Breeders' Cup Wrapup - Z One and Only

Over the course of the next week, we'll have several wrapups, going over different aspects of Breeders' Cup 2009, such as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, losing efforts in Breeders' Cup history, the rash of oddball winners, the much-discussed synthetic issue, holding the event at Santa Anita, the European success, Horse of the Year, the New York non-factor, and other items.

But let's face it; the 2009 Breeders' Cup will forever belong to Zenyatta. She picked it up off the ground and raised it over her head like Atlas holding up the world. No burden has proven too great for this magnificent mare, and you can bet people will be watching her swan song in the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) for decades to come and will be getting goose bumps every time they do.  

Continue reading this column or feel free to post your comments below.


Leave a Comment:


Great article Mr. Haskin.  You warned it's "quite long" but it doesn't read long at all.

09 Nov 2009 10:41 PM

I had never screamed myself hoarse before, but as she charged down the stretch I just lost it and started jumping all over the stone bench in front of the track, screaming for her to go go go...and she did.

It is an honor to have seen her perform, last year in the Lady's Secret and this year on this first Saturday in November in the Breeders' Cup Classic.

Hats off to everyone!

09 Nov 2009 10:42 PM
A Canuck's Comment

One of your best pieces ever, Steve. You definitely captured the 'essence' of Zenyatta. Her 2009 Breeders' Cup Classic win ranks right alongside Secretariat's 1973 Belmont Stakes victory. I feel privileged to have watched them both!

Thanks for putting such eloquent words into the history books for us.

09 Nov 2009 10:43 PM
Lou in TX

Thank you for such a beautifully written article on "Queen Zenyatta". There will never be another one like her. Watching that race was an experience I will never forget. There is a lot of love for this horse. Being an FOB, it's great to have such a wonderful horse to root for that has ended her career healthy and happy & in such a great way. She defintely deserves HOTY.

RA will have her chance again next year. No doubt she'll put on a show for all of us but it won't match the show Zenyatta does.

Thanks to the Mosses for sharing her with all the world.

09 Nov 2009 10:56 PM
Brian Appleton

The longer the better Steve!

09 Nov 2009 10:59 PM
Greg J.

Mr. Haskin,

     Once Again, Bravo!  Zenyatta is one for the ages, Perfection.  My hat's off to Zenyatta's Family, Yes, I said Family, From Mr. Willard, Mr. Smith, Mr. Shirreffs, Mario Espinoza, And the Mosses, They have treated Zenyatta like a member of their beloved Family, It sure is refreshing to see in these times we live...

09 Nov 2009 11:02 PM
carolyn rogers

Zen has earned this years HOTY award, and anyone that deprives her of it. Should drop off the face of the earth. She ran all her races and won, she beat the boys that RA beat plus she beat the International boys that RA didn't race and she beat them at the longer distance. How can we not award her for her job well done. Not with just"Champion Older Mare" especially after what she gave us for 2 years and undefeated on top of that. Plus winning against the world.

09 Nov 2009 11:08 PM

Thank you for this excellent article. I have searched the internet since the Classic to find the definitive article on the magnificent Zenyatta and her final extraordinary race. This is it.

09 Nov 2009 11:11 PM

Wow..Steve.. I don't even have any words left after reading your column. Thank you Steve. Thank you. Thank you Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra.  What else is there? I just want to re-live this year again. What an exciting year to be a race fan.

Kudos to Bob Baffert..for being human...and honest. How refreshing.

09 Nov 2009 11:14 PM

Thank you for this article. as it really touched my heart as did Zenyatta on Saturday.

I have watched horse racing since I was a Teenager and have seen all the greats like Secretariat and Seattle Slew.  No race was more amazing than this win by Zenyatta.  I have been a fan of hers ever since she has come on the racing scene and just so happy that like her name, she is now on top of the world.  I so hate to see her retired but am a believer that one should always go out while at the top.   And can you imgaine what her offspring will be like?

09 Nov 2009 11:23 PM
F. Paul York

I would like to congratulate Steve on writing an article that captures the scope of a horse that is in my opinion one of the top 5 of all time. I have always preferred Racheal Alexandra over Zenyatta for some strange reason (perhaps it's her name), but I have to say what Zenyatta accomplished in her career and the Breeder's Cup, has to place her in history as the greatest mare to touch the race track. In some ways I'm sad that she never ran against RA, but in all honesty after watching her run against the best males in the world, I don't think RA (who is in a league of her own) is not in the league of Zenyatta. Well done Z!

09 Nov 2009 11:34 PM

Zenyatta proved her mettle in the Breeders' Cup Classic. She lived out her pedigree and could go the distance of a mile and a quarter. She did more than most running today in winning at a mile and a quarter, even her younger protege Rachel Alexandra never tried that distance.

People will always dimiss the synthetic surface, her "light" race record this year, but really, was there really any doubt this tenacious mare couldn't dig down & give us a gutsy performance??

09 Nov 2009 11:38 PM
needler in Virginia

No dumb questions this time, Steve; just a HUGE "thank you" for putting everything into this one column. We have seen history made this last weekend and will probably never again see Zenyatta's like in our lifetimes. That is NOT a slam to Rachel, who is also a huge favorite of mine; that's a truth. Rachel still has a year or two to prove that she really is as good as we all think. What Z did hasn't been done.......certainly not like THIS.......and that's why she deserves every accolade available. We've been lucky enough to see Zenyatta perform feats of athleticism that defy description. Personally, I count myself lucky to have seen both Secretariat AND Zenyatta grace race tracks. Two freaks in one lifetime?? What are the odds of THAT? (There's my dumb question, after all!) AND EVERYONE CAN JUST HOLD THEIR HORSES -- don't come at me with razors because I compared Z to Big Red, and don't scream because I call them freaks. Before you hire hit men to come after me, just consider, go back, read Steve's column carefully and THEN decide. After all, I can think what I'd like, right?? And if you think I'm nuts, then go to it.

Thank you Steve; well said, well written (as always) and a column for the ages. Her Classic and your story will thrill fans as long as people love racing... NO KIDDING!

Cheers and VERY safe trips to all.

09 Nov 2009 11:39 PM

I knew it would be a great emotional article and it was! With tears streaming and an overwhelming desire to watch yet another time Zenyatta's run and post parade antics on You Tube, I salute your writing and obvious admiration for the Big Mare. I've been watching her, as many have no doubt, since her starting races. I would watch the races, and read about her undefeated record after each race. She has never let any of us down. I can't imagine how empty the Moss's, Shirreff's, and grooms's, and handlers' hearts will be when Z leaves for her deserved retirement. What an end to a stellar, impressive, heart-stopping career! What a memory, indeed. Thanks, Steve! I was wondering if she is retiring to Mill Ridge, I think it is, as I saw the farm manager with the Moss's the day of the race, or if she is going to be near her sire, Street Cry at Darley. I have a feeling she's going to Mill Ridge where many of the Moss's horses are...God I will miss her beauty...

09 Nov 2009 11:41 PM
Gary Tasich

BRAVO....I was there. Truly a Seabiscuit moment. Up 'til now something I have only experienced in the movies or on Youtube.

09 Nov 2009 11:43 PM

Mighty Zenyatta! She won the Classic in the same style as her other races and if she had to put a lot more effort into it, it didn't show.

Now she won't retire with a question mark after her name. Now we know how true it was that she did what it took to win and no more. Competition at the highest level revealed that she is one of the greats. Oh too, too bad that Sea the Stars wasn't there!

09 Nov 2009 11:45 PM
anita b

How true. I bet only the Classic and did something I never do. Didn't box the exacta. I hade 3 horses bet with Zenyatta--2 were my wish list horses and Gio Ponti I really liked. Dumb me--didn't box the exacta.

Congradulations though to the Zenyatta camp. Okay Steve, who should she be bred to?

great article.

09 Nov 2009 11:46 PM

Thanks Mr. Haskin for your words, and class. I have been going to the races for 26 yrs, seen Sunday Silence, John Henry, Cigar, many more champions, but I have never seen something as dominant as Zenyatta.  I dont know if anybody knows how good she really is;Every race is winning as easily as possible

09 Nov 2009 11:55 PM

Congrats to Zenyatta and to all her connections!!! She is incredible!!!

If she is healthy, lightly raced, and still has the desire to compete; why not continue her campaign? What she did at the Classic, will always be remembered as one of the Greatest Races of all time.

Other than economics, she has the opportunity to prove she is the BEST horse to ever race!!! Why not continue to campaign her?

Whatever her connections decide, it is very understandable if they choose to retire her. It would be graet for Horseracing at a very critical time in our Sport if she would continue to race.


10 Nov 2009 12:00 AM

I was there, sitting at the 16th pole, Section I.  Had Gio Ponti, Colonel John, Twice Over and Richard's Kid hooked up in all kinds of exotics.  Lost a bundle, but it was worth every penny.  Hats off to not only the horse of the year, but the horse of the decade.

10 Nov 2009 12:01 AM


Words cannot describe what this girl is about. A casual racing fan just does not understand,we truly witnessed greatness.

To the Moss's congrats to Mike Smith great ride,to John Sheriff's job well done.

To the God's ty for giving us quite possibly the greatest horse of all time,she is that good.

10 Nov 2009 12:16 AM

As always, wow.  Thank you for bringing the Zenyatta experience home, just like you did with Rachel at the Spa after her historical Woodward win.

You are right, this BC belongs to Zenyatta.  This year belongs to the magnificance of not one but two fantastic fillies.  I feel fortunate, as always, to witness the history and enjoy these moments that have transcended the sport.

Who would ever have thought we would have a Zenyatta and a Rachel all in one incredible year??

10 Nov 2009 12:17 AM

She better get HotY.

But Mr Moss said it best; She's HotY to all her fans, and we are the ones who count.

10 Nov 2009 12:22 AM

Awesome article, Steve! Reading your article gave me goose bumps and brought tears to my eyes. I've been anxiously awaiting your thoughts on the Classic. I knew you would pen something amazing and you did not disappoint. I was also at Santa Anita on Saturday and the electricity and buzz regarding Zenyatta before and after the race made it the most amazing sports related experience of my life. And your article was the perfect journalistic exclamation point! Thanks, Steve!!!

10 Nov 2009 12:23 AM

"What else can be said about this remarkable mare and her history-making performance in the Classic?"

That she earned Horse of the Year!

10 Nov 2009 12:27 AM

Wonderful column as always, Mr. Haskin.  I sure hope the amazing losing effort your refer to belongs to none other than Presious Passion!  

10 Nov 2009 12:43 AM
Warning Drums

Steve, you never disappoint. You are making some deep, unfillable hoof prints of your own. I have been waiting for your commentary and knowing that it would contribute to the stature of what Zenyatta achieved and we all witnessed. Thank you for rising to the occasion. The richest moments in racing are made richer by your reportage.

10 Nov 2009 12:50 AM

This crying photographer still wells up each time she watches the replay or reads brilliant write ups about it.  You're right, you have to experience Zenyatta.

10 Nov 2009 12:59 AM

Mr Haskin,

What an honor it was to meet you last Friday at Santa Anita. Thank you for signing my program... I was too tongue tied to tell you how I feel about your writing but I think you knew...In my books you are THE BEST. Your articles move me like no other. Thank you for expressing what I feel so deeply when I watch these beautiful horses race.

I was there also on Saturday to witness GREATNESS. My voice hasn't been the same since... I will carry that feeling of utter elation for the rest of my life. How lucky we are to have experienced Zenyatta!!!

10 Nov 2009 1:08 AM

Tears were running down my cheeks as I read your accounting of the "race that will go down in history."  This race is going to eclipse Secretariat's great Belmont win.  And, it too, came at a time when we needed a great hero!

Our girl ----

10 Nov 2009 1:14 AM


What a fantastic article!  I've been waiting all day for it.  You are always the final word!  You really did Zenyatta justice.  I watched intently on TV, but while reading your story, I was there!  This is what horse racing is all about!  I hope you write a Legends book on Zenyatta.  Forego has been my favorite horse since 1974.  Zenyatta may now be my favorite horse.  Thanks for the GREAT article...

10 Nov 2009 1:36 AM

steve, love your articles. great story for a great horse, I have to write her name (ZENYATTA). but one phrase in the story summed up almost my entire thought on horse racing. no other horse can i think of (go for wand, secretariat & many more) that can top that phase, gesture ect. (leaving hoof prints so deep it will take an eternity to fill them in.) thank you

10 Nov 2009 1:39 AM
Greg R.

Everything that embodies a Champion was on display in the Breeders Cup Classic. A filly with the heart of the world overcomes adversity and wins going away. He owners and her trainer not afraid to put an undefeated record on the line against the greatest horses in the world, and against the colts.

And more so her only competition for Horse Of The Year's owner turned coward.  

A great moment in sports..  

10 Nov 2009 3:31 AM

Nice article - enjoyed reading it but had one thing that was missing, how did they come up with the name Zenyatta ?  It's a great name, almost godly which I believe she is (a god, but not THE God) :)

10 Nov 2009 4:12 AM

What a well written masterpiece!

10 Nov 2009 4:45 AM

Fantastic article, brought tears to my eyes.... again... what a horse.

10 Nov 2009 5:10 AM

Zenyatta wins the BC Classic.. hurrah!  For the FIRST time, she isn't racing against TOMATO  Bravo.

However, I still believe the HORSE OF THE YEAR belongs to RACHEL ALEXANDRA.  If SummerBird won the BC Classic, maybe he'd be HOTY.  No question about it.  SB ran his ass off in the Travers and the JC cup.  He deserves it.

Zen is just getting started in this game, so I think she has MORE RACES AGAINST MALES TO WIN, before she can be categorized as HOTY material.

Afterall, Breeders' cup or Not, ONE RACE is NOT ENOUGH to be crowned HOTY.

10 Nov 2009 5:12 AM
stanley marcinkowski, Plowville, Pa

When she came out of the gate so slow AND throwing her head I said to myself, here comes another Big Brown moment-she is going to be pulled up. At no part of the first mile of the race did I give her ANY chance of winning. But when she swung out side of Twice Over I started yelling for her. For 2nd half of this year I believed RA should be Horse of the Year. But when Z ran that last quarter in :23 to win, that gave her Horse of the Year.

10 Nov 2009 5:13 AM
J Elliott

please can you tell me on UTUBE which vid has the camera on the helmet,and also John Shireffs UTUBE channel?

thank you

 great column you wrote on Zentaytta

10 Nov 2009 6:09 AM

Well done Steve!

10 Nov 2009 6:09 AM

Nicely done as usual.  I would agree that she was the best horse (ON THIS SURFACE, ON THIS DAY).

That being said, I am not ready to concede Horse of the Year to a horse who never got out of her back yard.  TV commentators were putting down the connections of Rachel A because they chose not to come to Z's home track and take her on.  I didn't see Z traveling East to take on Rachel.  How is this different?  Both connections knew they were on shaky ground in the other one's venue.  You can't fault either party for that.  

You stated the credentials of the horses that she beat.  Most of those were earned on a surface other than Pro Ride.  You have stated in numerous columns how it was difficult to handicap this CUP because it was hard to know how horses would take to the surface.  Z didn't have to adjust...this is HER surface.  She's the best on it. AND, until they start to award the winners in each of the Breeder's Cup races Horse of the year honors, that should still be taken into consideration.

I know that the media from Southern California loves the local, but I believe the Girl Power signs started with Rachel first.

I agree that this might be the year to award CO- Horse of the Year honors.  

10 Nov 2009 6:09 AM

Simply the best, Better than all the rest.

10 Nov 2009 6:09 AM
MIchael Blowen

Steve, As usual...A Grade One performance....You are really something...I can't imagine anyone writing about this unbelievable horse any better..Thanks, Michael. Horse of the Decade indeed.

10 Nov 2009 6:52 AM
Emma Dickinson-Gater

Sorry.....I feel we were denied a clash between greats here.....Sea The Stars, a 6 TIME GROUP/GRADE 1 WINNER was not in the field.  Rip Van Winkle and Conduit are both good, but not his class.  

Zenyatta WILL NEVER be considered a 'great' horse, as she never won a Classic race (on either side of the Atlantic) as a 3yr old.  Yes, she is good, but great?  Not in my book.  

RA is a far superior mare, having won a Classic race (Preakness) and done it the hard way, on their terms!  

Good luck to both in the lottery of the breeding sheds, but I hope one of them at least is nominated to visit the truly great SEA THE STARS!

10 Nov 2009 6:54 AM
Carolyn Kenney

Great article, Steve. Thanks

10 Nov 2009 6:56 AM

I have been eagerly awaiting your recap of Zenyatta's fabulous win in the Breeders Cup Classic. It was worth the wait. What a moving piece you've written about The Big Mare and her courageous connections.  Zenyatta will get her own scrapbook as she has transcended into the realm of The Immortals. This article will rest on the opposite page of pictures of her last and greatest race and will be the "final chapter" in that book. Thanks for the story and to Zenyatta--thanks for the great memories. I miss you already.

10 Nov 2009 7:08 AM
Linda Hauck

I've watched both Rachel's and Zenyatta's races and there should be just one outcome for Horse of the Year - a tie. They have both in their own unique way (lets not forget Rachel beating 3 and up) earned the title. Lets not take that away from either one of them.

10 Nov 2009 7:14 AM
Don from Delaware

Beautiful horse, majestic, dynamic and so sweet. I have never been happier, being WRONG. The entire floor at DP where I watched the race was standing and applauding, as I found myself doing, and smiling. Thank you Steve for writing such a moving peace, worthy of a true champion ZEN is.

10 Nov 2009 7:26 AM
lou g.


10 Nov 2009 7:47 AM

Steve, this article re-captures Zenyatta's BC beautifully!  What a race, what a Breeders' Cup to remember!

10 Nov 2009 8:03 AM
Mike E.

All I can say is WOW! This article gave me goose bumps all over again.

