Nov. 6, 2010
Thousands of Oaklawn racing fans tried in vain to wish home Zenyatta, the nation's most popular horse, in the Breeders' Cup Classic, but the previously undefeated daughter of Street Cry had too much left to do after falling far behind early and came up just a breath short of Blame at the end of the mile-and-a-quarter Classic.
After engaging the field on the final turn, jockey Mike Smith brought the brilliant mare between horses coming into the stretch, then angled her out to take dead aim on the leaders. She accelerated quickly and, for a brief moment, it appeared that she had the momentum to get by the field, but Garrett Gomez, aboard Blame, had made an early move with his runner and had enough left to just barley hold off Zenyatta in the final stride.
Lookin At Lucky appeared headed to a third place finish only to be passed in the final jump by another three-year-old, Fly Down. The Rebel winner still appears poised to be honored as champion three-year-old.
Now the debate will begin about Horse-of-the-Year honors. Blame is 9-13 in his career and was a winner in four of his five starts this year. He avenged that loss to Haynesfield on Saturday as Haynesfield failed to be a prime factor in the Breeders' Cup Classic.
But fans around the country know that the runner they've followed closely all year has been Zenyatta and the dark bay six-year-old who has displayed so much personality in addition to her great racing record will have plenty of support for the Horse-of-the-Year title. There were many prepared to call her the greatest mare of all times, should she win the Breeders' Cup Classic for the second consecutive year. There was just a whisker separating her from that accomplishment.
Meanwhile the imvading European mare, Goldikova, did win the Breeders' Cup Mile for an unprecedented three times in a row, with a Zenyatta-like finish that drove her by the leaders in the stretch. Now a winner of 15 of 21 career starts, the Irish-bred mare is the greatest turf miler in the world and was up to the task at hand in flying by horses to draw off to her win. She stands a great chance to be Europe's Horse-of-the-Year and could easily be labelled the greatest performer in Breeders' Cup history.