11/07/2010 10:37AM

Blame closes out career by making bid for Horse of the Year

Barbara D. Livingston
Co-owner Adele Dilschneider gives Blame a friendly pat Sunday morning, the day after his narrow victory over Zenyatta in the BC Classic.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - It wasn’t quite Babe Ruth calling his shot, but trainer Al Stall Jr. definitely hit one out of the park. Nearly a year ago, he mapped out a plan to best get Blame to the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs. And on Saturday night, Blame hit a home run for Stall, scoring a dramatic victory over favored Zenyatta in the Classic.

“It’s rare for anybody,” Stall said at his Churchill Downs barn on Sunday morning. “But that’s what it takes to win these things. You have to hit every short-term goal as you go along.”

The Classic was the final career start for Blame, who goes to stud in the spring at Claiborne Farm, which co-owns Blame along with Adele Dilschneider.

“He’s going to Seeking the Gold’s old stall,” Stall said. “He’s bright, looks good today. He ate up last night. He’ll stay here until tomorrow, then go over to his regular stall at Keeneland. He should go to Claiborne by the end of the week.”

Blame very likely could enter stud as the 2010 Horse of the Year. If so, the difference will be the length of his head. The Eclipse Awards are Jan. 17 in Miami Beach, Fla.

“I’m someone who doesn’t get enamored of the Horse of the Year stuff,” Stall said. “We’re going to go anyway. He’s got at least one award.”

Indeed, Blame wrapped up champion older horse. As for Horse of the Year, he beat Zenyatta in their only head-to-head meeting. But Blame was racing on his home track, and Zenyatta’s popularity is a powerful force. Anyone who didn’t fully appreciate her accomplishments before Saturday had to be won over by her courageous late run.

But it was Blame who got their first, though Stall admitted he was nervous in the closing yards.

“He shoved Lookin At Lucky out of the way at the quarter pole, and then I picked up Zenyatta between the three-sixteenths and the eighth pole, and that’s when I started doing the lean,” Stall said. “He galloped out in front. Once he saw her, she never got by him.”