Monday, January 17, 2011

The Greatest Not to Win.

It would have been a perfect week-end if Real Madrid had beaten Almeira, after the wins from Barcelona, Chelsea and Man City. But despite having over 60% of possession and out-shooting Almeira, they could only manage a draw. With Benzema on the bench on the first half, Real Madrid started the match without an orthodox striker! As I have overly mentioned before, the main worry with this Madrid team is their lack of cover in the forward department for the injured Higuain. Rightly or wrongly, Benzema does not really have the coach's confidence. But still, against lowly Almeira, I was still expecting their other offensive players to score, although Ronaldo did strike the woodwork in the last minute. It looks like it's going to be a clear passage to the title for Barcelona, as they can even contemplate a loss (however unlikely) and still remain leaders of the pack, with their 4-point advantage.

In the Premier League, Man Utd are still unbeaten having left White Hart Lane with a hard-earned point. Although this Utd team has been knocked down as being not-as-good as previous Ferguson teams (which I concur), they've got to be applauded for their resilience. They are solid and disciplined, they work hard, and unfortunately for the opposition, they are going to get better as the season progresses. If they stay healthy,  Rooney will eventually find form and hit the target, and Nani is developing into a really world-class performer. The short and long-term future looks bright for the Mancunians.

In racing, the Eclipse awards will be held tonight. They are the U.S equivalent of the European Cartier awards. The dominating talk for the past weeks has been who of Zenyatta or Blame will win the Horse of the Year. I really applaud the Zenyatta connections for having un-retired their super mare last year. Maybe it made sense from a financial viewpoint for them as well,  but from a sporting standpoint, it was a really class act. Maybe they could have done more by running against colts more often, so that her true rankings among the racing greats could be more easily determined. But it's pointless reminiscing on "ifs". Without going through a detailed analysis of their 2010 runs, on performance alone, Blame should win the award. The Grade 1's he won were of much better quality than the Grade 1's that Zenyatta won. Even Zenyatta fans will acknowledge that she only beat average fillies and mares in races deemed as Grade 1's. More importantly, Blame beat Zenyatta during that famous stretch-duel in the BC Classic. Sure, she could have won with an extra dash. But Blame won the race fair and square. Exactly at the same time last year, Zenyatta connections were petitioning for her in the 2009 edition of the award on the grounds that she won the BC Classic, "the Championship race", and Rachel Alexandra did not (even show up). They eventually lost that battle and if they applied the same reasoning, they would quickly come to the conclusion that Blame is the deserving HOY for 2010.

In my opinion, this should be the outcome and track performance should be the only criteria for the award. If voters decide to take into consideration the media and populous profile that Zenyatta raised during the year, then the result is bound to be different. After all, who can remember, besides Zenyatta, a horse that was profiled in the "60 Minutes" show? There is no doubt she has given an impulse to racing that no other horse in recent memory has. For me, she is the greatest mare to have run in the U.S, she is one of the greatest horses to have ever set foot on a track, and if there's any logic in the voting, she should be considered the greatest horse not to have won the award (second to Rachel and second to Blame). Let's see the voting tonight.

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