In the dominating win that left those watching her speechless, Zenyatta sent up a flurry of sparks, reminding us that she is still a force to be reckoned with. That, however, is not the only thing she sent up sparks about. With her effortless win Zenyatta rekindled talk of her eligibility for Horse of the Year. With this latest win, coupled with the fact that she has been completely dominant in her divison, I would place her third on the list of my top three nominees. The other two standing in her way are three year old super filly Rachel Alexandra and the rapidly improving and very talented Summer Bird.
Many people thought that Zenyatta was done and had passed her peak. Many even thought that she would lose the Lady's Secret, based on watching her win the Clement Hirsch by a head to one of England's B-rated horses. Her latest win, in my opinion, was enough to give her a chance to sneak up into the top three horses this year, especially when considering the fact that racing is a sport of "what have you done for me lately?" No other horse has continued to dominate their competition so completely, except for Summer Bird and Rachel.
Gio Ponti was the best candidate for second runner up as Horse of the Year and still has quite an impressive resume. Thanks to his last race, where he lost to a long shot in his first time going 12 furlongs, he seems to have slipped away from the memory of some. Colonel John seemed to be off to a great start this year, but he has been winless his last two races, even though he has finished third and second. Zensational is another that could still run up into the top three, since he has been without a doubt the most sensational and dominant sprinter. The problem with him though, is that he is being trained up to the Breeders Cup and hasn't raced for a few weeks. The saying that fits best for him is "out of sight, out of mind." The speedy gray could resurface and remind fans that he is still in contention and deserves consideration with a win in the Breeders Cup Sprint.
With this in mind, Zenyatta has been the most dominant in her division, while most others have paled in comparison. This knowledge has spurred her supporters to entertain the idea that if she wins the Ladies Classic she could possibly steal Horse of the Year. This won't happen, seeing as how Summer Bird and Rachel Alexandra have had much tougher seasons and have been quite successful. The supporters will then come back and say that if Zenyatta races in the Breeders Cup Classic and either wins or closes well that she DESERVES Horse of the Year over Rachel Alexandra. Either way, win or lose, I disagree that Zenyatta should receive Horse of the Year.
Zenyatta has been spectacular and showed us that she was back in full force with her cantering victory in the Lady's Secret. She has shown us that she is dominant over the competition in California, but she has had an extremely easy campaign. Her owners have picked out all the races that they knew would have the optimal chance of producing a win, and they didn't even start racing Zenyatta until the middle of May. She has only raced against fillies and only in California, running over a total of just three tracks. There is no doubt about her greatness, but in order to top the best, she needs to leave her comfort zone.
Rachel Alexandra, the top contender for Horse of the Year, is the prime example of leaving one's comfort zone. Rachel has had a much more ambitious season, racing a total of eight times to Zenyatta's four, and running against males three times to Zenyatta's zero. Rachel was by far the most dominant filly of her group in the Spring. After a dazzling performance in the Kentucky Oaks, she left her division to run with the boys in the Preakness. Her next start against the boys would come two races later in the Haskell, where she beat the Jockey Club Gold Cup, Travers, and Belmont winner, Summer Bird. After twice dominating three year old males, she set a new benchmark when racing older males in the Woodward, where she again won.
A win in the Breeders Cup Classic would be a phenomenal accomplishment for Zenyatta, considering she would be the first to do so. For some fans, a win would even place her ahead of Rachel Alexandra. For me, though, Rachel has accomplished too much to be surpassed by anyone, no matter what happens. She has done things that three year old fillies just don't do, and she will go down in history for it. Zenyatta certainly sent up some bright red sparks, reminding us that she is still a player for the award, but Rachel is Rachel and what she has accomplished this year can't be topped.