10 Nov 2009 8:10 AM
Jeff Hall

An unbelievably well-written, touching, "buckle the knees" article......after watching her Saturday, I thought nothing could do it justice - but you came really close.  Thank you...

10 Nov 2009 8:11 AM

It is a shame that Zenyatta didn't leave California this year and settle the question of who the best horse was. She ran a great race at Oaklawn(last year), so I am unsure why Sheriff and Company were afraid of running on dirt. I am still not a fan of synthetic racing myself, and believe that these BC races run over dirt would have had much different outcome.

10 Nov 2009 8:20 AM


 She won the richest north american horse race for ALL the girls!!

The first female to win the classic is the reason why I made sure to watch the Classic. Because it would live up to its name.

It would be fun to have a breeding blog like RA, I would pick Smart Strike for Zenyatta.  He is  in the top 5 for two year olds and for synthetics, yeah Lookin at lucky has a lot to do with it. But a good match.

10 Nov 2009 8:21 AM

I had not seen her before Saturday and I was impressed. She would have brought many new fans to the sport now that she is "known" outside of California. but she is done. Off to the breeding shed. Wish she had stayed around one more year for the sport.

10 Nov 2009 8:22 AM

We're lucky to have Zenyatta, and we're lucky to have this wonderful piece of writing to capture her biggest moment.  Thank you--and I look forward to the rest of the BC wrap-up articles.

10 Nov 2009 8:24 AM

Steve--it was absolutely breathtaking watching Zenyatta win the Classic.  It was great to see a US horse beat the Euros and phenomenal to see a female beat the boys.  It was tragic, however, to hear folks handing her the HOY award, even before the voting begins.  One had to listen only to Jerry Bailey to realize that if Z does beat out RA as HOY, it will be only by the emotional vote.  There is no question that Zenyatta is a horse who will go down into the history books as one of the greatest mares ever, but lets face it, Zenyatta beat the boys on HER terms: on the only racing surface she has ever run in the only state she has ever raced.  And when we look at the horses she beat, most were having their own problems running on the synthetics.  For 2 days, trainer after trainer excused his/her horse saying s/he was not comfortable on the surface, not running their best races.  I can only hope that the voters consider the entire season and body of work before awarding horse of the year.  No one is trying to take anything away from her accomplishments, but she is the best horse IN California, the best on synthetics.  Lets not forget that RA has raced and won on all types of surfaces at tracks around the country and against some formidable opponents who were definitely on their game.  She has not been limited to one state, one track or one surface.  What she has accomplished in one season has taken Zenyatta 3 yrs of her career (she is 5).  Jerry Bailey also put down Jackson's decision to race RA against older boys in the Wood.  How many times does she have to beat the same group of colts before she proves herself worthy?  As I said earlier, no one is putting down Zenyatta's victory, but let's put emotion on the back burner when voting for HOY.

10 Nov 2009 8:29 AM

Zenyatta's performance was indeed breathtaking as there's no denying that.  However to compare her to Rachel Alexandra is so unfair.  

Rachel, a three-year old filly, raced on 7 different racetracks and was a perfect 8 for 8 this season all in Graded Stakes.  

She won the Kentucky Oaks by 20 lengths; the Preakness; the Haskell; the Mother Goose & finally the Woodward among her prestigious victories.  

She beat the winners of the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes, both colts, when they were fresh and in their prime.  

She beat older male handicap Graded horses in the Grade One Woodward at Saratoga.  And in doing so she ran three races in one.  She went with the early speed, two other Graded winners that finished so far up the track that they needed a search party to find them.  She then put away the stalkers and finally the deep closers.  

In the end despite a horrific ride by Calvin Borel she refused to get beat as still no one was getting to her.  To compare Zenyatta a great 5-year old mare who remained at home on the synthetic surface to what Rachel accomplished is ridiculous.  

Who exactly did Zenyatta beat?  2nd string turf horses from Europe racing on the Pro Ride surface?  

An excellent analogy is saying that Branko Segota was a better soccer player than PELE.  Who?  

Segota played in the INDOOR Soccer League and averaged 4 goals a game for his career.  Of course the scores in that INDOOR league were 12 to 10, etc.  Does anyone really think that Segota was a better soccer player than PELE?

The point  is some horses can handle the synthetic surface and others can't stand up on it.  Rip Van Winkle was the 2nd best horse in Europe to Sea The Stars.  Some horsemen have compared Sea The Stars as possibly the second coming of Secretariat.  

And we all saw where Rip wound up in Zenyatta's race as he was simply spinning his wheels as he just couldn't handle the surface.  I rest my case.

85% of American horses race on DIRT.  To hold an alleged WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP on a synthetic surface is not only unfair but ridiculous.  

My advice to the crack Breeders Cup Committee is to take the Cup to Europe or Dubai because no one in their right mind holds a championship on a surface that most DIRT horses can't handle.  

What do you think would happen if the World Champion New York Yankees took on Manchester United across the POND and vice a versa?

And to prove how awful this BC was the Crack Committee had to give away FREE tickets and then sold admission for ten bucks.  Compare that to $300 tickets for 2 days and $25 daily parking that they charged at Monmouth Park two years ago.  Does anyone think MLB or the NFL would give away World Series and Superbowl tickets?  The Breeders Cup Committee can put any PR spin they want out there but the public isn't fooled.  As great as Zenyatta's performance was it was not against the best horses that America or Europe has to offer.

10 Nov 2009 8:45 AM

Your article was huge like Z and covered the race and her very well.

thank you.

The picture with Gio Ponti trying to keep up shows her size as she towers over him- how tall is she actually? thanks.

10 Nov 2009 8:49 AM

Go Zenyatta!

What a incredible race! Magnificent. And she does it with her ears pricked like she's out for a Saturday stroll. Effortless..


AMY ROONEY: oooo Smart Strike for Zenyatta... I like : )

10 Nov 2009 8:54 AM

Steve, this is such a beautiful article, but I do have one little complaint - I wish it was longer!  Your words of tribute to Zenyatta in a full length book might not even be enough, but since I have to be satisfied with what is here, I'll simply say Thank You!  Like Zenyatta, you are the Best!

10 Nov 2009 8:54 AM

I have followed Zenyatta for 2 years now and knew she was something special.  She gives you chills each and every time she steps on the track.  It is amazing to have witnessed.  We will never see anything like it again.  Queen Zenyatta,  You are spectacular.  Great article, brought tears to my eyes.

10 Nov 2009 8:58 AM

Thank goodness there are more awards than just HOTY, there is also 3yr old of the year and RA will win that hands down. I attended two of her races in person, and she is an experience all her own as well. Her race in the Haskill was really something special to remember.

Breeders Cup is there for a reason so the best can run against the best and prove once and for all who is the best. Rachael had a hard fought year and I understand why they did not send her out to the West Coast.

Having said that horse racing is about showing up and running in all conditions, weights, tracks, and other horses. When we forget why they are there to race it all becomes just so much hype.

Zenyatta might have been at her home location, but she did not have some duds to race against. She raced the best the world has to offer. It is not her fault Sea The Stars was retired or Rachael stayed in the barn. Zenyatta came to the dance and won overcoming a start that would have doomed any other horse. For that she earned Horse of The Year.

10 Nov 2009 8:58 AM

Sure, it would be great for RACING if she ran again,but she has nothing left to prove.

She deserves a happy retirement.

10 Nov 2009 8:58 AM
screen prospect

She is a great pro ride mare. if there was a championship for that she should have it. Z is a cali horse. Rachel did things a 3 year old filly is not supposed to do and for that she is Horse Of The Year! Rachel beat most of the horses Z did and she is 3.

10 Nov 2009 9:01 AM
Sandi Zarzycki

Let's start a campaign for co-champions of the year!  What a great year this has been.

10 Nov 2009 9:06 AM

Anybody know her Beyer figure for the race?  And did anybody clock her for another furlong (or 2) after the race?  She was absolutely flying that last eighth.

10 Nov 2009 9:07 AM

Great writing, Steve, but to minimize the impact racing on this surface had on the race is a shame.  Gio Ponti and Twice Over are very good animals, but wouldn't probably have been considered for the Classic had it been run over a traditional dirt track instead of Pro-Ride.  Zenyatta had one of the most incredible careers of any thoroughbred - male or female - but didn't have a better year than Rachel Alexandra.  Thanks, again, Steve.  I thoroughly enjoy your work and writing.

10 Nov 2009 9:17 AM

You really did a great job to capture the feelings I had in watching the greatest I have ever seen in person which includes the bc win by Personal Ensign. Considering the competition it was the best performance ever.

10 Nov 2009 9:19 AM

Zenyatta did have her day. She is very lucky indeed to have the Breeder's Cup run not once, but twice on a race she stays at! She did win a race I didn't think she would. But HOTY??? Only ran a handful of races, all in CA? Then by that thought Pepper's Pride should have won. I do believe that she earned it last year over Curlin, she was the better horse last year. AND as everybody thinks as Rachel is "younger", she can earn one next year. I say look at the body of works. RA won FOUR Grade ones (two against males) and a grade II against males, on DIFFERENT tracks, and on "off" tracks! I did find Mike's comment that "Zenyatta didn't handle the track" very odd. I mean she raced how many times over that same track? I think they all had a rough start, especially watching QR acting the way he did. And does any know what caused that???

10 Nov 2009 9:22 AM

Fantastic article!  Brought back all the emotions of the day it happened!  I think we are blessed this year to have so many great horses racing and Zenyatta has shown she is the best of them all.  Congrats Lady Z!!

10 Nov 2009 9:28 AM

I had the joy of being there in person on Saturday, and what struck me was not only the intensity of excitement in the crowd, but the intensity of feeling.  It was like being in a 1940s horse racing movie.  I was looking around for Bing Crosby or Pat O'Brian.  Thanks for writing such a beautiful article that captured the moment and the horse so wonderfully.  

10 Nov 2009 9:31 AM
Richard Patrick

Zenyatta is GREAT! There is no question. It's a shame she never raced anywhere else(save for the one race at Oaklawn).  

When Curlin lost the Breeders Cup last year, I commented that the loss was not a poor reflection on Curlin, but it was a reflection on the Breeders Cup. Same is true for this year. In every race on the "main track," a "synthetic" horse or European turf horse won -- no exceptions. There were some dirt horses that got seconds and thirds, but every victory was a "synthetic" or "turf" horse. (A few minor exceptions to this hard rule, such as a horse had run poorly on dirt, but has won all four of his synthetic starts.  Another has won eight races, 6 of the 8 on synthetic).

I believe Zenyatta would have beaten Rachel at this year's Breeders Cup. But, Rachel would have beaten Zenyatta in the Woodward. Two great races. By two great fillies/mares.

I'm trying to take the emotions out of the equation, as both these animals bring out the best feelings in all of us. It is particularly difficult for me to do so regarding the Woodward, as I was there and without question it was tied as the greates sporting event I ever witnessed (tied with Hank Aaron hitting 715).

But, erasing the emotions that everyone is feeling, I have to lean toward Rachel as more deserving of the Horse of the Year. Not because she is any better, but because she accomplished more.  Both owners had their reasons for running these great horses in the chosen spots. Seems to me that Rachel was asked to do much more than Zenyatta -- and she did it.

Maybe it's better they never raced each other. This way we can cherish them both and remember how great they both are.

10 Nov 2009 9:45 AM

I am happy that Zenyatta and RA did not race each other.  They are both in their own class.  Well done Zenyatta !  

10 Nov 2009 9:45 AM

I too traveled to California to see this fabulous mare. Money was an issue but I threw all cautions to the wind. Was it worth it? YOU Bet! When you see Zenyatta, no words could ever truly describe her. I wanted to photograph every part of her because one part is more outstanding than the next. Her long front legs strutting out straight with each step just over powered me. It just shows what grace and style she transends. Her race, the hopelessly beaten look one saw during the beginning of the race and then the powerful moves she made to win this race, will never be forgotten. I have seen them both race this year, although Zenyatta is just that, Zenyatta! A class by herself.

Your article gave those who did not see her, a chance to feel the same feeling I was lucky to have felt. You brought her massive size and heart to life. Thank you!

10 Nov 2009 9:47 AM

First, I am not the same person as the one who posted on 10 November at 4:45 A.M. Okay, now that I've said that, I think that Zenyatta's performance was a truly memorable one. But I also think that what she and Rachel Alexandra did this year will encourage more owners to send their fillies after the colts, and we will be seeing things of this sort more often in the future.

10 Nov 2009 9:47 AM
kelso fan

You captured so well once again the magnificence of Zenyatta and the emotions that all of us who were there and who were watching on TV and who have watched the videos again and again.  What a privilege to have been able to see this mare - I will remember it so well.

And on another note, I was thrilled to be able to talk to you on Thursday - I look forward to your articles always and you were so gracious in person.

10 Nov 2009 9:48 AM

Great article, Steve, as usual. I felt the same kind of emotion at the Woodward, as did the crowd. I screamed at the top of my lungs and couldn't hear my own voice! I didn't believe in Zenyatta  because she avoided (I thought) males. I didn't believe because she wouldn't race on dirt to meet Rachel. Now I believe. I felt that thrill again, this time screaming alone in my living room 3000 miles away. What a season: the sport of Queens (and Kings) has never had a finer one, though a few equal in bygone days. I was there for Secretariat and the glorious five year reign of Kelso.

10 Nov 2009 9:51 AM
Patricia Diers

Right on the money, Steve.

I have already watched this race at least 25 times and have emailed it to countless people.

10 Nov 2009 9:56 AM

Beautifully written article Steve.  I've been a racing fan for 21 years and have never been moved to tears watching a race until Zenyatta came charging down the stretch.

To those that say Zenyatta is not great because she didn't race in/win a classic, that is baloney.  Does that mean horses like Seabiscuit, Tom Fool, John Henry, and numerous others aren't great because they didn't win a classic?  As for the knock that she didn't leave California this year, blame the Breeder's Cup for being in California two years in a row.  She did leave the state once last year and was just as dominating.  Sheriffs said the Breeder's Cup was the goal and racing in California was the best way to prepare for a championship race in California.  Judging by her domination in the Apple Blossom, I don't believe the result would have been any different had the Breeder's Cup been at any other venue.  Only the races she won to prepare would have changed.

Don't knock perfection, folks.  Enjoy the rarity of true greatness.

10 Nov 2009 9:58 AM
Linda in Texas

Thank you Steve for your insight thru the words of those closest to Zenyatta. The quote of Ann Moss when she said 'it is a pleasure to be around Zenyatta, and that she is magical, so feminine, dancing and prancing and enjoying herself' was my favorite. And the unknown fact to me, anyway, that 'Zenyatta dances so much and is so hard on her shoes that they have to change them often,' that sounds just like a female!  After her win, i got that same impression as i watched her prancing back to the crowd after the race. She didn't even 'lather up' or seem the least bit winded, like she was saying, okay, when is the next race? And what a nice bio of Mr. Shirrefs, a Viet Nam Vet. We thank him for his service. I worked for the Weather Bureau in San Antonio at the airport and saw many a plane load of youngsters still wet behind the ears being sent off with a crew cut, a gun and a few short weeks of training. I am glad he made it back. Some people just know how to read an animal's every move and thought and Shireffs surely is connected to Zenyatta and she to him. Also came away from your article with deep appreciation for Mr. Willard. And surprising were the owners and trainers of other horses who started cheering for Zenyatta when they knew their's were not going to win,amazing and refreshing. Greatness is appreciated by all who know it when they see it and for now and i imagine a long time, it is "Zenyatta." Thanks again Steve, we will be waiting for more articles about the Breeders Cup Races.  

10 Nov 2009 9:59 AM
Jim Chabot

If I were a poet, I'd pen an ode

to this extraordinary mare, but will instead call her fans' attention to the lyrics of composer

Jimmy Webb's tune entitled "Dancing Girl."

10 Nov 2009 10:05 AM
Karen in Indiana

You have captured the most amazing race of an amazing year and put it into words. Thank you!

10 Nov 2009 10:08 AM

I have always said that the Fillies are just as good as the Colts, and it was proven this year.  This year the focus was more on the Fillies instead of the Colts which I have always longed for. I always thought that the Fillies were looked to as second rate next to the Colts.  Well with Zenyatta, Rachel Alexander, and all the great Fillies this year they have proven they are just as good if not better then the Colts.  I was rooting for SummerBird before the Classic, but when I saw Zenyatta that changed it. I think she is the greatest Horse since Secretariat, and I hope she is Horse of the Year.  Rachel Alexander's connections should have let her run in the Breeders Cup to prove she was as good as they say she is.

10 Nov 2009 10:12 AM

"Well done, a column to match the occasion!"

10 Nov 2009 10:16 AM

Jim Murray would have have agreed with me!

10 Nov 2009 10:17 AM
One of the Queen's Subjects

Thanks Z for the greatest race I have ever seen. Thanks to all of her people for not breaking her down as a 2-3 y/o and letting her grow strong, fit and healthy. One wish - she can still have another career as a dressage horse. She can move in more ways than down the track. What a gift to be alive in her time. :-)

10 Nov 2009 10:19 AM

You've captured the spirit of Z, Mr. Haskin.  I don't watch much TV, and I can still see my fingermarks in the dust on the screen where I tried to 'help' Queen Z get from last to first.  She didn't need any help, though, did she?  It will stand out as one of the greatest races I've ever seen.

10 Nov 2009 10:21 AM

Thank you so much for this article! Your article about Rachel Alexandra winning the Woodward brought tears to my eyes and this has done the same. And I'm SO happy that the name Rachel Alexandra appeared only once in this article :) love RA to death but Zenyatta has been overshadowed all year and she deserves to stand alone in the spotlight, at least this one time...

I'm SO tired of people bashing RA to support Zenyatta, or bashing Z to support Rachel. It's not necessary at all--they're both brilliant beyond anything, and their accomplishments speak for themselves. People need to stop personalizing HOTY. So many people are arguing like it's a personal insult if one wins and the other doesn't.

