As the saying goes, “If you don’t ask, you don’t get.” Earlier this week, the official site for the 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat released their nominees for the 2012 “Vox Populi (Voice of the People) Award. The award is given to the horse that not only accomplished great things on the track, but was also beloved by the people. Even though the award was started by Penny Chenery, Secretariat’s owner, in January, 2011, the very first winner was Zenyatta for the 2010 season. Last year’s winner was Rapid Redux who won 22 races in a row. Both horses excelled on the track, and were beloved by the fans.
As I said, these nominees are all excellent runners. I have nothing against this list of nominees. However, I wondered which fans actually nominated these horse, and how much input did the Vox Populi committee have. The list looked like an Eclipse Award prep list. I follow this sport closely, as my readers know, and I thought for the purpose of the award, there could have been better choices.
I knew that I’ll Have Another had a strong following with his American Triple Crown attempt, and Frankel has his, particularly in Great Britain, and in Europe. Frankel has his fans in the USA. The other three, even though there are Wise Dan fans on Facebook, I don’t see either horse as “the people’s horse.”
There were two horses that I thought who should have had been nominated instead: Paynter, and Shackleford. These two horses not only had compelling stories, and had excellent track accomplishments, but I thought they were better candidates than at least Shanghai Bobby, and Wise Dan at least.
Let’s examine Shackleford first. He is now retired at Darby Dan Farm in Lexington, KY. However, he is known for his win in the 2010 Preakness, holding off the Derby winner, Animal Kingdom (who himself would be a good candidate). He is known for his hard running style, and the fans just flocked to him. He is also a very handsome chestnut horse with a huge blaze on his face. His last race was the 2012 Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs, which he went out a winner. Fans just love this horse.
The most glaring omission with the initial nominees was my beloved Paynter. As my readers know, I wrote about how in my mind, Paynter, the 2012 Belmont Stakes runner up, and 2012 Haskell winner should be Horse of the Year for 2012 due to overcoming a serious bout of colitis, and laminitis, etc.
Before I continue, in a brief update, Paynter is doing great. He is recovering at the Fair Hill Equine Therapy Center, undergoing various treatments. He gets about an hour and a half playtime in a paddock. He loves red peppermints, not the green ones. He is now 1047 pounds, and looks fantastic.
Now, back to why Paynter was such a glaring omission. I could not understand why Paynter was left out of the list of nominees. When this horse got sick, people were really concerned. Fans like myself, reached out to the Zayats to lend support through twitter and facebook. The Zayats were so gracious during what had to be one of the toughest times of their lives to share updates about Paynter. We fans endured the highs and the lows with them. People really cared about this horse.
I don’t mean to get on a soapbox, but lots of people who don’t like our sport, meaning the animal lovers, and the PETA people, etc.don’t understand that there are owners like the Zayats who will do what it takes to save their animal, and actually LOVE their animal. Mr.Zayat loves Paynter. Trust me. Fans loved and appreciated that Mr. Zayat was open to share details. We horse racing fans LOVE our horses. Too many of these so called do-gooders like to portray fans, owners as evil monsters, and Paynter’s story proves that’s just not the case at all.
Apparently, many fans agreed with me, and sent in letters to Secretariat.com, and today, Mrs. Chenery sent out a press release stating that both Paynter and Shackleford will be on the ballot, and the ballot will be restarted.
I am very pleased that the people spoke, and they were heard.
Terri Bey currently blogs for CamelClutchBlog.com about Wrestling, NFL, and other sports/pop culture related subjects. Her work has appeared in BleacherReport and for F4WOnline.com. Terri can be found here at Facebook- http://www.facebook.com/TerriBey and at Twitter- http://www.twitter.com/giopontifan