November 16, 2010

Don’t Blame Me for Being a Champion


Don‘t hate me just because I won a horse race. The enormity of that victory, coming in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, with Zenyatta being the horse that I edged in a tight photo, is not lost on me. I understand that most of the millions of fans watching the Classic were on her side, rather than mine. I have no problem with that. Zenyatta is great, but I am not a villain. I am a very good horse who was able to reach the pinnacle of my sport. Nor am I an Upset, Jim Dandy, or an Onion, as some have suggested. I certainly would not argue with anyone that calls her the best mare of all-time, but hey, I wasn’t too shabby either. Take a look at my career accomplishments, and you can see that I was consistent and classy. I am a horse worthy of respect, not hatred. In fact, I am a champion.

I believe that I made a strong case for Horse of the Year this year, but whether or not I win that one, (I fully understand that Zenyatta has the credentials as well) I will be named the Outstanding Older Male of 2010. Seth Hancock and Al Stall mapped out a plan for me at the beginning of the year, and I followed it to the letter. First, I won the Grade 3 Schaffer at Pimlico, and then it was nothing but grade ones for me. I went on to score in three of the most important stakes in the nation. I won the Stephen Foster at Churchill in June, the Whitney at Saratoga in August, and the BC Classic in November. My only loss was in the prestigious Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont. That day, I was the victim of a good speed horse on the lead in a paceless race. I still managed 2nd, easily finishing ahead of Fly Down who came back to run 3rd in the Classic.

For those who think I came out of nowhere this year, keep in mind that I finished 2009 with a flourish as well. My final five races of last year match my record of this year. I won 4 times with a 2nd in the Super Derby in those five races, meaning that in my last 10 races, I had 8 wins and 2 seconds. Hardly Onion like. Additionally, much like the Jockey Club, the Super Derby was tough on me because a quality horse set a very slow pace, but I came running as I always did. I finished off my three-year-old season with impressive wins in the Fayette, on a synthetic surface at Keeneland, and the Clark over a strong field. So strong in fact, the Clark was elevated to grade 1 status for this year. Overall, I won 9 times and earned more than $4.3 million, in only 13 races. In those 13 starts, I never once finished out of the money as I improved in each of my three seasons of racing.

I hope that the voters all take the time to judge the 2010 merits of both of us fairly, and after that, let the chips fall where they mare. Sure, I want to win the award, but I also wish my esteemed competition the best of luck. It should be an interesting contest, just as I understand it was last year.

While I shift into my new career, as a stallion standing at Claiborne Farm for a fee of $35,000, I hope that true fans of racing remember me fondly. At Claiborne, I have already been introduced to my new living quarters, once formerly occupied by the great Buckpasser. It is an amazing place. I join star horses of the past like Secretariat, Bold Ruler, and Gallant Fox who made Claiborne their home after their stellar racing careers. In conclusion, I am sorry that I broke many hearts when I became the only horse ever to defeat Zenyatta, but I only did what I was asked to do … run hard, run fast, and do my best, and that is exactly what I did.

Photo Courtesy of Reed Palmer Photography

41 comments:

Sarah said...

I love this so much. Blame deserved this post. Anybody who says blame was a "nobody" before winning the classic is clearly not a racing fan!

Twindouble said...

Blame is an excellent horse by todays standards when it comes to males but the classic was suposed to bring together the best males in the country for that distance. Blame beating a mare like Zenyatta by a bob doesn't in my opinion make him HOY or can he be compared to other great males. I would have liked to see him continue to run but like always, that's not to be.

LDP said...

No, he was not an Onion, Jim Dandy or Upset, I think he was more along the lines of Slew's Exceller. Either way he is a great horse who had a fantastic year and beat some of the gritties and most brilliant horses there was to beat this year. He should be recognized as a champion, not the horse who stole Zenyatta's glory. For him to be remembered as that would be a crying shame.

Anonymous said...

Good article! Yeah I hate how non horse racing people call him a nobody! He is a wonderful horse.

Denise said...

This is an amazing post... he deserved to have someone stand up for him and point out what a great horse he really is... thanks from me, and thanks for him! :)

Anonymous said...