10 Nov 2009 10:23 AM
Linda in Texas

After reading all of the comments, i began to wonder, If Rachel Alexandra is still considered by some to be the best and she only raced on dirt/turf, how can Zenyatta NOT be considered the best when she ran strictly on synthetics and never lost? Why should dirt/turf take precedence over synthetics? A win is a win. When you do your best with what you have and never lose, you are a winner regardless of the circumstances. Rachel is 3, she has another year or two to equal Zenyatta. And to not throw a match on the timber pile, but, i think Sea the Stars was retired and not brought over to race in The Breeders Classic because his owners weren't positive their horse could beat Zenyatta. And after watching Zenyatta maneuver thru to the front from "dead last, dead last" as the announcer put it, and consider the fact that 3 times she had to pull up to get around traffic i am pretty convinced why they did. But then again i am opinionated.

10 Nov 2009 10:27 AM

The Breeders Cup is terrific in California. And if the track was dirt I wish it was held there every other year. But its not dirt and it compromises the chances of too many quality horses. And the fact that many don't even want to try to run on it diminishes the value of races. I wish California would go back to running on God made natural surfaces. So I am thankful that next year we can hold the Championships on such.

10 Nov 2009 10:30 AM

Wonderfully written. I was moved to tears.Such a magnificent mare.

10 Nov 2009 10:35 AM

I loved your article. It almost made me feel like I felt as I watched the race and screamed as Zenyatta started closing the race. What a wonderful special horse, and your well balanced article is superbly written.

10 Nov 2009 10:35 AM

Your article was a gushing compliment to Zenyatta, but what you didn't say was that she didn't beat anything. Summer Bird and the rest from the east that had no chance on the ProRide track and Rip Van Winkle has foot problems (quarter cracks?) She did beat a very nice turf horse, Gio Ponti. Zenyatta is an outstanding race horse and should be considered for co-Horse of the Year with Rachel.

10 Nov 2009 10:36 AM

Steve--Your articles have always been #1 with me and this one is exceptional...anyone who missed racings most prestigious day and Queen Zenyatta's final salute to her adoring fans, can feel the spirit of the event thru your article...thanks for the memories!!

10 Nov 2009 10:38 AM

My biggest problem with all of this is everyone denigrates the connections of Rachel for choosing not to run on synthetics. So there for Rachel should not be considered as anything but ordinary.

Zenyatta's connections have been very choosy about where she has raced and until the classic not raced against anything she had not beaten well one to two times more. Zenyatta only races on her home tracks and is praised for that.

Fine make them co-HOTY or give it to Zenyatta, the Eclipse awards are not about what the horses did anyway for the year,only in one race, they are whether the voters like the people involved.

I say with the way things are Zenyatta as horse of the year, Conduit gets sprinter, etc. As it is only one race out of the year that makes a champion by all of your standards. Most of the horses in that field were running for the first time on that surface. Their owners choice.

So I advice all owners next year if they want an Eclipse award do not race your horse normally, only enough to get them fit for the breeders cup. Walla then you too can have the greatest colt/filly of all time!!!!

10 Nov 2009 10:40 AM

Thanks.  Wonderful read.

10 Nov 2009 10:41 AM
Paul A

Great Article!!  Awards are trivial compared to the moment and memories Zenyatta created.  But voters, do the right thing and give HOY to Zenyatta.  She has taken the sport to a level I never thought it would see again.

10 Nov 2009 10:43 AM

I'm so glad I recorded the whole thing on my DVR, from her dancing and prancing to the starting gate (looks like dressage movements to me), Quality Road's broncy fit, and the race. Zenyatta is a STAR! She not only is a great racehorse, she has the star quality of Secretariat---which the racing industry needs desperately. For those that denigrate her win by saying she raced males that were worn out, or off their game, BAH! Maybe those trainers should have better prepared THEIR horses for the Breeders Cup.

10 Nov 2009 10:46 AM

I say let's leave the HOY talk alone for awhile. Stop bickering over who is better....Let's just take some deep breaths and enjoy this moment and bask in the greatness of Zen and what she has done for our lives, this industry and her fans. She deserves it.....

10 Nov 2009 10:47 AM

Exquisite piece of writing about an extraordinary mare.

Thrill of a lifetime, no doubt.

10 Nov 2009 10:49 AM

This article says it all.  The pure emotion that Zenyatta brings to the racing community was very well expressed.

We have seen many great fillys over the years. One has to wonder if this is how taken people would have been had Ruffian perhaps lived to see this age.  We also wonder, if there is not match race between Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra,  could we see the torch passed on next year and see back to back female champions? The door is open,  there are so many possibilities,  and many dreams have been awakened by the strides of this mare.  I know I look forward to the future of this mare and those that follow her her hoof prints....... :D

10 Nov 2009 10:51 AM

I'm so tired of hearing "but it was on synthetic"! So what?  That's where it was run, and that's how the game is played.  Two years and 4 race days at SA and ALL came back safe.  That's important.  I also haven't heard anyone refer to the surface being more fair to our international competitors...leveling the playing field some and attracted a better pool of competition.  No one seems to consider that rather than saying "my horse doesn't have the experience on synthetics", the connections have the option of GETTING them the experience, since synthetic tracks are part of the game nowadays.  Stop with the "dirt is the only true surface" crap and move ahead into the way it is now, synthetics are part of today's thoroughbred racing.  Zenyatta raced in the Classic, where they held it.  She WON!  And she did it with such style that to deny her the HOTY title because of east coast bias, dirt bias, or any other bias, would be terribly unfair and a crime.  RA didn't show up for the greatest challenge of the year...PERIOD.  Why reward her connections for their own prejudices?  Personally I think Z should have won HOTY last year, not Curlin, great as he was, and only lost it to afore mentoned bias'.  Enough already.  To those of  you who constantly insist,  "MUST race on dirt", because of tradition, or "that's the way it always was" nonsense, are refusing to give a chance to a better way for the HORSES, and should put candles on your Christmas trees rather than electric lights, cuz that's the way it was always done!!

10 Nov 2009 10:52 AM


However, it would be a travesty to deny either Rachel or Zenyatta HOY honors. It there were ever a time to make a joint award , it is now. Please advocate for including a joint option on the ballot!!

10 Nov 2009 10:58 AM
Luis E

I have been watching horse races in different parts of this world for the last sixty two years and i have not seen a horse perform like ZENYATA.Is not that she wins is the way she does it.Unbelivable

10 Nov 2009 10:58 AM
Steve Haskin

Thanks, everyone for your comments. As usual, they are greatly appreciated.

Bill Marshall, I went back to look at it again and Einstein did steady briefly behind Rip at a crucial time. I went back and added that. Thanks.

I also added that Zenyatta became the richest North American mare of all time and the first horse to win two different Breeders' Cup races.

10 Nov 2009 10:59 AM

Great article, Steve, you always blend the drama, beauty and the facts.

Richard Patrick, you put it perfectly about RA "Not because she's better, but because she accomplished more" and I'll add "this year".

It's hard to separate what Zen's done in her life and think only of this year, but we have to or it's not fair.

Racing is a lot like NASCAR...the Daytona 500 may be the biggest race, draw the big crowd and the big paycheck, and everyone may know the winner, but it takes a whole season to determine the top driver...that's horse racing, too.

10 Nov 2009 11:00 AM
Abigail from Canada

Steve -- What a beautiful article! I agree that it never missed a beat and as I read it, I had no sense of its length at all. I also love the fact that you said what I've been thinking since Saturday -- that it's a shame to set Zenyatta against Rachel Alexandra because they are both great horses. Like many, I hope Zenyatta gets HOY & Rachel champion 3 y.o. but, in another way, I wish there was a special Eclipse category for whoever doesn't get HOY. I also have a couple of questions: Compared to some owner-trainers, Zenyatta was started on her career late, at 3 rather than as a 2 year-old. Is that typical of the trainer's approach to racing a filly? Or was there a special reason she didn't race at two, other than her size, which might have made her a little different developmentally? Would you consider doing a Thoroughbred Legends book on these 2 ladies -- maybe like the Affirmed-Alydar volume?

10 Nov 2009 11:01 AM
Steve Haskin

Karen2 is right, this isnt the place for Horse of the Year talk, at least not yet. Let's let this sink in first and we'll get to that in future blogs. I will address that in my next blog, which will be about various aspects of this year's BC.

And, yes, Presious Passion is the horse that turned in what very well could have been the greatest losing effort in BC history -- unbelievable.

10 Nov 2009 11:03 AM

Secreatariat set a world record at Belmont! Zenyatta won the classic in fractions slower than the '08 edition. Let's keep it in SOME perspective. Geez Louise!

10 Nov 2009 11:03 AM
S. Robertson

Thank you for this article. It is wonderfully written and gets to the spirit and greatness of Zenyatta, and her trainer.  She so deserves horse of the year and your article really puts it in perspective.  The other horse is also a great filly...but not like Zenyatta.  Her accomplishments are overwhelming.

10 Nov 2009 11:08 AM

Wonderfully written, I don't know if I will ever be able to think about Zenyatta's Classic win without the tears flowing, and I have watched it over and over and each time I do I get chills.  She is.....Zenyatta!!!

10 Nov 2009 11:08 AM

Hey Steve

Great story. I had to start laughing at the start of the race. Zenyatta had just pulled up beside Mine That Bird going into the first turn. WHAT A DIFFERENCE IN SIZE. MTB's trainer said he didn.t like the track. I think he seen Zenyatta and spit the bit.  

10 Nov 2009 11:08 AM
Kim in KY

The only thing I am going to say about this Classic is that it did NOT move me to tears and that I am very grateful that no one was hurt after a start like that. I think every horse/jockey in the field deserves a hand for putting in a good performance after Quality Road's epic blowup in the gate. I think someone needs to write an interview on the gate crew that was there and what it's like being in there when that happens. I was more impressed with their work than I was with Zenyatta. If no one else will say it, I will - "Nice job guys and thank you!" We couldn't have had a Classic without you.

10 Nov 2009 11:09 AM


Another beautiful article. I will read it again when the print version arrives.  Watching Z on TV was second best, but still an emotional experience.  My dog couldn't figure out why I was jumping around and yelling GoGirlGoGirlGoGirl!  Anyway, he joined in the game with a rousing bark-fest.  

10 Nov 2009 11:12 AM

Thank you, Steve. I've been waiting for a write-up from you and you did not disapoint. After Zenyatta's historical race. The more blessed I am to have seen her in person in three of her races. The image of Zenyatta strutting around Hollywood Parks paddock will remain etched in my memory for years to come. Although I am saddened we'll never see Zenyatta glide across a racetrack again. Knowing she's retiring as an unbeaten great champion, helps to ease the saddness.

10 Nov 2009 11:15 AM


Thank you for sharing your writing talents to describe one of the greatest races in history.  I was able to watch the Classic on ESPN and this was my first exposure to Zenyatta's warm up moves.  Wow, what a treat it was to see her, and then have her win in such a fashion.  

The race I was most anticipating was the Breeder's Cup Turf and Presious Passion did not disappoint.  Looking forward to your next article.  



10 Nov 2009 11:16 AM

Bar none, this is the best wrap up of the race that I've read so far.  Looking forward to more.

10 Nov 2009 11:17 AM


I agree. The HOY bickering needs to stop. Enjoy the memories this wonderful champion mare has given us.

10 Nov 2009 11:17 AM

Not many horses give me chills or make me cry when they win, Zenyatta did just that. Same with your article, great job.

10 Nov 2009 11:18 AM

EXCELLENT!!! Wonderful and truthful review! She is THE QUEEN and I,like so may others,LOVE her dearly. She has done so much to help with this sport!LONG LIVE THE QUEEN of racing!

10 Nov 2009 11:20 AM

I have wept twice when a horse won a race. The first was Tiznow's 2001 Classic and the second was Zenyatt's 2009 Classic

Thank you for putting my feelings into words.

10 Nov 2009 11:23 AM

Linda in Texas, I love Zen, absolutely love her, but why does Rachel have to "do more?"

Zen is 5, raced 14 undefeated times in her career with several enormous wins...she is absolutely phenominal.

Rachel is 3, has already raced 14 times (11-2-0) and has several enormpous wins with record margins and times and a TC race, plus a number of the years highest Beyers....

10 Nov 2009 11:25 AM

Steve, I want to thank you for this wonderful article. I say wonderful even though I haven't had the chance to read it yet(since you warned us of its lenght). I printed it out and will be reading it as I wait to give my blood donation at my local blood bank. I also want to thank you  for these articles because I frequently print them out for my 86 year old dad that taught me to love horse racing as a child. He doesn't get out much but he still enjoys reading a good story.

PS speaking of blood donations, I hope Mike Smith doesn't try to donate. I don't think they take ice! LOL

All hail the Queen of Racing Zenyatta!

10 Nov 2009 11:26 AM


You are the 'Zenyatta' of turf writers!  Thank you for this elegant article.  Long live Zenyatta!  I thought I would never see the equal of Secretariat, but I think she has passed him.  There are no words to describe the exhilaration of watching her win the Classic.  I watch the tape over and over - just can't get enough of her.  How fortunate all her connections are to be a part of her sphere.  May the years ahead grace this beautiful mare with a long healthy and joyful life!

10 Nov 2009 11:28 AM

Cris--are we forgetting that Zenyatta failed to show up at the dance at Churchill Downs on Oaks day?  Just because it was raining, she decided to stay indoors and stay dry.  If we are giving HOY awards out for merely showing up, I think you'd have to agree that Z gave up that honor before the year even got started.  By your theory, RA should win it hands--or hoofs down.

10 Nov 2009 11:34 AM
Greg J.


     Zenyatta's Beyer Speed Rating for the Classic was 112, The highest number for her Career(Even though times and Speed Ratings mean nothing with her style, IMO). Her splits for the Classic were:

  Zenyatta reeled off fractions in the Classic of :26.80 for the first quarter-mile, :50.50 for the half; 1:13.70 for six furlongs, the mile in 1:37.52 and a final time of 2:00.62.  Those splits equate to fractions of :26.80, :23.70, :23.20,:23.82 and a final quarter-mile that was her fastest part of the race,:23.10...

Also, Here is a great video of Zenyatta taken the day after her Victory(And Life is Sweet!), Taken by Mr. Shirreffs:

10 Nov 2009 11:35 AM
s lee

Ok, I was wrong.  I didn't think "Z" could do it.  I was glad she was going to try, but I didn't think she'd get around that big a field.  In a way, I was right - Smith had to send her through rather than around.  And then she ran to daylight.


that's all,



10 Nov 2009 11:39 AM
Bill Daly

Steve, this is somewhat hyperbolic, but I appreciate the emotions you feel for this mighty mare and her performance Saturday.  It truly epitomizes what the sport is about and brings a thrill to anyone having an appreciation of thoroughbred racing.  Hail to the queen!

10 Nov 2009 11:40 AM
Affirmed Zenyatta fan

Mr. Haskins, great 'read'... you're the bomb.... some so- called 'turf experts' should heed and take lessons from you.

Zenyatta? sheer "poetry in motion" and she should be voted 'horse of the year' she is "the Bomb" Kudos to "Team Zenyatta" for a job well done

10 Nov 2009 11:43 AM

Beautiful article . This horse is one of the greatest ever. Fourteen for Fourteen. Wish we could see an encore. She beat a field much more accomplished than any 3 year old only race. Had Rachel been a colt would we be having any comparsion conversations  . I think not

10 Nov 2009 11:46 AM

Mr Haskins, no one captures the beauty and essence of horse racing, as you.  Well done, Sir!

Thanks, as someone else mentioned, for writing a bit of the bio of John Shirreffs.  However, may I add, his one side track when he first started.  When Nahem and Naify put Bertrando back on the track after the breeding shed, Bobby Frankel refused to take him back.  So, the two owners put young Shirreffs up as trainer of record, when Bertrando raced in the Pacific Classic.  As Bertrando went out in a suicidal time of 1:08 trying to go a mile and a quarter, I wrongfully thought John S was some mis-placed quarter horse trainer.  I did not know he wasn't allowed to call the shots. Thankfully, he moved on to other stables. Mr Shirreffs, you are one of the finest hands on trainers in racing.  Kudos, for your excellent handling of the Queen Z.  She, indeed, is one for the ages.

10 Nov 2009 11:47 AM

Ok, I'm going to stick my head above the parapet here and wait for the missiles to be thrown at me! LOL!

Sea the Stars was not retired through fear of Zenyatta - for a start he was retired weeks before the entries for the BC were made - he was retired because he had had a long season winning G1s in every month from May to October, and travelling to BC would have proved nothing.  He was always going to go to stud in Europe and a win or otherwise at BC would not have influenced breeders on this side of the pond.

No one can say for certain whether or not Sea the Stars would have beaten Zenyatta, or vice versa, and we will never get the chance to find out.

Being European I naturally lean towards StS, though Zenyatta was undoubtedly brilliant at the weekend.

Looking at form lines Sea the Stars beat Twice Over by 17.25 lengths in the Eclipse in July this year; Zenyatta beat Twice Over by 2.5 lengths.

Gio Ponti (second to Zenyatta) beat Cima de Triomphe by 7.5 lengths in the Arlington Million; Sea the Stars beat Cima de Triophe by 10.5 lengths in the Eclipse.

Conduit won the Turf, but was beaten 5.5 lengths by Sea the Stars in the Eclipse and again by 2.5 lengths in the Arc.

Of course you can argue the point that Rip Van Winkle was soundly beaten (as were most of Aidan O'Brien's horses unfortunately!) and that Twice Over had improved significantly since his Eclipse run, but the maths is there for those who want to see it!

It will be interesting to see what changes the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities make to the World Thoroughbred Rankings in light of the BC races.

