I thought overall the voters — comprised of members of the Daily Racing Form, National Turf Writers Association and National Thoroughbred Racing Association — did a fine job selecting the various winners, though I disagreed with a couple of the choices:
(1) As mentioned before, I’d have gone with Zenyatta as Horse of the Year over Curlin, who lost twice in 2008, because the filly was unbeaten and dominated her division more than any other racehorse during the year. I think the majority of voters gave Curlin the nod because he was undefeated on dirt. That’s not right.
(2) I thought Midnight Lute’s victory — while his only win of the year — in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint trumped anything Benny the Bull accomplished in 2008. Midnight Lute’s win was so powerful and made him the first back to back winner of the Sprint. If there was a category for best one-race training job, Bob Baffert would have won it hands down.
(3) IEAH Stables should have been named Owner of the Year rather than Stronach Stables. IEAH won a nation-high 11 Grade I races and had two Eclipse winners — Big Brown and Benny the Bull. Stronach Stables had no Eclipse winners. Bad choice.
I saved the best for last. Zenyatta’s choice as Top Older Female was expected to be unanimous, but two voters — TWO!! — cast their ballots for Ginger Punch, the defending champion who met Zenyatta on the track twice in 2008 and was soundly beaten by the John Shirreffs-trained daughter of Street Cry both times. Just incredibel. You sometimes wonder what goes through the minds of some people.
Overall, a good show, although some of the speeches ran a little long and that meant the ceremony went about 30 minutes long. It’s back in Beverly Hills in 2010.