He's been a nice horse, but he's hardly a great horse. Nice career, but not an outstaning, record setting career. I doubt he'll ever be a Hall of Famer nor will anybody remember much about him years from now other than he got lucky in the BC. I have nothing against this horse, in fact would love to have one just like him in my barn, but I don't think he belongs in the rare air of the all time greats.......I do believe Zenyatta does and her legend will endure. Maybe its a charisma thing....

Jonathan said...

Take either one out of the race and the other is an equine hero. He broke Lookin At Lucky down the stretch.

It's a race that will be remembered a lot more than the current whinges by all horse race fans for me.

Quite how he or the big Mare can be regarded as anything but 2 outstanding horses is beyond me.

Neither will be a bad call for HoY.

Anonymous said...

The difference for me is that Blame was a good horse that had an outstanding day. Zenyatta was a great horse that had an off day. Considering that a photo loss in a head bob in a Classic field considered to be the deepest in years is her worst day ever.......I'm thinking she wins HOY in a head bob.

Again, there has been nothing in Blame's career to stamp him as `great'. He's been a very nice and classy horse. Nobody would even suggest greatness on his part if not for his race against Zenyatta and the consensus is that even in defeat, she was the one that impressed the most that day and made believers out of nearly everybody. I was there and I will never forget the cheers for her even in defeat. She had the better year.....I would even concede HOY to Blame if he had beaten her as soundly as Haynesfield beat him earlier. He didn't. He was lucky enough to be on the downstride at the wire. It could have just as easily gone her way....

Brian Zipse said...

"The difference for me is that Blame was a good horse that had an outstanding day. Zenyatta was a great horse that had an off day. Considering that a photo loss in a head bob in a Classic field considered to be the deepest in years is her worst day ever." ~Anonymous

Do you not see how flawed this statement is???

Mj Hawk said...

I think very highly of Blame. He was clearly the class of the field going against Zenyatta. I think we all knew that going in. He was the horse to beat. I've always had a soft spot in my heart for him, because he is exceptional, and really gets down to business.

I wish Blame could pass on to Seth Hancock some of his class.

LDP said...

Zenyatta did not have an "off day" she did not dislike the surface. She ran her race, the only thing that really hindered her was the fact she balked for a bit at the dirt being thrown in her face. After about 1/8-1/4 of a mile she got back into her groove and ran a near identical race as she did in last years Classic. The difference was Blame was running on his best surface, which made him much more formidable than Gio Ponti.

Quit making rediculous excuses for her. She handled the surface and considering her running style, she had a pretty clean trip. She also had a clean trip and ride when compared to other races where she was either boxed in or was made to go 10 or so horses wide. She ran her race and had a pretty decent trip. Blame got the jump like so man others, only he was better than an Annaba's Creation, St. Trinians, or Switch.

Another thing Blame did not have just an OK season. Remember how good Quality Road, the Beast of the east was? Running a near record time in the Met Mile and breaking the track record in the Donn, going the distance he traveled in the Whitney? Well, Yeah Blame beat him. Battle Plan, who ran huge in his last start was loose on the lead in the Stephen Foster and had a 4.5 length advantage on Blame with one furlong left and Blame inhaled him. Also, he has beaten every single horse he's faced this year, including Haynesfield.

He developed into a great horse this year who had a fantastic season.

Steve Munday said...

Brian,
You know I loved this post because it's disappointing to read comments in other blogs of people dissing BLAME. He's a very good horse and perhaps the best race horse ZENYATTA ever faced. They both ran their race and it was close, but he won on the square.

Lots of great comments so far on this post: Sarah, Denise, Mj Hawk, Jonathan & LDP all made great points and are the voice of reason!

John said...

I was at The Preakness and saw Blame run. I have liked him immensely ever since then and watched for him in each subsequent race he has run. Of course, I love Zenyatta too, but discounting Blame's accomplishments is unfair and short sighted. How many horses have never been beaten? None! That Zenyatta had a chance to do so is quite an accomplishment in itself. However, Blame deserves all the accolades for winning the Classic. He is a winner by all rights and anyone who discounts his win against arguably the best female horse of all time, is not being fair to Blame or Zenyatta. It sounds like sour grapes to me.

