01/07/2011 2:50PM

Zenyatta vs. Blame: Dave Litfin's vote for Horse of the Year

DRF illustration

I’m voting for Blame.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fervent admirer of Zenyatta and I’ve never rooted so hard for a horse to get up in the stretch as I did for her in the Classic, even though I had no financial stake since Dakota Phone had long since turned my pick-four tickets to confetti.

But Zenyatta didn’t get there despite a relatively clean trip with no loss of ground or momentum. She had dead aim, but Blame held her off fair and square.

That’s the deciding factor for me. This was a head-to-head matchup with the Horse of the Year title on the line, and Blame prevailed. Along with wins in the Stephen Foster and the Whitney, two highly prestigious Grade 1 races, that gives him the nod over Zenyatta, who could not have had a more conservative campaign leading to the Classic.

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Again: Blame beat Zenyatta in the Classic -- game, set, match. Otherwise, why bother to run these races and bill them as definitive championship contests?

Had Zenyatta been given a more ambitious schedule and come up a head short, perhaps I would feel differently. Blame’s path to the Classic was common knowledge from mid-May, and she could have taken him on more than once. I was among the many fans that spent most of the year wondering why she was kept in training to win races like the Vanity, Clement L. Hirsch, and Lady’s Secret against suspect competition yet again.
As a consequence, her Horse of the Year chances hinged solely on the Classic. I wish she had gotten there, but she didn’t.

Next on Monday, Jan. 10: Mike Beer

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