November 7, 2009

Zenyatta thrills the Breeders' Cup

What a moment in Breeders' Cup history this afternoon as Zenyatta ran down the entire Classic field, weaving through the stretch as if Calvin Borel were piloting her rather than the also-ran Derby winner Mine That Bird (9th), while passing Summer Bird (4th) and the turf specialist Gio Ponti (2nd) on the extreme outside. Rather, it was Mike Smith in the irons, showing none of the enormous pressure of keeping her perfect streak intact in her last race prior to retirement. Now much like Personal Ensign, Zenyatta will always be remembered for her unprecedented competititveness by retiring undefeated on racing's greatest stage, the Breeders' Cup!

And full credit goes to Zenyatta and her owner Jerry Moss and trainer John "I shot the" Shirreffs on this day. No second guessing this time around about taking the easy route as they opted to take on the boys rather than continuing to thrash the same mares in California. Sidebar: Life is Sweet - winner of the Ladies Classic on Friday with ease, had been bested by Zenyatta twice this season. But now her record improved to 4 out of 5 wins without having to face Zen, a sign Zenyatta would have surely won that race had they entered her there.

Even though the field gathered for this year's Classic was a notch or two below historical standards (most of Europe's elite horses failed to cross the pond unlike last year), Zenyatta was clearly the best race horse (male or female) at this distance and track. And not even the presence of Rachel Alexandra would have changed this result. Zenyatta was navigated all year (and criticized because of it) to get to this day in top form and that's exactly where she was. So she deserves all the credit and positive buzz surrounding this race (other than the unfortunate behavior and late scratch of Quality Road... shame on you!). Throughout the next week we should keep the focus on these races and Zenyatta's remarkable career. After that, we can start debating the overall Horse of the Year honors, which will come down to a filly vs. mare in an unprecedented vote. Let's get ready to rumble!!!