December 2, 2009

The Zipse Awards - The Best of the Decade

The first decade of the 21st century is absolutely sprinting to the finish line. The decade must have set slow fractions, because it is now flying to the wire. This allows me to unveil a very special edition of ZATT. A column so big that I have already notified my server to be ready for the onslaught. A column so important, that I could not wait the final 30 days before publishing. Today I present to my millions of readers (foreshadowing the future of Zipse at the Track) the Zipse Awards. Horses of the decade in each division, I even added one category that the Eclipse Awards should recognize. These only come around every ten years or so, take a deep breath, grab a drink, and enjoy!

The Single Year Awards:

Champion Two-Year-Old Colt: Perfection is rewarded as The Zipse Award for the most outstanding juvenile of the decade goes to Vindication. The son of Seattle Slew was undefeated at two culminating with an effortless score in the 2002 BC Juvenile. He won a lot of people money through horse racing betting as he won all of his races and he traveled from California to Kentucky to Chicago in his four races. While it was not a long season for Vindication, it was the best of any juvenile of the decade.

Champion Two-Year-Old Filly: A very strong division this decade with several worthy candidates. Because there were so many similar juvenile filly resumes to consider, I went with the filly who I thought ran the best single race in her marvelous season. That filly is Halfbridled. The daughter of Unbridled sported an undefeated 4 for 4 record and overcame the adversity of having post position 14 in her biggest race of the year, the 2003 Breeder’s Cup.

Champion Three-Year-Old Colt: There were a slew of excellent three-year-olds in the decade, but for whatever reason, most were unable to complete a full season of excellence. The exception to this was Curlin, who began his career in the Spring of the season with romping wins in Florida and Arkansas and finished the year with an easy score in the BC Classic. Because of his consistency over the entire year of 2007 and the depth of his competition, Curlin nabs the Zipse Award as the three-year-old of the decade.

Champion Three-Year-Old Filly: Rachel Alexandra is my choice for champion three-year-old filly in this decade and she would be in any other decade. 8 for 8 all in stakes, winning the Kentucky Oaks and Mother Goose by 20, the first filly to win the Preakness in almost a century, the first female ever to win the Woodward…Rachel is an all-time great.

The Multi-Year Awards:

Champion Older Male Horse: There were many good candidates here, but the nod goes to the Star of Uruguay and Kenny Mayne’s favorite horse, Invasor. Invasor was undefeated as an older horse, competing in only the biggest races. He won the BC Classic to cap his perfect season in the U.S. and returned the following year to win the Dubai World Cup. Invasor is the only horse I know to be Horse of the Year in both Uruguay, where he won their triple crown, and in America.

Champion Older Female Horse: Zenyatta may have won this award before this year even began and with another undefeated season and a spectacular victory in the BC Classic, she storms by her main Zipse Award competition, Azeri, with power and ease.

Champion Sprint Horse: Another tough call, but I am going with the durability of the champion sprinter of 2000, Kona Gold. Unlike much of his competition, Kona Gold had a lengthy career that finally ended at age nine. Even at nine he was a stakes winning sprinter. I am not sure his record of running in five consecutive Breeder’s Cups will ever be broken. He only won the BC once, but he was the old man to fear in the big sprint stakes the first four years of this decade.

Champion Female Sprint Horse: Xtra Heat was a sprinting marvel. She was such a quality sprinter that she was named three-year-old filly champion of 2001, despite running exclusively in sprints. He record was remarkable, 26 wins in 35 races and the last 34 were all stakes . Enough said.

Champion Miler: While Ghostzapper only got the chance to display his talents at the flat mile one time, in an explosive win in the Met Mile, he was undoubtedly the horse who best bridged the gap between outstanding sprinter and top handicap horse. Ghostzapper was a unique talent for the late Bobby Frankel, and in my opinion he was the most outstanding miler of the decade, just ahead of a certain French filly we all know.

