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Champions of the 2000's
Want to help me out with my holiday-weekend homework assignment?
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to share your thoughts on which Eclipse Award winners of the soon-to-be-over 2000's were the very best of the decade, division by division. I'll make my final choices next week and the results are scheduled to be published in the DRF newspaper of January 2, 2010.
Listed below are the divisional champions of the 2000's, with each season's Horse of the Year in capital letters. I've omitted the category of champion filly sprinter -- Maryfield for 2007, Indian Blessing in 2008 and probably Informed Decision this year -- since that award was only instituted two years ago.
I've also "pencilled" in this year's likely winners in the categories where there doesn't seem to be much doubt about the outcome. I don't think any of the leading contenders for the categories in which I've left question marks would be anyone's realistic choice for Best of the Decade:
There are some useful links here at the DRF Eclipse Awards page, including past performances and stats for leading contenders. Look in the lower right-hand corner for links to previous years.
Now obviously, any ground rules for this exercise are going to be thorny, and much like the voting for actual Eclipse Awards, different analysts among you will use different measuring sticks. The usual dilemmas apply: Raw talent vs. achievement, narrow leaders of strong crops vs. runaway leaders of weak ones, stats vs. emotional impressions, head vs. heart.
Choosing the "best" championship seasons is straightforward when you're comparing something as proscribed as 2-year-old campaigns but more difficult when horses have multiple achivements over different years. For example, in the older-filly category, which strikes me as a match race between Azeri and Zenyatta, are we comparing only their best single campaigns or their body of work over the decade? Does Azeri get extra credit for being a three-time older-filly champion? I'm curious as to your thoughts on that as well as on the merits of individual horses.
And I suppose we have to come up with a Horse of the Decade. Good luck with that one, and thanks in advance for your help.
2yr vindacation, 2yr f dreaming of anna, 3yr smarty jones, 3yr f rachel alexandra/rags to riches, hdcp horse tiznow, hdcp mare zenyatta turf horse high chapperal, spinter lost in the fog, horse of the decade/ millenium/eon---the unbelievable undefeated unrivaled incomparable ZENYATTA
ZENYATTA beat the reigning champion mare Ginger Punch over dirt in the Gr.1 apple blossum at Oaklawn in her 4th career start, labeling her a synthetic specialist is quite disingenuos. rachel beat the winners of a combined 1 ungraded stakes in the Kentucky Oaks by 20. Talk about a graded stakes downgrade. DRF's PP's in Champions reveals that only ZENYATTA has run a sub-11 final 1/8 EVER. ZENYATTA is the ONLY undefeated deep closer EVER. ZENYATTA went through the winners of 19 Gr.1 stakes in the BC Classic like butter and never took a deep breath. rachel beat a broken down field of 1 hit wonders in N.Y. barely lasting against the patented devastating closing kick of that stalwart of the American turf macho again at 1 1/8. Talk about your apples and oranges.In rachels signature win the Preakness she staggered in just in front of that other ALL-TIME great mine that bird. Ghostzapper and Mine Shaft raced FIVE times in thier championship years. ZENYATTA didn't dictate that Ca. tracks be converted to synthetic,that was political grease applied by foriegn money launderers from Kentucky and Austria.ZENYATTA didn't choose the sight of the BC she just showed up! The only surface ZENYATTA couldn't chew up and spit out rachel on is MADISON AVENUE
sorry for the bad info in my previous post about Tempera - her 107 BSF in the 2001 BC Juv. Fillies was 12 points higher than the average for the race (Silverbulletday second highest at 106). And it was in prepping for the Ky. Oaks in 2002 that she developed laminitis and died.
Ouija Board: 75,000 miles; anyone, anywhere, anytime. Raced her last year with no vacation for freshening. No tissue paper horse. Let anyone else run that campaign. Zarkava, first to win the Arc from her post since 64, first 3 yr old filly since 82, first filly since 93. Won the Arc with just one race off a 2 month lay-off. Her trip was equally as bad as Sea The Stars. Her turn of foot probably the most devastating of the decade.
2 year old filly - Tempera was the most underrated of the decade, winning the BC Juvenile Fillies with a 107 BSF, 12 points higher than any other Juvenile Filly BC winner. Unfortunately she had to be put down during her 3 year old season in Japan.
Vermont Mary, That's three hithers and three yons. Whither next? Tally ho.
