A Perfect Run for Zenyatta
It was a memorable Breeder’s Cup for Santa Anita Racecourse and there was much to celebrate. Not only did every competitor return home safely, with not one injury, but Zenyatta had the opportunity to test her skills against her male counterparts, and walk away victorious. There was a lot of debate and speculation in regard to which race Zenyatta would ultimately run, but on Saturday, 7 November 2009, she stood in the starting gates of the 2009 Breeder’s Cup Classic, ready to run the last race of her flawless career, and do so in style.
Ridden by Mike Smith, there were a few restless moments, when the scratching of Quality Road led to the competitors being reloaded, and Zenyatta becoming somewhat agitated. She did not break favorably from the starting gates, but Smith decided to let her run and settle down before changing her to the right lead. Due to all the upheaval, Zenyatta had fallen behind and Smith chose to make his move at the final turn, by cutting inside and then letting her run wide. The crowd got behind Zenyatta, and her ears pricked in acknowledgement of her supporters, but Smith gently reminded her at the task at hand and Zenyatta dug deep to overtake her fellow contenders and win the Breeder’s Cup Classic by a length. Her remarkable talent was confirmed by Smith, who told the media, that she still had energy and race left in her, by the time they crossed the finish line. She was followed home by Gio Ponti in second and Twice Over in third position. Other remarkable contenders in the Breeder’s Cup Classic included, in finishing order, Summer Bird, Richards’ Kid, Awesome Gem, Regal Ransom, Mine that Bird, Rip Van Winkle, Einstein and Girolamo.
John Shirreffs, Zenyatta’s trainer, confirmed that she would start her breeder career next year, now she completed her racing career with fourteen consecutive victories. However, the question on everyone’s minds is who will be the horse of the year? With two remarkable fillies in the running, Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra, many believe that they should share the title, as they have both delivered magnificent performances. Rachel Alexandra has won all eight of her career starts, with three being victories against male contenders which included some of the horses Zenyatta beat in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, while Zenyatta retires undefeated in fourteen races. One fact is certain, both Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta deserve their place in horse racing history.