, was finally named Horse of the Year on Monday, an honor that had eluded her twice before.
In winning Horse of the Year, Zenyatta also avenged her narrow loss in the Breeders’ Cup Classic to Blame, the only horse ever to finish ahead of her (by a head bob). This time, it wasn’t a photo finish: Voters picked Zenyatta with 128 first-place votes to Blame’s 102.
Goldikova, the European-based mare who won her third straight Breeders’ Cup Mile in November, received five first-place votes. For the third straight year, Zenyatta was also a unanimous choice for Champion Older Filly or Mare.
The 40th Annual Eclipse Awards ceremony, held at the Fountainebleau Miami Beach, was the most anticipated in recent memory. Zenyatta’s team — owners Ann and Jerry Moss, trainer John Shirreffs and jockey Mike Smith — were lauded with special Eclipse Awards early in the evening.
Seth Hancock, whose Claiborne Farm bred, owns and now stands Blame, was observing his family’s 100th anniversary in the thoroughbred industry.
Blame won three Grade I races as a 4-year-old in 2010. The horse that beat him in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, Haynesfield, finished next to last in the Classic. Despite his runner-up finish for the top prize, Blame was a unanimous pick for Champion Older Male.
Zenyatta won five Grade I races running exclusively against fillies and mares and extended her lifetime record to 19 straight races, 13 of them Grade I’s (including the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Classic) before her loss to Blame.
Only Citation and Cigar (16 straight races) have come close to that while competing in open company. Retired after the Classic, Zenyatta is now a maiden broodmare at Lane’s End Farm in Kentucky. The Mosses are expected to reveal this week which stallion they have chosen to visit the daughter of Street Cry-Vertigineaux, by Kris S.
Other Eclipse Award winners included Todd Pletcher (outstanding trainer for the fifth time), Ramon Dominguez (outstanding jockey), and WinStar Farm (outstanding owner), whose victories in the Kentucky Derby (Super Saver) and Belmont Stakes (Drosselmeyer) gave them the edge over the Mosses.
The Eclipse Awards are co-sponsored by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, the Daily Racing Form and the National Turf Writers Association.
While Blame’s supporters argued that he should be Horse of the Year because he prevailed over Zenyatta in their only meeting, Zenyatta’s held the wider view that Blame’s overall accomplishments in 2010 paled next to hers.
“To me, that (Horse of the Year) is the most important racehorse campaigned in North America for the past 12 months,” Jerry Moss said in accepting the award. “It means, who is the horse that people look for when they look on TV or in The Racing Form? Who is the year about?”
In 2008, Zenyatta lost the title to Curlin, despite the latter’s fourth place over a mediocre field in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Last year, she lost it to Rachel Alexandra, whose connections opted not to run against Zenyatta in the Classic.
Moss is right: 2010 was all about Zenyatta. Finally, the voters got it right.
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