12/20/2010 12:45PM

Zenyatta vs. Blame: Bill Tallon's vote for Horse of the Year

DRF illustration

I’ve been in a state of total depression since they put up the photo showing Blame as the winner of the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
It doesn’t matter how many times I go out to the theatre to watch “Secretariat,” or stay at home to watch my tapes of “Seabiscuit” and “The Black Stallion.”

What on earth was jockey Garrett Gomez thinking of?

Didn’t he know how much Zenyatta has done for horse racing, and that she was supposed to win the Classic to provide a storybook ending to her perfect career?

Couldn’t Gomez just have looked the other way for one second? He must have been aware that it was the big mare bearing down on his outside, on her way to glory.

Instead, he had to ride the hair off Blame and hold off Zenyatta by a short head.

Or maybe a nose, as the chart called it. Think about how many dreams were shattered, by that matter of inches.

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Think, for example, of those young women at Churchill Downs on Breeders’ Cup Day, decked out in their Zenyatta jerseys with her post position, 8, emblazoned on the shoulders and their Zenyatta ball caps with the funny fake furry horse ears. The NTRA could have grabbed the marketing rights to those caps, and made millions.

But, thanks to Blame, they’re now worth about as much as the “Quality Road, Horse of the Year 2010” T-shirt franchise that I bought at Saratoga after he won the Woodward.

But what is truly horrific to consider is the possibility that Zenyatta’s defeat at Churchill Downs could cost her what should have been a second consecutive title as North America’s Horse of the Year.

Isn’t the prospect of Zenyatta heading to the breeding shed, without so much as a single Horse of the Year title to her credit, just too much to bear?

And, what makes the situation even more intolerable is that I am heeding a little voice which keeps telling me to vote for Blame.

I voted for Zenyatta last year, when I truly believed she deserved the award. But it is Horse of “the Year,” isn’t it? It’s not about a career, or a personality, or the glory which a horse may have brought to the game.

I have lived and died, at least in a figurative sense, by the past performances and will continue to do so when I cast my ballot for Blame as the Horse of the Year for 2010.

In the meantime, I’ve asked for a bulletproof vest for Christmas.

Next on Wednesday, Dec. 20: Mary Rampellini

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