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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Eclipse Voters to Blame

- Zenyatta is Horse of the Year, and what a joke and a farce. Eclipse voters had an easy job this time, because the title was clearly decided on the track for a change. We complain about how the top horses rarely race, and how the ultimate showdowns rarely occur. And then, when it not only does take place, but produces a clear result in a cleanly run race, the voters cast the result aside and go for the sappy sentimental choice instead. Don't get me wrong, I love Zenyatta as you know, and it's nice to see her get the title that she should have won last year. But this contest was cut and dried; they showed up, and Blame won fair and square. People in this sport can't get things right even when it's clearly spelled out for them. The Eclipse voters blew it, big time.

- I wrote dismissively recently of Henny Hughes' career at stud thus far, but he got his first stakes winner as Fort Hughes looked good winning the Jimmy Wakefield at the Big A in a sparkling 1:08.33; final furlong in 11.96 seconds. He's out of Forty Greeta, an Argentinian-bred Roar mare who was the 2yo filly of 2006 in that country before being exported to Dubai. Fort Hughes is a Darley homebred, now two-for-three and no doubt headed for distances that are quite likely beyond his capabilities.

- I really wish I could say 'I told ya so' and that I knew it all along. But the truth is that I'm as surprised as anyone about the Jets beating the Patriots. Yes, I plead guilty of not keeping the faith. I'm not the most confident guy in the world when it comes to my sports teams to start with (40+ years of frustration since their last and one Super Bowl appearance doesn't help)....and the recent 45-3 loss, and what I considered at the time to be ill-advised goading of the opposition (and not by Rex Ryan....his comments were rather innocuous and way overblown by the press IMO) were too much for me to overcome.

But Rex Ryan had his team convinced that could win, demonstrating that Brady was altogether mortal in recent postseason action. He brought in Dennis Byrd to give a motivational speech. He prepared a masterful defensive game plan that had Brady looking confused (and he has the talent on his defense to pull it off). Recent suggestions that he is somehow in over his head as an NFL coach are totally ridiculous now. The Jets are going to the AFC Championship game....again!

28 Comments:

Dyan Grealish said...

Well that may be one man's opinion, but I suggest you check the stats. Horse of the year is not decided by who wins the Breeders' Cup Classic. Regardless of what Seth Hancock or anyone else may say or believe. No historical precedent there.

Anonymous said...

Bitter much? Blame's connections while disappointed where gracious in defeat. It's just an award that won't change what happend on the track.

Bill Duncliffe said...

Alan - As one who has anonymously needled you occasionally regarding the J-E-T-S, allow this long time Patriots fan to offer you congratulations. That was an impressive performance on Sunday.

Anonymous said...

The only joke and farce is your STUPID comments. You moron!!!!

Anonymous said...

Alan, you are way off base. As Dyan said, the BC Classic is not the determinant of HOY. It's a highly subjective process and you could make a logical case for both Blame and Zenyatta in 2010. Following the BC Classic, my initial thought was that if I had a vote, it would have been for Blame. But the more I heard the various arguments, I decided Zenyatta was a most worthy winner. Not your finest moment, brau. -jp

alan said...

jp - If, as you say, one could make a logical case for both, then how can I be "way off base?" I think you're just bitter about the Pats. :-)

I guess I didn't make clear that I really don't much care about the Eclipse Awards, so there's no bitterness involved. Just think the decision was just plain wrong, and I'm sticking to that opinion. No, the BC Classic is absolutely not necessarily the ultimate deciding factor. But in this case, it should have been.

Figless said...

There are so many arguments both ways and I truly dont care. I thought blame deserved but good for Zenyatta, she was robbed last year.

But I saw one argument that I though was absurd in the T Times yesterday.

The writer claimed Blame could never have won 19 in a row if he had mostly stayed home and raced on his favorite surface.

First, 19 in a row should have no bearing on the argument, the race is for HO THIS YEAR, not horse of the last two years.

Next, I suspect that if Blame had returned to the races to run only on dirt in the state of KY versus females next year, he would go undefeated.

SaratogaSpa said...

We all love Z, but I look at HOTY as: Who was the best in open company racing?

This year it was Blame.

Anonymous said...

BC Classic is not the be-all, end-all of a racing season so I guess I have to go along with Zenyatta as HOY to be consistent. However, I believe that Zenyatta is over-rated as she never shipped east and faced the top Grade I contenders in NY. Call this Sox-Pats fan NY-centric, at least when it comes to racing. /S/greenmtnpunter

Anonymous said...

Alan, it's not simply that you think Blame should have won. You wrote:

"Zenyatta is Horse of the Year, and what a joke and a farce"

It's one thing to feel Blame should have won, but to call the process a joke and a farce is way over the top and incredibly off base. As I said, you could have made a case for either horse. And GMP, let's wait for the next time a horse goes 19-20 before calling Z overrated. My guess is you'll never see it at that level again. -jp

alan said...

jp - OK, fair enough. Maybe I got carried away.....it's just that it seemed like a no-brainer to me, and frankly I was stunned that there was even any controversy about it. To me, it's like (and I'll spare you another Jets reference here), if the Saints were awarded a spot in the next playoff round even though they lost to the Seahawks because they accomplished more during the season. The Classic was a definitive matchup of the two best horses, and absolutely, positively should have been the deciding factor. In my opinion of course.

And thank you Bill Duncliffe, I appreciate your comment.

Teresa said...

