01/20/2011 8:45PM



How close were the last two Horse of the Year votes? Not very, when compared to the last 50 years of U.S. Presidential elections.

Here are the percentages of the popular vote garnered by the top two candidates for President of the United States (POTUS) since 1960 and Horse of the Year in 2009 and 2010, ranked by the size of the winner's margin over the runner-up. Only three Presidential elections --  Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964, Richard Nixon in 1972 and Ronald Reagan in 1984 -- were decided by wider margins than Rachel Alexandra in 2009 and Zenyatta in 2010, while the other 10 showdowns were all closer:


Presidential elections, as we were reminded in 2000, are decided by the electoral-college system rather than the popular vote. That was the situation with Horse of the Year as well until earlier in this decade: The winner had to win a majority of the three former voting "blocs" -- DRF, the National Turf Writers Association, and the NTRA -- and a horse theoretically could lose the popular vote but prevail by narrowly carrying two of the blocs. This was changed, properly so, to a one-person/one-vote system. (It wouldn't have made a difference in either of the last two years since Rachel Alexandra was the choice within all three groups in 2009 and Zenyatta carried two of three this year.)

Only one of the 15 elections above was truly a two-horse race: either Rachel Alexandra or Zenyatta was named on all 229 ballots in 2009. Goldikova got five of this year's 235 votes, which put her in the middle of the pack of third-place finishers:



ML/NJ More than 1 year ago
Where else might I say this? If the NYRA cancels on a day like today, Thursday Feb 3, with severe sunshine, then it really should just cancel until the Vernal Equinox. And then along with the demise of OTB, maybe we could have a return to the glory days of old. (I hope everyone saw those crowds in the cold in Paris for the Prix de Amerique. Racing is NOT dead.)
John C. More than 1 year ago
Steve! Very interesting post as usual. I am a Zenyatta fan and was pleased with the outcome this year for HOY. Even though it took a horse of Zenyatta's caliber to overcome the DRF Back East bias I have decided you guys are objective and fair. Thus I promise to no longer use the term "Back East Bias".
YYZGUY More than 1 year ago
Jimmy, The Reigning HOTY beat a handful of Grade One Winners in the BC Classic. Don't forget Switch who won Grade Ones after the BC. The ducking by other Grade One winners was out of the control of Zenyatta. Blind Luck anyone? As for your criterion, please post the rules for voting on HOTY that confirm your criterion. Try to keep up.
ken More than 1 year ago
Mr Crist, I noticed somebody asking who you voted for horse of the year in 1989. They said you reasoned Blame beat Zenyatta, therefore you voted for Blame. Is the same true for 1989? Did you vote for Sunday Silence or Easy Goer? [Sunday Silence. -SC]
Dave or Divot80 More than 1 year ago
It's amazing how you find time to come up with all the various stats, facts and figures, ... and what have you. Next it'll probably be which race track is fastest to post its results following a race ( bet it's Finger Lakes ).- or the comparisons, by years, of the number of fried chicken sandwiches sold by Hatties as say compared to Nathan's hot dogs next door. LOL! Divot80
Gofor_broke More than 1 year ago
I'm not involved in HoY voting, and imo, it's not that different from a simple discussion of who's better. People have different opinions about: impressive vs consistent, looking for tough spots vs keeping their horse in a comfort zone, heavy schedule vs light, etc. 2010 Blame won the head to head BC Classic matchup, and Zenyatta's wins were restricted races that... I dont want to rehash it. But Zenyatta was very consistent, high quality, ran in a big market over several years, and I have no problem with giving her fans a retirement present. The passing of Miesque has me thinking about how great Goldikova is. She faces Grade 1 males in over half of her starts. 8 wins in 11 Grade 1's against males. Miesque was great, and there's a strong connection with Goldikova. Shipping a mare based in Europe to the US to win 4 BC races against males? That is something so unusual, I dont even know who to compare it to. Kelso & Forego were facing other males. For a mare to run this kind of streak against males is really special.
Jared More than 1 year ago
Oops, somebody better tell "Jimmy" that there is no criterion "must beat at least one grade I winner during the year". This is why they don't let foolish fans vote, and most of the reason why we have so many criminals on this continent (no understanding for the rules, no respect for the rules, and no consideration for the rules which are actually on the books at the time of their actions).
Reinier More than 1 year ago
After reading [one person's] website, I have no idea how a person like her gets to vote. I read she didn't even put Blame as 2nd or 3rd place. She chose Zenyatta, Goldikova 2nd, and Awesome Feather 3rd. So she left out the horse...Blame...that beat the horse she was voting for HOTY...Zenyatta. I realize this is a free vote but I mean...really... When I read stuff like this, that's how I mistakenly start to stereotype all Zenyatta fans as the same.
Jimmy More than 1 year ago
I would like to see it revealed exactly how people voted for the 2010 HOTY, although it will never happen. I want to see what people do not agree with the criterion "must beat at least one Grade I winner in the year" to be crowned HOTY. It would also be nice to see the voters that were objective and the voters that were "fans" when they turned in their ballots.
h roach More than 1 year ago
interesting comparison. pretty stunning that wallace got 13.53% of the vote in 1968 and goldikova only got 2.12% in 2010. my money would be on goldikova both pre and post wheelchair.