12/23/2009 12:00AM

Celebs weigh in on Horse of the Year

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Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Actress Jamie-Lynn Sigler says she was sold on Zenyatta after her victory in the Breeders' Cup Classic.

We asked sports and entertainment celebrities who care about racing to give us their vote for Horse of the Year.

Bob Costas, NBC sports:

"Rachel Alexandra won on different surfaces over different distances against all varieties of competition. Her peaks were the highest of the year. At her best, she was the year's most brilliant horse."

Brent Musburger, ESPN/ABC college sports:

"Zenyatta. She beat tougher competition."

Laura Hillenbrand, author of "Seabiscuit:"

"I've been vacillating, but as of today, I'm a Rachel girl. Zenyatta had one truly breathtaking performance, but Rachel was a season-long tour de force. Neither horse deserves to lose, but the vote is for horse of the year, not horse of the day. Rachel had a far more challenging campaign, and she came through every time."

Michael Imperioli, actor:

"Got to give it to Zenyatta. The Breeders' Cup Classic win this year was just out of this world. She is one of those once-in-a-lifetime horses. Perfection speaks for itself!"

Bo Derek, actress and member of CHRB:

"I vote for Zenyatta because she's perfect."

Paul Lo Duca, former all-star catcher:

"It was a hard decision to choose one over the other, but last memories are lasting memories. Anyone who saw Zenyatta's performance in the Breeders' Cup Classic or watches it again on tape would be hard pressed not to pick her."

Kenny Mayne, ESPN:

"Zenyatta. Easy. She showed up at the World Championships and beat the best horses in the world. Rachel beat the older boys at Saratoga who weren't the best horses in the world. She beat them by a head and was getting eight pounds."

Jake Delhomme, Carolina Panthers QB:

"Honestly, before the Breeders Cup, there was no question it was Rachel Alexandra in my mind, just because of what she had done. Maybe I was partial because I was there on Louisiana Derby Day, and I saw her in person. I stood literally directly in front of her when they took the picture. But after watching the Breeders' Cup, I was in awe of that performance by Zenyatta. I'm taking the easy way out, but it seems like if there was any way to have a co-Horse of the Year, you've got to. The way [Zenyatta] ran that day - how big she is, the whole demeanor about her - she was like, 'I'm the best horse, and I'm going to prove it.' I had the chills, because I didn't expect that to happen. That kind of made me a big believer, but I don't want to lose sight of what Rachel did all year long."

Gary Player, pro golfer:

"I believe Zenyatta should be Horse of the Year because she had the courage to take on the world's best colts. Rachel Alexandra only beat America's best colts. Zenyatta experienced another new distance in her career - a longer race. To be the best, you have got to beat the best and take them on."

Eddie Olczyk, NHL color commentator:

"Before the Classic, I thought Rachel Alexandra, hands down. She took on the boys, did it at different tracks, and in major races. I was disappointed she did not go to the Breeders' Cup Classic. And then came the Classic and "the race" by Zenyatta. What a performance, and on that stage. Wow. But to me, Horse of the Year is not one race, but the body of work for the year. So I go with Rachel. But the ride of the year goes to Mike Smith on Zenyatta in the Classic."

Bobby Flay, chef:

"Zenyatta is Horse of the Year. In fact, she's Athlete of the Year in my book. She went undefeated, beat anyone who challenged her, and most importantly, showed up to the championship game and put her perfect record at risk against the best of the best of either gender. Her competitors are just lucky she didn't run them over instead of running past them. Zenyatta will be sorely missed roaring down the stretch, but she'll have another Eclipse award dangling around her neck to show for her accomplishments this year, and this time it will be the big one!"

Jamie-Lynn Sigler, actress:

"Zenyatta. I was at the Breeders' Cup, and to be there and watch her take on the guys and pass the whole field one at a time from the back of the pack was amazing. And I just loved the way she played to the crowd. She was such a ham."