First I would like to start by saying that I know my last post about Zenyatta, when talking about her owner, may have been harsh, but I will not apologize for speculating and putting my opinion out there. This post however is about Zenyatta, and only Zenyatta, one of the best horses of the decade, and perhaps all time.
Last year I had only heard of Zenyatta and her dominance. I read of her victories, won with the ease of a well oiled machine. I heard of her unbeaten record and her win in the Apple Blossom, arguably her best victory, where she pummeled the defending Distaff champion Ginger Punch, by over eight lengths. She was said to be an amazon of a mare, standing a 17 hands high, weighing in at over 1200lbs. Her dark, nearly black coat only added to the presence and strength she exuded, seemingly intimidating her opponents.
This year was also the same year my equine racing love, Curlin, returned for his four year old season, where he had started off with three straight dominating easy wins. Had it not been for him I probably would have fallen in love with the big dark mare, who would soon become an unbeaten winner of the Breeders Cup Ladies Classic. This was not to be, and that year, though I liked her, she was mainly a competitor and an obstacle standing in the way of my favorite horse.
After all I had heard about her, all the accolades she was receiving, some even saying she was Ruffian reincarnated, I had to watch her run. The race I would watch the rapidly rising star in was the Vanity, which turned out to be, at the time, her closest margin of victory ever. I remember watching Zenyatta, as normal, break dead last as Silver Swallow opened up a clear advantage on the lead. For the entire race Zenyatta remained at the back, unhurried to get into gear and begin her closing assault on the front runners.
On the far turn is when it happened, Zenyatta began to uncoil her massive strides, gobbling up ground, and closing in with every stride. By the stretch the big mare had gained the lead, and seemed to be on her way to an easy victory, that was until Tough Tiz's Sis re-fired and began to steadily eat into Zenyatta's lead. Zenyatta seemed to have shortened stride while Tough Tiz's Sis kept doggedly chasing for the victory. Zenyatta had built up to big a lead though and by the time they hit the wire Zenyatta was still in front, by half a length, to keep her unblemished record.
This race did not impress me all that much, but the Clement Hirsch was won with dominance and apparent ease, as was her final prep for the Ladies Classic, the Lady's Secret, but it was at the World Championships, that she completely stole the show. The part that sticks best within my memory was her stretch run, watching her fly around the far turn coming at least six wide, then with in only a couple jumps taking over to win with devastating ease. That race to me was her most beautiful and inspiring race, even over this year's Classic.
This year, Zenyatta failed to ever really move or inspire me, that was left to the brilliant three year old Rachel Alexandra. Still, Zenyatta did exactly what she needed, every time she raced, win. She would only race five times this season, four against her own sex, and one, the big one, against the males, in the Classic. No matter what they threw at her she won, and always did so with something left, never truly ever being asked.
Her farewell parade at Hollywood Park, may have been an attempt by her owner to get more votes, it may not have been, but one thing is for certain, Zenyatta looked less queen and more of a goddess. Her unearthly beauty stunned me, as she marched up and down the grandstand side of the track. Her neck was bowed, yet she still remained calm, jogging patiently, seeming to survey her loyal fans. She is incredible, beautiful, and perfect. She is Zenyatta, and she is one for the ages.