Last year I missed watching my equine hero Curlin take his final walk around the track, parading around one last time for his thousands of fans. This year I was not about to miss what was to be the swan song of yet another all time great in Zenyatta. Zenyatta was to parade up and down her home track on November 29th, to allow her loyal and dedicated fans one last look at the mare that had captured their heart.
Though I did not enjoy all the long drawn out speeches, I still sat impatiently on the couch, waiting for them to bring out the Classic winner. I had heard earlier that they did not want to keep her waiting in the paddock, since that may give her the thought that she was about to race. I myself thought, it wouldn't have mattered, she is a smart enough horse to know the difference from a race and a work. After the conclusion of the speeches, the cameras turned toward the gap, where only moments later the great Zenyatta entered.
Massive as ever, she trotted back and forth in front of the grand stands, filled with her adoring fans, who held up Girl Power posters to show their support. Though I have never been emotionally moved by the big mare, there is no doubt she has a presence. I don't know if it's her size, her color, that queen-like air, or a combination of all three, but it is there. She had her neck bowed and her ears pricked as she marched around the track.
It was not long after Zenyatta stepped onto the track that a tune so well know by the American nation was played, it was the same that was played during all the movies of the mighty Super Man. Zenyatta looked so big and grand, so powerful and invincible that one would think that if Super Man were to own such a horse, it would be Zenyatta. The part that stunned me most was when Zenyatta stepped into the light of the setting sun. The light illuminated her nearly black coat, giving her a god-like glow, she looked as though she were dipped into a pot of liquid gold. Her rippling muscles, seemed to stand out even more, making her look even more intimidating, even more a super mare. This is an image that I will never forget.
Now is the part where every Zenyatta fan will want to absolutely rip me apart. Even though I love Zenyatta, even though I think everything about her represents all that is great and pure in racing, I doubt her owners' motives. I ask myself why, if she has not been publicly announced as retired, would you parade her around at her home track, as if she were? I personally think it was yet again another effort to push the decision of Horse of the Year in her favor.
As everyone knows last year, in what was supposed to be a tight race for the honors, Zenyatta lost to, the now two time Horse of the Year, Curlin, by a fairly large margin. Many believe the reason for this is because of Curlin's overall bodywork for his season against Zenyatta's. This year, because of the recent Classic win of Zenyatta's, she is involved in yet again another nose bobbing finish, and yet again it is the weight of a whole season over one race. I believe the Moss' took advantaged of Rachel Alexandra's absence, by once again presenting Zenyatta to the fans to keep her biggest win alive and fresh in their minds, while the images of Rachel Alexandra's win slowly fade away.
It is a clever, yet cowardly way of trying to have their mare be a shoe in for the award. As I said, If Zenyatta had already been announced publicly as retired, instead of her retirement being assumed, then I could understand the parade, but her retirement has yet to be announced. Many say the reason why Jess Jackson did not race on synthetics is because he is sore over Curlin's loss over them in the Breeders Cup. Well I think the Moss' are still sore over a loss as well, their loss of Horse of the Year, and are now willing to do almost anything to obtain votes.
I feel sickened and disgusted that such a talented and beautiful mare, such as Zenyatta is leading a PR campaign on behalf of her owner's wounded ego. The state of California also must be sore over the loss as well. After the outcry over the name change of the Lady's Secret to the Zenyatta Stakes, Santa Anita said that it take a Horse of the Year to replace one. Well as far as I know Zenyatta's highest honor is Champion Older Female, not Horse of the Year, which was the title bestowed upon the Iron Lady, Lady's Secret. It is a shame that this year's Horse of the Year voting will be more like a political election than which horse actually had the better season. It seems to me that the Moss' and California know that it was not their mare. It seems like they are intimidated and scared that if the debate is left alone the award will once again slip away, and that is the last thing they want. So while I enjoyed the Zenyatta Day parade, the fact that it was probably tainted with greed takes a bit away from the moment.