The deadline for online voting was noon, PDT, Monday. Here is how I filled out my ballot in the key divisions, with a quick explanation why:
Top 2-Year-Old Male: Lookin At Lucky
This was one of the easier selections for me. The early Future Book favorite for the 2010 Kentucky Derby won three Grade 1′s and had a terrible trip in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile while losing by a head.
Top 2-Year-Old Filly: She Be Wild
She showed up on Breeders’ Cup weekend and beat the best juvenile fillies in the nation. Blind Luck, with two Grade 1 victories, was a strong second on my ballot.
Top 3-Year-Old Male: Summer Bird
Another easy choice. His victories in the Belmont, Travers and Jockey Club Gold Cup make him a cinch in this category.
Top 3-Year-Old Filly: Rachel Alexandra
Is there really anyone who won’t vote for the daughter of Medaglia d’Oro? Sadly, yes there is, but she should be a unanimous choice.
Top Older Male: Einstein
He was there from January through November, putting it all on the line in most of the country’s top races for older horses. He won two Grade 1′s and narrowly lost another when he was beaten a neck in the Pacific Classic at Del Mar.
Top Older Female: Zenyatta
Just like in Rachel Alexandra’s case, there will be someone who will vote for another distaffer other than Zenyatta, and we’ll just shake our heads.
Top Sprinter: Dancing in Silks
Won the big one on Breeders’ Cup weekend and three other sprints before that one. I also gave Kodiak Kowboy much consideration. Zensational, who was never really tested during his victories, needed to win the Breeders’ Cup Sprint to win this award.
Top Female Sprinter: Informed Decision
She should win this category comfortably after winning three Grade 1 sprints in 2009, including the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint.
Top Male Turf Horse: Gio Ponti
The Arlington Million winner, who won three other Grade 1 grass races this year and also ran second to Zenyatta in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, was as consistent as could be all year.
Top Female Turf Horse: Ventura
Goldikova may win this category, but I won’t vote for a horse who ran just once in the U.S. Ventura, in addition to being one of the top female sprinters in the country, also became the first female to win the Woodbine Mile on grass.
Top Jockey: Garrett Gomez
No one is better in the money races than this guy, who also competes in the toughest jockey colony around.
Top Trainer: John Shirreffs
No one in the nation did a better job handling a horse in 2009 than Shirreffs did with Zenyatta. His plan for the unbeaten mare worked to perfection, and his work with BC Ladies’ Classic champ Life Is Sweet wasn’t too shabby, either.
Top Apprentice Jockey: Christian Santiago Reyes
The leading money winner among the nation’s apprentice riders, this was an easy choice.
Horse of the Year: Zenyatta
I won’t argue one bit with anyone who voted for Rachel Alexandra, but I feel Zenyatta’s victory in the BC Classic trumped anything Rachel accomplished in 2009. It’s too bad they can’t share this award.