What a fabulous night for racing is all I can say when looking back on the overall outcome of the awards, receptions, and speeches made last night. Mostly everyone that received an award walked up onto that stage and was as polite and as gracious as could be. Overall I believed most of the awards were given to the correct horses, but you'll notice that I said most not all, which is, of course the reason I am writing.
Why don't we start off with the two year old divisions? Lookin at Lucky was an extremely deserving winner of his eclipse award. I was pretty happy that most had the sense to either over look his Breeders Cup loss or use it as a plus when voting for the colt. She Be Wild was my expected winner of the Juvenile Filly Award. She went unbeaten in all her starts except for one, then after her only defeat she comes back and wins the Breeders Cup Juvenile Filly. When the credential of two horses are matched as closely as She Be Wild's and Blind Luck's the determining factor is normally not talent, it is the Breeders Cup, which is why I have no doubt that She Be Wild was named the champion over, my personal favorite, Blind Luck.
The three year old divisions were not even close. Summer Bird sealed the deal when winning the Belmont, Travers, and Jockey Club Gold Cup. In each of his major wins he defeated the other two nominees for the award, beating Mine That Bird in the Belmont, and Quality Road in the Travers and Gold Cup. If anyone had the idiocy to choose another horse over Rachel Alexandra, as Champion Three Year Old Female they would've deserved to be chased from the room with torches and pitchforks. I guess it's a good thing nobody did, seeing how Rachel was the unanimous choice for the award.
The Sprint divisions were also easy. Had I gone with my head and logic I would've arrived at the same conclusion as many others did for the Male Sprinting Champion. Kodiak Kowboy the winner in the category by a landslide vote, as well as Informed Decision was as the Female Sprinter. With a decisive win against her rival, Ventura, for the second time, in the Breeders Cup Filly and Mare Sprint, Informed Decision dispelled any thoughts against her as the Female Sprinting Champ.
The Turf Championships is when I started to have a problem. Gio Ponti deserved to sit atop the throne as the Champion Male Turf Horse. He had won four consecutive Grade ones this season, winning at distances from one mile to 11 furlongs. He never finished worse than second while running on the turf, with that performance coming as his first attempt at 12 furlongs over a very very heavy and tiring track. What I did not agree with was Goldikova as the female recipient of the Turf award. I am not denying her awesome ability or her greatness, but one race, no matte what the race is should not trump a years worth of amazing performances, given to us by Ventura. She beat the boys in the Woodbine Mile, came with in a nose of beating Gio Ponti, then after the Breeders Cup she wins the Matriarch. In victory or defeat, Ventura was absolutely stunning. She should've been named our Female Turf Champion.
The Older Male and Female Awards were spot on. Gio Ponti was the most dominant older male this year, even if all of his wins came over turf. For my explanation on Zenyatta's award, go back and look at what I said for Rachel Alexandra. That is why the one idiot, yes, I said idiot, who voted for Icon Project and NOT Zenyatta should pray to God that the fans of Zenyatta don't hunt him down and chase him from the country.
Now for the the most important one of all Horse of the Year. You all know where I stand, but just incase you forgot, I was a huge, huge, huge Rachel supporter, so it is needless to say how happy I am at the way this award turned out. Personally, I would not have minded if Zenyatta had been named. She is an awesome mare and deserves every accolade thrown her way. What I disliked was her owner's response at losing the award, stating Rachel won by a "proxy" and looking like he would like nothing better than to get up from the room and leave. That is not sportsmanship, and was downright rude.
Another thing circulating the Internet is the lack of thanks express by the connections of Rachel's team to Hal Wiggins, Rachel's previous trainer. This is such a stupid thing to pick at. Hal did a wonderful job with Rachel, but had she not been bought by Jackson, Rachel would've never raced against male, at all. Also, I would feel incline to give the connections the benefit of the doubt. It was a very emotional moment for both Steve and Jess Jackson, and as Steve said when he won his Eclipse "you don't want to go naming names and end up forgetting someone." Perhaps that is why names were not mentioned, unless they were directly associated with Rachel at that point in time. Wiggins had been given thanks before and after the Preakness, if some of you don't remember, so he did get his due there.
Other than those few little annoy digs, I thought it was a fabulous night. I will look back on my memories of 2010 fondly, never forgetting that I was alive to witness the greatness of so many fantastic horses, led by Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta. For now, though, I will be looking ahead into 2010, for an even more exciting and dramatic year.