Suffice to say that Rachel Alexandra, Sea the Stars and Zenyatta (putting them in alphabetical order so I'm not accussed of bias!) are ALL great horses and no one will ever know who would win between the three of them.

*puts on tin hat*


10 Nov 2009 11:51 AM
Red Bandana


10 Nov 2009 11:53 AM

Steve, I thought Cloudy's Knight running 14 Furlongs and losing by a nose was mind-boggling as well!

10 Nov 2009 11:57 AM

STEVE-SMITH HAS SAID OVER AND OVER THAT SHE'S ALWAYS WON WITH EASE- she's sound, healthy, lightly raced, happy and perhaps unbeatable.  Why not run her on the new synthetic track in the 10 million dollar Dubai World Cup.  She would still have plenty of time to make the breeding season.

10 Nov 2009 12:05 PM
St. Louis Sweetie


I just want you to know I saw you across the paddock at the Breeders' Cup and you were dappled out beautifully, every bit as much as Zenyatta. You are like a fine wine, a turfwriting elixir.

After seeing you and reading you for all these years, it is clear God created a masterpiece. Brad Pitt and Joe Hirsch in one breathtaking package. To say you are the best thing to happen to this industry would be like saying the Beatles were just another band.

Many baby carrots for you. Hopefully you'll start writing more about Lentenor in the future. I know he will be just like his older brother Barbaro. May he rest in peace.

St. Louis Sweetie

PS Was that tall handsome cup of coffee man next to you Lenny Shulman? He's the next best thing to Steve Haskin in my mind.

10 Nov 2009 12:05 PM

Nice article building up what Zenyatta's done, in just ONE RACE that just so happen's to be in her own backyard on her favorite track in her own state! You could at least mention that her owners have taken the EASY ROUTE her whole career as a racehorse. If they knew just how special she is/was, then why didn't they try to race her against the best in her previous 13 races? How come no one mentions that? That's like saying "Yeah, we know we have the next triple crown winner, but we aren't going to try and do that, we want to choose the most easiest of races in order to preserve our champion!"

Too many owners now, don't want to take risks with their greatness.  My point,most completely, is now that the Mosses & Shirreffs know that they have their pampered 2009 BC champion, is why in the heck didn't they try the harder races in different states and on different tracks?? Makes no sense at all, from a fan's perspective!!! These are the questions that the die hard fans want to know! Long Live the REAL QUEEN of racing and that is Rachel Alexandra! Looking forward to 2010 and the exciting races that she will bring.

10 Nov 2009 12:06 PM

Bravo,bravo bravo Steve. An article for the ages. I have only cried 2 times before after a horse race until Saturday. Ruffian's breakdown at Belmont Park, and watching Chris Antley's heroic efforts with Charismatic in the Belmont Stakes. This beautiful mare so moved me that I have watched the replay 26 times already. A performance for the ages. Man O man did horse racing need Zenyatta and Rachel to come along and save this sport, what a year...........bravo again Steve......  

10 Nov 2009 12:09 PM

Glad to here it Mr. Haskin.  No disrespect to Zenyatta, but watching Presious Passion run was a personal favorite for me this year.  :45 for the half and 1:09 for six panels in a 1 1/2 mile race???  That's sick!  What a gutsy, outstanding performance in giving Conduit all he could handle down to the wire.  

10 Nov 2009 12:16 PM

Great mare, too bad wont be around to see if she can do that without home field advantage

10 Nov 2009 12:24 PM
The Rock

I wish Zenyatta could race once more in the Dubai World Cup. She's already won the Classic, and that's a historical feat in itself, but can you imagine if she won the World Cup as well? Wow....

Speaking of the World Cup, I wonder that since now they have the Tapeta Surface installed if it would take away from some the the major Turf races that they run on the same day as well. It should be interesting.

Zen is one for the ages.

10 Nov 2009 12:27 PM
Lady Ruffian

I was in tears reading this the same way I was when I watched her hit the wire on Saturday! Shes amazing. Thank you for writing a brilliant piece that reflects the Queen - Zenyatta!

10 Nov 2009 12:28 PM

Really enjoyed the comments and Steve's article.  Some thoughts.  First, has anyone ever seen a horse that closes the way Zenyatta does? I never have, but others on here have a lot more experience with horses.  Second, comparing Z with Rachel is almost apples to oranges. Different styles, a speed horse vs a closer.  If they raced, I'd give the edge to Rachel up to a mile, it would be a toss up between a mile and a mile and an eigth, then after that, Zenyatta.  She really looks like she could go a mile and a half easily.  Finally, when all of the noise calms down, as impressive as Z was, Rachel really did accomplish more and deserves HOY.

10 Nov 2009 12:33 PM

Of all the articles on Zenyatta and the BC yours says it all.I was one of the screaming millions as she floated by the field.Not since Big Red have I seen a horse make the rest of the field stand still! Thank you!

10 Nov 2009 12:33 PM

Steve another really good article and truly unbiased.


I was not at the tract to experience this race, So i had to watch it on the tv , Judging from the way I was jumping I can only imagine what it was like on the race track. It was truly something the way she just coasted by in her usual manner.

HOY though in my Humble opinion was won by Rachel Alexandra a while back. In my mind I am a little disappointed, because Zenyatta proved she was every bit as good as many of us thought and then some. HOY is based on performance, and not ability, of the euphoria after a particular Race. I think we should all live in the moment of her glory while it last, enjoy it for what it was.

I am sure in a few weeks when we think about it rationally we would see there is no real argument for HOY.

I am sure non of us is willing to say that the Breeders cup Classic is worths as much as the Preakness, Haskel, Woodward, and mother Goose combined.But that is exactly what is insinuated by the notion of Zenyatta being horse of the year.

There are allot more things that could be put forward, but I don't want to do that, I want to celebrate Zenyatta.

Food for thought

Lets forget about HOY until next week.

10 Nov 2009 12:34 PM


Great article as usual. I'm sure I will keep my print copy of BH forever. Alas, I was not at the track for the BC races, but went on closing day.  I think Zenyatta's Classic has become known as "the race".  Starting with the maitre'd of the Turf Club.  When I arrived, he asked "did you see the race?"  After seated at my table, my favorite waiter asked, "did you see the race?" Later, in the paddock talking with a noted breeder/owner he asked "did you see the race?". To all I answered, emphatically, "YES!" What a mare! The first time I saw her, as soon as I was able to breathe again, I had tears in my eyes.  She still has that effect. So did her last race, so did your article.  A most hearty thank you to the Mosses, the Shireffs, Mike Smith, the grooms and, most of all, to the great Zenyatte herself. What a fantastic sport we all love.....

10 Nov 2009 12:34 PM

Every time that I read one of your pieces...I learn something about team Zenyatta. I loved Bob Baffert's comment that watching Zenyatta's run made him feel good after a bad day.

This morning I read your blog and enjoyed the experience all over again.

Thanks for that "refresh" bump.

10 Nov 2009 12:39 PM


What do you mean that this was a long wasn't long enough....I wasn't one of the fortunate ones at SA last week, but now I feel like I was there.....great work!!

10 Nov 2009 12:40 PM

Wonderful article, Steve, as always.

Like many others, I too wept openly when Zenyatta won on Saturday. Without realizing what I was doing, as she swung wide and began to make her devastating move in the stretch, I sprung off the couch and starting yelling and clapping and jumping up and down. "GO GO GO!!" As soon as she hit the wire in front, I screamed, "SHE DID IT!" and collapsed and started crying. It was amazing to watch. I have never gotten so emotional over a horse race! It was made all the more dramatic by the fact that favorites were losing all day, Quality Road threw a rodeo at the gate, and she started out flatfooted and looking uncomfortable on the wrong lead. And she was so far back!

There's only one other horse race that reliably brings me to tears, and it's Secretariat's Belmont. No, I'm not saying she's "better" than Secretariat. I'm just saying that what she represents, and what she accomplished, touched my heart as the epitome of "Racehorse". Like Big Red, she loves to run and she loves to WIN.

As a horse owner and rider of many years, I also am in awe of her beautiful conformation, regal attitude, and her stride. God, her giant stride! She never looks like she's working hard. Even against the males, she looked like a giant among men, taking one stride for their two.

I'm very sad this will be her last race. I never got to see her in person. I was hoping maybe she'd try once more against the males, perhaps on dirt (if only to satisfy those complainers that she is merely a "poly specialist")...though it would probably be a little anticlimactic after that amazing BC win.

Zenyatta--a dead closer who could not be stopped by weight, pace, traffic, distance, or surface. It's pretty amazing when you stop to think about it.

And I still can't get over the fact that we had both Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra in the same year!  

10 Nov 2009 12:50 PM

When I saw Presious Passion's 1:09 and change for 6 furlongs, I thought of Secretariat's splits in the Belmont.  Knowing the fight that was going to come in the lane, my jaw was starting to drop.  He did not disappoint.  What a horse!!  Too bad he's up against Gio Pointi for Turf Horse of the Year.

Zenyatta's race was a thrill also, a historical performance.  The Queen in her kingdom (queendom?)!

10 Nov 2009 12:58 PM

Unbelievable!!!! She made proof of her perfect training and perfect breeding. She worked  her all and should be horse of the year. Cant wait to see her in person. shes magnificent  

10 Nov 2009 12:59 PM

el:  regarding your Nov 10, 8:29 AM post:  I am sure you are a very nice person, but please explain WHY you refuse to acknowledge Zenyatta's great victory over Ginger Punch last year on the DIRT (not synthetic) at


California)?  You have been corrected repeatedly, so I must assume that truth is unimportant to you.  That's a shame.  And please, look up the definition of the word "tragic".  

Also, to a couple people who have said that Zenyatta "beat the boys on HER terms".  Please remember what Mr. Haskin said with reference to Rachel Alexandra, that the 1 1/4 mile distance should NOT be the classic distance with which to judge Fillies/Mares.  The BC Classic was run at the MALE'S classic distance, and she not only beat them, but Mike Smith had trouble pulling her up after the finish line, she wanted more.  Long Live The Queen!

10 Nov 2009 1:00 PM


10 Nov 2009 1:01 PM

You definitely recaptured the thrill of Zenyatta in your article giving me my second case of chills of exuberance.  Thank you, Thank you, Thank you. No one could of described it better.

To see the reaction of the fans  and feel the love was the most incredible thing I have ever experienced. I saw many owners that had horses running in the Classic that were blown away by her performance and many had tears of joy from the experience in watching this great mare. As Zenyatta was coming down the lane,ears pricked as usual, then watching her gobble up the most talented best colts in the world one by one with plenty left after crossing the wire then the audience exploded was something I will never forget.  I have been fortunate enough to watch her race over the past few years and she has the most amazing way of bringing people together like no other horse that has raced in my lifetime. The minute she walks in the paddock and the fans start roaring she immediately starts her dance. The most amazing thing about Zenyatta is the look in her eyes -it as if you are looking at her heart. It is as though her dance is her sign to the fans showing she feels their love for her and she wants them to know she loves them too.

I think  not only have we seen one of the greatest mares of all time race but we also have seen the greatest trainer, jockey and owners.

The story I came home and told my grandchildren:

Once upon a time there was a little filly that was going to be sold and she got little bumps all over her body and one would buy her. Then  Mr. and Mrs. Moss walked by and decided they liked her family so they took a chance and bought her - they took her home, hired her a good trainer, showred her with love and she blossomed into this beautiful strong powerful young mare that ended up putting bumps all over our bodies.  Moral of this story -

To be a WINNER - all you need is LOVE!

There is no question who should be horse of the year - The best of the best were all in the classic except for the two that were invited and didn't show up! Who's fault is that?

10 Nov 2009 1:09 PM

That's was beautifully written.  I love Zenyatta, and I'm going to miss seeing her run again.  While watching the Classic on TV I just kept saying, "I hope she wins."  Once they went around the last turn, I just kept yelling at the TV, cheering her on.  I was yelling so loud that I couldn't even hear the track annoucer. All I was watching was her, no one else, and after the race I said "Where was Summer Bird and Mine that Bird?"  

That was a great day for racing, and she deserves Horse of the Year.

10 Nov 2009 1:13 PM
2 time valley player of the year

Geez you biased RA and Zen fans sound like the Republicans and Democrats, both your arguments have merit but who cares!Who's best is meaningless argument and just opinions.Two truly racing machines, who will never run against each other that's it.Move on after all there is always Nicanor and brother Lenny next year batteling for

10 Nov 2009 1:26 PM

el:  here is the youtube video of the 2008 Apple Blossom at Oaklawn where Zenyatta beat Champion Ginger Punch -

TR:  here is the youtube video of Zenyatta working -

And some comparable times of previous Breeders Cup Classics:

2009 Zenyatta 2:00:62 (112 Beyer) Santa Anita

2008 Ravens Pass 1:59:27 (110 Beyer) Santa Anita

2007 Curlin 2:00:59 Monmouth

2001 Tiznow 2:00:62 Belmont

2000 Tiznow 2:00:75 Churchill Downs

1993 Arcangues 2:00:83 Santa Anita

1992 A.P. Indy 2:00:20 Gulfstream Park

1989 Sunday Silence 2:00:20 Gulfstream Park

1986 Skywalker 2:00:40 Santa Anita

1985 Proud Truth 2:00:80  Aqueduct

10 Nov 2009 1:30 PM


Have you seen the article with the stats compiled by Jeremy Plonk re dirt and turf to synthetic results?

Can you address that in your synthetic track article?  Thank you.

10 Nov 2009 1:32 PM

I drove 600 miles to watch Zenyatta do her thing in the BBC.

I was lucky enough to run into and alongside of Gary Stevens, Ann Moss, Chip Woolley, and Laffit Pincay on many trips from stands to paddock and back. They were all gracious enough to carry on a conversation with me, and I'm a nobody. Gary, especially, was brimming with love for Zenyatta and put his hand over his heart as he spoke of her. He stood patiently as I fumbled with my camera to get a good picture of him. Ann spoke of Zenyatta's sweet nature and femininity.

I just want to say that her presence is indeed that of a goddess. She is overwhelming. She had plenty of excuses not to want to run or win that race, what with QR throwing such a tantrum and causing pandemonium at the gate. But she finally thought, "What the heck... here I am. Might as well turn on the juice, leave these other babies behind, and make the crowd happy." No horse anywhere could have beaten her on Saturday.

Now, let's split the HOTY award between RA and Z. Nothing else will satisfy the fans. Never mind those stuckup sportswriters who got their noses rubbed in horse droppings Saturday afternoon.

10 Nov 2009 1:38 PM
ed weil

what a wonderful article - and a tribute to an extraordinary animal and a historic performance - I am in my 80's and remember listening to Seabiscuit on a little radio and this brings back those memories - congratulations to you for a really good work and of course to the magnificent Zenyatta -

10 Nov 2009 1:41 PM
Bill P

Is HOY subjective?

What's the criterion?

1. Total races run

2. Caliber of Competition

3. Age of runners in race

4. East coast/West coast

5. Grass/Syth/Dirt


10 Nov 2009 1:44 PM

Thanks Greg J.  I totally agree with you about her speed figures.  If the second place horse ran a 88, she would run a 95.  Does what she needs to do.

Interesting fact on those figures.  If you back out her first quarter, she ran the last mile in a minute 33 and 4. Furthest Land won the dirt mile an hour earlier in a minute 35 and 2!

Also, if anyone knows if anyone clocked her for a 16th of a mile or another furlong AFTER the finish line, I would love to see those numbers.  There wasn't a horse in the same zip code 100 yards after the finish.

BTW, cool video.  

10 Nov 2009 1:47 PM
Bob Z

Lady Ruffian,

I remember watching Forego in the seventies.  He was big powerful and really didn't hit his stride until he was 4 or 5.  He was similar to Zenyatta in that he came from behind with a rush ... He ran in the 1973 Kentucky Derby as a 3 year old and finished fourth to a horse named Secretariat.  

Cigar is another one that comes to mind... I believe he won most of his races coming from behind.. a closer...

I agree with you 100% and have said so elsewhere on these blogs...

Trying to compare Zenyatta and Rachel IS like trying to compare apples and oranges... or a big Merdedes S class sedan with a Ferarri.

I think one of the reasons (or the main reason) that Rachel wasn't at the Breeders Cup has more to do with the distance... 1 1/4 miles than the fact that it was a synthetic track...

Its a lot easier using the synthetic surface as the reason than saying your horse can't win this year at 1 1/4 miles... It was interesting that she ran in the Woodward at 1 1/8 instead of the Travers at 1 1/4...

The fact that the Woodward was against older horses was perfect to the managing of her campaign...

Older horses yes but it was at her preferred distance of 1 1/8 miles...

In Sun Tsu's book "The Art of War" one of the guiding principles is to not engage into a battle that you can't win... That makes sense to me...  Notice she didn't run in the Jockey Gold Cup at 1 1/4 miles either...

There is nothing wrong with that..

and I agree with you that the emotion of the moment needs to die down and when it does I believe Rachel will be voted HOY because of her entire body of work for this year.

Rachel was managed perfectly for what they had to work with.  I think Zenyatta was perhaps not managed as well.  

Considering her performance in the Breeders Cup she obviously belonged in some heavier races than she ran in and she should have run against colts at least once before the Breeders Cup...

One race does not a HOY make... and even the announcers got overly caught up in the emotion of Zenyattas perfornmance by saying that that cements her as HOY...

Once the voters sit down and (unemotionally) objectively review each of their seasons it would seem to me that Rachel should win HOY.

I don't know what the rush is to get Zenyatta to the breeding barn. I'm sure Jerry Moss, the founder of A&M Records is not in need of Zenyattas winnings in order to eat.

So why not race her next year.. Both Rachel and Zenyatta could have a couple of tune up races and then both agree to enter in the Woodward at 1 1/8, the Jockey Clup Gold Cup at 1 1/4 and then they could run for all the oats at the Breeders Cup Classic at Churchill Downs at 1 1/4 miles...