Ann Cheek said...

no one ever says anything bout the near misses the great Z got, but when shes beat by a GREAT horse like BLAME,its just a headbob!!! Come on, they didnt shorten the race in the last second of it so Blame would win. A WIN IS A WIN. She is an awsome horse that brought alot of people back to watching raceing. But if its people that cant give a winner his due, then go back to nascar!! No one deserves this win more than Claiborne Farm!!! 100 years of quality horses, not overbred to flood the market. 6 of the 11 triple crown winners concieved in the same barn built in 1910. 21 derby winners,24 preakness winners, 20 belmont winners concieved in this historic, not fancy, get the job done barn.!!! UNHEARD of. With so many so close to greatness moments, this farm so totally deserves this GREAT MOMENT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure you can count Blame's win over Battle Plan as a great acocomplishment considering Battle Plan broke down in that race. Watch the replay and you can clearly see his bad step in the turn and then him change leads and stop running in the stretch.

It would also appear that many of you cannot see the difference between a horse that is rapidly closing and one that is hanging on. Again, that's the diffence between horsemen and bettors. Sadly, its not horsmen that have the vote for HOY.

markinsac said...

Blame, you say when "Haynesfield" beat you, you were a victim of him getting a "perfect trip". Well that's how you also beat the great queen "Zenyatta". I do give you credit for holding off the undoubtably BEST CLOSER IN THE HISTORY OF HORSE RACING. You were as tenacious an RACHEL ALEXANDRA in last year's Woodward. By the way, Blame, perhaps you can settle a few things for all of us Rachel zealots and Zenyatta zealots. If given the chance, would you rather date sexy young Rachel or that big cougar, Zenyatta? Do you want your baby to be a front runner or a closer?

America wants to know!!!!!!!!

william said...

brian....excellent article...as you know ive been a zenyatta believe for awhile and have had many discussions with you about her, but also listened to you about blame and was lucky enough to have him when he ran a fantastic race in the whitney...lessening blames credentials does not boost zenyattas and vice versa, i dont understand why people cant see that their are many top horses in this game( really started with rachel and z) lol...lets enjoy what we have seen and look forward to uncle mo with his charismatic owner michael repole

Blame said...

LOL ... well, as an eager stud, I look forward to Zenyatta, Rachel, and about 75 other mares! :)

Erin said...

Three cheers for Blame, a really good-or-better horse who got Sham-ed a little bit.
"Had he come around in another year..."

Anonymous said...

Blame may talk like a human but Zenyatta talks like Jesus

Sarah Grice said...

i'm shocked that nobody has called you a "hater" yet, Blame! ;)

markinsac said...

Blame, you are so lucky! You get to date some of the fittest mares in the country and you don't have to call them in the morning! But aren't you a little miffed that your stud price is the same as Quality Road's? After all, you beat him in New York and demolished him in the Classic?

PS. I know you'd choose Zenyatta in a heartbeat, but you're the only horse ever to race against her and not see her from behind.

Blame said...

Sarah, I do not have a hateful bone in my body. ;-)

Billy Huntington said...

BLAME: 2010 Totals -
30 defeated,
10 G1SWs,
24 GSWs,
27 Gshorses,
...12 millionaires,
21 $500k+ earners,
earners of $38,930,512

ZENYATTA: 2010 Totals
- 32 defeated,
5 G1SWs,
18 GSWs,
20 Gshorses,
7 millionaires,
13 $500k+ earners,
earners of $25,411,997

tencentcielo said...

Brian,

(prolonged standing ovation)

And Blame would pick Rachel, but only because he is a little grossed out by the 3x3 inbreeding with Kris S. :-P

HollyT said...

Cool post. I have to say I see both sides of the fence for both horses.

I'm a race fan because of the horses. I eat, sleep and breathe horses and can speak their language better than human speak. (been riding since the age of 2-what more can you expect)

I love Z's personality. Heck, as a horse person, I wish they'd give everyone a better insight into the horses. If people knew more about Blame I bet the arguments would be slightly different. At least for those who jumped on the Zenyatta bandwagon at the end.

It was seeing Z come back into the race and missing Blame by a nose that did it for me. I don't know any other horse that would have done that after the the shock of dirt being flung in their face. Desensitizing them to new situations usually takes a whole lot longer than it takes to run 1 1/4 mile race.

I really wish they would have kept Blame running another year. He deserves respect for his win in the BC Classic but we all know even if he wins HOtY he won't get it from those who don't know.

BTW I love whoever is posting as Blame. Comments that make you smile.

Steve Munday said...

How dare Billy Huntington introduce facts; we should only be dealing in un-founded opinions. ;)

markinsac said...

