Rail Runner

The Observations of a Horse Racing Enthusiast

Zenyatta Wins Horse of the Year!

Posted by Brian Appleton on January 18, 2011

History has been made, the names set in stone, the champions have all been crowned and one of the most popular and talented race mares in history has been awarded the most prestigious honor in American thoroughbred horse racing.

It was all celebration and rejoicing at the 40th Eclipse Awards Monday night, especially when Horse of the Year winner was announced. After it was all said and done there were virtually no surprises in the Eclipse Award voting.

Undefeated juvenile’s Unlce Mo and Awesome Feather both were runaway winners in their respective categories as Champion 2-Year-Old Male and Female.

Zenyatta was one vote away from being a unanimous choice for Champion Older Female as she took home the trophy for the third consecutive year. You have to wonder who that one voter was and what in the world they were thinking voting against Zenyatta.

Blame was a unanimous choice for Champion Older Male off his Breeders’ Cup Classic victory while Champion Male Turf Horse was won for the second straight year by Gio Ponti.

Big Drama seized the Male Sprinter award while Dubai Majesty took Female Sprinter, both wins helped along by their Breeders’ Cup victories in November.

For the second year in a row European super-mare Goldikova ran away with the Champion Female Turf Horse award based off her third consecutive Breeders’ Cup Mile win.

The two lucky winners in the sophomore category were no surprise as Blind Luck and Lookin At Lucky each snagged an easy win for Champion 3-Year-Old Filly and Male respectively.

For the 7th time Adena Springs walked away with a win in the Breeders category while trainer Todd Pletcher received his 5th Eclipse trophy after a banner year that saw him lead all trainers in earnings as well as win the Kentucky Derby, Belmont Stakes and 3 Breeders’ Cup races.

Ramon Dominguez won his first award as Champion Jockey while Omar Moreno won Apprentice Jockey who earned more than twice that of his closest rival for the award.

WinStar Farm won the Eclipse Award for outstanding owner after winning the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes with two different runners.

 

Zenyatta: Horse of the Year

After finishing second for two straight years in Horse of the Year voting, Champion Older Female Zenyatta finally won racing’s most prestigious award. Mere minutes after becoming Champion Older Female for the third consecutive year, the wildly popular race mare became 2010 Horse of the Year, beating out Older Male Champion and Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Blame. The win marks the first time in history that the Horse of the Year award has been won by female runners in consecutive years. The 2009 award went to Champion filly Rachel Alexandra.

Zenyatta is now happily retired to Lanes End where she awaits her first breeding. She retired with 19 wins from 20 starts, the only blemish on her record coming in a heart-breaking nose loss to Blame in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic. She holds the record for the most consecutive Grade 1 wins at 9, a record that is likely to stand for a long time.

It was the one prize that had eluded her and now Zenyatta’s legacy is complete. This is beyond a doubt one of the most popular Horse of the Year wins in the history of the Eclipse Awards , not to mention one of the most hotly contested.

 

Congratulations to all the winners and their connections!

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2 Responses to “Zenyatta Wins Horse of the Year!”

  1. B,

    Great synopsis, as usual.

    For me it was a satisfying HOY award. Although a sort of lifetime achievement in Z’s case, having lost to BLAME in the Classic, she definitely got the pulse of horse racing going in 2010 and deserved the award at least one other time in her career. Without her to stimulate the game, will it be UNCLE MO who provides this year’s shot in the arm en route to a Triple Crown? Could it be possible that Cali will enjoy another undefeated female in HEAVENLY DESCENT?

    I’m not sure ZENYATTA was as popular in the media considering the close vote. Seth Hancock’s disgusted look probably represented lots of Kentucky/New York/Florida horsemen opinions. The fact one person voted against Z for Older Female just shows how bitter some voters can be even when the evidence is overwhelming.

    I was a little surprised MAJESTICPERFECTION didn’t win the Sprint award. He won the G. I Vanderbilt emphatically over BIG DRAMA, who subsequently lost the G.I Forego to HERE COMES BEN (a BC Sprint also-ran) before winning the BC Sprint. The body of BD’s work was bigger, but I’m not sure it was better. In the sprint division, brilliance should be the hallmark. The most brilliant performer this year was MAJESTICPERFECTION. IMHO, this was clearly a political statement putting his owner, Satish Sanan, in check…he made some pointed comments on Steve Byk’s show earlier this year and had his toes stepped on that time and now a second time with the Eclipse snub.

    As for the lady of the week, I hear that Jay Hovdey is writing a book about ZENYATTA. How do you think that will sell? I definitely will be one of the first in line!

    I’m looking forward to Saturday’s Sweet Life S. @ SA where there are lots of young, lightly raced with time to develop into any kind on the turf. I’m most interested in Glen Hill Farm/Tom Proctor’s ORANGEBLACKANDGOLD (by ROCK HARD TEN, o/o CAMPAGNARDE), Jeff Bonde has Russell Baze down for SMILING TIGER but his Irish filly named CAMBINA (HAWK WING, o/o PEINTRE CELEBRE dam) has worked fast on dirt despite the turf breeding, Nakatani chose G.III placed CLONEYLASS over surface/distance winner ADVANTAGE PLAYER trained by Peter Miller (breaks COMMA TO THE TOP connection), and there are others with win chances in a wide open affair.

    Also @ SA the Palos Verdes (G.II) draws Eclipse nominee SMILING TIGER off his Malibu runner-up effort, but he gets a negative post switch (outside to inside) and there’s tons of speed to his outside. Defending champ VENTANA is working a hole in the wind while last year’s nose 2nd finisher GATO GO WIN comes off a very good 2nd to COST OF FREEDOM and draws my favorite, P.Val. Midwest hotshot EUROEARS goes first-Baffert with two bullet works on the dirt here. Asmussen and Talamo team w/ CAPTAIN CHEROKEE, 1/2 bro to back-to-back BC Sprint winner MIDNIGHT LUTE, who figures to fall into a perfect trip off the speed. John Sadler has two, HUNCH and DON TITO. He’s really tightened DON TITO since the Malibu w/ two bullet works.

    At Gulfstream Park, STRIKE THE TIGER looks well spotted to get back on the winning track. After three sprint wins to start his career, he was pushed through four consecutive routes including a G.III runner-up effort. His Wesley Ward stable mate GREAT ATTACK could benefit if ‘TIGER gets mauled on the lead.

    TIDAL POOL has 2010 races that would horrify the Pippen S. field @ OP if Lukas has her mind right again. Daylight G.II Golden Rod winner KATHMANBLU returns in the grassy Sweetest Chant S. @ GP Saturday.

    Also, thanks for the kind words over at my spot.

    Enjoy the weekend racing!

    • Hey Rob,

      I agree, Horse of the Year was most certainly given partially in appreciation of Zenyatta’s entire career. I was thrilled that she won!

      Majesticperfection was amazing, if he had been able to finish out the year I am certain that he would have been remembered as one of the most impressive sprinters of the decade. Big Drama won it at the Breeders’ Cup for sure. After Majesticperfection was taken out of the picture there was no clear-cur contender to fill his leading role, but several key players that had the potential fill that spot with a Breeders’ Cup Sprint win.

      Wow, I’d be second in line for a Zenyatta book! :)

      I really thought Smiling Tiger was the one to beat in the Palos Verde, I think he’s in need of some rest.

      Kathmanblu, I’ve been eagerly awaiting her debut since the Golden Rod Stakes. She was one of my favorites during the Breeders’ Cup. What an impressive win in the Sweetest Chant, so easy it gave me goosebumps.

      Thanks Rob, looking forward to next weekend too!!

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