During the early stages of my interview with Jerry Moss earlier this week, two things became apparent to me right from the start: I wasn't going to get anything significant out of him regarding Zenyatta's future, and there is very little chance that she will ever face Rachel Alexandra.
The latter did not surprise me one bit. I stated last month that we should all begin to accept the fact that the showdown will never happen. The owners of each horse have two different agendas: Moss the Breeders' Cup, Jess Jackson locking up Horse of the Year by the end of the summer by beating males once (or twice) more. From where I stand, the showdown it ain't happening. We should all move on.
I was a little disappointed, however, that Moss would not budge on his stance of playing it close to the vest regarding her plans for the rest of the season. And believe me, I tried several times and in several different ways to get something out of him. During the course of our interview, Moss must have said, "I don't mean to be mysterious, but we're taking it one race at a time," about five times. He just wouldn't budge. Yes I was disappointed, but I also respected his position.
In the latter part of our conversation I finally got him to admit that they were going to do "something different" with her. That's about all I got. But by reading between the lines, here is my speculation on what they will do with her in her final four starts:
As we all know, she will race next in the Aug. 9 Clement Hirsch. There is also a very good chance that she will also go in the Oct. 10 Lady's Secret as a prep for the Breeders' Cup. Whether it will be the Breeders' Cup Classic or Ladies Classic, we don't know yet. Back to that in a moment.
Near the end of the interview, Moss said the two months between the Clement Hirsch and the Lady's Secret leaves room for another race. This is where they will likely do "something different" with her. What will it be? Well, it probably won't be out of California. Moss reiterated several times that they would prefer not to ship her out of state. When I mentioned the Oct. 3 Beldame at Belmont Park, a race that also might be enticing for Jackson, Moss said no. I think she is staying in California. But where?
In looking at the racing calendar, the options in early September are pretty slim in Cali. If they are going to do "something different" with her, to me the most probable option is the $1 million Pacific Classic (gr. I) at Del Mar. This makes sense because it a) give her nearly five weeks until the Lady's Secret and b) it lets her face males for the first time.
In my theory, Zenyatta gets to take on the boys for a huge purse on a track she has already won over, and it satisfies the "something different" Moss is referring to. Then, they aren't forced to run her against what will likely be a very tough field in the Breeders' Cup Classic. My gut feeling is that they want to let her run in the Ladies Classic. This will likely be the final race of her career and there is a much better chance she goes out a winner in that race, which is at a more suitable distance and won't be nearly as tough to win.
Pacific Classic, Lady's Secret and Ladies Classic. That's my prediction for Zenyatta. If I am right, and she wins all of them, I still don't feel it's enough for Horse of the Year. But I'm not sure that is the main goal for Moss at this point anyway. I think he would just like to enjoy her final four races and let the chips fall where they may.