America’s darling was chasing a second Classic at Churchill Downs – but failed by the narrowest of margins in an epic renewal.
It was an extraordinary performance from the John Shirreffs-trained Zenyatta, who was tailed off completely at one point and was around 10 lengths detached from the main body of the field.
But by halfway she had cottoned on to the group and began making stealthy headway through the pack and Smith reached up to take down his muddied goggles.
Blame (11-2) went clear and when Smith eventually got her into daylight, Zenyatta came with her customary late run. However, the post came too soon and Zenyatta was denied a history-making win on the line.
Smith, who was in tears afterwards, said: “If we’d got a better position it would have been a different outcome because I was on the best horse in the race, trust me.
Winner Blame will now be retired to his stand at his owner’s Claiborne Stud for the 2011 season.
Trainer Al Stall confirmed that Blame was headed for Claiborne after he had put quite a gloss on the historic Kentucky farm’s 100th anniversary celebrations.
Claiborne owns the homebred Blame in partnership with Adele Dilschneider. After Saturday’s victory, Claiborne president Seth Hancock was understandably exultant.
“It’s just something special,” he said.
Goldikova created history by becoming the first horse to win at three successive Breeders’ Cups with another sensational victory in the Mile.
Sent off the 6-4 favourite, she looked to have a mountain to climb just to catch long-time leader Sidney’s Candy. However, she quickened up in typically brilliant style and won easier than she had done in either of the two previous renewals.
Gio Ponti made plenty of late headway to claim second, and while Paco Boy was flying home he was beaten in a photo for third by The Usual Q.T. But it was all about one horse.
Delegator faded in the home straight while Beethoven also failed to land a blow.