LOS ANGELES, February 1, 2011--Got the pre-Super Bowl blues? Don't know where your Kentucky Derby future-book lock is coming from? Bothered by the dreaded psoriasis? Tummy off kilter, and Rolaids won't work, even though millions of people use them? Well, have I got an antidote for you. Courtesy of Jon White, the multi-hatted pundit who's currently hanging his lid at Santa Anita, I give you the Lifetime Horse of the Year Poll. The idea was so delicious, that I'm sorry I didn't think of it first. White, who writes for XpressBet.com, ranked the 33 horses who have been voted Horse of the Year since the Eclipse Awards began in 1971. Then he asked 31 of us to do the same thing, coming up with a consensus that's guaranteed to start an argument in any race-track press box. But in the spirit of the thing, why not do your own rankings, then compare them with the rest of us? No peeking at the consensus, though. I'll list the 33 horses (some of them were champions more than once) in the next paragraph, then stop reading for a time and go do your assignment: Rank them from 1 through 33, in order of greatness. A deal? OK, here's goes:


Ack Ack, Affirmed, All Along, Alysheba, A.P. Indy, Azeri, Black Tie Affair, Charismatic, Cigar, Conquistador Cielo, Criminal Type, Curlin, Favorite Trick, Ferdinand, Forego, Ghostzapper, Holy Bull, Invasor, John Henry, Kotashaan, Lady's Secret, Mineshaft, Point Given, Rachel Alexandra, Saint Liam, Seattle Slew, Secretariat, Skip Away, Spectacular Bid, Spend a Buck, Sunday Silence, Tiznow, Zenyatta.





Finished with your list? Then here are the results, for all the voters, and for White and yours truly:

Consensus

Secretariat
Spectacular Bid
Seattle Slew
Affirmed
Forego
John Henry
Cigar
Sunday Silence
Zenyatta
Alysheba

Tiznow
Curlin
Holy Bull
A.P. Indy
Point Given
Ack Ack
Ghostzapper
Skip Away
Rachel Alexandra
\Lady's Secret

Ferdinand
Invasor
Azeri
All Along
Spend a Buck
Conquistador Cielo (tie)
Mineshaft (tie)
Criminal Type
Saint Liam
Kotashaan

Black Tie Affair
Charismatic
Favorite Trick


Jon White

Secretariat
Spectacular Bid
Seattle Slew
Forego
Affirmed
Zenyatta
John Henry
Sunday Silence
Cigar
Alysheba

Point Given
Tiznow
Curlin
Holy Bull
Ghostzapper
Ack Ack
Skip Away
Rachel Alexandra
A.P. Indy
Invasor

Lady's Secret
Ferdinand
All Along
Azeri
Criminal Type
Spend a Buck
Kotashaan
Conquistador Cielo
Charismatic
Saint Liam

Mineshaft
Black Tie Affair
Favorite Trick

Bill Christine

Secretariat
Affirmed
Seattle Slew
Forego
Spectacular Bid
Cigar
John Henry
Zenyatta
Sunday Silence
Rachel Alexandra

A.P. Indy
Alysheba
All Along
Tiznow
Curlin
Ferdinand
Skip Away
Lady's Secret
Ghostzapper
Saint Liam

Invasor
Holy Bull
Point Given
Azeri
Criminal Type
Ack Ack
Conquistador Cielo
Mineshaft
Spend a Buck
Kotashaan

Black Tie Affair
Favorite Trick
Charismatic

It's fun to see how close you come to the consensus, as though the consensus is any better measuring stick than one of its parts. It must be fairly easy to zero in on the 10 best, because nine of mine agreed with the consensus, although hardly in the same order. I had Rachel Alexandra in my top 10, the consensus had her a distant 19th. Alysheba, 10th according to the consensus, was 12th on my list. I don't know about Rachel Alexandra, maybe I should have had her lower, but I can't forget her 3-year-old season. Has a Horse of the Year, male or female, ever been better than Rachel Alexandra at three?

Spectacular Bid, second to Secretariat by the consensus, was fifth on my list. Bill Shoemaker said that Spectacular Bid was the best horse he ever rode, and that alone could be reason to move him up, but he didn't win the Triple Crown. By itself, the Triple Crown sweep carried a lot of weight as I prepared my list, especially since it hasn't been duplicated since Affirmed in 1978. I won't apologize for placing Forego ahead of Spectacular Bid, either. He carried weight time after time, and won the national title three times, once more than Secretariat, Affirmed, John Henry, Cigar and Curlin.

Not surprisingly, Secretariat got 22 of the 32 first-place votes. The other first-place votes went to Spectacular Bid (5), Seattle Slew (2), Affirmed (2) and Zenyatta (1). One voter (White has kept individual voting confidential) ranked Secretariat no better than seventh, and I'd love to know why. Secretariat also got six second-place votes, one third, one fourth and one fifth.

One voter listed Seattle Slew 11th. I'd love to know why. Three voters didn't have Forego in the first 10--two ranked him 11th and one had him at 12th. I'd love. . .

John Henry got three votes out of the top 10, a 12th, 13th and 15th. Twenty of the 32 voters thought Zenyatta belonged in the top 10, but four ranked her between 18th and 23rd.

I didn't look up any records or past performances in compiling my list. I had seen all the horses run, and while the memory is a devious tool, I trusted mine. It might have been more fun determining which horses belonged at the bottom of the list. If mirroring the consensus is a hill of beans, I can be proud of my selections. The electorate had Black Tie Affair, Charismatic and Favorite Trick bringing up the rear. The same horses made my bottom three, only in a different order--Black Tie Affair, Favorite Trick and Charismatic. It's probably of little solace to Carolyn Hine after all these years, but Skip Away was ranked a very respectable 18th and Favorite Trick didn't outvote anyone. In the 1997 Horse of the Year election, Favorite Trick, an undefeated 2-year-old, outvoted the Hine-owned Skip Away. It was a bitter outcome for Hine and her husband, the late Sonny Hine, who trained their horse. Skip Away won the title the next year, but had he beaten out Favorite Trick in 1997, he would have been that rare horse with multiple Horse of the Year titles. That would have catapulted him to a higher niche on my ballot.

Here in my judgment is the most telling stat of all: Of the horses in the first 10, four were from the 1970s, four from the 1980s, one from the 1990s (Cigar) and only one, Zenyatta, from the 21st century. Other than Zenyatta, the most recent horse in the top 10, Cigar, won his second title 14 years ago. Don't blame the voters. The snubs are for all the right reasons.