That is the type of thing that racing needs.. you have 2 horses that the country has gotten behind in a big way and now we are going to lose one because she "has" to go to the breeding shed...

I probably don't understand what is involved having not grown up or worked in the business side of horse racing... all I know is that the anticipation and excitement generated by running Zenyatta next year and a 3 race runoff with Rachel would be over the top and do a lot to help horse racing...

Maybe Congress can authorize the use of Tarp funds to subsidize her being able to race one more year!

10 Nov 2009 1:49 PM

Excellent article!

Personally, I'm hoping for a tie for Horse Of The Year.

For the person who asked how Zenyatta got her name: Jerry Moss is the co-founder of A & M Records and The Police are one of A & M's stars. The 80's Police album Zenyatta Mondatta was the inspiration for her name.

10 Nov 2009 1:59 PM
Matt Bailis

Thanks so much for your incomparable style and grace in telling the unforgettable story of Zenyatta.  Horse of The Year, or not (and yes, she would have my vote), I'm confident that when the noise dies down she will be properly regarded as one of the greatest racehorses of all time.  I was waiting impatiently to read your impressions of Zenyatta's performance.  Like the great Zenyatta, you too do not disappoint.  Thanks, Steve,  You're the best.

10 Nov 2009 2:00 PM

What a masterful job John Shirreffs did with the mare!  And what a "hot hand" he knew he had early on (Now we find out he had the BC Classic on his mind for months?).  Contrast his quiet demeaner (standing along the rail with the crowd) with that of someone like the trainer of Big Brown.  It sounds like Zen's connections have been playing a bit of chess with RA's connections for a while.  Shirreffs should get the Eclipse award if not for best trainer of the year, for the "check mate" he did at the Breeder's Cup.  Can you imagine?  Fooling RA into thinking your running in the BC Lady's Classic and then stealing the big dance.  Amazing.  Smith almost blew it though after the Lady's Secret "She can run with anyone in the world."  He was right.

10 Nov 2009 2:06 PM

Great article!  I too feel that we have seen history in this sport this year by witnessing 2 (TWO) great females.  As they have done everything else so memorable, it seems only fit that they should share HOTY honors.  I don't think you can take away from what either has accomplished...Zenyatta winning the Classic and Rachel Alexandra winning the Preakness, Haskell and Woodward Stakes against the males.  So let's see the first and only HOTY honors shared...couldn't be among two more special horses.

10 Nov 2009 2:08 PM

Queen of Breeder's Cup 2009, queen of Synthetics, an all-time great mare yes indeed, BUT sorry, not 2009 HOTY way!  Rachel Alexandra's 2009 campaign deserves that title HANDS DOWN! I tell you Hands down!!

10 Nov 2009 2:09 PM
Rhonda from Saskatchewan

Thank you, Mr. Haskins, for your eloquent, definitive article on Zenyatta and her Breeders' Cup win.

All horses, no matter their origins, should inspire in us feelings of awe, joy, wonder, and freedom. The sight of them should give us a primordial shiver that runs down the spine as something in our distant past stirs us to remember our deep visceral, emotional and itellectual connection with this regal, courageous, elegant, strong but oh so fragile creature we call "horse".

We are all so lucky to share this world with such beings.

Zenyatta just put another exclamation point on that statement!

So, here's to the unforgettable Zenyatta, to the great sire Street Cry who has given us so many heart-pounding moments over the last 3 years, to the elegant dam Vertigineux who has gifted us with Zenyatta, to the Moss family and the Shireffs who show us what it is to be responsible Thoroughbred owners and trainers and who truly love and care for their horses, and, finally, to all of the horses who have been, are and will be here to show us what true greatness is.

10 Nov 2009 2:10 PM
Jeanne Schnell

Beautifully written Mr. Haskin! Thanks for giving this extraordinary horse the bravado she deserves!

10 Nov 2009 2:11 PM

Absolutly right, Mr Steve. This Breeders Cup belonged to Zenyatta. The way she did it, against one of the best fields in the history of the Breeders Cup Classic. It was a magical moment, no only over there, in California, in USA. It was magic all around the world. I live in Caracas, Venezuela, and i watched the race in a big restaurant. Everybody there, more than 90 persons,  were excited after they heard the history of Zenyatta and her attempt to become the first female to win the most important race in USA. Sure, a lot of people there in the restaurant, never was interested in the horse racing business, but that magnificent animal is just irresisteble. Even though, one of our best jockeys, Ramon Dominguez, was there, aboard Gio Ponti, almost everybody was crossing fingers in favor of the "big brown girl". At the moment Zenyatta began her explosive rush, the people jumped up from their seats, shounting the name Zenyatta, other just said yatta... a litte boy close to me cried "la yegua, la yegua". When she crossed the line, one lengh in front of Gio Ponti, that was a pandemonium, people yelling, crying, clapping like crazy. It seamed like Venezuela had defeated Brasil or Argentina in succer, futbol for us. Yes, it was a magical moment in a distant country, because of Zanyatta. And that's the most important aspect of her triumph, the wonderfull fellings she generated in millions of persons all over the world who saw her making history. Believe me, a hero was born this saturday in Santa Anita. That doesn't happen every single day. And we were blessed for being witnnes of one of the mayor moments in the history of the thoroughbred racing in America. God bless you Zenyatta, for this beautiful moment.

10 Nov 2009 2:13 PM
Butch Coyoca

Great wrting Steve.  Zenyatta "WOW"

10 Nov 2009 2:14 PM

An experience to remember, for a lifetime.

Steve, reliving the Zenyatta experience through your words brought tears to my eyes, (once again), because of the deep emotional impact she has made on us all.  I thank you once again for giving such a treasured written memory of this great horse.

I still watch the Breeders Classic a few times a day, because I don't want it to end.  That feeling of joy, elation, and love for a stellar champion returns with each viewing of the race and just watching her.

What makes the Zenyatta experience even more special for me, is the care and love given to her by the Mosses, the Sheriffs, and all of her connections.  Watching the relationship between Mike Smith and Zenyatta is most gratifying.  Who can forget Mike's easy smile when the subject is Zenyatta.

I will always remember Queen Zenyatta and pray her future life brings her contentment and many years.

10 Nov 2009 2:15 PM

I have been following Zenyatta for the last year and a half after I saw Mike Smith take her down the stretch one day. After working with quarter horses all my life I loved her tough style down the stretch me chills! We decided we had to go to the Breeders cup from Las Vegas NV when the Mosses decided to run her in the Classic! Im so glad they did and so proud we got to be there to see her race she is an Amazing animal !

10 Nov 2009 2:17 PM

Thanks for the awesome youtube video Greg... Zen is STILL posing the day after. She almost looks like she is wondering where the crowd is and when she is heading in to be saddled.  I LOVE her. I LOVE these amazing, amazing animals. Oh... I and LOVE Steve Haskin.  It's o.k. to say that.

10 Nov 2009 2:22 PM
It aint easy being good!

They should give HOY to Zenyatta and make RA prove herself next year. Reminds me of last year when Curlin was up for horse of the year versus zenyatta, curlin showed up for championship weekend and def. deserved it.

10 Nov 2009 2:26 PM

Excellent article!  I certainly enjoyed reading it.  I think Zenyatta deserved to win the HOTY.  She won the biggest race of the year, the 5-Million Breeders’ Cup Classic while beating a group of exceptional male horses from US and Europe.  Yes, Rachel Alexandra is also a brilliant horse.  She will definitely get the Eclipse Award for the best Three-Year-Old Female.  Rachel won her biggest race, the Woodward Stakes which is one of the premier races in US.  It was against a group of good quality male older horses.  However, the group of male horses that Rachel beat at Woodward was not as high quality as the group of male horses that Zenyatta beat at the Classic.  Rachel will have an opportunity to win the Classic next year and be the HOTY.  However, she needs to prove that she can run the longer distance (10 furlong) and beat higher quality horses from US as well as Europe.  

10 Nov 2009 2:29 PM
Lupe Aranda


10 Nov 2009 2:29 PM

I was waiting for your summation after the Classic and wasn't disappointed.  Your description brought me to tears.  Thanks for all your great writing.

10 Nov 2009 2:30 PM
Bob Z

Moment of the Year

Here is something else we can all start thinking about....

In looking up the Horse of the Year awards on the web I came upon something that will surely be as contested about as the Horse of the Year discussion...

National Thoroughbred Racing Association ... Moment of the Year.

... which "celebrates or honors one moment that occurred during a given year that most exemplifies the sport of Thoroughbred horse racing in the United States."

My 3 nominees are:

Zenyatta winning the Breeders Cup Classic

Rachel winning the Preakness Stakes

Rachel winning the Woodward...

At this point I'm leaning towards Zenyattas Breeders Cup Classic win as the Moment of the Year with Rachel winning Horse of the Year due to her body of work for the season...

Any other nominees for "Moment of the Year"?

10 Nov 2009 2:37 PM

Fantastico articulo. Como siempre, bien hecho y felicidades Steve.

10 Nov 2009 2:48 PM
Steve Haskin

St. Louis Sweetie, you've left me speechless. Are you sure you have the right person :). Seriously, thank you so much for those words. They blew me away.

Yes, Virgil, I read that column. He made some good points. The grass to synthetic certainly applied to Gio Ponti.

Please, lets not not turn this into another Zenyatta--Rachel debate. Not yet at least. They should be co-Horses of the Year, period.

10 Nov 2009 2:57 PM

Right on, Mr. Haskin. Your column brilliantly captured Zenyatta, the Mosses, the Shirreffs, Mike Smith and all who witnessed her run in the BC Classic. She is the best horse I have seen in a long, long time. I will never forget her Classic triumph and the emotions that came with it. I still get goosebumps just reading about that race. Bravo, Zenyatta! May you enjoy a long and wonderful life in your retirement.

10 Nov 2009 3:05 PM
Steve Haskin

Thanks again to everyone for your comments and expressing your feelings here. She sure does bring out the emotion and passion in people. That is a rare gift.

10 Nov 2009 3:06 PM

Another one of your columns I printed and tucked away in my Haskin folder to read on cold winter nights!  Absolutely great, just like Zenyatta.  It was a thrilling race, and she was winged perfection.  I agree with Ron's post about why this is still a tie game with Rachel Alexandra.  As one of the HRTV commentators remarked, Zenyatta gets HOY if we look at her entire record.  He knew one superb race is not a year's achievement.  They both deserve this accolade, and I am only sorry that Gio Ponti had to race the big Z girl, because he ran a heck of a race too.  

10 Nov 2009 3:13 PM

I lost my voice cheering for Z in the Classic.  I have never gone hoarse cheering for a horse before. She is certainly something special!  Despite all the negative comments about her running in the Classic, I always believed that she could win it.  She is the best horse in the world.  I can't even start to imagine what it is going to be like next year without her running those amazing races!  Congratulations Zenyatta, enjoy being a mommy!  And good job to all of her connections -- they are all probably better called family, because I can only imagine how much they all bonded by being involved with this stunning filly! They all worked so hard keeping her in top form until she was 5 (!) and all their hard work paid off!

10 Nov 2009 3:22 PM
John Horton, Jr.

Mr.Haskins, such a wonderful description of Zenyatta and how the whole Breeders Cup Classic scenario and race played out for her. I go back to Secretariat winning the Triple Crown as the start of my lifelong passion for thoroughbred racing. The day he romped in the Belmont by 31 lengths I knew that I was witnessing history, I had just seen equine perfection. 36 years later, when Zenyatta charged down the stretch to overtake the best males in the world, I knew once again I had seen history, I had once again seen equine perfection. If Zenyatta, after that performance, is denied HOY it will be absolutely CRIMINAL and it will forever be a DARK STAIN on the thoroughbred racing industry. Give this horse the respect and just due that she deserves. She is a true champion, so treat her like one.

10 Nov 2009 3:29 PM

Mr. Haskin - I have been waiting with baited breath for your post-BC analysis since the millisecond after Zenyatta soared across the finish line. As always, your insightful and beautifully crafted comments were worth the wait. Your writing is as magical and magnificent as Zenyatta herself. I have not felt as many emotions nor been as emotionally spent during and after her race since I saw Secretariat "own" the Belmont Stakes. Zenyatta indeed owned the B.C. I personally feel that neither Rachel nor Sea the Stars would have challenged her in the Classic. She is richly deserving of HOY honors. Thank you for embellishing her true greatness. I hope you will someday write a book on her life and on all of her human connections and immortalize her legacy of Thoroughbred royalty for eternity.  

10 Nov 2009 3:30 PM


As always wonderful work and an excellent tribute to the Zenyatta team who by all accounts seem both gracious and grateful.  I was lucky enough to be one of 58,000 and am wondering if the goosebumps are permanent.  As Zenyatta left and we walked out of our row, an elderly gentlemen looked up at me with tears in his eyes and kept saying "once in a lifetime, once in a lifetime." Nobody disagreed.

10 Nov 2009 3:35 PM
Mike Relva


Your work is best described in three words,"Poetry In Motion". Thanks,I've supported Zenyatta for two yrs now and convinced that we witnessed greatness. Her connections set the standard,in my opinion.

10 Nov 2009 3:42 PM
Mike Relva


You sound like a "broken record". It kills you that she won in the manner she did! Your posts reflect that!

10 Nov 2009 3:43 PM

Congrats Steve on another superb piece of journalism.    Really, really enjoyed it.    

I'll admit...i doubted the big mare could handle this crew and i tossed her completely from my wagers.    But WOW did she ever prove myself and many others wrong.    I could only marvel at how elegant and powerful she was when Mike Smith got her over heels and closed like a freight train.  

Her win was right as there as one of thee most MAGICAL in the history of the great sport we all love.  

Congrats to John Shirreffs, the Mosses and Mike Smith on a win for the ages.     And congrats to track announcer Trevor Denman who gave a Hall of Fame call will be replayed and enjoyed for many years to come.      

10 Nov 2009 3:48 PM

Its a great thing for racing that Zenyatta atracted so many fans. But emotions aside, she won one race against horses that cant run on peanut butter and jelly. She was carefully managed throughout her career to avoid any tough tasks unless the cards were stacked in her favor. I give all the credit to Sherrifs for being a terrific manager.

10 Nov 2009 3:49 PM

Fabulous story Steve. Many have said it, but you bottled it! The article took me right back to the race, and the lump you feel in your throat when watching something legendary unfold.

10 Nov 2009 3:51 PM

For the poster who said that the Zenyatta connections "were afraid" to run against Rachel, what in the world are you thinking?   They were not afraid in the least. Seven of the 8 races that Rachel ran, were restricted to 3 year olds.  Zenyatta COULDN'T run in those races.  The Woodward was the first opportunity for the 2 to meet.   All year long, the Zenyatta camp made it very clear that they were going to the BC.  Rachel's connections could have come west but they chose not too.  Why aren't they afraid of running against Zenyatta?  In my opinion, both camps were trying to do what's best for their horses and it just didn't work out and that's a shame.  

The Zenyatta camp in not afraid of running on dirt, just watch her Oaklawn race.  Shirreff's has been a outspoken critic of synthetics and it surely wasn't his fault that the BC committe gave the races to OakTree 2 years in a row.  If the BC had been elsewhere, Zenyatta would have been there and WON!  Don't forget that she was entered at Churchill Derby week and they scratched because the track condition NOT because they suddenly realized that it was on dirt.

I got to see her Ladies Classic win last year, her Lady's Secret win this year and the amazing Classic this year.  Until this past weekend, my favorite race of all time was Personal Ensign's BC Distaff win.  I was there that day and it was amazing and the crowd went wild.  Zenyatta's win was awe inspiring.

And the name Zenyatta comes from the Police album Zenyatta Mondatta. Google Jerry Moss and you can learn alot.

10 Nov 2009 3:54 PM
Sammi P

That was a great artical, it brought tears to me. I will miss seeing her race, but I can't wait to see her babies. Congrats to any and all conections Zen has EVER had.

10 Nov 2009 3:54 PM
Mike Relva


Thanks for your constant loyal support for the "Queen" . You are a class act!

10 Nov 2009 4:07 PM

It wasn't too long, Steve.  You could write War and Peace on Zenyatta and I'd read every word twice.  She is beyond words but I just want to read more.

10 Nov 2009 4:09 PM

Mr. Haskin,

This moment is Zenyatta's and rightfully so! It's been nearly 3 days now and I still can get enough. Thank goodness for the videos on this site and others. Sunday's football paled in comparison. I guess that's what happens when you have experienced greatness...It's hard to come back to earth. My heart is still hanging from the rafters at Santa Anita. The only other time I felt this way after a horse race, was when Tiznow won the BCC for the second time. The only difference is that I saw this year's in person and actually felt the explosion of the crowd as THE QUEEN made her move. The roar lasted for what seemed a L O N G time. It followed her way past the finish line, past the turn and well into the backstretch where Mike Smith finally got her to stop. The whole experience is simply UNFORGETTABLE.

We were treated to other great efforts during those two fantastic days and I'm very much looking forward to reading your articles about all of them. But right now the moment is Zenyatta's, her jockey, her trainer and his crew and her wonderful owners. What an excellent group of decent, classy, responsible, kind people!

10 Nov 2009 4:11 PM

Thank you for a wonderful tribute to THE QUEEN! I love Zenyatta and I will miss watching her race, but I know her performances will always live on in my mind. She is one in a million for sure.

10 Nov 2009 4:13 PM

Steve -- Fine job this year getting us to, through and wrapping up the races.  Thank you.

I missed watching Breeder's Cup this year for the first time since 1986 and my DVR failed me when the channel switch took place from ABC to ESPN.  Thanks for your description Steve.

