If we needed confirmation that Horse of the Year is a highly subjective award, look no further than what transpired in January 2018.  Which Horse of the Year is the relevant question?

CNN reported on January 23, 2018:

“He may have retired from racing, but that hasn’t stopped Arrogate scooping up more silverware.

The American colt was named as the Longines World’s Best Racehorse for a second year in a row at a lavish awards ceremony in London’s Claridge’s hotel Tuesday.”

Two days later, on January 25, Teresa Genaro wrote in Forbes online:

“In a year in which Triple Crown race winners took a backseat to older horses, Gun Runner was the expected, and worthy, recipient of the 2017 Eclipse Award for Horse of the Year.  He ran in six races and won five of them, finishing second in the Dubai World Cup, earning nearly $7 million.”

An outsider to horse racing, or an insider for that matter, would surely wonder how Arrogate could simultaneously be the “World’s Best Racehorse” yet not judged to be the superior racehorse in the United States, especially since he beat Gun Runner in two of the three career races in which they ran against one another and split with Gun Runner 50/50 in 2017.  Further, Arrogate earned the most money of any racehorse in history, $17.42 million, of which $13.2 million came in 2017.

Anytime relative merit is determined by opinion, there will likely be disparity of outcome.  This holds for Olympic figure skating, talent contests, horse-racing awards, voting for inclusion in various sports hall of fames, and other “in-the-eye-of-the beholder” endeavors.  Should Pete Rose or steroid-aided home-run sluggers be in the MLB Hall of Fame? are recurring questions debated on sports-talk shows.

In the end for Arrogate and Gun Runner, it does not make a great deal of difference that their owners can truthfully advertise in stallion listings that one was deemed to be the “World’s Best Racehorse” in 2017 and the other was the Eclipse champion in 2017.  What matters now is which one sires the best racehorses and justifies a higher stud fee.

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