Monday, May 28, 2018
Amazombie for Horse of the Year

CDC_zombieHave you noticed how popular zombies have become? Have to think that popularity has been fueled by AMC's not-for-the-squeamish hit zombie drama The Walking Dead on Sunday nights. I'm a huge fan of the show. Some say it is the new Lost. We'll see, Lost lost me along the way, but The Walking Dead definitely has me for the long haul. Check it out.

Speaking of popular zombies, I'm going to make a case that the Breeders' Cup Sprint winner Amazombie would make a terrific Horse of the Year. In all honesty, the question of which equine athlete this year-end award goes to ranks somewhere around 837 in the list of the Top 1000 important issues facing Thoroughbred horse racing. Nevertheless it will command a disproportionate amount of debate in the next couple of months since, as in the previous few years, the Horse of the Year is not blatantly obvious.

Traditionalists will recoil in disgust at the thought of a 5-year-old California-bred gelded sprinter devoid of royal bloodlines earning Horse of the Year honors. They will predictably take refuge in Havre de Grace and the fine year she put together. Or maybe Cape Blanco. Who?

I'll counter that the Horse of the Year should shine during the Breeders' Cup World Championships. Show the world what they are good at against the very best that are very good at that same thing. Amazombie is very good at sprinting on a dirt surface and beat them all on racing's world stage. Havre de Grace is very good at going a route of ground on a dirt surface and ran well in the Classic, but well-beaten too. She is obviously very good at what she does but others are better.

The only requirement for Horse of the Year is having raced at least once in North America. That's it folks. Horse of the Year can be anything. If there are no standouts in the open division at the classic distance then voters should not be forced to choose among them. Look to other divisions for a horse that proved it on the track on championship day.

A couple of Grade I wins does not usually Horse of the Year make. But take a closer look at Amazombie's year. Never out of the money and fired every time. Some shiny performance figures too.

Horse of the Year voters should also look for a great story because every horse is a story too. Amazombie's story is as fairy tale as they come and in the world of sports is the kind of story that can only happen in horse racing. The industry should seize this opportunity and celebrate Amazombie's accomplishments and story.

You know you want to see 72-year-old trainer Bill Spawr up on that stage explaining how he transformed an apparently common horse he essentially got for free into a Breeders' Cup champion. All of his 50 years of horse wisdom must have gone into it.

Now, this is the point in the article where I'm supposed to say "...but this will never happen."

I'll pass.

If you are an industry insider who happens to have a Horse of the Year vote, your options are all kind of tepid. This is a rare chance to take the "stuffy" out of Horse of the Year and make it something altogether different. We know that a good horse can come from anywhere.

And if voters can overcome the inertia of entrenched dogma, maybe a Horse of the Year can come from anywhere too.

Amazombie for Horse of the Year. He rose to the occassion on championship day... fans of other sports understand that this is the way it is supposed to work. And he has the best story out there... a story that will resonate outside of horse racing. And there's every reason to believe Amazombie will continue racing. Imagine that. A defending Horse of the Year out there on the track. Horse racing fans would like that.

And to top it all off, zombies are all the rage. Let's ride that wave.