November 7, 2010

Eclipse Awards … at First Blush

The Breeders’ Cup can make or break a horse’s quest to be named an Eclipse Award winner, and that may be especially true this year. The excitement over the past few days at Churchill Downs not only drew great emotion, it also went a long way in deciding who would be named a champion at year‘s end. With less than two months remaining in the calendar year there are several big races yet to be run. What impact any of those races may have is questionable though, as the Breeders’ Cup appears to have put most of the divisional championships firmly in the grasp of the following ten horses.

Two-Year-Old Filly - Awesome Feather left Calder unbeaten and untested, now she is an undefeated Breeders’ Cup champion and has clinched the juvenile filly championship.  As of today, she is owned by Frank Stronach.

Two-Year-Old Colt - Uncle Mo is an electrifying and undefeated Breeders’ Cup champion and has sewn up the divisional championship. He also will be a strong Winter book favorite for the Kentucky Derby.

Sprint Female Horse - Dubai Majesty was one of many who had credentials to be considered beforehand, but with her impressive win in the Filly & Mare Sprint, she zoomed to the head of the class.

Sprint Male Horse - Big Drama may have earned his first grade one victory in the BC Sprint, but the hard knocking Florida bred has been very consistent this year. Saturday’s win should wrap up the award.

Turf Female Horse - Goldikova again. The great mare won her third BC Mile, and she did it more impressively than ever. Proviso and the ill-fated Tuscan Evening racked up wins, but no one touches Goldikova in this division.

Turf Male Horse - Paddy O’Prado would have been the BC Turf winner if he only ran. Of course, he did not, but with a longshot Turf winner, and Goldikova beating Gio Ponti in the Mile, he may hold on to a slim advantage in an unspectacular division.

Three-Year-Old Filly - Blind Luck is this year’s rags to riches to story. The little filly that could fired every time, and her 2nd place finish in the Ladies’ Classic is plenty to solidify her position as the top sophomore filly in America.

Three-Year-Old Male Horse - Lookin at Lucky came up a little short in the final furlong of the Breeders’ Cup Classic, but in no way tarnished his well earned reputation. Not always the luckiest of runners, Lucky’s four stakes wins, including the Preakness and Haskell, carry the day.

Older Female Horse - Zenyatta. No need to say more.

Older Male Horse - Blame was able to fulfill the promise so many had seen in the son of Arch for a long time. His win in an epic BC Classic may have been unpopular with many, but he earned it on the track. It took a special horse to finally beat Zenyatta, and his name is Blame.

Horse of the Year - Blame was terrific this year and won the Classic, but Zenyatta was one stride short of perfection … I am going to need a little more time before I make a final decision on this one.


darlene said...

Just cause Blame won the Classic doesn't make him HOY Just ask last years Classic winner

Sarah Grice said...

The horse who won the bcc and beat the unbeatable super mare should be hoy. Facts are facts, and zenyatta didn't do enough this calendar year to deserve hoy IMO. Is she amazing? Hell yeah! That makes blame's victory over her even more impressive! She gets horse of the decade for sure, but blame really earned horse of the year. Standing ovation for zen, though, for giving it her all. We finally saw her "bottom," and it was impressive! She deserves her place in history!

Anonymous said...

Oh come on, what's to think about, this is not a lifetime achievement award, this if horse of this year (2010) and Blame beat better horses in better races and beat Zenyatta head to head.

He wins

Brian Appleton said...

I'm torn on Horse of the Year. Zenyatta proved herself to be just as great, if not greater, than we all knew she was and brought to light just how much a part the heart plays in horse racing. Blame defeated her fair and square and ran in much tougher races all year long so in the "black and white" he should absolutely win Horse of the Year.
It's the emotional factor that makes over-looking Zenyatta again tough. I've always been a Zenyatta naysayer when it comes to her winning Horse of the Year (2008 & 2009) because of her conservative pre-Breeders' Cup campaigns, but I'm kind of hoping she wins it this time around.

An interesting fact to note is that the Breeders' Cup Classic winners did not win Horse of the Year the last two years running.

mvlach77 said...

Brian, there'a an attempt to rewrite history and act as if Blame did not really win this race. The horse that won it on the track should not have HOTY taken from him because of sentimental emotionalism.

william said...

everyone is entitled to their opinion and thats what makes this so much fun...but it just amazes me when people say some things that clearly defy facts, zenyatta did not do enough this year to earn hoy( 5 grade 1 wins in six grade 1 attempts)...blame beat better horses?...zenyatta destroyed einstein in the classic last year but noone cares...i am not taking aything away from blame, his whitney was fantastic, his jcgc was not(witnessed both live) i believe zenyatta is a better horse...yes..does that mean she deserves horse of the again i will say, if they choose not to retire zenyatta, as long as she is healthy they can plan a schedule and have her dominate next year like no other horse in history( may i suggest a schedule like this march, santa margaritea in santa anita, june the stephen foster in churchill, august whatever they choose, october jockey club gold cup belmont, think she would love this track and breeders cup classic churchill

marknisac said...

Brian, thank you for the awesome words about Zenyatta. You gave us the feel of the Churchill grandstand. Even YOU picked Blame but felt disappointed when Zenyatta fell short. There are some videos on youtube showing some fans' view in the upper grandstand. You can see Zenyatta starting her stretch move and she appears to be moving twice as fast as the other horses, she is flying! But it also took a valiant stand by Blame to hold her off. I give Blame credit, he's the only horse on the planet to do so. But I also agree that Zenyatta didn't have a great trip, Blame did. If you consider the HORSE OF THE YEAR, isn't it like a MVP award? Which horse did more for horse racing? And which horse is better? Theere's no doubt that Zenyatta will be ranked #1 all-time mare in history, but to not reward her greatness with a HORSE OF THE YEAR TITLE is selfish. That horse gave us her ALL!

PS. I take back my criticism of your Blame pick. It was a good pick, he's the real deal and just think how much his stud value went up!

Anonymous said...

It really could go either way. I wouldn't be surprised if it goes to one or the other.

Bob said...

This debate will have no resolution unless those running the Eclipse Award establish criteria for the HOY Awward. As it now stands, voters get a ballot listing three horses and they vote for one. Some people vote based on comparable race records, but there is nothing that says one could not vote based on which horse the voter thinks had the biggest impact on the sport. Both are acceptable now, and the contraversy will continue unless the powers that be wish to set the criteria.

ja.raymond said...

It's Horse of the YEAR, not Horse of the WEEK!
The BC is not the the deciding factor; if thats the case, Zen should and would have won it last yr!
If Blame gets it, there's going to be a HUGE outcry all across the country!

Sami said...

I agree with the rest but i really hope Zen gets HOY, I also agree with darlene's comment at the top.

slickeeboy said...

If Zenyatta doesn't win Horse of the Year you can once again Blame her connections. They didn't deliver on their promise of racing in different venues and taking her outside of her division more often. Pure popularity does not necessarily sway voters in the HOF vote. Just ask the connections of Smarty Jones. She very well might have been the best filly we have ever seen, but many, like me will always have trouble ranking her as high as some past greats because of her restricted and easy schedule the past three years. Except for two races she never left her comfort zone.