Saturday was not looking well by the time 7:30 pm rolled around. Favorites were being slain race after race after race. Dublin, the monstrous two year old who had won the Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga, ran second to last in the Champagne Stakes over Belmont's main track. Colonel John, Tiago, and Mine That Bird lost in the Goodwood to one of Europe's B-rated horses. Backtalk has now lost two in a row, while Noble Promise took the Futurity. Now many were asking themselves, especially after her close call last time out, would this be the day Zenyatta would be defeated? Earlier in the week I had said that in order to win this race, Zenyatta would really need to step up her game and revert back to the form she held while racing as a four year old to win the Lady's Secret, and she did just that, times ten.
I sat on the couch watching the giant form of Zenyatta strutting along in the paddock, prancing and doing her version of a Spanish walk. Zenyatta has done this ritual since late last year, but this time as I watched her march around the ring, I got the feeling she was saying to all her doubters, "Now watch what a real horse can do." I have not gotten that feeling from her in any of her other races this year, and I knew that this would not be the day Zenyatta would let herself lose to anybody, no matter how spectacular they seemed.
On the track she looked as big and as imposing as ever, ready to rumble. She loaded into the gate like a pro, her mind on business. When the bell rang and the field was sent on their way, Zenyatta, along with her stablemate Life is Sweet, dropped to the back of the pack. Mike Smith positioned her about five or six lengths from the leaders, who were setting a pedestrian pace. As they entered the far turn, Zenyatta began to move closer to the pack. Mike Smith was not going to let them get away from him like they had in the Clement Hirsch. Into the stretch they came, and instead of circling the field, Mike Smith took Zenyatta through a hole about four wide off the rail. At this point the race was over and Zenyatta took charge, running down the leaders in no more than four strides, before she started to gear down. The announcer's last call put it best, "And Zenyatta wins with condescending ease!"
Zenyatta showed her doubters today that she is, without a doubt, back and ready for action. With a win like that, in which she defeated her opponents so easily, the Ladies Classic may not be the right place to run. If Zenyatta keeps this form, which I have no doubt that she will, then she will bulldoze over every competitor entered in the Ladies Classic. I say give her a chance to shut down any more naysayers by running her in the Breeders Cup Classic. There, she will find Mastercraftsman, Fame and Glory, and perhaps Sea The Stars. Could she win against such horses? This remains to be seen, but she does seem to have the best chance out of any other American classic horse. So, Mr. Moss, what will you do next?