Blame, being from Kentucky, I didn't think inbreeding would be much of a concern for you.

william said...

facts not mentioned...2010 zenyatta 5 grade 1 wins, blame 3 grade 1 wins ...why is it necessary to try to degrade what the other one did? everyone in horse racing knows that the boys run for better purses and there are more grade 1 opportunities

Anonymous said...

A very good horse - yes - but not one for the ages. He will go down as an Onion, a Dark Star, and Upset, - and yes -perhaps - Maybe - like Exceller, in history. Again, a very good horse, like so many, many, many others, But Blame will not even be accorded with - the Funny Cide's, the Afleet Alex's, ', Tizow, Smarty Jones'. But Z has even transcended these...She WILL go down in history - books, movies, the "people's horse", etc. ....She captured the multitude, captured history by being the ONLY mare ever, to win the Breeder's Cup Classic (2009- and against the top males then). Her race in this Breeder's Cup, by FAR, proved she was the best horse, with the biggest heart. She captured the multitude's hearts. When racing is gone, as it is going, going, going, or even if it hangs on by a thread ..generations hence will hear of Zenyatta, as they will know of Seabiscuit, Ruffian, Secretariat. No - no matter what - no one will take from Zenyatta, her iconic stance in history. This mare became a mega star...and she, along with her "team" earned it - both on and off the track.

Anonymous said...

Zenyatta is not as beloved to handicappers because she proved virtually unbeatable despite her numbers not supporting that.

As a lifelong racetracker who NEVER bets a race (go figure that one out), I realize that the gamblers support our sport. What the gamblers need to realize is we put on the show and these are flesh and blood animals, not machines. I'm sick and tired of hearing people whine because she didn't face the boys enough times. Would you have rather them run the legs off her like they did Rachel Alexandra. Go ahead and crow about her astonishing feat against older males last year and realize you watched your hero get gutted for your entertainment. There is a reason they write seperate races for fillies and mares and that is because, just like human athletics, its hard to compete against the males when you, by virtue of your gender are predisposed to be the weaker sex. The fact that Zenyatta did step out of her division and take males on, in the biggest race of the year, did it twice, and nearly won both is something you probably wont' see again in your lifetime. No, her connections didn't run the guts out of her until she was a shell of her former self and I'm happy for that. I only wish Rachel Alexandra was handled with such care and maybe we would have seen them both in the Classic this year and at their very best. But, the bettors and the railbirds who don't even know what side to lead a horse from, keep shouting more, more more. Has it even occured to any of you that the silence surrounding Rachel's retirement the morning after a bullet work suggest they finally broke her down. Couple that with the fact that as of 10 days ago, she was still at the track but rarely seen. You can all thank yourselves and your bizarre standards you set for fillies and mares.

Horse of the Year means the very best horse in training. Tell me why you think a colt that only won 3 Grade 1 races, only had 5 starts and barely beat a mare in his biggest race, deserves this award over a mare that ran all year (Blame only ran half the year), dominated her division, stepped up to take on males and except for less than six inches, nearly beat them too. She was, without a doubt, the very best horse in training in North America this year. She is, by some people's estimation, the greatest filly or mare of modern times to set foot on the track. I'm sorry she defied your speed figures and you couldn't figure out a way to cash a ticket against her until her last start. But please, if you call yourself a lover of this sport, consider the animal and stop rewarding these hothouse stallions like Blame that are too fragile to run more than a year and a half. He was a very nice colt, but he will never be considered a great one by anybody that knows horses. Exceller was a really nice colt too adn we all know where he ended up. At least his legacy was to put a spotlight on the welfare of these animals that provide so much entertainment for some of you and a career for the rest of us. Lucky for Blame he belongs to Claiborne and will enjoy a long, happy retirement. At least there is progress there....

Anonymous said...

I totally agree. If Rachel wasn't used as a pawn to get another Horse of the Year trophy, she for surely whould have had a much better 2010 campaign. Is there something wrong with treating your horse with care? And, by the way, Zenyatta's "Conservative Career" has led her to be the ALL-TIME MONEY LEADING MARE. They should be rewarded how they treated her. I suppose letting the public pet and kiss her is bad too.

Heather said...

Blame deserved every inch of that win in the Classic, and deserved the great column on your blog :) very cool."

Silent Sunday said...