Champion Male Turf Horse: One of my tougher decisions. In the end I made my decision based on Breeders’ Cup brilliance. Conduit ran two spectacular races in the BC Turf and either of those races would have been good enough to win in most Breeders’ Cups of the decade. Only two races run in America were enough for Conduit to win the award in part because this division was down a little compared with previous decades.

Champion Female Turf Horse: Ouija Board was a super turf mare worldwide during her entire, illustrious career and overshadows all but one great turf mare that has run this decade. During her trips to America, Ouija Board won the BC Filly & Mare Turf twice and was second once in a three year span. This year’s BC Mile made this a very tough decision, but in the end I went with the distance mare over the miler as I feel the longer races are of slightly more importance than the one mile specialty of Goldikova.

Horse of the Decade: Drum roll please…The winner of the Zipse Award for Horse of the Decade goes to none other than the undefeated mare from California, Zenyatta. Many may think this is an odd decision, as I do not advocate her for Horse of the Year in 2009. True, but when I consider the entire body of work over the decade, Zenyatta narrowly outshines the credentials of Curlin, Invasor, Tiznow, Ghostzapper, and the horse I consider to have had the best single year, Rachel Alexandra. I commend Zenyatta and her unblemished record of 14 for 14, highlighted by impressive wins in two different Breeders’ Cup races. The Queen of California is the Horse of the Decade.

46 comments:

Michael said...

Hmmmmm. There is a lot of information here and prior to any research, my first thought for 3 year old colt would have been Point Given. If not for the concrete surface Churchill had for the Derby (no other horse in the 2001 Derby ever won another race except for PG), he may have been the Triple Crown winner. I think he won 5 Grade 1 races as a 3 yo and unfortunately was injured prior to the BC.

Brian Zipse said...

Michael, you will get no excuses from this scribe, but in the three-year-old colt division, it came down to Curlin and Point Given. Point Given narrowly lost out only because of his poor performance in the Derby and the strength of Curlin's competition.

Marti said...

Thank you for remembering Vindication. One day, I'll tell you my story with him, but in the meantime... was glad to see him mentioned.

And of course, my little red pony Curlin. While I don't agree with all your choices...over-all, it's certainly a justifiable list.

Now sit back and put your feet up...I know this was a lot of work, so you've earned it! :-)

Susan said...

Since I was never a Curlin Fan...I have to go with Point Given. That's what happens when you are in love with the glorious Hard Spun. I'm reading this in a hurry, as I'll be back later, but you blew the wind out of me slightly naming my Queen horse of the decade.
I'll regroup.

Michael said...

I probably have to do more research but I'm not sure about the strength of the competition. The 2001 surface at Churchill saw maidens breaking track records (that were set by maidens in the prior race) along with Monarchos running a sub 2:00 Derby. It ruined just about every horse on the track that day so I'm not sure how to gauge the competition. Hard Spun turned out to be a better sprinter which doesn't speak well for the one's that finished behind him in the Derby and Street Sense turned into a Churchill specialist. (Hopefully my recollection is accurate).

Brian Zipse said...

Michael, I was a big fan of Point Given, but he was beating a much weaker crop in 2001, than was Curlin in 2007 (considered the strongest crop of the decade). Also level of competition comes into play when you consider, Curlin twice beat older horses in the JCGC and BC Classic, while Point Given never faced older horses. Would he have beaten the older Tiznow in the 2001 Classic? I am not sure.

Anonymous said...

Incredible article! You can tell it was well thought out and well written. Thanks for the insight.

Michael said...

Don't you wish we could have seen Point Given vs Tiznow???? And since the BC was at Belmont Park that year, PG had already shown what he could do over Big Sandy! We can only dream!!!!

I have to look up the competition for both as I can't remember the details. I do know that Curlin beat Wanderin Boy at some point and I certainly wouldn't consider him a top older horse. I'm sure you will acknowledge that with so many early retirements in the past years, we have not seen a top older horse division in a while. The Donn seems to get weaker and weaker each year.

