Friday, November 27, 2009

Thank heaven, no co-horses of the year

It's been more than a week since I've blogged. Life has jumped up and bitten me more than once in the past few days, and focusing on this aspect of my routine has simply suffered.

Thankfully a bit of racing news has at least prompted me to offer my own spin on an issue.

I think it's great that two out of three groups which vote on the Eclipse Awards have rejected the notion of changing the rules to allow co-horses of the year; namely Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta.

It isn't that both females aren't deserving; they are. But while there are photo-finishes, in a manner of speaking, in the Eclipse voting, there should be no dead-heats. Somebody must be declared the winner.

For my money, that female remains Rachel Alexandra. I was thoroughly impressed with Zenyatta's historic win (the first for a female) in the Breeders' Cup Classic. But let's face it, that race was her only real challenge this year. She raced an entire season without leaving California's artificial surfaces.

Meanwhile -- though she and her connections are sometimes maligned -- Rachel Alexandra overcame a barn change (with her sale by breeder and original owner Dolphus Morrison to Jess Jackson, et. al.) to stage her own undefeated season. She crushed 3-year-old fillies in the Kentucky Oaks and the Mother Goose. She became the first filly to win the Preakness since Nellie Morse in 1924, and backed up that win against her age-group of colts and geldings with a victory in the Haskell. Then she became the first female ever to win the Woodward Stakes, that against older males.

This season Rachel won stakes races at: Oaklawn Park (Martha Washington S., Fantasy S.-G2); Fair Grounds (Fair Grounds Oaks-G2); Churchill Downs (Kentucky Oaks-G1); Pimlico (Preakness S.-G1 vs. males); Belmont Park (Mother Goose S.-G1); Monmouth Park (Haskell Invitational-G1 vs. males); and Saratoga (Woodward S.-G1 vs. older males).

She might have ducked Zenyatta and the "plastic" tracks in California on Breeders' Cup weekend, but during the campaign she won on fast strips and in the mud, over seven tracks in six states. Meanwhile, Zenyatta -- special though she is -- ducked everything, everywhere except Southern California and one fine field of older males that came to her back yard to race.

I'm not saying Rachel will win horse of the year. Zenyatta easily could, especially by making the last impression with her splendid win in the Classic.

But regardless which fine female takes the honors, at least we won't have the cop-out result of a draw.


  1. I happen to agree that Rachel Alexandra should be Horse of the Year, is it a "cop-out" if both she and Zenyatta were co-winners? After all, there is such a thing as a dead-heat. :)

  2. Not in an election, there isn't. Which essentially is what Eclipse voting amounts to.

    Make people make a choice. Don't give them the easy "out" of, "Oh, gee, let's just give it to them both."

  3. Okay, like a kid who keeps picking at a scab, I'll be argumentative again :)

    Sometimes in an election there is a tie. We've had several of them in local contests, and the tie was broken by literally rolling dice or drawing cards. So there [tongue out] :) just kidding

  4. But the tie does get broken. :-)

    I need to get motivated to blog something else. I've had a rough couple of weeks. Maybe tonight is the night.

  5. No, Glenn...the tie doesn't always get broken in the award arena (e.g. Hepburn/Striesand for one). Is it rare? Yes. Elections have to be either broken via run offs or reassessment of ballots (and yes, in some cases a flip of the coin). Public elections are a horse of a different color. Now if you want to argue that it would be improper to allow a specific device to allow co-HOY, then fine, I agree.

    I believe Zenyatta should be HOY. Major reason? She's a 5yo mare that has a perfect record with a major first: BC Classic winner as an older female.

    RA will be back. If she's that good, err... great, she'll take the Classic next year or even the next. And we won't have any of this syn is garbage talk to deal with (because the BC won't be run on it). BTW, is the syn debate about crud horses winning on it, or trainers/owners that have horses or mindsets that hate it. Like I said, the greats can do it all.

    D. Masters

  6. Forgot to add, for your consideration of blog topic you might want to focus on the call by Gov. Thompson calling for comments regarding the Safety and Integrity Alliance new round for consideration.

    Many fans, bettors, owners, trainers, jocks regularly comment here, Paulick, etc and make superb observations. What would you recommend for round 2?...or is it 3? Because not alot is being done constructively. No dis, just impatient.

    D. Masters

  7. The response about ties was primarily involving elections.

    As for the HOY voting, the rules state that there can't be co-horses of the year. I'm not in favor of a permanent change (so that this could happen somewhat often?) nor of a temporary exception to that rule.

    I want to see somebody pick a winner. Even a dead-heat wouldn't be exciting if it's a foregone conclusion.


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