2YO Male: Johannesburg 2YO Female: Indian Blessing 3YO Male: Point Given 3YO Female: Rachel Alexandra Older Male: Ghostzapper Older Female: Azeri Turf Male: High Chaparral Turf Female: Ouija Board Sprinter: Kona Gold HOD: Ghostzapper (best horse I've seen since Spectacular Bid)
2YO male: Street Sense 2YO filly: Storm Flag Flying 3YO colt: Curlin narrowly over Tiznow 3YO filly: Indisputably, Rachel Alexandra. It’s hard enough to turn in a brilliant effort once in a while, but every race? Rachel delivered nothing but brilliance since February while smashing through record after record after record culminating with becoming the first filly in history to win three grade I races in a row on dirt against males in a single year, including yet another step up to defeat older males. You fortunate souls are not likely to ever see that again. All year, Rachel has been flattered by horses she has trounced. Gabby's Golden Gal was beaten 29 1/4 lengths by Rachel in the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) and came back to win the grade I Acorn Stakes in 1:34 3/5. Flashing was beaten 31 1/2 lengths by Rachel in the Mother Goose (gr. I) and came back to win the grade I Test Stakes by 1 1/2 lengths. Belmont winner Summer Bird was beaten 6 lengths by Rachel in the Haskell and came back to win the Travers Stakes by 3 1/2 lengths, and the Jockey Club Gold Cup. Take the Points was beaten 32 3/4 lengths by Rachel in the Preakness and came back to win the grade I Secretariat Stakes. Just Jenda was beaten 11 3/4 lengths by Rachel in the Fantasy Stakes and came back to win the Monmouth Oaks by 4 1/4 lengths. Even Sara Louise, who was beaten 4 3/4 lengths by Rachel in last year's Golden Rod (gr. II), won the Victory Ride Stakes (gr. III) at Saratoga in 1:09 3/5 in her 3-year-old debut. Older dirt male: Curlin narrowly over Tiznow Older dirt filly: Azeri did so much more than Zenyatta in so many more places. Azeri was tested, proven and thoroughly defined, while Zenyatta was so ... well ... protected every inch of the way. Zenny's connections would benefit from studying Azeri's playbook. Going for "perfect" in your own backyard is a cheap substitute for "tested" and "proven" hither and yon. That is the precedent set by many a deserving HOY in years past, and that is the precedent that must be lived up to now.. Turf horse: English Channel Turf mare: Ouija Board Here again Zenyatta's people could benefit from reading the playbook of another great mare. This is what Ouija Board did to become two time HOY in Europe. She captured two runnings of the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. I), two time female Turf Eclipse Award winner, won a total of seven group/grade I races and amassed a fortune of $6,312,552 in earnings. She made her case on several continents having raced in Hong Kong threee times, Japan, Nad el Sheba, Europe and the US. Talk about taking your case on the road. Wow. She won grade/group 1's in three countries in 2004 alone. In 2006, only one of her races was strictly against her own sex. She had a try at four consecutive 11/4-mile races, with only 2 weeks in between races at one point. Even her losses were impressive and made a case for her: she finished third in the Arc as a three year old after rating in 14th and lacking running room 2f out. Overall she went 5 for 8 as a 3 yr. old, though she was on the board in all 8. By the way, she was 1 for 3 as a 2 yr. old, and nobody held against her. Clearly her ownership was not afraid to test their filly, and they were not afraid to lose. They shipped her hither and yon, running her at various distances against all comers just about everywhere racing is a major sport, occasionally without much of a breather in between. Ouija Board retired with 10 wins, three seconds, and five thirds from 22 starts. The amazing record of Ouija Board in the same decade that Zenyatta raced shines a garishly bright light on Zenyatta's "perfect" record in her backyard. That "perfect" record is extremely overrated especially when it comes at the expense of so little in the way of actually testing the horse. Going "perfect" in your own backyard is a cheap substitute for "tested" and "proven" hither and yon. Sprinter: Midnight Lute Horse of the Year: Indisputably, Rachel Alexandra. Horse of the Decade: Curlin followed by Ouija Board.
horse(s) of the decade. The prom was held a few days back. The horse first entering the dance floor went by the name of Curlin. He was a lucky boy as he had two dates for this prom. One named Rachel the other named Zenyatta. As they danced to the finish line they were greeted by the co- voices of trevor and tom. Too close to call. No two stepping here tri horses of the decade. Curlin, Rachel, and Zenyatta.
HOD candidates: Tiznow: 2 BCs but short campaign 2nd year. Ghostzapper: most exciting,Seattle Slew type but lightly raced. Rachel: great but hasnt gone 11/4 yet. Zenyatta: did it all and has a nice dirt win at Churchill. I'll take Curlin, he campaigned and was best for 2yrs.