Brian Zipse said...

Point Given vs. Tiznow would have been great. Like I said Point Given was excellent, but that crop was not (A.P. Valentine was 2nd in the Preakness & Belmont, Touch Tone was 2nd in the Haskell and E Dubai was 2nd in the Travers) Curlin beat older champ Lawyer Ron in consecutive races.

Michael said...

OK. Switching gears. What about Bernardini. Late start if I remember correctly, won the ill-fated Barbaro Preakness and I know he finished second (within a length I think) to Invasor in the Classic because my wife hit that trifecta with Premium Tap third (11-8-3). Since Invasor was best older horse, does that elevate Bernardini?? Or does no Derby/Belmont appearance hurt him? Just throwing it out there.....

Anonymous said...

zipster you are on the money with your selections every single one merits and deserves consideration you have earned my respect and admiration because of the fair,logical and impartial manner of how you arrived at your selections.May i point out that in the field of journalism,the most significant draw is truth and its perspective....congratulations on a job well done young man;your passion will take you places you never dreamed of traversing...godspeed!

Brian Zipse said...

Thank you for the kind words Anonymous and Anonymous. I expected more disagreements here...they will probably come later.

Bernardini was a force of nature, but as you said he was beaten in the Classic, did not run in the Derby or Belmont and in the Preakness, Barbaro was injured. Not enough to get a Zipse Award I'm afraid.

Steve Munday said...

"Invasor - heeeee's the best"

Michael said...

I also think I disagree with Zenyatta as Horse of the Decade. A spectacular filly/mare, no doubt but considering that she only ventured out of California once and has only faced boys once has to be a small strike against. Curlin was HOY twice in what Brian acknowledges was a top 3 yo class, won the BC Classic and won the Dubai World Cup. I will not hold it against him that he lost the BC Classic on an artificial surface. His loss in the Belmont was nose while giving 5 pounds in a mile and a half race.

Again, just trying to strike a discussion!

Brian Zipse said...

The only thing I could say against Curlin is that he was beaten in many of his biggest races, (Derby, Belmont, & BC Classic #2) but he certainly is a strong contender for the Horse of the Decade.

Steve Munday said...

Hey wait a minute, what about Storm Flag Flying? She won 3 G1s at age 2 and her BC Juvenille Filly race showed remarkable grit and determination.

Brian Zipse said...

Storm Flag Flying was part of a tough decison Steve, and her stats were very comparable to Halfbridled. In the end I thought Halfbridled did more in the Breeders' Cup, but it was close.

Anonymous said...

Great job...agree with most of your choices, and especially Kona Gold. I admit a few tears rolled when I saw his name. Diane

Brian Zipse said...

Thank you Marti and Diane for mentioning the two winners who recieve their awards posthumously. Vindication and Kona Gold were fantastic horses who are greatly missed.

joani said...

No dissension here, Brian. well, maybe a little...Curlin would be my choice for the decade. That said, I like your choices and commentary. Furthermore, I like the comments your blog elicits from the thoughtful and knowledgeable ZATT readers. Zipse for Zen - has a nice ring to it! Good job, once again.

afleetalexforever said...

I guess it still kinda gets to me that a horses full body of work is involved with these awards and as much as i respect the thought with regards to Zenyatta I have to whole-heartedly disagree. The Moss's had a chance to allow her to be HOY or Horse of the Decade by means of running her in races that mattered. Not running in races where she was certain to win as is what happened in 11 of her 14starts. The quality of competition for the majority of her races were so terrible that a number of horses still have conditions to work through after running against Zenyatta, that would not have happened in the Mid-West or out in the East. What hurts most is that she came to my home track and me a mockery of Ginger Punch, then they went back to California and stuck their proverbial heads in the Rubber and would not allow her to prove herself against the top tier of competition. When you look at this year of work who did she face before the B.C. As mentioned in another article if you take the B.C. out of consideration Zenyatta beat 1 count them, 1 Graded stakes winner in 2009 that is LIS and as impressive as her L.C. win was her fourth and third place finishes earlier in the year was not awe-inspiring. In 4 races through the year Zenyatta faced 1 graded stakes winner this year. I dont believe that this would cause me to find in favor of a horse running against this type of competition deserving of any type of award. Running 91 and 97 beyers all year long and being asked to perform on BC day is a given for a horse that has done very little against very little all year. Just thought i'd add my two cents.

