Zenyatta, connections marvelous in defeat

Nov 8th, 2010 | By TrackSide View | Category: Articles, Breeders' Cup, Champions, View from the Grandstand

Bob Hill
Staff writer

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Mike Smith is brave enough to get aboard thoroughbred race horses almost every day of his life.  It is dangerous business that requires athleticism, strength, courage and skill.  When he broke into tears in the press room following the heart stopping Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs he shed tears for all of us who love the sport he represents.  He realized how close he had been to being part of a moment of racing immortality.  He blamed himself for the loss and stated what many who saw the race believe – some days the best horse does not win.

Zenyatta doubters, most of whom regularly display a haughtiness that annoys me, would be wise to refrain from any I-told-you-so commentary.  There is no doubt here and in the minds of those who saw this race that Zenyatta is one of the great thoroughbred race horses of the modern era and of all time.  She ran the race that she always runs, spotting the field double-digit lengths and closing from out of the clouds. Today she finished a head short of the horse that has been the very best in the classic division this year.  What Mike Smith believes is that if he had somehow timed the ride only the slightest bit differently Zenyatta would have won.  He knows that his mare closed between three and four lengths in the final eighth of a mile.

The owner of Blame, Seth Hancock, announced that Blame will be retired to stud after this win.  He also used the press conference to campaign for his horse to be Horse of the Year – an honor that Blame probably will win.  Zenyatta will go another year not winning that honor, but she is without a doubt the most popular American horse to race in recent years.   If this were Hollywood, she would accept a lifetime achievement award.  In an era where longevity is undervalued, Zenyatta is the epitome of something the sport lost a long time ago.

Last year after the Breeders’ Cup, Zenyatta’s owners Jerry and Ann Moss announced that she would be retired.  Her trainer John Shirreffs kept her in training, and it became evident to him and the owner that she was fit and ready for another campaign.  She was brought out of retirement and campaigned lightly in preparation for the defense of her Breeders’ Cup Classic crown. 

 Some have described last year’s field as sub-par, but there was no talk of that this year.  There have been a few rumblings about a trip to Dubai in the spring of 2011, but time will tell whether that will happen or not.  She has millions of fans who will continue to adore her for a long time to come.  A victory in the Breeders’ Cup would have been the best ending to her career but that did not happen.  The second-best outcome was for her to race like the champion she is, and she delivered on that score for the 20th time.

3 Comments to “Zenyatta, connections marvelous in defeat”

  1. John says:

    One more race head to head Zenyatta and Blame winner take all

    Blame would have no chance.

  2. greg says:

    mr. moss,please retire her. she is the best female of all time. those of us that have loved her are satisfied and would be heartbroken if she were to race again and suffer injury. let us not forget ruffian. zenyatta has done enough and deserves along healthy life.

    • Wayne Lobdell says:

      Thoroughbred horse racing would sustain a wider public following if the stars didn’t come and go so quickly. The public just gets to know a great athlete and then they retire. Zenyatta and Blame are great horses who seem to like to race. As long as they are healthy why not let their fans see them race again? I realize retirement is the safe bet for the owners, but it shouldn’t be all about money. Besides, insurance is available. Let the trainer be the judge if the horse is sound enough to keep running.

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