CLASS ACTS

Dictionary.com provides two definitions of the word sportsman: a person who (1) “engages in sports, esp. in some open-air sport, as hunting, fishing, racing, etc.” and (2) “ exhibits qualities especially esteemed in those who engage in sports, as fairness, courtesy, good temper, etc.” The second meaning aptly describes the owners of both Blame and Zenyatta.

Seth Hancock is the third generation of his family to operate the famed 100-year-old Claiborne Farm in Paris, Kentucky, which is the co-owner of Blame. The racehorses with a connection of some sort to Claiborne read like a Who’s Who of Turfdom, including Gallant Fox, Princequillo, Bold Ruler, Secretariat, and Mr. Prospector. Blame’s other co-owner, Adele Dilschneider, is the granddaughter of John Olin, who was a prominent industrialist and racehorse owner. His home-bred Cannonade won the 1ooth Kentucky Derby.

Jerome “Jerry” Moss, co-owner of Zenyatta with his wife Ann, has a much different background than Mr. Hancock and Ms. Dilschneider. After he graduated from Brooklyn College and served in the U. S. Army, he entered the music business as a promoter. Mr. Moss moved to California in 1960 and teamed up with musician Herb Alpert in  founding–in Mr. Alpert’s garage–what eventually became A&M Records. Both men are inductees in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The Mosses’ Giacomo won the 2005 Kentucky Derby and their Zenyatta is named for The Police album Zenyatta Mondatta.

While the owners of Blame and the owners of Zenyatta do not have much in common so far as their life experiences are concerned, or history in Thoroughbred racing, they have demonstrated by their actions that they share one important trait: class. The second definition of sportsman refers to “fairness, courtesy, and good temper” and Mr. Hancock, Ms. Dilschneider, and the Mosses have all shown themselves to be true sportsmen during the contentious debate over whether Blame or Zenyatta should be Horse of the Year. In addition, John Shirreffs and Al Stall Jr., the trainers of Zenyatta and Blame, respectively, have done the same.

Valid Horse of the Year arguments can be made for Blame and Zenaytta and their fans have voiced them, sometimes in an impassioned and not-so-civil way. The owners of these terrific racehorses also obviously feel strongly that their particular individual is deserving of the honor. Nonetheless, they have been circumspect and gracious in their public comments. And this is the second year in a row that the Mosses have been through a controversial Horse of the Year decision process.

In an era in which well-known sports figures are often in the news for trash talking and decidedly unsportsmanlike conduct, it is refreshing to see how well the Blame and Zenyatta owners have comported themselves under pressure. Horse racing is fortunate to have Mr. Hancock, Ms. Dilschneider, and the Mosses representing the sport.

Regardless of whether Blame or Zenyatta wins the Horse of the Year balloting, the sport of horse racing cannot go wrong by conveying the Horse of the Year trophy to any of these owners.

Copyright © 2011 Horse Racing Business

Comments

  1. Are you crazy? The Mosses were sore losers at last year’s Eclipse Award dinner and were sore losers again after the Breeders’ Cup when they didn’t talk to the media in the interview room. Finally they don’t announce her retirement. Lane’s End does in a three paragraph press release. Good riddance and you need to blog about something you pay attention because it’s not horse racing

  2. Mark A is the opposite of class. The Mosses are good sports. They were emotionally upset after the BC and that does not make them sore losers.

  3. Bill Shanklin says

    Mark:

    That the Mosses did not talk to the media in the interview room after the 2010 Breeders’ Cup proves nothing. Many owners of sports franchises do not meet with the media after games…ever. They let their surrogates interact with the media, just as when Lane’s End announced Zenyatta’s retirement. If you provide me with credible evidence that the Mosses have publicly made disparaging remarks about the other participants in the HOTY process, last year or this year, I will publish them. Similarly, specifically, what comments did they make after last year’s Eclipse Awards that could be construed as negative toward Rachel Alexandra or Jess Jackson?

    Thank you for your comments.

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