Michael said...

Wheeeeew. Sounds like my wife posted that one (afleet). We just have not bought into the synthetic surface and to make a horse of the decade a synthetic runner is difficult to digest. We may be approaching the point where synthetic runners will have their own category like turf runners. Her competition was adequately covered by afleet.

Michael said...

Let me throw in another.... 2 yo fillies. What about Sweet Catomine? Won a grade 2 and 2 grade 1's including BC as a 2 year old.

Robin Howlett said...

I feel Johannesburg was the outstanding 2yo of the 21st century's first decade. He won 4 Group 1s with ease (in Ireland, the UK, France and the US), winning from 5f at Royal Ascot to 1m 1/16f and on dirt in the BC Juvenile.

I would have High Chaparral anytime over Conduit. I feel Conduit won two sub-par BC Turfs, and although he was a true G1 horse as displayed by his King George and St Leger triumphs, HC showed tremendous talent in both his BC victories and other G1 wins over truly world-class horses like Falbrav.

While I, like many others are in no doubt as to Zenyatta's ability, I think it is wrong to adorn adulation on such a conservatively managed career. Fourteen wins without defeat is certainly very admirable, but the fact that she had to leave it to her final race to justify greatness suggests she was in her comfort zone far too long. For all her talent, the BC being run at Santa Anita consecutive years made her. That surface clearly benefitted specialists and exceptional Turf horses. Of the 6 horses that finished 1-2-3 in the last two BC Classics, there is but one dirt horse - Tiago - and he was hardly a champion. In my mind Zenyatta has still too many questions to answer before I could call her US Horse of the Decade. For that honor, I would bestow on Rachel Alexandra. I feel she achieved more versus what we as US racing fans associate and expect with a traditionally great career versus any other, Invasor included. What she accomplished this year, and in the manner she did it, was remarkable, in every sense of the word.

Heather said...

Nice blog, Brian. Though I voted for Rachel as Horse Of The Decade, I pretty much agree with all your other picks...especially Invasor :)

Brian Zipse said...

Sweet Catomine was a teriffic filly who dominated the BC Juvenile Fillies at Lone Star and one of about five that I could have easily chosen. One of the reasons I chose Halfbridled over her, was the undefeated vs. one loss angle, as they both ran four times.

Brian Zipse said...

Thank you as always Heather!

Robin, thanks for the input. Johannesburg was very good on both sides of the Atlantic, but you will not convince me that he would have beaten Vindication. High Chapparal was under strong consideration, but I felt that he lost a step at four, and I disagree about Conduit. I believe both of his BC performances were superb.

Susan said...

OH NO,,,it was the Curlin camp. Curlin was a nice horse who got beat when he shouldn't have. And I never count the Dubai race (if they even have one next year)...after the Sheik made those anti Derby comments about ten years ago. Rags beat Curlin, my Hard Spun finished ahead of him...c'mon.... ZENYATTA HOTD!

Anonymous said...

Wow! 28 comments already! The Zipse is a hit!

For once I might just want to sit back and profit from your writing, enjoy it and say nothing at all.

Nah . . . Zenyatta vs. Curlin for Horse Of The Decade? I cannot offer a more educated analysis of this one, but I might tend to go with Curlin. Bigger races, all over, dominating really good horses like Hard Spun and Street Sense AND the almost forgotten fabulous Rags To Riches- who barely bested him, after he had endured the grueling Triple Crown series. Curlin danced every dance. I'm done, no shouting match between the two of them!!! Love them both.

