It's not the same as an Eclipse award: no black-tie evening, no black-type required, no pedigree screening or DNA checks. But what self-respecting racehorse wouldn't want to go down in history as the people's favorite racehorse of the year?
Who was the People's Horse of 2012? Mrs. Penny Chenery, owner of the legendary Secretariat, has declared the voting open for the latest poll to find out what horse won the public's support and affection this year. This award is not about who won the most races or earned the most money; it's about who won hearts, who drew people to the racetracks or the television sets or the Internet streams, and who should go down in history as the people's horse.
The winner will be following in the hoofprints of the great Zenyatta in 2010 and, last year, that perennial winner of more than 20 races you never heard of, Rapid Redux.
The voting is conducted online, and you can bet that debates continue as fans spar in support of several of the favorites. Will it be the British turf superstar Frankel? The almost-Triple Crown winner I'll Have Another? Preakness winner and colitis/laminitis survivor Paynter? Or maybe the handsome white-blazed, always-thrilling Shackleford?
Maybe you have a soft spot in your heart for the regal filly Royal Delta, two-year-old champion Shanghai Bobby, or Breeders Cup classic winner Wise Dan.
And, then again, you could be like me and have a soft spot for all of them!
I know what you're thinking: where's Black Caviar's name? Why include the stay-at-home British champion and not the Australian star who actually went halfway around the world to cement her reputation at Royal Ascot? It looks like she made the cover of Vogue, but not the Vox Populi list.
But wait! There's a write-in space on the ballot...you can write in the name of any horse you like. I know I might be tempted!
The winner will be announced live on the HRTV network on December 26, and Mrs. Chenery will be at California's Santa Anita Park for the public presentation and autograph signing on December 29.
The winner will be selected on the equally-weighted basis of the public online poll, consensus from the Vox Populi Committee, and input from Mrs. Chenery. Voting in the online poll ends Sunday, December 23, so be sure to vote!
Here's the poll link: Secretariat Vox Populi Online Voting.
And don't think for a minute that you've heard the last of Secretariat: 2013 marks the 40th anniversary of his Triple Crown victories way back in 1973. Once the 2012 Vox Populi Award is settled, get ready for some Big Red Hoopla in the new year!