10 Nov 2009 4:15 PM

With Rachel Alexandra on rest for the remainder of 2009, the public seems to forget what she accomplished. Congrats to Zenyatta for a brilliant performance! Rachel beat the boys three times on three different tracks, and her winning margin was incredible against the filles. She is only 3. Zenyatta beat the boys in the BC Classic, and she is 5. Both are undefeated this year. Now, with two fantastic fillies making history this year, why can't the Eclipse Awards make their own history and make co-champions this year-Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta? Neither one deserves to lose it. Please don't let these phenominal fillies' "star" burn out with an eclipse loss.

10 Nov 2009 4:26 PM

Mr. Haskin,

Is it absolutely confirmed that Zenyatta will be retired and never run again? In September there were a couple articles that said John Shirreffs indicated she could run one once or twice early in 2010 before being bred.

The reason I ask is I just read the article "Gulfstream Reissues Offer to Zenyatta, Rachel" today on It says Gulfstream Park president and general manager Ken Dunn has invited both horses to compete in the Feb. 6 Donn Handicap (gr. I, mile and 1/8).

I think the regular purse is $500,000, but I bet it would be increased if both horses were coming. Is there any chance the Mosses might run Zenyatta there?

10 Nov 2009 4:29 PM
The Beav

I am simply just a racing fan who has always loved horses for their beauty, grace and presense.  I was lucky enough to be at the Breeders Cup, in the stands, when Zenyatta walked in front of the stands, reacting to the crowds ovation by standing with head up and ears pricked.  She is the female version of "The Black Stallion".  Steve your description truely said in words what we all experienced first hand.  Thank you to Zenyatta, you are my Queen forever.

10 Nov 2009 4:40 PM
Betty S

We are always waiting and hoping for another real superstar and its been a long wait since Secretariat. Suddenly we have been blessed with 2 and maybe not handling it.  We don't have to make a choice.  They are each so unique but because of the differences does not lessen the magnificence of either.  Best year ever.  Do I wish we had them one at a time?   I'm just not sure.

10 Nov 2009 4:42 PM

Mr. Haskin, as usual, a superb article to sum up a superb effort.  I spoke to Chris at the Santa Anita gift shop on Monday.  She, too, said you had to be there to really experience the moment.  The only thing that's tearing me up is that the general public has never even heard of Zenyatta!  We witnessted one of the greatest sports events in history and only racing fans know about it.

10 Nov 2009 4:56 PM

Mike Smith after the race

"I still did not get to the bottom of her. She won with her ears pricked"

She is that good

10 Nov 2009 5:15 PM
s lee

Mike -

You want closers?

Forego was an astonishing closer:

1976 Marlboro, possibly his best come from behind.  Look how far back he is and how many tracks out from the rail he is at the top of the stretch.

AND he was carrying about 20 pounds more than the horse he caught.

Also, Arazi's 1991 Juvenile Breeder's Cup:

There are several postings of this, just be sure you watch him weave through the field from last to the top of the stretch.  A mercurial little colt with bad knees, this was his finest hour!

10 Nov 2009 5:26 PM
Tim G

Wonderful story as always Steve. Thanks for reliving the moment. I'll never forget being there,that's for sure. Also to some who shared their stories, THAT is what racing SHOULD be all about.

I never have to wonder if you love the game that's for sure. Too bad the same can't be said of other 'turf writers'.

Sounds like you also impressed the ladies!

10 Nov 2009 5:31 PM
George Rowand

Beautiful job of reporting and writing, Steve. When she hit the quarter pole and was inside, I said out loud, "She can't win from there." And then ... she slid outside and rolled home. Incredible race, and super race mare.

10 Nov 2009 5:34 PM
Steve Haskin

Cathy, yes, Jerry Moss says she's done. She ships to Kentucky in a couple of weeks.

10 Nov 2009 5:35 PM

Cathy, I heard with my own two ears Mr. Moss say that he believes in going out on top, and this is about as on top as you can get!  So, yes The Great Zenyatta is retired from racing.  

I also heard Mike Smith say that if you added up all his greatest victories from the past, that total would still not add up to this one BC Classic victory with Zenyatta.  He is so grateful for her, and I am grateful for both of them.  Yes, Mike Smith has ice water running through his veins during a race (as all great jockeys must), but he is the sweetest person to meet.  He walked all the way back into the jockey's room to get a permanent marker with which to sign my 2008 BC beer stein on opening day!  I won't ever forget that act of kindness.

10 Nov 2009 5:56 PM

To all who cheered for Zenyatta thank you! In the Vanity she carried 129 lbs and in the Classic she carried our hopes and dreams.

10 Nov 2009 5:57 PM

Steve, you are truly a master of your craft as is Zenyatta.  Reading your article brought shivers up my spine and moved me to tears.  I watched the race on TV and only wish I could have been there.

10 Nov 2009 6:00 PM

Superbly written about a superb mare!

Thank you!

10 Nov 2009 6:04 PM
Mike Relva


Guess you were asleep or whatever the other day when Mike Smith stated Zenyatta was still in third gear when she won! Sour grapes!

10 Nov 2009 6:06 PM
Steve W.

Apparently, no one watched the Kentucky Oaks, The Travers, The Preakness, The woodward, etc., etc. etc. Three times the boys lost, not once.  Different tracks all over the country. Yes, Zenyatta is a great, great turf or rubber horse. I wonder how she would do traveling and on dirt. She is a great horse but my choice is Rachel!

10 Nov 2009 6:24 PM

Enough of the comparisons between Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta.  Anyone who witnessed Saturday's Breeders Cup should clearly kn ow who the better horse is.  Jess Jackson is the loser in all of this, and voters shoulkd remember his greedy and selfish manner in which he refused to run RA against Zenyatta.  Hell, he knew what would happen.  Rachel Alexandra is a very good horse who had a dream year against very suspect competition.  Zenyatta answered all challenges put before her.  Remember, she was last in every one of her races at some point, but won them all.  She is a super filly, and no doubt the deserving HOY.  Hell, she is the greatest filly of all -time.

10 Nov 2009 6:35 PM

One last point,Zen did not spot the boys any weight. She actually carried a pound more than the 3 year olds R.A received a 5 lb break.

She is that good!!

10 Nov 2009 6:39 PM
Eric Rickard

Love your prose. You can admire both horses. I have been a horse racing bettor,fan and attendor scince I was 4 at Los Alomitos. My first favorite was Flying Pastor, but I loved The Bid too. Along the years I have loved Seatle Slew, John Henry, Fourty Niner, Winning Colors, A.P. Indy, Silver Charm and A.P.Indy to name a few. At this years derby weekend I got to see Rachel Live for the first Time. So impressed. Ihave seen Zenyatta live also so impressed. I have watched and wagered on all of their races. People allways forget about Zenyatta's (dirt) win against the champion Ginger Punch et al. I can Whole heartily say that if Rachel were to race against Zenyatta she would loose, but there is no shame in that.

   She is a great horse but Zenyatta is an imortal.

10 Nov 2009 6:40 PM

Mr.Haskin great great article for a superb race. I was a Rachel fan going into the race - came out a

Zenyatta believer.Please keep both of these amazing ladies in the news, horse racing needs them.  

10 Nov 2009 6:45 PM

"She ships to Kentucky in a couple of weeks."

Any word on which stallion they've picked?

10 Nov 2009 6:46 PM
julie o

Excellent article!  I didn't know I could laugh, cry, scream amd sob all at the same time, but I did all that as Zenyatta cruised past her beaten foes.  She is my horse of the year.  I can't remember a better field assembled for a Classic, and I really don't think she had to try too hard.  Next year won't be as interesting without her, and I think she's one of the best Thoroughbreds ever seen in America, male or female.

10 Nov 2009 6:46 PM

Wonderful piece Steve and yes you are right Zen is fantastic but so is Rachael.  For what they have both accomplished this year they should proclaim both as HOY.  If the voting people have never done so than this is the year they should rethink their votes and proclaim both ladies the accoulades they truly deserve. A tie would be out of this world.

10 Nov 2009 6:51 PM
Leta Rizzi

Hi Steve,  Like Zenyetta, your article is perfection from A-Z.

Thank you--Thank you!!!!!!

10 Nov 2009 6:53 PM
John Horton, Jr.

Simply put, Such a great moment in thoroughbred racing history.

10 Nov 2009 7:25 PM
Saratoga AJ

One fact should be pointed out. The connections for Zenyatta mapped out a weak, very few race campaign with one thing in win the BC. She was pointed and cranked for a good effort.

And at the same time, Rachel's connections ran her all year...not worrying about the BC...she wasn't going. The BC was not a target. I was at Saratoga on Sept 5th....and she was really one tired young girl when she passed by right in front me on her way back to the stable. That was on Hell of a tough schedule for a mere 3 yr old filly. Maybe the most ambitious and toughest campaign for a 3 yr old filly ever. Certainly in many generations.

With that in mind, it will be interesting to see what raves and how often she runs in view of the fact they will target the 2010BC Classic.

10 Nov 2009 7:25 PM

Steve W.: Here is how Zenyatta does traveling and on dirt: the youtube video of the 2008 Apple Blossom at Oaklawn where Zenyatta beat Champion Ginger Punch -

10 Nov 2009 7:27 PM
Bob Z

This is the interview that Jerry Moss did immediately after the race.

Listen carefully to his answer at 1:40 to the question about a match race (or running again).

He says at first that she is done and then clarifies by saying that he hasn't talked to John (presumably Sheriffs) and his wife..

Look at his wifes reaction at 2:03 - 2:04...  I know that look...

That is the ... "Thats right honey you haven't talked to ME about that yet!"

He also said that after they went out to dinner and talked about it he might have another answer...

I hope they enjoyed a few bottles of this with dinner...

and made the decision that race fans want... to come back next year and run against Rachel...

Maybe there is still hope...!

10 Nov 2009 7:34 PM


GreyK mentioned printing and tucking away your article for a future read, which got me to thinking...

Any chance you will be compiling all of your absolutely wonderful pieces into a book?  That would be, well..... almost as fantastic as Zenyatta!

10 Nov 2009 7:42 PM

I'm really glad Triple Crown and Breeders Cup are over so we can have you back Steve.I for one have missed you but this was a great write on the Queen.Looking forward to more of your wonderful stories.Saturday as it got closer to the classic I started crying even harder than all of the rest of the day. I had cried and prayed all day long for big Zen but I just knew she would win because she just could'nt lose her last race. I love this horse. I think I started loving her even more one day when Jenean was interviewing John Sheriffs and he was holding big Zen(being about  3 feet taller than him)she reached down and pulled his cap off his head with the biggest grin on her face just like she was telling him to come and get it if he thought he could standing there holding it in her teeth so funny! So beautiful and so much personality and grace. Oh! and Steve this St. Louie Sweetie can't have you. You were ours first she can just put all that butter back in the fridge.Thanks again for the article and to all the other Zen lovers for all their nice comments.This Breeders Cup truely did belong to Zenyatta.How long to Triple Crown?

10 Nov 2009 7:44 PM
Steve Haskin

For those who weren't aware of it, the comment from Jonshfs is John Shirreffs.

10 Nov 2009 7:46 PM
Pam S.

I was lucky enough to be there, Steve, and it was all just as you said.  I also saw Zenyatta last year in the Lady's Secret, and this time I knew it would be much harder to get on the paddock rail for an unobstructed view of the Queen, so I skipped watching the Turf, had to watch it on the screen in the paddock area.  Presious Passion gets my vote for second-best performance of the Cup.

So many haave criticized Zenyatta's racing schedule this year.  I did myself.  But now I see, the connections did everything right to get this huge mare to the Classic in top form, without her ever having so much as a hangnail.  Everyone talks about doing "what's best for the horse."  Well, that's what the Mosses did and it showed.

More on Zenyatta Mondatta -- don't know the language, but it means "on top of the world."  Is that perfect or what?

10 Nov 2009 7:48 PM
Dr Smoke

An incredible effort, rubber track or not.  BTW Steve W, I am sure you meant to say the Haskell, not the Travers.  She was brillant in the Haskell and Woodward, but I would have liked to see her win at 1 1/4 as Zenyatta did on Saturday.  It is hard to choose between the two, glad I am not voting! I was in the Rachel camp squarely until Saturday...she had raced hard all over the country and I thought that gave her the edge, but what I saw Saturday was astonishing and I value the 1 1/4 win (sorry - I think I dont count the Preakness for Rachel as a "Classic Distance" win ...she loses to the Bird if that race is 1 1/4.)

Either way these are two horses that the word great can be used properly.  BTW - would it be to hard for the Bloodhorse drop the "Presented by YUM brands" nonsense everytime they mention the Derby.  Are they that in the bag to Churchill?

10 Nov 2009 7:51 PM

Mr Shirreffs- thank you so much for the great job you did with Zenyatta and Life is Sweet.  We really appreciate all you have done, and all the connections of both horses.

10 Nov 2009 8:00 PM

Mr. Haskin,

Did John Shirreffs happen to mention the stallion they've picked for Zenyatta?

10 Nov 2009 8:06 PM

Saratoga AJ- Zenyatta wasn't tired at all after the BC.  And that was quite a last mile she put in.  Effortless!

10 Nov 2009 8:09 PM
Soldier Course


With due respect to all concerned, the Gulfstream renewed offer is beneath the dignity of Zenyatta now.

10 Nov 2009 8:12 PM
Tim G

Yes Steve, I figured as much. Not hard to tell how much these connections love Zenyatta or see any who have handled themselves with as much class.

I'm always thrilled when one of ours wins, I can only imagine the elation of Zenyatta's group.

I think they have no choice but to retire her, Ann probably doesn't have many tears left!

What a joy to watch her win that race, hear the roar that rose up. Didn't hurt to have a wee bit bet on her either!

10 Nov 2009 8:28 PM
Pedigree Shelly

       Zenyatta is the pinnacle of perfection ! RA has accomplished alot ,but she can never say she was " Undefeated "

10 Nov 2009 8:32 PM
Greg J.

Mr. Shirreffs,

     How true you are, Zenyatta did carry our hopes and dreams!  I just wanted to say to you and The Mosses, Thank You for the Beautiful Treasure Zenyatta is, Bravo!  I think I know the real reason Zenyatta was entered in the Classic, So Life is Sweet could Win The Ladies Classic, Very Shrewd move :)

P.S. LOVE your Youtube Page...

10 Nov 2009 8:44 PM
Geoff R.

What about Goldikova ?

Repeats in the mile turf ! against males, takes on all comers, fast time, same running style as big Z.

Not a word about her, no compliments, nothing.

It is not right.

10 Nov 2009 8:55 PM
carolyn rogers

If Zen is not crowned HOTY this year, then we will need to come up with a more special award for her, higher than the HOTY. She has had the best two years and we have never given her her best and deserving award yet. You know, JJ cherry picked RA races and kept her in her comfort zone too. He is all about monetary gain (although he does not need any extra money) First, RA never went the extra distance one time like Zen did in the end. So we don't know how she will go with the extra distance. Next, All the boys (that mattered) that RA beat, Zen beat then plus the world boys at that. But now we want to take that accomplishment and only award her with "Champion Older Female" Pathetic is what that is. Why should our horses show up for the BCC every year if it's not going to matter, why should any one show up. waste of time if it doesn't count. If this is the case, tell JJ don't bother sending RA there next year because if she happens to win it, it wont matter because it won't count. I am beginning to believe that half of these writers are being paid off by JJ for their votes on HOTY. It looks like any horse he decides to up and buy and race is guarenteed a HOTY award. Zenyatta deserves this award this year, she did the same as RA and better. the only race RA raced that had a little kick to it was the preakness, and she got to rest well before she entered into any race too. it wasn't like she was worn out like the triple crown all three legs. JJ picked her races and the males she would be up against. He knew she could take them. But he kept her away from the world champions, and the longer distances. Also, Zen defended her titles from last year, she has two Classics on her resume Priceless. My god, and you think she doen't deserve the HOY honor. JJ has got to be paying for his votes.

10 Nov 2009 9:00 PM

MR. Shirreffs,

How awesome of you to post a personal thank you on the blood horse blog. You are so, so fortunate to have been able to be blessed with almighty Zen. I hope to see her in person one day. You did right by your horse Mr. Shirreffs..and that is what racing is all about. You never compromised her...and she is retiring sound.  What an accomplishment.

10 Nov 2009 9:10 PM

I must say I am saddened to read about QR. I know as a horse owner and lover, there are some things you just don't do to a horse. They NEVER forget. They have no way to communicate with us except through their actions. QR was not getting in that gate on Saturday. Was it a behavioral issue? Could be.. but it could have been much more than that. I was not impressed with the blind fold trick. You just can't fool a smart horse. Now they have to re-build the trust that QR has lost. Godspeed QR!

10 Nov 2009 9:14 PM
John T

Yes it was a great performance by Zenyatta as she looked beaten in the stretch and only the truly great ones can come on like that against Grade one company.I would like to point out all this talk about who was greater Zenyatta or Rachel Alexandra is a load of nonsense as unlike Affirmed/Alydar,

Sunday Silence/Easy Goer,Dr Fager/Damascus etc they never met on the racetrack.They both give us

lot,s of good memories in 2009 and

Zenyatta deserves her place in ''The Magic Club''That is to say a great champion who retired undefeated.

10 Nov 2009 9:21 PM
Steve Haskin

Hi Rita, where did I go? :)

Runfast, I'd love to compile all that in a book, but whether a publisher would is another story.

Cathy, havent heard anything about a stallion yet. It's still early.

10 Nov 2009 9:24 PM
Karen In Indiana

Mr. Shirreffs,

Thank you so much for what you and your team have done with this horse. All of you, Zenyatta included, have been an excellent example of what is best in horse racing. After last year and all the problems, both of my sons had no respect for the sport. But thet've watched Zenyatta's races with me and the videos (yours included, my favorite is the 'She's a Freak' though) of her and read the stories I've sent. They're both in the Army and both made a point to watch her run Saturday. One was in a sports bar full of Army people that exploded in cheers when she won. Thank you for all you, your team, and the owners have done to allow me to share my love of this sport with them.