Nice list Zipse. Thank you for putting in the time so I don't have to.

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+++Not free advertising, more like a heads up to those who haven't checked them out yet.

afleetalexforever said...

Michael, I will be honest and admit to you that I have more than the normal distate for synthetic racing. Thats why no matter what I was so happy that Jackson didnt take Rachel out to Cali to watch her struggle like the rest of the 43 or so horses who prepped on dirt that didnt win BC races in 2008 and 2009. Does everyone realize the significance of that number 0-43, I mean wow thats unimaginable. But its not about the synthetics, my hometown has a little track called Oaklawn Park, home of Smarty Jones, Afleet Alex, Curlin, Eight Belles, Round Pond, Rachel Alexandra and also a horse that won a race called the Apple Blossom in 08, Zenyatta. She ran a great race that day I was there and you know what Sheriffs said, "She's better on dirt, she just deals with the synthetics". If that was the case why hide her campaign her against the best of the best, when i look at some of the horses she ran against (Gambler's Justice, Champagne Eyes, Tasty's Sis, Briecat, Hot n'Dusty, Modification) I mean seriously, what does beating those horses prove to anyone. Ship east or at least to the midwest and run against Music Note, Cocoa Beach, Swift Temper, Icon Project, Careless Jewel, and Rachel Alexandra in races that have some type of significance on the national level. But most important face good horses and beat them consistently. I dont like connections ducking each other and I certainly dont like connections ducking competition period. Scratching out of the Louisville, cowardice, and then the Zen camp comes out and says they were ready to come to the Beldame after the season is over. Unfortunately I recall the DRF when Moss said on 6/27 they were coming East and then after watching Rachel break Ruffians and the Track Record at Belmont at 9f and in 1:46 and change, and then Zenyatta winning a race 9f long in 1:48 and change a few minutes later Moss comes out on 6/29 and says "U know what, I change my mind we are staying in cali". That is Bush League to me, spineless and there are other words to describe them. A number of people are caught up in the Hoopla, im not one of them, you have a good horse that could have been proven to be magnificent, and in 2008 and 2009 the Moss's didnt allow that. She is a synthetic horse that faced a number of allowance and optional claimer type fields. And the * will be by her name when Cali gets rid of the Plastic. Just MHO.
P.S. go to my blog site and click on this link: http://afleetalexforever.blogspot.com/2008/11/does-level-of-competition-affect-hoy.html
You'll get a better understanding of what i am referring to. Level of competition!!!

Anonymous said...

Afleetalexforever!!! Update your blog!!! I have almost given up on checking in on it or trying to add a post or two. Being you are a computer guy maybe you could set it up so it's easier to find the most recent post (are there any recent posts?)

Advertising your blog while not adding new posts just sends people to a dead end.

Michael said...

Afleet, In addition to all your comments, I fault whoever chose Santa Anita for the BC TWO YEARS IN A ROW! There were no races for dirt horses and all races for turf horses. We also applaud Jess Jackson for keeping Rachel home. someone needed to stand up. My final thought is that if the BC wants synthetic races, they should look at a track like Belmont Park or Saratoga where there are TWO turf courses and make one synthetic. Then they could have turf, synthetic and the Classic will always be dirt. But let's keep to the awards topic for now. Maybe Brian will have (if he hasn't already) a topic on synthetic vs dirt.

It is great to see the interest generated in this topic. I echo everyone's praise of Brian's ability to handle the subject and to be able to counter others opinions. That means a lot went into his choices.

LDP said...

