Louisville, Ky. Put the blame on Blame for breaking Zenyatta’s magnificent winning streak — and a lot of hearts, too.
Jockey Mike Smith wept. Owners Jerry and Ann Moss stood in stunned silence. Trainer John Shirreffs trudged slowly back to the barn, hands in his pockets.
Nineteen times the people behind Zenyatta led horse racing’s superstar to the track. Nineteen times they’d celebrated with her in the winner’s circle.
Not this time.
Blame beat Zenyatta by a head in a thrilling finish at the Breeders’ Cup Classic on Saturday night, handing the 6-year-old mare her first defeat.
Zenyatta threaded her way through traffic from last place while the crowd of 72,739 urged her on as she unleashed a monstrous closing kick under the lights at Churchill Downs.
It was so close, a matter of inches, the result had to be resolved by a photo — a picture that saddened not only Zenyatta’s owners and trainer, but millions of fans around the world.
It was so close, Ann Moss said she was hoping her horse had “stuck her tongue out” at the finish.
Smith blamed himself for the loss. He walked off the track with his head down, dirt stuck to his face.
“It was my fault,” he said, sobbing. “She should’ve won.”
Keselowski wins season title
Fort Worth, Texas — Brad Keselowski clinched the Nationwide season title by finishing third in Texas on Saturday, giving owner Roger Penske his first championship in one of NASCAR’s national series.
Keselowski, who had to finish only 21st or better to wrap up the driver’s championship with two races left, crossed the line behind winner Carl Edwards and runner-up Kyle Busch to earn his 24th top-five result of the season.
Colts put Gonzalez on IR
Indianapolis — The Indianapolis Colts placed wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez on injured reserve Saturday because of a left knee injury.
Bobcats’ Jackson fined
Charlotte, N.C. — The NBA fined Charlotte Bobcats guard Stephen Jackson $50,000 on Saturday for verbally abusing the referees after a loss to Detroit a night earlier, another strong indication the league is serious about curtailing complaining.
Molinari hangs on to lead
Shanghai — Francesco Molinari holed out for eagle from the 13th fairway, matched the lowest score of the third round and still had to make a 10-foot birdie putt on the last hole to keep the lead over top-ranked Lee Westwood in the HSBC Champions on Saturday.
Westwood looked as if he might finally catch up when he chipped from just off the green on the par-5 18th to tap-in range for birdie and a 5-under 67. Molinari, who had to lay up on the hole, knocked in his putt from the back of the green for a 67.