Thursday, November 19, 2009

Speak No Evil

Recently the world of racing has been taken by storm, engulfed in an endless debate of who should be Horse of the Year. This will be the first time in history that there are not just one female nominee for the award, but two, and both are the front runners. Zenyatta, who has gone 14-14 in her entire career, 5-5 just this year, her most prominent win in one of America's premiere races, the Breeders Cup Classic. Rachel Alexandra, the three year old filly who has gone 8-8 this season, her last five grade one races, beating males in three of them. Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta have both done things that will be remembered for decades after this year, and supporters on either side of the debate are adamant that their filly is most deserving of the coveted Horse of the Year Award.

Though debate is healthy and good for the sport slinging insults around at anybody who does not share your opinion is not, and plain wrong. Besides my own blog, I go to others to keep update, and to share my opinion as well, and what I see is not pretty in the least. Some call the owners cowards, accusing them of ducking one another, and accusing them of "cherry picking" races for their horse. People call owners phony, call the horse ugly, degrade the competition, accuse either side of bias. All of this is flat out crazy, one person even went far enough to say there is a conspiracy against the west coast.

People please just, stop it! I get the fact you have an opinion, I get that you have a favorite, but must you insult the horse, the connections, or the supporters of either horse to make yourself heard. Debating is about facts, not driving the other person into the ground with vicious false accusations. Personally I like Rachel Alexandra, she for one appeals to me more, and in my opinion has had a fuller more complete campaign. We can debate all day of who we think would win in a race, but since the likely hood of that happening not all to great we have to go by paper, and on paper, Rachel wins.

I look and see that Rachel has made history in six of her races this year, by breaking marginal or time records, or being the first in history to accomplish something. If you want proof race one is a new stakes record in the Martha Washington, largest margin in the Fantasy, largest margin in the Oaks, first horse to ever win the Preakness from post 13, stakes record in the Mother Goose, and the first filly ever to win the Woodward. You add this to running in eight starts over seven tracks, in six states, over six and a half months, and you get one heck of a season.

I look at Zenyatta who has raced for five and a half months, in one state, over three tracks, and only faced males once, again on her home turf, and see a season that would win, by an overwhelming margin, Champion Older Female, but not Horse of the Year. She won the Classic and did it with dominance, over a field, that on paper, was the best assembled in North America this year. It was a stunning victory, and she is a fantastic horse, but one race does not get you Horse of the Year, when coupled with a relatively light campaign, when compared to other horses.

Now see, I gave you my opinion based on facts, without bashing either horse or their connections. I think both are great, but I have my own beliefs and my own favorite, but I can respect the other and their supports as well. I remember a line from the movie Troy, when King Priam, had snuck into Achilles' camp, to get back the body of his dead son. Achilles, was persuaded to give Hector back, but said, "This doesn't change anything. Your still my enemy in the morning." Priam responded back with, "You are still my enemy tonight, but even enemies can show respect." It is not about you or what you feel, it is about how you handle yourself, and even when you may not like the other horse, connections, etc., whatever you feel, you still can show respect.


  1. I think both horses are great. By her number of races and variety in tracks, RA seems like a shoe-in. But I can't seem to part with Zenyatta. I favor her for horse of the year. Do I think it's fair that one race decide the title? No, I don't. But the fact of the matter is that it does quite a lot. I believe it carries a great amount of weight in how horses from all countries are brought there. Sure RA faced the guys at multiple tracks. But Zen faced all the same guys all at once. RA has been to different tracks, but they've all been dirt. Dirt is dirt, it doesn't change very much from track to track. Synthetics however, are very different depending on the track. Different places favor different synthetics. So RA is a dirt horse and Zen is a synthetic horse. So what? Zen doesn't have many options on running on a surface she likes (though I'd like to see her on dirt since her owner's say she does the best on that surface). Zen is just by far the better horse to me. I've been watching replays of all of their races, and Zenyatta's ease in winning every race astounds me. Rachel pulls off from the pack, but she's going hard at it. Zenyatta is going along easy and breezing by everyone. Her stride is so magnificent and huge, that it just looks like she's going out for a morning gallop as she passes the pack. I hope Zen wins :)

  2. Much like in the world of bipartisan politics, civility has gone out the window. Could it be that is easier to undercut the competition, rather than extol the qualities of your choice?

  3. Brian, you are correct. It is a lot easier to submit to the temtation of slighting the opposer, than it is to "man up" and exude the class and quality that this sport actually needs to be displayed. That is what seperates regular people from those who actually have success, at least in most cases.