Agree with every single placing on that list except on, HOTD. Curlin get it for me. Was he beaten in his bigger races, yes, but he had very valid excuses in most. Derby-nasty trip in only his forth start, while both first and second pace finishers got to stay out of traffic. Belmont-just got done two trying races and was racing a very good and fresh filly at a distance that better suited her. BC#2 was on a surface he had never tried while receiving a questionable ride. The only race he did't really have an excuse was the Haskell. His pluses of being all time earning leader for American based horse, beating older horses consecutive times, taveling to Dubai among other places, winning the World Cup by eight, then coming back to win the Stephen Foster by four. He was 2 time JCGC winner and HOTY as well. He danced every dance where Zenyatta sat back for most of her second season. Her Classic and LC double makes it close, but Curlin is King.

Anonymous said...

Curlin IS King.
Long live the King.

Celeste said...

Very well written article, Brian. I'm not sure I would agree with all of your winners, but I was not paying all that much attention in the earlier part of this decade, being only a follower of the Triple Crown races in the spring. I know, shame on me, but I've learned my lesson and I'm trying to make up for lost time, as well as making every effort to learn. I appreciate the feedback from all your commenters, but it's my belief that each person is entitled to their own opinion and for whatever reasons they hold a particular horse dear, that is fine, nowhere does it say we must all agree. :)

Brian Zipse said...

Better late than never Celeste. You are an appreciated voice of reason...Thank you for your level-headed perspective, however, is it not fun to trumpet the attributes of your favorite horse?

tjreyn01 said...

I was holding my breath as I read to look for female turf horse. Nailed that on the head with Ouija Board. Man she was awesome.

I'm assuming Lava Man's inability to excel outside of Cali did him in for any consideration of older male. Invasor did fit that mold quite well.

Where did you rank Lost In The Fog in the sprint division. Even though he didn't show up in the BC very well, he had a tremendous resume. Kona Gold's five BC's is impressive so I can't really disagree, just curious where you rank Lost In The Fog in the Sprinters of this decade.

Rachel got my vote for HOTD. Curlin was my second pick. I just feel that Rachel brought so much national attention from the media outside of the racing community to notice racing this year. Zenyatta did a lot, don't get me wrong. But what Rachel did to me was just astounding.

Brian Zipse said...

Great mention Tim, I still get sad when I think how he left us. Lost in the Fog was a majestic and brilliant horse. Unfortunately, he ended his great season with dissapointment and then his four-year-old season was marred by sickness. How he won that stake at Churchill, in his condition, was a testament to his greatness and courage. He is one of the ones that was not far behind my selection of Kona Gold and, by the way, he is a horse that will be remembered on ZATT.

ja.raymond said...

Those are good, relatively undisputeable picks. and I have to add:
In projection of a matchrace (that will now never happen), I have to agree with Brian as Zen for HOTD: RA has beaten the big boys 3 times at different tracks; Zen can run on dirt & has beaten the big boys as well, and I believe, once she got rolling with that stride of hers, RA would have too hard a time keeping up, therefore making Zen the immortal best!

CV45 said...

"Thats why no matter what I was so happy that Jackson didnt take Rachel out to Cali to watch her struggle like the rest of the 43 or so horses who prepped on dirt that didnt win BC races in 2008 and 2009."

Actually, Rachel ran well on the synthetic track at Keeneland. So the idea that she would have struggled over the synthetic track at Santa Anita is most likely nonsense. Jess Jackson has made it clear he has a strong bias against polytrack, a bias evidently shared my several commenters here. It's possible he also may have had doubts about Rachel running a mile and a quarter this season.

afleetalexforever said...

I apologize for those that follow my Blog, I was in the process of building a house and also had a death in the family that has made it necessary to back off a little from the Horse Racing community, I post from time to time on other blogs or Message Boards. The Fox Hill Farm Site is my fav, very good conversation and talk topics.