I was at the track yesterday, and it looks like Darley is going to keep Fort Hughes going short...they're talking possible next start in the 6F Capossela. I had the same initial thought you did, but it looks like, on first blush, anyway, that he's staying here and sprinting.

And congrats on the Jets. Was definitely worth missing another too little, too late Rangers' performance. Zuccarello and Wolski pleasant exceptions.

ballyfager said...

She doesn't deserve it, period.

Anonymous said...

"Zuccarello and Wolski pleasant exceptions."


And don't forget Stepan!

Carol said...

Dunno about the Z vote. I probably would have voted differently, but I’m not going to complain. My complaint is with Pletcher once again getting the trainer award, even after the Life at Ten debacle that risked both the horse and the bettors. Pletcher seems to always get a free pass, which is bad enough, but then to get acclaim on top of it. Ugh.

Anonymous said...

At least if the Jets make it to the Super Bowl and lose, they have a shot at winning Football Team of the Year.

Anonymous said...

Congrats to you Alan for putting it in writing, a joke indeed!

Anonymous said...

I agree with most posters, but to the last dickface anon - using your logic, a team (Rachel Alexandra) can win the regular season, not show up for the super bowl, and be "Football team of the year."

Anonymous said...

Did anyone notice when the nominees for jockey were announced that Johnny V.'s race action and call was with Life At Ten?

I posted that on Ray Paulick's live blog. It was obvious and not a subtle reference. Paulick did not do anything with it. Ray would know who this is because he also did not do anything with the news I sent him about the first ever female racing steward passing away in the past couple of weeks. The woman was over 100 years old, but she became the first ever female racing steward in the U.S. back in the 1970s. I didn't know the woman, but her obituary mentioned integrity and class, etc. I would imagine she would have been appalled at the Life At Ten mess and the failure of a quicker investigation and finding.

steve in nc said...

Alan, I am happy and proud to be a moron like you, and I totally agree with your HOTY comments.

Zen & Blame both had almost perfect years. Neither was a one race wonder. But neither ran a long and amazing enough campaign to make one race irrelevant. And when they met, Zen put in an great run, but lost fair and square.

HOTY boiled down to an American Idol-like popularity contest, and I don't care who wins that either. I like the music that I like, and I don't give a damn if it's popular. And mostly racing works that way too which is part of why I like it. When I bet, they pay off on the actual winner, whether it is a crowd favorite or not.

Anonymous said...

horse of the year is not defined so you can put any qualities in your vote...zenyatta was more important to the public but it is up to you if that matters....as a gambler i would vote for who i make the favorite if they ran another race as the best horse... since the answer to that is it depends on where,when and how i would vote for the horse i like better....]
the bottom line is that the cup race dismissed the camp of zenyatta can't tie blames shoes and isnt even close to him on a dirt track.
dirt track close....synthetic to z..i vote for z

Anonymous said...

steve in nc

Congrats you have won the "Putz" award of the month. All the best.

Anonymous said...

It's not as cut and dry as some Blame supporters would lead you to believe. Yes he beat her, but there was nothing remotely decisive about the win. It was accomplished in a situation Blame had been in before on a surface he ran on all year long. Zenyatta had trouble handling the track early and made one of the most remarkable late runs you will ever see. Earlier that year, she also won her 17th race in a row, in dramatic fashion, becoming the first horse to do so in top company in 128 years. That race had more historical importance than anything Blame has ever done in his life. Zenyatta's races were attended by 10s of thousands of people who heaped adulation on her, while Blame maybe had one or two people snap his photograph and never had to deal with the stresses of being a hero to so many people. Just take a look at her trip over from the paddock before the BC. You can find it on youtube. People were in her face and screaming every step of the way.

Basically I think Blame deserved his narrow win in the BC Classic. There was nothing cheap about it. I think you could make a logical case for him deserving HOY and I don't begrudge anyone who voted for him. But I also think you can make a logical case for Zenyatta, given the loose nature of the award in the first place. Conclusion: Zenyatta a most deserving winner and the position of those who call the award and/or the vote a "farce" or a "fraud" is way off base. Things aren't that cut and dry and those who jump to such knee-jerk conclusions lack credibility. -jp

Figless said...

Since the Classic was such a close race the logical next step is to compare the rest of their seasons.

If you lined up all of the runner ups in all of their other 2010 victories for a mythical race, I suspect those vanguished by Blame would fill out the Superfecta.

Z's camp always refers to Blame's defeat at Belmont, but realistically, if Z had been added to that field where do you think she would have finished over that speed favoring surface with that pace scenario?

I am fairly confident she would have been third.

alan said...

That Belmont race was a classic prep for Blame (a classic Classic prep, actually). Unfortunately, when horses race as infrequently as they do today, every loss is amplified, even if it perfectly serves its purpose as in this case. So I don't think it's unfair to cite that race in this argument....but it doesn't change my opinion.

And she might very well have been third in that race!

Anonymous said...

So now Z finished third in a race she didn't run in. But wait, didn't Blame beat Fly Down by a length in that race and subsequently both Z and Blame beat Fly Down by several lengths in the BC Classic. Hmm. -jp

Anonymous said...

Alan,

Help me out. Hasn't Zenyatta led every NTRA poll throughout 2010 and even the poll conducted after the Classic?

Figless said...

My point is no one was beating Haynesfield that day on that surface with that pace scenario.

jp, the key question is where would Z's vanquished foes finish in the BC, or any of Blames other races?

Who faced better overall quality opponents this season?

Blame ran the much more aggressive campaign.

That is my argument and I am sticking with it.

In a perfect world Z would have won in 2009 and Blame in 2010.