10 Nov 2009 9:31 PM

@Soldier Course

Well, with all due respect, I think the Gulfstream Park invitation is an attempt to get BOTH Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra running in the same race, which is something many writers and fans have asked for over the past year.

10 Nov 2009 9:34 PM
Marilyn Ranson


What a great column. Thank you for bringing tears to my eyes again over Zenyatta. I hope you write a book about her. She has my vote for Horse of the Year.

10 Nov 2009 9:34 PM
Gilbert Jimenez

Great article Steve.  I was starting to worry about the greatness of the 2009 Breeders Classic after Jerry Bailey stated on ESPN that this race "was one of top 10 greatest moment".  I was appalled by that statement.  I was in the stands @ Santa Anita thinking I just witnessed greatness and everyone in the clubhouse was clapping, screaming and crying.  What a race! What a horse!

10 Nov 2009 9:36 PM
Greg J.

Carolyn Rogers,

    To answer your question, "If Zen is not crowned HOTY this year, then we will need to come up with a more special award for her, higher than the HOTY", Well, Don't you think your Memories of her are "more special" then any title or award?  Trust Me, Regardless of who wins Horse of the Year, That title is easily forgotten, But, Your Memories are for a Lifetime...

10 Nov 2009 9:44 PM


This comment doesn't pertain to Zenyatta.  I just read your article about Quality Road's difficulties at the gate.  He has had such a streak of bad luck.  I agree, it was poor judgement to blindfold him when he was so worked up.  Hopefully his connections can get him calmed down and back to his old self.  I have faith in him - he is not a rogue. I'd love to see him get back to his winning ways.

10 Nov 2009 9:47 PM
Soldier Course

Remember when Smarty Jones received an honorable mention for Time magazine's "Person Of The Year Award" in 2004?

Wouldn't you love to see Zenyatta's picture on the cover of Time at the end of this year?

10 Nov 2009 9:52 PM

Mr. Haskin,

Perhaps you can pass along a request to John Shirreffs and/or Jerry and Ann Moss. Zenyatta has a big fan base

and I know many of us would like to keep up with what's going on with

her after she retires.

It would be great to see someone develop a Web site or blog that follows Zenyatta and reports on what stallions she's being bred to, her status as a

broodmare, how she's adapting to her new life and the careers of her future foals.

I'm thinking of something similar to the blog called

"Tracking Barbaro's Brothers," which  follows the racing careers of colts Nicanor and Lentenor, who are full

brothers to the late Barbaro, as well as the status of Barbaro's dam

La Ville Rouge. It reports when she is in foal, when she delivers her

babies, how they're growing and maturing and when they're named and

start training to become racers.

Judging by the deafening roar of the Santa Anita spectators I imagine there are a lot of people like me who want to be able to follow Zenyatta's life after her racing career, the next best thing to

watching her run.

I emailed the home page of Mike Smith with that request but I figure it can't hurt to mention the idea here, too. Could you pass it along to the right people?

10 Nov 2009 10:04 PM
Steve Haskin

Nancy, this horse is an absolute pussycat in his stall. My daughter was petting him for 10 minutes at Saratoga. He just has claustrophia when it comes to starting gates and lashes out when he sees them before a race with a closed front gate. The blindfold is what sent him into a frenzy.

10 Nov 2009 10:08 PM
Matthew W

Steve, I became a Zenyatta believer last year, At Del Mar, when she was 2 1/2 behind the leader, and Trevor goes "...if she's good enough"---and three strides later it was in the bag--something I never saw before on a two turn closer.....this year they slowed down the pace at Del Mar, 1:13 4/5 in a Gr l....also at Santa Anita for The Ladys Secret, I was confident she still had her kick, and when she moved in 22 2/5 around the turn of The Ladys Secret, then kept to her task with "condesending ease", I knew she'd be one tough cookie for the males--My doubt was the distance--NOT the males, I have never been more confident in a mare beating males---I rarely want to see that--and I hope they do it sparingly with The Magnificent Rachel Alexandra--but it seemed natural for Big Z to take males on--she is larger than life--AND the males! I have been aware of the no-pace races around here--for that reason I played Life Is Sweet--going back to double up my win bet, from $2 to $4 (!) Careless Jewell had beaten nothing, Music Note had never won around two turns--Life Is Sweet was getting pace AND class relief, over her specialty distance---The paceless races also helped me to completely leave out Zensational, (losing my bet on Gayego!) The same principle lead me to Zenyatta on top, along with Colonel John---I'm watchin Big Z, and I always found myself watchin Big Z--at head of stretch I go to Colonel John, figuring I had a punters chance with Big Z, who pre-race was a bit nervous, bothered, took two crosses from Mike just to get into right lead--I thought she was gonna hang/not get up--I look to my (fading) Colonel John battle Sunmmer Bird on one side and Gio Ponti on the other--and I see this horse on the outside-- I say to a guy next to me--it's the four--THATS ZENYATTA! I thought she won by a neck, but it was a length! And it was like NO COMPARING her's to Gio Ponti's kick--and Gio was traveling--he was running a winning race....anyway, Steve, I was high fiving anybody, like in church when they go "offer someone the sign of peace", and it's like everybody was happy, all together, it was something I'll probably never see again----- there was an aire of invincibility about that mare, and she had those pecular traits....and Shirreffs, who never goes in the winners circle to be photographed--like John Wooden who said coaches don't do a thing on game day, it's all up to the players--thats also a pecular trait, the guy has no vanity...but it took this long, its late Tuesday,took this long to ferret out my other Cup highlights, like Precious Passion--wow! Goldikova--Bravo! All-time great miler, in my opinion better than Sea The Stars for being on top--way on top, for two years! The other horse who really impressed me was this grey speedster, Zensa---er---California Flag! Steve you have been around a long time--ever seen a horse beat other fast horses down the hill, wire to wire, in that large a field, that easily?? Very rare/very easily done, horse will go try them in Hong Kong for the $$---will be playing him to win if they go 5 fur! As foy NY Horses, I thought Music Note was ridden poorly, she should've got 2nd---Mr Maragh also took a right turn into my saver bet Biofuel, or else I think she wins the Juvy-Filly Race...Hats off to Julien, who rode like a champ--that Rubber Band Mile Winner was a thing of beauty! I wish...1) they change back to ONE, 12 race day!....2) they run it on dirt, although they do get better Euros on the rubber bands.....3) They run it at Santa Anita every year--on dirt, hint hint! Yeah, Steve, thank you for caring enough to lay it all out like that--DO narrate, I don't care how long it takes to read when it's written like you write....That mare won every race with an aire about her, like she was in her own race, even when they tried the salty dogs.....When you factor in Goldikova, and Zenyatta, and Rachel Alexandra, and Sea The Stars, you can make a strong case for best year of greatness--all time in the sport....

10 Nov 2009 10:15 PM

I want to thank Zenyatta and all of her connections for helping make racing fans out of my 2 kids.  I got to see Zenyatta at last years Ladies Classic (still should be the Distaff but whatever). I was intriqued to see what all of the hype was about. When she walked onto the track my jaw dropped. I knew in that instant that the other fillies and mares had no shot. Just looking at her, I became a Zenyatta fan.

Fast forward to this year and when I heard she was running in the Ladies Secret and MTB was running in the Goodwood, I knew it would be a perfect day to take my 2 young kids( 8,6) to the track. My kids ride but always groaned when I watched racing on TV.  That day at Santa Anita , they got to see the Derby winner up close and also got to learn that your favorite horse doesn't always win but you can still like them.  

Then came Zenyatta's race.  They cheered and cheered for her and were thrilled when she won.  The next week, my 8 year old had a creative writing asssignment about an exciting event in her life.  She wrote about ZENYATTA!

They stayed home while I went to the BC this year.  My husband said that the neighbors could hear the kids screaming as they were cheering for Zenyatta.

I still have goosebumps from Saturday.  I've been fortunate to go to P. Ensign's BC.  Arazi's BC, Skip Away's, Pleasantly Perfect's, and the 2 Zenyatta ones. This past weekend was amazing.

One complaint though.  I realize the Moss's have bigger fish to fry but I bet they could have sold 50,000 Zenyatta t-shirts or posters this past weekend.  The sport should promote it's stars.  The BC souvenirs and apparel are nice but they all featured the BC logo and not the actual horses.  I would have bought a Goldlikova or Conduit button. I def. would have purchased a Zenyatta shirt.

Thankfully, TVG printed Zenyatta posters that are now on my kids walls but they just feature her name but not her picture.  

When asked, an employee of the BC souvenir shops said that it was licensing issues that prevented them from carrying items relating to a specific horse.  Hopefully, someday that can change. Because I would much MUCH rather have a Zenyatta shirt than a Kobe Bryant jersey.  And yes, I would buy a Rachel shirt. Just not one that said Horse of the Year :)

10 Nov 2009 10:27 PM
Soldier Course


How many fans care about that now? We saw something transcendent on Saturday. Let it be.

10 Nov 2009 10:28 PM

Steve, that was a great article, I printed it to save it and to share with friends that are Zenyatta fans.

 HOY opinions abound out there about now and I personally could see RA or Z winning . How many really remember who was last year's winner , if you recall that then how about the year before that(careful, trick question).

I guess this really suggests you don't have to win the Classic to be horse of the year. Who do you think is the better race horse, Curlin , Zenyatta or RA? Too bad we'll probably never see the two girls race against each other.

10 Nov 2009 10:33 PM
Greg J.


    Here is an Incredible Video of Breeders' Cup Saturday by Ernie Munick (Mr. Haskin, Nice Call at 5:40 into the Video), Enjoy...

10 Nov 2009 10:40 PM
carolyn rogers

Greg j, You are right to some extent, But Zen is definity due the HoY, she deserved it last year too. I think it would be a travesty at what she has given us for the last two years and her "best for last" run that she won against the world competition. What a sorry bunch of folks we will be if we dethrone her of her reward, which she has well deserved. If you take away the races that RA won in that Zen was to old to run in, then RA hasn't accomplished no more than Zen has. but the thing that is different here that people don't want to acknowledge is that we didn't know how Zen was going to do in her race in the BCC,thats what made it so special when she won, but in RA races against the males, JJ cherry picked his races, he knew very well what horses she was going up against and that she could beat them. You noticed he didn't put her in the Travers, he knew competition was to unpredictable and the distance was to risky, so he ducked that one. I dont think JJ has heart for his filly that the Mosses have for theirs. JJ ran Curlin to death he is all about making a name for himself. If poor RA last race hadn't showed her wearing out like it did, she probably would have ran til she dropped. JJ ended her 09 campaign because the only big other race he could go in would be the classic. he didn't want to go there. Synthetic tracks are acknowledged by this idustry, get used to it. can't duck them forever, If RA shows next year that her performance is questionable at the extra distances, he will continue to duck the longer distance races as well. Also, if RA can't do good with the distances, he will retire her before the BCC next year and make up some excuse as to why he did, so he can duck that too. Then send her to the breeding shed earlier than expected, We can't predict next year for her, but we have seen Zen great career and she topped it off perfectly, she deserves her reward for her lifetime accomplishment and the excitement she has given her fans for two years, the excitement and thrills Zen gave us is "Pure Priceless"

10 Nov 2009 10:58 PM
Soldier Course

National Geographic Traveler has released its best destinations lists, citing criteria such as authenticity, stewardship, and "integrity of place". The Bluegrass Country of Kentucky received high marks. How can it improve? "Better marketing". Sound familiar?

10 Nov 2009 11:01 PM

Why does no one mention the fact that Zenyatta won under 129 lbs this year?  Those wins against males that Rachel had?  She was giving away weight and 2 of those wins she probaby wouldn't have won at equal weights.  Forget the tracks and the continual whine of "who did you beat"?  Yeah, Zen didn't run as many races, but winning carrying weight and being able to run the last quarter in 23 and change transcends anything Rachel accomplished.  Only the very best can accelerate after running a mile or hit the wire going 40 mph.  I don't remember Rachel doing that, do you?

10 Nov 2009 11:13 PM
Matthew W

ponygirlartist--I agree! We witnessed one of the greatest events---fillies DON'T do that vs older males! She was on wrong lead for 3/8 and was well behind--HAD to go from the 7/8 pole, really, and passed Gio Ponti, who had had a dream trip/was five lengths in front of Zenyatta at the 1/4 pole--and she just inhaled him and all the rest---Mike Willman called it the biggest moment in Santa Anita's History! It is something, a filly beating the top older males at 1 1/4---you just expect not to see---the WAY she did it--bad start/wrong lead/hard cross from Mike (two), spotting them ground/then inhaling them like it was nothing---that is a once in a lifetime event--twice if you're lucky!

10 Nov 2009 11:25 PM

Mr. Shirreffs:

Thank you and the whole team for sharing Zenyatta with us. Her historical performance is one I put on the same level as Secretariat's Belmont. Watching Zenyatta pull away from her field. left no doubt she still had plenty left in the tank.

10 Nov 2009 11:26 PM

That gate crew was between a rock and a hard place. QR was second last to load, so a few horses already had been in the gate quite a while. How long is too long to attempt to coax him into the gate of his own volition? What do you tell the owners and trainers of the other horses who have to wait, wait, wait. I don't know. That was a tough call. I hope QR can be reconditioned to accept the starting gate, poor guy.

10 Nov 2009 11:28 PM

Hi Steve-

That article wasn't too long. I could go on reading about Zenyatta for quite a while longer! As always, another great article Steve.

I have to admit, I really had my doubts about Zenyatta winning the Classic. I managed to get one good photo of her being led out of the paddock. I then became distracted, with my eyes bugging out watching her floaty, fancy Andalusian-style front leg action.

My doubts completely disappeared with her inside charge-and then she did it! She did hit another gear, I saw it! All I can say is WOW!

It was great. I swear the crowd was louder than any Superbowl ever. What a moment and thanks for the great article.  

10 Nov 2009 11:50 PM
Julie L.

I got to experience Zenyatta on Saturday and all I can say is wow, I now know what it was like for those who experienced Man O' War. When I spoke to my friend who was unable to attend the races all she could say to me after Zenyatta's glorious win was "you lucky dog". Yeah, lucky intend.

11 Nov 2009 12:07 AM

An experience of a life time! I have never felt such emotion - such shear awe at that run! 58,000 people cheering, applauding and tearing up! WOW...UNBELIEVABLE

11 Nov 2009 12:41 AM

Steve, Your comments are so true.  The world now knows what we in California, who have seen this magnificent equine race, have known all along.  Zenyatta is a QUEEN!  Beyond comparison in her racing career, the Z girl is a Horse of the Century.  Thanks to all of her connections who had the patience to let her develop into what she is today -- a true champion for the ages!

11 Nov 2009 12:48 AM

Geoff- On another blog somebody asked me what 3 yr old filly has a better resume than Rachel had this year.  I said there were two last year.  One was Goldikova, and the other was the horse that she couldn't even warm up- Zarkava.  I was told they don't count because they are turf and European and can't be compared to dirt horses.  Once Goldikova got out of Zarkava's shadow, she went on a tear and ended winning the BC Mile for the first time.  Zarkava had the same problems with the sportswriters as Zenyatta.  She lags too far behind, she doesn't win by big margins, who has she beaten, etc.  Her last two races she won the Vermeille after breaking tardily beating Dar Re Mi handily, and then the Arc, weaving her way through a 17 horse field and still winning without being put into a drive.  Zarkava was never tested, just like Zenyatta.  I love Goldikova, but she was the second best 3 yr old filly in her year.  Zarkava beat her in the Pouliches and the Diane.  As for her two BC Miles- brilliant.

11 Nov 2009 1:41 AM

steve haskin perfecto article.  being depress for ten years n medicine not working.....watching the race made me feel good like never for seconds, minutes, hours and watching cameras focusing the people,signs made me cry. thank u doc john mike for this moment.    

11 Nov 2009 1:55 AM

I was heartbroken when we lost Barbaro and didn't care too much for horseracing anymore. Then came that beauty Zenyatta. She gave me back my love for this sport and I will be forever grateful. She is most definitely HOTY.

11 Nov 2009 2:20 AM

Mr. Shirreffs, Zenyatta not only carried our hopes and dreams, she soared with them! She is truly one for the ages and words can not express my gratitude for having had the privilege to watch her run.  Thank you.

11 Nov 2009 2:38 AM
Sharon in Massachusetts

Thank You to all Zenyatta's connections for sharing her with us. I get goose bumps every time I watch the race. I was jumping up and down screaming   "here she comes, come on girl, she did it! She still had more gears she hasdn't used.  Wonderful comments by all ,especially Bob Baffert.

We love her strut she does before the races. I was there when Seattle Slew won the Belmont,I have always loved the great Forego.   I have also seen others such as GenuineRisk,Charasmatic,Smarty Jones,The Bid,Cigar, John Henry,BUT...this was the best,once in a lifetime even though I had to watch it on TV. She is The Queen, and she knows it!

She is exceptional, and your words brought tears to me. Thank you.

11 Nov 2009 2:50 AM

Steve, You are indeed among the great turf writers.

Zenyatta won the CHAMPIONSHIP race over the best field assembled this year. Case closed.

11 Nov 2009 3:18 AM
Marianna Haun

Great story Steve. You made me cry. In my 64 years I have had two perfect days. One was in 1973 when I watched Secretariat win the Belmont and the other came 36 years later when I watched an incredible mare give a whole new definition to greatness. My vote goes to her for Horse of the Year. As to who she might be bred to, it's hard to think of a stallion good enough. Maybe a match with Sea the Stars could come close...Marianna Haun

11 Nov 2009 6:39 AM

Steve, what a great, miraculous event  and congratulations to you on a great piece of journalism. Queen Z Rules and so does your pen - i'll actually print this one and save it!

