As Zenyatta and Blame crossed the wire together at the end of the Breeders’ Cup Classic, the clamor had not started. Which is really better? Who will win Horse of the Year? And just don’t get me started on the tiresome pun-dits of the headlines.
What is plain and undeniable is that both horses are champions and are models for racing talent and character. That is a treat for racing and a splendid opportunity for sharing the excellence of our sport with the general public.
Now, Andy Beyer elaborates slightly on his previous statement that Blame and Zenyatta share the same Beyer Speed Figure for the Classic and ran to their best form in a Q & A with Ray Paulick. Read it here.
So, for practical purposes, they are the same horse. Their difference in the Classic is a matter of inches, and as Dave Dink pointed out in a poetic post last week, would something so small change your mind about the quality of either of these outstanding horses?
I think not.
The shortcoming of awards and designations such as Horse of the Year is that they fail to share the glory of champions on the track in extreme competition or in the winner’s circle glistening from the exertions of their races. The result diminishes excellence by categorizing something that is transcendent.
And we miss the point if we do not recognize that racing has two champions this year, two athletes of outstanding merit and courage, and two grand horses who have proven their mettle on the course.