10/29/2009 11:00PM

Letters to the Editor


Zenyatta deserves Classic opportunity to show who's best

I strongly disagree with Steven Crist's Oct. 18 column, "No sense pressing Zenyatta."

First of all, this has nothing to do with Personal Ensign, nor her circumstances more than 20 years ago.

Zenyatta's connections are not being widely advised that they must face males in the Classic "in order to validate her quality and her record" - her quality and record are already far beyond question. They are being so advised in order to prove that she is not simply the best female of the generation, but one of the greatest horses, period.

Thanks to Rachel Alexandra's failure to show up for the championships, Zenyatta can prove nothing by once again beating females. However, by beating the best older males the world has to offer (as opposed to merely the game but mediocre Macho Again and Bullsbay), she can finally prove that she is not only the Horse of the Year, but a horse for the ages.

Taking the easy way out in the interest of remaining undefeated is the kind of approach that this great sport can do without - and I am not a "broadcaster" nor "self-interested promoter" nor someone looking for a "marketable story line." Besides, Zenyatta's owners, the Mosses, don't owe racing a Classic start, they owe it to Zenyatta!

It is quite disturbing that so many people seem to have made up their minds regarding their choice for Horse of the Year before the Breeders' Cup World Championships have even been run. While Rachel has clearly proven her superiority over her fellow 3-year-olds this year, she has a heck of a lot more to prove before she can be remotely considered superior to top-notch older horses, and if a remarkable season without beating the best older males were enough for Horse of the Year honors, then Zenyatta should have won it last year.

The choice for the Mosses is a no-brainer - let the big girl prove to the world what so many have believed all along, that she is the greatest racehorse we have seen in a long, long time, and a truly deserving Horse of (this or any) Year.

Rick Goldfarb - Sherman Oaks, Calif.

No comparison: Rachel's the one

Zenyatta has run four times this year, in two seven-filly fields and two six-filly fields. The competition she has beaten, all on her home tracks, would also be soundly beaten by at least 50 horses in the country, and that is a conservative number. How can Zenyatta even be mentioned as a Horse of the Year candidate when she has not run against one good horse the entire year?

She has beaten only 14 different fillies and mares in her four races this year, as she beat seven of her opponents more than once. She had her spots carefully picked to assure minimal competition, and was scratched from the Louisville on the same Churchill Downs card card that Rachel Alexandra won the Kentucky Oaks on by 20 1/4 lengths while being eased up a good part of the stretch. These are not Horse of the Year credentials.

Now, Rip Van Winkle faced, arguably, the best horse in the world in Sea the Stars multiple times and is traveling thousands of miles for his sportsmen connections to run in the BC Classic. Now, which horse has the better credentials - Rip Van Winkle or Zenyatta? Even if Rip Van Winkle were to win the Classic, he would not be considered for Horse of the Year, same as last year when Raven's Pass blew Curlin off the track. Why should Zenyatta be a candidate for Horse of the Year for winning one race and Rip Van Winkle not be?

In 1998, Awesome Again had an undefeated year, soundly defeating Skip Away in the BC Classic, yet Skip Away was named Horse of the Year.

Now this year's presumptive Horse of the Year, Rachel Alexandra, has won in six different states against male and female competition. Her connections are true sportsmen and ducked no competition. She was the first filly since 1924 to win the Preakness. She defeated both the 2008 and 2009 Belmont stakes winners. She is only the second filly to win the Haskell, the other being the great Serena's Song in 1995. She set the record for winning margins in both the Kentucky Oaks and Mother Goose, topping even Ruffian's 13 1/2-length Mother Goose victory, winning by 19 1/4 lengths in stakes-record time. All this as a 3-year-old.

Richard Murray - North Hills, Calif.