BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. - Rachel Alexandra did through the ballot box what no horse could do on the racetrack. In a compelling, highly anticipated showdown, Rachel Alexandra defeated Zenyatta for the 2009 Horse of the Year award, a result that was announced on Monday night at the 39th annual Eclipse Awards at the Four Seasons Beverly Wilshire Hotel.
Rachel Alexandra received 130 first-place votes to 99 for Zenyatta from the 232 voters who returned ballots. Three voters abstained or did not vote.
All three voting blocs went for Rachel Alexandra. The National Turf Writers Association preferred Rachel Alexandra by 71 votes to 51. Daily Racing Form went for Rachel Alexandra by a 31-23 margin. And the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, which includes racing secretaries and members of Equibase, had Rachel Alexandra by 28-25.
Jess Jackson, the majority owner of Rachel Alexandra, won the Horse of the Year title for the third straight year, following Curlin in 2007-08. He received the gold Horse of the Year trophy from Alex Waldrop, the president and CEO of the NTRA, who referenced both horses racing this year.
"Happily the stories are far from over," Waldrop said.
Jackson and Jerry and Ann Moss, the owners of Zenyatta, both said they looked forward to meeting in 2010. It was announced on Saturday that Zenyatta, who has not lost in 14 starts, would continue to race this year at age 6.
"Individually or collectively, there was never a year like this for fillies," Jackson said when accepting the trophy for Horse of the Year. "I'd like to thank Jerry and Ann Moss for being so gracious through the year."
Jerry Moss seemed disappointed after the award. While being interviewed on TVG, he said, "Zenyatta has never lost."
"She's perfect," Moss said. "Nobody beat her on the racetrack. They beat her by proxy."
Moss said he "wouldn't trade places with anybody" and that he was "looking forward" to having Zenyatta meet Rachel Alexandra in 2010.
"As long as Rachel is able to run and compete at the top level, we look forward to running at least another year," Jackson said. He said Rachel Alexandra's return to the races has been delayed by the wet weather in New Orleans, where she is training at Fair Grounds with trainer Steve Asmussen.