12/15/2010 1:16PM

Zenyatta vs. Blame: Matt Hegarty's vote for Horse of the Year

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When in doubt, go to the track.

As impressive as Zenyatta’s career has been, and as exhilarating as her stretch runs have been to her legion of devoted fans, the 6-year-old mare’s first career loss in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic gives a voter little choice but to assign the Horse of the Year title to the Classic winner, Blame.

Blame and Zenyatta, the two best U.S.-based horses in training in 2010, both had very good campaigns this year, with each losing only once. Blame won four races, three of them Grade 1s, while Zenyatta won five Grade 1s – all in races restricted to females, against fields that did not perform particularly impressively in other graded stakes races.

Blame’s loss came in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup, a four-length defeat to the loose-on-the-lead Haynesfield. And Zenyatta’s came in her only open-field meeting of the year, in a race in which her trip was certainly compromised by her running style and a lack of familiarity with the Churchill Downs surface.

HORSE OF THE YEAR DEBATE: Vote on Facebook for a chance to win free PPs for a year

So they each have legitimate excuses for their losses. And everyone has an opinion, which is why they run horse races.

On Nov. 7, Blame won that race, shuttling the excuses and opinions to the background. The debate was settled on the track, right where it should have been. Blame is the Horse of the Year, a title that does nothing to tarnish the legacy of Zenyatta.

Next on Friday, Dec. 15: Kenny Peck

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