12/29/2010 1:30PM

Zenyatta vs. Blame: Ron Gierkink's vote for Horse of the Year

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A strong case could be made for both Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta for 2009 Horse of the Year honors. Rachel had the more complete campaign, but Zenyatta won the biggest race, the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic, while polishing off a stellar field. They never met, and I voted for Zenyatta, because I thought she was the better horse.

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I don’t believe there was a whole lot separating Blame and Zenyatta in terms of ability this year. Blame, however, beat much tougher opposition compared to Zenyatta, who had workmanlike scores over the ungraded stakes winners Dance to My Tune and Rinterval, both of whom haven’t won since. When they squared off in the BC Classic, Blame and Zenyatta both benefited from a quick, contested pace, and Blame prevailed by what seemed like a measured head.

My voting style for championships has always been based on performance, not popularity, so Blame gets the nod.

Next on Friday, Dec. 31: Mike Welsch

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