The Brock Talk

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Zenyatta Has 1/2 Game Lead in Horse of Year Race

After her brilliant race in the Haskell Invitational, Rachel Alexandra certainly deserves every accolade that has been casts upon her. She was literally impressive from the moments she left her stall at Monmouth Park that day. Most thoroughbreds walk from their stall to the saddling paddock. Rachel Alexandra made an appearance - pausing for the fans as if on the red carpet. She then gave her performance and accepted her award with all the grace Joan Rivers would just die for. I was ver clempt.

But I'm not ready to jump off the Zenyatta band wagon just yet. Not until Saturday at least, when she runs in the $300,000 Clement L. Hirsch Stakes (gr. 1). She is suppossed to win having defeated every horse in the field before and is the heavy morning line favorite to remain undefeated in 12 career starts. She is also the defending champion in the Hirsch having won the 1-1/16 mile polytrack event last year. Should she win, she'll be just one win shy of joining the legendary Personal Ensign who is long remembered for capping off her 13-0 career with a small nose victory in the 1988 Breeders' Cup Distaff.

Because controlling owner Jess Jackson has said no Breeders' Cup for Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta (photo) can probably stumble one time before the Breeders' Cup and still get the coveted Horse of the Year honor - even if Rachel stays undefeated. But Zenyatta must do two very important things. She can only falter once and maybe not very badly at that. And most important, she must win the Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic at Santa Anita in November.

If Zenyatta has a loss on her record before then, she might have to win the Breeders' Cup Classic to edge out Rachel for the golden Eclipse Award given to the Horse of the Year. See undefeated Personal Engsign missing the 1988 Horse of the Year award after winning the Breeders' Cup Distaff. Of course she did lose out to a Breeders' Cup Classic winner in Alysheba too. Either way, her saves expire going into the Breeders' Cup round. Without a Championship Day victory, Zenyatta leaves with a home version of graded stakes wins.

A victory in the Breeders' Cup has proven repeatedly to be that influencial with the voters. If Zenyatta stays undefeated and wins the Breeders Cup Ladies Classic, she would be in line to join past Breeders Cup divisional winners Lady's Secret (1986), Kotashaan (1993), Favorite Trick (1997) and Azeri (1997) as Horse of The Year titlists.

With regard to the racing surface issue, it seems unjust to penalize Zenyatta because she races on the synthetic tracks in Southern California and because of the location of the Breeders' Cup. That arguement especially lost weight when Jackson announced he won't enter the filly in the Breeders' Cup because of the synthetic track.

Of course, if Zenyatta and Rachel should meet before the Breeders' Cup, or in the Breeders' Cup of course, this becomes mute. But it doesn't look like that is going to happen.


malcer said...

Sorry, but I really hope you don't have a vote in the Eclipse poll.

How could any reasonable person choose Zenyatta, a horse that hasn't beaten anyone this year and whose connections have gone to lengths avoiding competition, over a horse that has won everything in a daring campaign?
What is winning the Vanity compared to winning the Haskell; the whatever-else-f&m-that-hasn't-justified-its-G1-status-in-a-decade compared to winning the Preakness? And RA has done it even more impressively than Zenyatta.

HOTY is an award that is supposed to honor ACHIEVEMENT on the track.
To me this isn't even an argument anymore, this is bordering on denial.

Nick said...

I have to agree with malcer. I love Zenyatta, but Rachel is 7 for 7 this year including 4 G1s, two of which were against the boys. Zenyatta meanwhile is 2 for 2 on the year with only one G1.

I'm not sure how this can even be a conversation at this point.

Maddie4361 said...

You can't win a Super Bowl or World Series because you won't play on astroturf.

Anonymous said...

Any comparison of the Super Bowl or World Series to the Breeder's Cup is wishful thinking at best.

Maddie4361 said...

Then I wish the NFL and MLB never change their policy of having to win the Super Bowl or World Series in order to be named Champions.

CowboyPhilip said...

If Rachel wins the rest of her races this year I can't possibly agree that Zenyatta is HOTY.

Jim Castro said...

Darn right, it's like Jess, the owner is a chicken. Kelso, probably the greatest horse ever, ran on anything, all distances. Kelso would come out here and romp on the synthetic, win by 6 lenghts, no problem. Rachel's owner is just a chicken.Scared money,never wins.An old saying in horse-playing. Ever so true in life as well.

Michael Sperber said...

I wouldnt be to sure in that zenyatta is no walk over in classic and its a long summer. rachel can do some big things yet. zenyatta has yet to do something outside of cally tracks on rubber

Anonymous said...

HOY is for the year 2009 and not a lifetime award. Let's see at this point:

Horse #1: 7 starts, 7 wins, 6 differnet tracks, 4 Grade -I's, 2 G-II's, 2 wins outside of her division, defeats the winners of the Ky Derby, Belmont and many other races.

Horse #2: 2 starts, 2 wins, 1 G-I, 1 G-II, never raced outside of her division and has beaten one horse of significance (Life Is Sweet)

Objectively, this is a no brainer. The only thing Zenyatta can do to even be part of the conversation is win the Pac Classic and BC Classic (No ladie's day stuff). Then she still has to hope that Rachel doesn't go to the Woodward and beat older males. That would seel it by Labor Day.

Anonymous said...

P.S. As evidence that it's not a lifetime award, Personal Ensign was not named HOY at the end of her undefeated career.

libby said...

As the year goes Rachel has it, older horse Zenyatta has it.

libby said...


Do not confuse a pit-bull with wings for a chicken.


Mary said...

I'm a Zenyatta fan but I agree with malcer, claiming she currently has the lead for HOY is bordering on denial.

She's 2 for 2 this year, both races on her home track and against her own division. In her only venture outside her home state she was scratched over track condition. Rachel is 2 for 2 against graded stakes winning males alone. Add to that her 5 for 5 blowouts against her own division. And her feats have been accomplished on 6 different tracks in 6 states with no scratches over track condition.

If Rachel has any HOY competition left it's in the older males division. But Zenyatta has been so pampered this season that it's approaching ridiculous to even include her as a potential finalist. Again, I'm a Zenyatta fan but I'm deeply disappointed with the path her connections have chosen for her this year.

John C said...

Without racing in California, a jurisdiction where horses are actually, and somewhat effectively, tested for performance enhancing pharmaceutical products, the filly can not be considered for HOY.

Nick said...

Right, because they do not test in other states and any and all racing outside of California should not be considered legitimate.

I hope you're just trolling but I fear you really believe that.

Anonymous said...

Dude, are you new to racing? If you think Zenyatta has a chance at HOY you realy should be in a different line of work. If anyone ever came to your blog before, don't worry, they wont anymore.

lucas.andrew95 said...

weak 3 yr old crop, championship day, come prove yourself rachel!