Zenyatta Fever

Who isn’t a fan of Zenyatta?

With her high-stepping dance, and undeniable charisma, Zenyatta has singularly amassed a fan club of not only horse racing enthusiasts, but ordinary people. Families who have generationally long since turned from Saturday afternoons at the races, to network television screens filled with hockey, baseball and football players.

The buzz around the horse racing scene is positively palpable. The New York Post, 60 minutes, Regis and Kelly Show, W and Oprah magazines have featured her, shedding a rare mainstream spotlight on a horse. Zenyatta has inspired an incredible swell of fan support from all walks of life, and done a tremendous service for the horse racing industry, in the doing of.

Zenyatta is a tall, dark bay beauty with an air of elegance and class about her. She is calm, and seems to drink in her surroundings with her lucid eyes. Those close to her explain how she loves people around her, and is a true ham when meeting her fans. She loves to prance before a crowd, and even enjoys a Guiness or two from her trainer. That huge personality is combined in a monster of a mare; at 17.2 hands, she is four inches taller than Secretariat or Man O War.

Zenyatta was born on April 1, 2004 in Kentucky. She is the daughter of Street Cry, an Irish-bred stallion who won the Dubai World Cup, out of Vertigineux. She was sold as a yearling for the somewhat low price of $60,000 – mostly due to the fact that she was a little unsightly, suffering from ringworm at the time, leading Bob Simon of 60 Minutes to suggest she has gone from “rashes to riches”.

She was purchased by Jerry and Ann Moss, trained by John Shirreffs, and ridden for the majority of her career by jockey Mike Smith. Now, as a six-year-old she has amassed over $6 million in lifetime earnings.

Her story is not typical – she was too immature to be started in any of the Triple Crown races, which usually catapault a horse into the limelight. The fact that she has not been celebrated as much as she deserves, until recently, could also be attributed to her missing those three important races. She started her career in 2007 in the Hollywood Park Maiden Race. She won that race – and never stopped. She has won against Kentucky Derby winners, such as Mine That Bird among others. The amazing thing about this mare is that she has never known defeat. Secretariat did not win every race, neither did Man O War or Affirmed. There is something truly special about Zenyatta – and many believe her to be the greatest race horse of all time.

What also sets her apart from other great race horse paradigms is that she is a mare. Not supposed to be as fast as the boys, only race against other fillies. Well, this female had different plans – she breaks slowly in the races, hangs back from the leaders like she is cantering around on a Sunday morning – then comes from behind at breakneck speed to win. Every time. Geldings, stallions, mares – it doesn’t matter. She has beaten them all and every time.

Observe this classic win at the 2009 Breeders Cup, and you’ll see what we mean.

She’s even inspired a sensational simulated race, pitting her against such greats as Ruffian, Smarty Jones, Cigar, Citation and naturally, Seabiscuit.

So, feel free to stand up and cheer for the Queen of Racing tomorrow as she heads into the Breeders Cup. Cheer, cry, laugh, and even weep, as this weekend marks the very last race in Zenyatta’s career. She’ll be running against a field of 11 other horses – all males. The purse is $5 million dollars and there will be millions of people tuning in to cheer her on and witness this historic moment in horse racing history. We might not see another like it in our lifetimes.

In the meantime, here’s the latest vid on Zenyatta, featuring such celebrities as “Govenator” Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Sting! If you’re into more, check out our Facebook page, as we have posted some video there as well.

Big thanks to Amie Peck – another Zenyatta fan in the office! – for assistance with the research and writing for this post.

Comments

  1. Melissa Sword says:

    She is beautiful, talented and FAST. In my opinion, her success is due in part to her late start, allowing her mind and body to mature.

  2. agreed Melissa! Her success and continued soundness should be an example and and testimony for not starting horses as 2 year olds.

  3. Melissa, I couldn’t agree with you more!! I hope more owners and trainers see her as proof positive they can have an amazing racehorse-even the best racehorse in the world-without starting them so young:) Who CARES about the Derby when you have a horse that can race and win at 6 years old and beyond?

    I really wish the earliest they could race horses is 3 years, and the triple crown was for 4 year olds (or even older!). I think we would see so many less track break downs, and more breeding for longevity instead of raw speed-what happens to (most of) the horses that are unsuccessful at racing? Well, they’ve got a lot better chance of a new career if their legs are clean and they are sound, and the chances of a horse having those things are much greater if they are bred well and have been started slowly.

    Anyway, off soapbox-go Z!!

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