As for some of the comments here that I’ve seen today that raise the hair on my neck, It was a huge mistake to put the BC on synthetic two years straight, this was advantageous for two sets of people only, the Europeans and Team Zenyatta. This push for HOY by the race tracks in Cali and the Media including TVG and HRTV, almost seem laughable. You don’t see Belmont, Monmouth, Churchill, Pimlico, Fairgrounds, Saratoga or Oaklawn sending out any live feeds to try to garner HOY votes for Rachel. Her camp unlike Zenyatta’s allowed her to prove her worth on the track, that is Super-Impressive. After her races JJ didn’t run up into the camera and start yelling for HOY honors, that’s the sporting and classy thing I love about him, he’s going to do right by the horse first and let the chips fall where they may. This is a very good thing to take into consideration, and people have sounded absurd about this statement but the question has been asked over and over, “Could R.A. have beaten Zenyatta on B.C. day?” And the answer quite simply put is “It’s unlikely”. On that surface and after the long grueling campaign of Rachel’s not including the Woodward she would have still been a tired horse going in. Now think about how she laid it down in the Woodward on her surface, due to being able to control her action down the lane and in the Gallop out she was able to come back, do the winner’s circle photo and walk back to her barn. Not this same filly laying it down at Santa Anita on a surface she is not familiar with, most likely unable to control her action the same way, she could have possibly gotten hurt. Who would have wanted that? Now here is a good question, “Could Zenyatta has beaten Rachel on Feb 15th or March 14th or May 1st or May 16th or June 27th, or Aug 2 or even on Sept 5th in the Woodward.” Let me say the only race in my opinion that Zenyatta would have even come within 5 lengths of Rachel in are the Preakness and the Woodward, and in both of those races she would have been ridden differently and not been on the pace. People tend to look at things as if they are black and white; the only thing about this season that is black and white is that they did not and will not face each other. Early in the season Rachel was daylight better than Zenyatta due to running a hard grueling season Rachel came back to the field which is natural. But comparing the 111 Beyer in the Mother Goose at 1:46.33 to Zenyatta’s 97 Beyer at 1:48.15 twenty minutes later. So look at it anyway you want to but there are a number of gray areas that have to be analyzed before you can compare the two distaffers.

aaf
p.s.There will be a new blog entry posted tonight for those that would like to read it. And a special announcement will be included in that entry. Tune In.

Steve Munday said...

Brian,
Your poll results are interesting in that they reflect, in the exact opposite order, the sheer talent of all the horses.

Ghostzapper (3 votes) was the most talented horse to race this decade, bar none. An absolute "monster" but also lightly raced so I can see why "horse of the decade" is not appropriate. Invasor (4 votes) was another monster. Though a small cut below GZ, especially from a speed fig perspective, he ran huge every time and was probably more consistent than GZ. Next best was Curlin (5 votes), then Tiznow (6) and then RA (10). And depending on what RA does next year, should may move up the list.

If rank ordering the "best" horses, using the opposite of the poll results, w/ GZ first and Z last, would be a good start.

However, the question wasn't "best horse" but "horse of the decade" so body of work should be considered. No doubt the undefeated Zenyatta has an impressive body of work, but then again, so does Peppers Pride . . .

Ciarán said...

this is obviously Best of the Decade to run on US soil because Sea the Stars isn't on here... just a point..

Brian Zipse said...

Ciarán, who is this Sea the Stars that you speak of?

Steve, your inverse theory is interesting, I agree to a partial extent, but...then you lost me by comparing a horse running in New Mexico breds against a BC Classic winner.

Ciarán, just kidding. This column and poll were for horses running on American soil, otherwise horses like Sea the Stars and Dubai Millennium would have been on the list. Maybe...LOL

Steve Munday said...

You caught me making a slight dig at Z but purely tongue in check.

There's a lot to be said for being undefeated whether racing against NM breds or in the BC. Connections of both did right by their horses.

Eric said...

I have to say that you have the horse of the decade completely wrong.. If we are talking about the best horse of the decade flat out, we are talking about Ghostzapper, there is not one horse that is even on his level and I am a huge Zenyatta fan.. Zapper won a grade 1 race at every distance from 6F to 1 1/4!!! It is not even close in my eyes.. He was the BEST horse of probably the last 30 years acctually, injuries just hurt him..