Well another few minutes of my life wasted reading babble...a lot from people claiming to be able to talk to horses, read their minds or whatever, and think that if you never worked with a horse apparently your opinion doesn't matter..wow. So you don't think females should run against males more often...and that they are predisposed to being inferior to males....yes, some are.Z clearly is not. She could have tackled the boys in the Cali G1's at least. And if you still think your argument has any merit, how do you explain Goldikova. She is inferior in build to boys but has been kicking their butts for a long time now... consistently. All horses are different and react differently. We all know that some fillies change dramatically after their 3yo yr and become a shell of themselves. But some do not. And for you "anonymous" people with your babble, guess what, I'm way longer a horse admirer than a handicapper, but I'm also objective. She is great, no doubt, but Blame had the better year and because of her careful handling they may pay the price again.

Anonymous said...

Where were the horsemen when Life At Ten was being readied?
RG

Miranda said...

Anonymous, anonymous, anonymous. Just more ridiculous chatter of someone who thinks they know something. If she was so much the best, why was Mike hitting her every stride in the stretch and Garrett was just giving a vigorous handride and showing Blame the whip? Blame had a bunch more left, sorry he wasn't Anabaa's Creation. At the top of the stretch, about 4-4 1/2 lengths separated them, she had ALLLLLL that stretch to run him down and get by him but she didn't. He may not be a great one, but he had a huge heart that day and BOTH horses deserve accolades for the way they ran. You don't have to downplay a horse to elevate the one you like. Horses do get beat when they run in consistently competitive races, there's no shame in that.

markinsac said...

Ruffian and Go For Wand lost their lives in a heated battle. Usually it's the female who doesn't want to lose that goes down. Why put her through 8 tough races a year when you can do it once? Personal beat 2 males in her life. She ran against males once, it was a 3-horse field. Im sick and tired of all these fans who want to turn these fine mares into gladiators. The great Ghostzapper raced 4 times in his HOTY year. Blame and Quality raced only 5 times. If Silent Sunday says Zenyatta should have raced against better, why don't you join forces with Jess Jackson, he's a perfect partner for you. You and Jess can gut your horses, but you might get a HOTY award! I'd rather up with Moss/Shirreffs. Zenyatta is the ALL-TIME MONEY WINNING MARE. And she's raced through her 6 year old season. How many horses can claim that?

Ann Cheek said...

I think some of the Z fans r so fanatical, its like the creepy stalkers that live in their moms basement!! LOL
Any so called race fan that cant give a winner his due is just one of those bandwagon hoppers!!!!
Ans BLAME IS AWSOME!!!!!!!!! I KNOW!!!

Anonymous said...

The reason that some of us don't put much credence in the statements of non-horsemen is you really don't know how things work. The statement about Go For Wand and Ruffian are absolutely right. When you get a special mare like that, they just do not give up. Part of being a good horseman is to make the call to ask for what a horse can give, without asking too much and having them give their life. None of us have seen a set of rads on Zenyatta or knew what, if anything, they were doing to hold her together and keep her at the top of her game so long. I do know her trainer is as fine a horseman that you will find anywhere, so I'm going to trust his judgement on where he put her and thank him for allowing all of us to enjoy Z for 3 yrs. If ya'all think its such an easy task, I'm really surprised you're not writing for your trainer's license.......

Roseann said...

I loved that!! Keeping it classy..Blame has had a super career and i will remember how he beat the unbeatable..along with a really nice bunch of others..this was no lame race but a race for the ages..i hope he has lots of kids just like him racing with that powerful punch that captured lots of hearts..

Silent Sunday said...

Markisasac...I don't know why I am wasting time responding because I lost any respect for you when you made the claim that Zipse didn't love the sport or something of that utterance because he picked against Z going into the classic. But don't twist words. I simply said she could have faced boys in some of the cali g1's. Why not since they didn't travel with her like they claimed. Why not go in a couple of the big races against inferior fields still...yes the big cap,PC and HGC were pretty weak, that would gut her?? That would still have been a pretty light season and no way near gutted her...Get a clue man... And a lot of horses can be found that have been highly competitive at age 6 with more races under their belt...again I bring Goldikova up. And this isn't a shot at Z, because as much as I loved her before the classic and even more so now..enjoy boasting about being the all time money winning mare while you can, because don't forget Goldi is coming back another year.