Blame won the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic by inches to deny second-place Zenyatta a perfect racing record.
Blame, ridden by Garrett Gomez, ended Zenyatta’s consecutive win streak at 19 races when the 4-year-old colt crossed the finish line first yesterday at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky.
“I wish she would have went 20 for 20 at the expense of someone else and not us,” said Gomez, who had been hospitalized two days earlier after a fall from a mount. “I’m very proud to say we beat her.”
Zenyatta, a 6-year-old mare, was not only looking for her 20th win, but also a record third consecutive victory in the Breeders’ Cup. She would have tied European mare Goldikova who earlier in the day claimed the record when she won the mile race on the turf for the third time.
Zenyatta, the first mare to win the Classic, will be retired by her owners, A&M Record Inc. founder Jerry Moss, and his wife, Ann.
“We’re real proud of our girl,” Moss said. “She tried hard and ran a tremendous race only to get beat by the slimmest of margins. We congratulate Blame and his connections. He beat a superstar.”
Blame’s co-owner Seth Hancock said he was “sorry” Zenyatta lost because she is “special.”
“I take no pride in beating Zenyatta,” he said. “She is what she is. She’s awesome. She’s been great for racing. But we owe it to ourselves and to the racing public to send our horse out there and try to give him the best chance we can.”
Zenyatta, in her traditional form, fell to the back of the pack from the start.
“When I got her out, it was a gallant effort on her part,” said jockey Mike Smith, who rode the mare to 16 of her victories. “She made up a whole lot of ground. To only come up a nose short, it’s pretty tough to swallow.”
Zenyatta tied Peppers Pride, who was undefeated as she won her 19th and final race on Dec. 14, 2008.
The loss “hurts more than I can explain, just because it was my fault,” Smith said. “She should have won, and it hurts.”
Earlier in the day, Uncle Mo won the $2 million Juvenile, sealing the 2-year-old colt’s position as the favorite to win the 2011 Kentucky Derby.