Anne M. Eberhardt

Blame is Top U.S. Horse in World Rankings

British-based Harbinger top-rated horse in world at 135.

Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) winner Blame  has been judged the best horse to race in North America during 2010 by the compilers of the World Thoroughbred Rankings, unveiled in London, England, on Tuesday, Jan. 11.

Blame, who just held the late burst of the previously unbeaten Zenyatta by a head in the Classic, received a rating of 129 pounds, second in the world to Harbinger, who was weighted at 135 pounds for romping home in the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes Sponsored By Betfair (Eng-I) on turf at the end of July and was retired to stud shortly afterwards because of injury.

Blame was rated one pound ahead of Quality Road  (128), who finished a well-beaten 12th and last in the Breeders’ Cup Classic but won four of his other five starts during the year, drawing away to win both the Donn Handicap (gr. I) at Gulfstream Park in February and the Woodward Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga in September. In the nine-furlong Whitney (gr. I) at Saratoga, Quality Road gave up five pounds to Blame and lost by a head.

Zenyatta, who received a three-pound sex allowance in the Breeders’ Cup, ended her career with a rating of 125, compared with a 128 achieved the year before when successful in the Classic over the artificial surface at Santa Anita. She shared the honor of being the top-rated female in the world last year with the remarkable French-trained mare Goldikova, who won the TVG Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. IT) impressively for the third consecutive year and has 12 group I successes to her name. Despite another excellent year, Goldikova was on a lower rating than for the previous year when she achieved 130.

Only Curlin  (130) in 2008 and Ghostzapper  (130) in 2004 have recorded a higher figure on dirt in recent years, while Invasor also received 129 in 2006 and so did Raven's Pass for winning on synthetics in 2008.

"Both Zenyatta and Goldikova are back to their ratings of 2008 as against the highs they achieved in 2009," said Garry O’Gorman, co-chairman of the World Rankings supervisory committee which produces the rankings. "It is important to stress that we are not denigrating them--we are simply saying in performance levels they never reached the heights of 2009.

"You cannot say that Goldikova, in the terms of form analysis, reached the level she did in the 2009 Prix Jacques Le Marois (Fr-I) which she won by six lengths. Equally Zenyatta, though she was incredibly brave in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic on dirt, was three pounds below the form when winning on her home track of Santa Anita on a synthetic surface in 2009.

"However, it would be a brave person to say they were inferior in 2010 than the previous year."

Among the 3-year-olds of 2010, European-trained horses took the first four places, thanks to classic winners Makfi (128), Workforce (128), who was withdrawn from the Breeders’ Cup Turf because of the firm condition of the course, Canford Cliffs (127), and Cape Blanco (126).

Two American colts, Eskendereya, unbeaten in three starts that culminated in an easy win in the Wood Memorial Stakes (gr. I) at Aqueduct on April 3 before injury-induced retirement, and the previous year’s champion 2-year-old Lookin At Lucky, winner of the Preakness (gr. I), are among four rated at 124, making them the best of their age group in the United States.

Super Saver , the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) winner, in contrast was given a rating of 120. Fly Down, the Breeders’ Cup Classic third, came next at 123, while Afleet Express shared 121 with the older pair of Gio Ponti  and Haynesfield.