Does the level of competition have an effect on Horse of the Year voting?
There has been a great deal of debate about the level of competition that both Horse of the Year candidates faced. The body of work is very important when trying to understand the criteria that a voter should use to place a vote for Horse of the Year. Lets Break down the level of competition for each of the candidates:
Zenyatta raced 7 times this year. 3 times in Grade 2 races, and 4 times in Grade 1 level races. In the El Elcino Stakes, a Grade 2 race, she faced 1 Grade 1 horse, Tough Tiz’s Sis. The rest of the field was made up of Romance is Diane, Dawn after Dawn, Indescribable, and Fleet Caroline. In the Apple Blossom she faced 1 Grade 1 horse, Ginger Punch. The rest of the field was made up of Brownie Points, Lemon Drop Mom, Clever Strike, and Kettleoneup. In the Milady H, Zenyatta raced against Santa Teresita, Kris’ Sis, Romance is Diane & Double Trouble. In this Grade 2 race there were no grade 1 stakes winners. In the Vanity H, she faced 1 Grade 1 horse again in Tough Tiz’s Sis. The rest of the field was made up of Silver Swallow Silver Z, Sealy Hill, Fleetheart and andmoreagain. In the Clement L. Hirsch Zenyatta faced 1 Grade 1 winner again in Tough Tiz’s Sis. The rest of the field was made up of Model, Romance is Diane West Coast Swing, Silver Swallow, Silver Z, and Dawn after Dawn. In the Lady’s Secret, Zenyatta faced 1 Grade 1 winner in Hystericalady. The rest of the field included Santa Teresita and Super Freaky. And in the Ladies Classic, Zenyatta faced 5 Grade 1 winners, Cocoa Beach, Music Note, Carriage Trail, Hystericalady and Ginger Punch. The rest of the field included Santa Teresita and Bear now. So in 7 races Zenyatta faced 37 other mares of which 6 were grade 1 winners.
Curlin raced 7 times this year. 6 Times in Grade 1 level races. In the Jaguar Trophy he faced no grade 1 winners. In the Dubai World Cup Curlin faced 5 Grade 1 winners in Great Hunter, Happy Boy, Premium Tap, Vermillion and Well Armed. The rest of the field included Gloria De Campeao, Sway Yed, Lucky Find, Jalil and Kocab. In the Stephen Foster Curlin faced 2 Grade 1 winners in Einstein and Brass Hat. The rest of the field included Barcola, Grasshopper, Jonesboro, Delightful Kiss, Sam P High Blues and Red Rock Creek. In the Man O’ War Curlin faced 3 Grade 1 winners in Red Rocks, Better Talk Now and Grand Couturier. The other starters were Mission Approved, True Cause, and Sudan. In the Woodward Curlin faced 1 Grade 1 winner in Divine Park, the rest of the field included Past the Point, Wandering Boy, A.P.Arrow, Loose Leaf, and Out of Control. In the JCGC he faced no Grade 1 winners in a field that included 7 others. And in the B.C. Classic Curlin faced 7 Grade 1 winners. The other starters were Smooth Air, Fairbanks and Casino Drive. Curlin faced 55 horses this year of which 18 of these horses were Grade 1 quality. So to keep it quite short, if the body of work does have anything to do with Horse of the year voting and I believe it does this category goes directly to Curlin, hands down, he faced far better competition. Just a point to keep in mind.