The Daily Racing Form's respected publisher and long time writer Steve Crist has his "Best of the decade" lists reflecting accomplishments. It's an interesting read to be sure.
Just like Horse of the Year each season, there are no rules on this one.
If I were doing a top 10 of the decade, it would include the four fabulous fillies of the 2000's: Azeri, Ouija Board, Rachel Alexandra, and Zenyatta. They might well rank fourth through seventh in some order. In the final analysis, though, looking at entire careers and achievements, my choice came down to three males:
3. Tiznow's individual 3-year-old and 4-year-old seasons were not as good as some other champions', but in combination they were a very strong body of work.
2. Curlin in many ways deserves top billing. He was the champion of the decade's strongest 3-year-old crop, returned with a championship season at 4, became the first two-time Horse of the Year since Cigar, and became the first horse to earn $10 million.
1. Ghostzapper. If you add his final start as a 3-year-old (a 6 1/2-length Vosburgh blowout) and his final race in his lone start at 5 (a 6 1/4-length Met Mile romp) to his 4-year-old campaign, you have six races that make up unparalleled brilliance at 6 1/2, 7, 8, 9, and 10 furlongs.
Ghostzapper made only 11 career starts and won only four Grade 1 races, but no horse took my breath away the way he did.
Crist considered for the decade the best 2-yr old filly to be Halfbridled, 3-yr old filly to be Rachel Alexandra, and older mare a tie between Azari and Zenyatta.
I would've put in there Sweet Catomine as a 2-yr old (at least in the top 3) but so quickly people forget of how she swallowed up horses like minows in a wale.
... in fact there were many other outstanding horses who never won a title.
The list includes Barbaro, Birdstone, Congaree, Discreet Cat, Eight Belles, Einstein, Empire Maker, Fusaichi Pegasus, Megahertz, Music Note, Pico Central, Precious Kitten, Red Rocks, Roses in May, and The Tin Man - and that impressive group doesn't even include my top-seven non-champions of the 2000's:
Two of his top ten long ago won my respect and admiration
4. Better Talk Now: The ageless gelding, a winner in 14 of 51 career starts, ran in five straight Breeders' Cup Turfs from 2004 through 2008, winning in his first try and missing by half a length to Red Rocks in his third. He won five other Grade 1 races and was near the top of the turf division almost every year.
2. Commentator: He is the only horse of the 2000's besides Ghostzapper to have run three Beyer Speed Figures of 120 or more, two of them coming in his victories in the 2005 and 2008 Whitney. The fragile but brilliant front-runner won 14 of 24 starts over six seasons before being retired last August.
Interesting despite the amount of ink - and most certainly good for the game with fans - spent a lot of the triple crown chasers never garnered too much notation for the decade. Names with Afleet Alex, Smarty Jones and even Funny Cide. Interesting.
I can't read the article but IMO, the decade would not be complete without mention of the courageous, Lost In The Fog.
Crist actually did tip his hat to him, of sorts:
The champion sprinters were an eclectic and likeable bunch but lacked a clear standout like Groovy in the 1980's or Housebuster in the 1990's. I rearranged my top three several times and still wish there were room for Speightstown and Lost in the Fog.
Many good ones there, but we have another year left in the decade for some new ones to rise to the top. The media has it wrong, 2001 started the decade and 2010 is its 10th and last year. New one 1/1/11.
Touchstone Acres Lipizzans, Standing N. Samira VI (Gray), N. XXIX-18(Black), 23 M. Gaetana(Bay), 22 M. Romida (Gray)