12/09/2010 3:49PM

Zenyatta vs. Blame: Marty McGee's vote for Horse of the Year

DRF illustration

In the run-up to the Eclipse Awards ceremony on Jan. 17, Daily Racing Form reporters and handicappers will reveal their votes for Horse of the Year and discuss the thinking behind their decision.

Instead of splitting hairs in the Blame vs. Zenyatta debate – and pretty much everyone is conceding that it’s very close, or should be, and that either horse is quite deserving – I’d like to take a slightly different approach.

Many voters, including myself, have inherent biases in such matters, and it’s incumbent on us all to set those aside when casting our votes. Whether it’s regional pride, which I strongly believe came into play last year in Rachel vs. Zenyatta, or sentiments affected by our business and/or personal relationships with the people involved, sometimes there are obstacles to us fulfilling our obligations to just put on our Objective Journalist hats and go about our chores in a conscientious way.

HORSE OF THE YEAR DEBATE: Watch video highlights of Blame and Zenyatta's 2010 races

It would be extremely easy for me to vote for Blame as the 2010 Horse of the Year. I would like to believe that Al Stall Jr. is a good friend, if not a very good friend, someone with whom I have shared many meaningful conversations, both business and personal, inside and outside the relationship that has evolved through our many years of me being a racing writer and him being a horse trainer on essentially the same circuits. In addition, in my professional dealings, I have found his clients, Seth and Dell Hancock of Claiborne Farm, to be very likable people, icons of our business, ever-worthy of this ultimate honor.

Conversely, I have only viewed the Mosses from afar, and my dealings with John Shirreffs have been limited to maybe a half-dozen conversations, and always in the reporter-trainer context. They are great people, clearly, although I do not have much first-hand knowledge of such.

See where I’m going with this? I could justify voting for Blame for the many reasons being articulated by the men and women who are voting for him . . . but I just can’t. Unfortunately for him, this was the year of Zenyatta, even accounting for that excruciating defeat in one of the greatest Breeders’ Cup races ever. Hey Allie: sorry, pal, but I’m voting for Zenyatta.

Next on Monday, Dec. 13: Andrew Beyer

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