11 Nov 2009 6:59 AM
Eve Molinary

Great Article, tears came to my eyes reading about Zenyatta. Zenyatta's race in the Classic was the greatest I have ever witnessed in 10 years of watching races. Thanks for honoring Zenyatta in your article.

11 Nov 2009 9:05 AM

Mr. Sherriffs,

 I appreciate so much, you taking the time to thank the fans for their support of the great ZENYATTA. My poor cats were scared to death while I was screaming when I saw big Z coming!

Also, kudos to you for not caring what other people think you should do with your horse. Been there, done that.

Although, I do not have race horses, or race bred barrel horses; my half arabian got a check every time at the barrel races. When her hocks started to bother her, and she started to have alley way and gate issues; I cannot tell you how many people suggested  I inject her hocks, or bute her heavy enough for her to run. Then when her knee went bad, many said to nerve her, or bute her, they rolled their eyes when I lightened her schedule, and then retired her.  

 Plus, when the horse gets older arthritis will not be as bad becuase I took care of her.

Zenyatta will have a wonderful retirement becuase she retired SOUND.

I  hope the Moss's do keep us informed. I would love to see her mated to Smart Strike. But whatever the choice, can't wait for baby Z.

11 Nov 2009 9:12 AM

Queen Z, you have proven to be the best, whether on the dirt of Oaklawn or the surfaces in So Cal.  Even when you didn't like the track at Del Mar, you found that last gear and won on your tremendous class.

Do not despair the knocks about running on Pro-Ride.  Easterners never change.  For years, they knocked the harder Western tracks and claimed no California based horse could win east of the Mississippi.  Now, they whine that they can not ship west and run on a "fair and balanced" surface.

You, Queen Z and your trainer, Mr Shirreffs are in another class - You are Champions.

11 Nov 2009 9:13 AM

Steve, I read your story on Quality Road and am worried about his health..geeeezzzz, I did not realize how tramatic that incident would become....

I will send him a fruit basket along with some good ole peppermints for munching when he returns to Belmont.

QR is such a beauty....

 All of your stories are perfect,entertaining informative....wonderful.....

11 Nov 2009 9:29 AM

The Z was Zapped! Great article Steve!

11 Nov 2009 9:48 AM

Some observations:

Number 1, I would love to see the Fathead people make stick-ups of race horses! I'd love a Curlin stuck to my wall or a Rachel stuck to my new car (especially since I named my car after her). How 'bout it folks?

Number 2: Would someone please get Zenyatta into dressage? She has many of the moves down pat.

Number 3: Poor Quality Road! I hope he can get over his gate issues and race next year. I'll be looking for him.

Number 4: Send Zenyatta to Curlin. You pedigree experts know more than I do about these things, but IMO CUrlin-Zenyatta would be a great pairing.

11 Nov 2009 10:23 AM
Soldier Course

Greg J.:

Thank you for posting the Ernie M. video. He also shot a great one at Saratoga, featuring Rachel Alexandra and her exercise rider, Dominic Terry.

11 Nov 2009 11:28 AM
Steve Haskin

Rags, I'm worried about him, too. I fear there's a chance he may never get in a gate again. He has a super 4-year-old campaign ahead of him, but this may have traumatized him for life unless Bob Duncan can work a miracle on him.

11 Nov 2009 11:36 AM

Dawn, I agree with you.. I would love to see Zenyatta bred to

Mr. Curlin...Love them both, Curlin's built like a tank and Zenyatta too...what a baby that would be....

also, Rachel and Curlin will have some beautiful baby's too....Love all 3 of them....The Queen, The Princess and Curlin...

11 Nov 2009 11:37 AM

Steve- they did miracles with Snow Knight when he raced here to get him calmed down.   Hopefully Mr Pletcher can find the right people to work with him.

11 Nov 2009 11:53 AM
Saratoga AJ

Quality Road should be given back to Jimmy Jerkens immediately. My friend, the Saratoga chief clocker told me Evans switched to Pletcher all because of where the horse would be based.

QR performed best under Jerken’s care (Fountain of Youth, Florida Derby). He nursed him back to health from the foot problems. Even Pletcher was taken back…all he did was praise the great job Jimmy did and “Hope I can do as good a job as Jimmy did with him”.

Simply put, you don’t take horses away from a Jerkens…either Allen or son Jimmy. If Jimmy gets him back, he’ll straighten him out.

11 Nov 2009 11:56 AM
Karen D

Well put, welcome to the Sport of Queens.  What a year! and what a ride from two of the most incredible horses to come along in a very long time.  Since everyone has already started debating HOTY honors, my opinion is "REFUSE TO CHOOSE".  What Rachel accomplished as a three year old filly has never been seen before. The same can be said for Zenyatta.  The only crime would be to slight either one of these remarkable animals and their accomplishments.  There is no reason they can't share the honors as they have shared the spotlight. I for one feel very priviledged to have seen them both and I hope that racing steps up to acknowledge two horses that embody the word champion.

11 Nov 2009 11:59 AM
Soldier Course


Maybe Chris Van Allsburg will rewrite that book, and make it about her. Can you imagine the illustrations of Zenyatta!

11 Nov 2009 12:00 PM

All the inside info you provide is so appreciated. It was sobering to read about QR this morning.

Wonder how much it would do for the sport of horse racing for there to be a SuperBowl Sunday 4 O'clock matchrace between RA and Queen Z at the Fairgrounds?

11 Nov 2009 12:08 PM

Mr. Haskin - you captured Zenyatta's amazing BCC and the joy of her Connections (and adoring fans!) to perfection. Z is the most magnificent creature under heaven.  I truly think the Marathon would be her ideal distance.  

Speaking of Marathons, I hope you'll find time to give the venerable Cloudy's Knight his due in your further BC articles. His "best loss" is right up there with Presious Passion's. What a great competitor -- and will still be racing at *10*!!  

ALL the BC races and the stories behind them were memorable, but extra kudos go to Life Is Sweet and California Flag.  And special thoughts to Quality Road and his connections.  I hope we will see him race to his potential next year.

11 Nov 2009 12:14 PM

What a shame about Quality Road... Great job by the gate handler who would NOT let go of him. I shudder at the thought of a blinded QR running amok to a certain catastrophic injury or death...

It seems that things have been going poorly for this brilliant horse since he was transferred out of Jerkins' barn. Am I wrong to think that he has been rushed, since then, to make up for lost time due to his hoof problems?

He held such promise... I hope he hasn't been ruined.

11 Nov 2009 12:37 PM
Karen in Indiana

Steve, what happened to Quality Road brings up a question - is there a standard gate size? There have been more than a couple of horses I've heard about that hate going in because they are larger than the gates were built to handle. It's pretty evident sometimes when they close the gate and the horse looks like an oversized foot stuck in too small a shoe.

11 Nov 2009 12:45 PM

Love Zenyatta!

Hugs to Quality Road hope he can overcome is issues with some good TLC.

11 Nov 2009 12:45 PM

Thanks for a very well written article-it describes the emotional and professional commitment of the team to their "star". Each and every person played their part to perfection to make all this happen. Thanks for providing the public an opportunity to watch greatness. We are truly honored to have played a minor role.

One last comment-I hate the idea of a HOY split-the fact is that RA ran some good races but she did'nt run in the Championship, has never run the Classic distance and the field Zenyatta faced not only included horses RA defeated but the best assembled from all over the world. Frankly, while speculative, I don't believe this would have been RA's race on any surface. Her runnig style would  have subjected her to the same outcome as Regal Ransom, Colonel John, Summer Bird and Rip Van Winkle.

Award HOY to the horse that is truely the BEST the horse that won the World Championship soundly-the horse that has won 14 straight and did it every time with her ears pricked and more in the tank.      

11 Nov 2009 12:59 PM

I think the HOY has run in, and in most cases won the Breeder's Cup Classic for at least several years in a row.  When a filly/mare does it for the first time ever its not time to change those rules, I don't think.

11 Nov 2009 1:17 PM

Nicely said, Steve. And what a thrill. She took my breath away.  

11 Nov 2009 1:18 PM

Karen in Indiana, the gate seems to have little rhyme or reason for horses. Zenyatta is larger than QR, but loads relatively easily. QR appears to be claustrophic -- and have a strong flight response to touches on the hamstring area. He cow-hopped and kicked when the gate crew linked hands below the curve of the butt above his hock but tolerated it better when they linked hands halfway down his butt. I can't imagine how they're going to fix this horse's head -- maybe one of those gate blankets would help.

And now, I'm imagining tiny Mine That Bird, meanwhile could turn around three times and curl up to sleep in the gate.

11 Nov 2009 2:04 PM
Mike Relva


I've been a Zenyatta supporter from day one. Wanna express my sincere thanks to you and everyone involved. My wish would be that every trainer and owner illustrated the caring and class that Zenyatta received. I feel very lucky to have witnessed greatness not only last weekend,but in every race she ran. What I will always remember is that connections placed her welfare above and beyond anything,only wish everyone treated their horses that way. Thank you!

11 Nov 2009 2:20 PM
The Rock


Will there be anymore "ATO" episodes this year?

11 Nov 2009 2:25 PM

It's very upsetting that QR has been so traumatized.  It doesn't take much and they never forget.  I hope he can learn to trust and relax but it's going to be a long, tough job that will require monumental patience and skill.  I particularly wanted to add my thanks and a big WOW to the guy who held on to QR once he broke through.  Having been myself on the other end of a lead rope with a panicked horse, I know that it was just about a miracle that QR didn't get loose.  Thank you so much whoever you are, you prevented a real tragedy.  Love and carrots to QR on his cross country travels.

11 Nov 2009 2:57 PM

Ezbee...the days of match races are over........ no one wants to see a match race.

11 Nov 2009 3:28 PM

I'm now waiting for Curlatta and/or Zenlin.

11 Nov 2009 3:33 PM
Karen in Indiana

Tiznowbaby, LOL! He probably could. When I re-ran the race, I had to laugh when I saw and Zenyatta going around the corner together. It was like that commercial with Shaq & Ben Stein.

11 Nov 2009 3:58 PM

If you click this link, it takes you to an ESPN recap of the Classic, the beginning of which they show a head-on view of Quality Road's gate rodeo.

Pretty scary. He's going to take a LOT of work to get right again...

11 Nov 2009 4:03 PM
Bob Z

From The Fabulous Forum

Shrewd HOY strategy.

"John Shirreffs, the trainer of Zenyatta, said this morning that he'd love to have his unbeaten 5-year-old mare make an appearance during the Hollywood Park meeting that begins Friday, and even show up for the first day of the Santa Anita meeting on Dec. 26 to give racing fans one final opportunity to salute his Breeders' Cup Classic championship mare before she leaves for Kentucky and retirement."

"I think it would be great," Shirreffs said.

It would be Zenyatta's encore, allowing Southern California fans to show their appreciation for winning all 14 of her races.

Pretty shrewd... put her up in front of thousands of screaming fans as one last look before the HOY voting...

So if she is able to run there and she is ultimately moving to Kentucky for breeding purposes then what is the problem with running her in an abbreviated schedule for the purposes of hooking up with Rachel?

The Breeders Cup is at Churchill Downs next year so...accept the accolades from the adoring fans at HollyWood Park or Santa Anita... make the move to Kentucky ...

enjoy the holidays with some nice celebratory roasted chestnuts and oats and then...

plan a 2010 campaign with the sole intent of meeting Rachel in a 3 race runoff ... the Woodward, the Jockey Club Gold Cup and the Breeders Cup Classic...   and for the Breeders Cup ... she wouldn't even have to she is already living in Kentucky...

While the owners of Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra are indeed just that... the owners... and can do what ever they want...

... there might not be an opportunity for another 30 years that will generate the same interest (fan hysteria) as Queen Zenyatta and Princess Rachel hooking up for a 3 race run off culminating in the Breeders Cup...

Both of them will be on the cover of Time Magazine... the last a horse appeared on the cover of Time Magazine...,16641,19730611,00.html

11 Nov 2009 4:17 PM
Karen in Indiana

No disrespect to Mine That Bird - he's had 10 races this year, was in a parade and has been all over the country.

11 Nov 2009 4:18 PM
Ida Lee

As usual, great article. BC Saturday was one of my best sports days and one of my worse. Seeing QT acting up had me in tears. I just knew he was getting hurt. Then Zenyatta looked a little riled up and she didn't come out of the gate and when she did come out of the gate, she was shaking her head, I was almost hysterical, I was so upset. And then Z did her thing. When I saw her classic move to the outside, and she starts that beautiful long, long stride run, I knew it was "check my beautiful butt suckers" time. What a glorious horse! Now I was crying because I was so happy to see such a beautiful creature do what she does best - run like the wind. Is she HOY? Sure she is. But is the Goddess of the East Rachel HOY? Yes. I can't imagine one of them not getting it. Except that this is Zenyatta's last year racing so if she wins that's fine. Rachel will get it next year.  

11 Nov 2009 4:36 PM
Steve Haskin

I will be writing about the Quality Road incident in tomorrow's final wrapup column, as well as other aspects of the BC.

11 Nov 2009 4:49 PM


I'm not sure you should go that far with your claim.

Both of the beautiful animals love to run and we love to watch them. What's wrong with one more special time?

11 Nov 2009 5:14 PM
Tim G

Steve, thanks for getting an update on QR. Last I heard, from a friend of the connections, it was a scrape/laceration on the hind leg. Guess that was early in the evaluation process.

Fixing a bad gate horse, that is really tough. Maybe if Bob can't do it all kidding aside get the ultimate horse whisperer. I've seen bad gate horses, never recover. Seen horses that were bad haulers and their owners even resorted to horse psychics and therapists. Seen barrel horses that got arena sour or rearing up in the roping box. All nearly impossible to fix. Todd is good as far as getting his horses comfortable in the gate but this colt seems like his mind is blown, surely hope not. Such a shame, just tragic. However, I really think the gate crew tried their best. Johnny was there as Todd's voice, but I did wonder why he didn't get off the colt sooner??

11 Nov 2009 5:17 PM
Jill Wachbrit

I was lucky enough to be one of those in the stands during Zenyatta's charge to victory.  I cannot begin to describe the energy in the crowd, the roar that went up when she started her move, or the intense emotions that my mother and I felt knowing that we had just witnessed a moment in history and the best race we had ever seen in our almost 50 years of attending races.  Your article brought back that 2 minutes of intensity to me.  Now the next drama that will cause us to hold our breath is the Horse of the Year voting.  I love Rachel and appreciate her talent but feel that when history moves on Zenyatta's 2 minutes will stay in our memory forever and that should be rewarded.  

11 Nov 2009 5:31 PM

I was privledged to see Personal Ensign beat Lady's Secret at Churchill Breeder's Cup to keep her perfect 13 streak .  I also saw Alysheba coming down the stretch in the dark to win the Classic.  I wasn't at Santa Anita on Saturday and I still got goose bumps as Zenyatta came down the stretch!!  What a great champion!

Rachael Alexander is a exceptional filly and Zenyatta is a once in a lifetime mare.  If Horse of the Year does not go to both of these talented individuals, the people who vote are doing a great diservice to Horse racing.

11 Nov 2009 5:53 PM
Saratoga AJ

Truth be told, Zentyatta had a much more impressive entire campaign LAST year. Even, God forbid, A race outside California.

7 for 7, not only 5 for 5. And must more impressive wins other than the Classic. She was running the same races up to close to 3 seconds faster with superior Beyers last year. She had a more complete year.

But she still lost HOTY to Curlin. And other than the trip to Dubai, can anyone say Rachel Alexandra didn't have perhaps an even a much stronger year in '09 as Curlin had in '08? He did lose two races. And since the same people are voting, the only chance Zenyatta has is a "BOTH" vote and co-HOTY's. I can live with that, and actually hope it does for sake of the Zenyatta supporters.

It will be "co" or Rachel wins it outright. That's my prediction. Talk to y'all in January!  

11 Nov 2009 6:11 PM

Zenyatta is your Horse of the Year!  She is the best horse since Cigar.  What makes this race so much more incredible is the she beat a turf horse on their favorite surface, rubberized grass.  NOTHING Rachel has done can even come close to what Zenyatta did Saturday--she was Simply Spectacular!

11 Nov 2009 6:46 PM


Because it's not up to us. Zenyatta's connections are doing what is right for her. Which is why so many of us tried to get it across, enjoy her. I hope you did because horses like Zenyatta come around only once.  

11 Nov 2009 6:59 PM

My wife and I were very fotunate to witness Rachael's Woodward and several Zenyatta races including the BC Classic. When we came back from Saratoga after the woodward we had thought that we had seen "emotion" for a racehorse that would never be equaled. We'll the emotion went from "over the moon" to "throughout the Galaxy"! We will treasure both races as the best we have witnessed in our 26 years as racing fans! Greatness has truly graced us all this racing year! Thank you to all the connections of both horses.

11 Nov 2009 7:03 PM

Great article Steve, written with that consistently beautiful style you offer.  Thank you.  Zenyatta's run was beyond thrilling and between the accomplishments of both Z and RA, and all the heart thumping they have given us this year, 2009 has been elevated to an unprecedented and historical stand out.  If ever there was a time to break with tradition and give out two HOY awards...this is it!!

I do want to send my best wishes to the connections of Quality Road, and my prayers go out to QR.  He was clearly traumatized by the gate loading attempts and his psychological wounds will probably take longer to heal than any physical wounds he sustained.  He is truly a wonderful horse, and he deserves all the help he can get to regain his confidence and run again.

11 Nov 2009 7:08 PM



I would love to see a match race !!!

11 Nov 2009 7:47 PM
Karen2 doubt these beautiful horses love to run and if they were to meet again in a race, with other horses...I would love it... I guess its not fair of me to speak for everyone else.. but for me....since the breakdown of Ruffian against Foolish Pleasure...I have no desire to ever see a match race...ever...ever again.

11 Nov 2009 8:21 PM
The Phantom

To the owner and trainer of Zen,I agree with Mickey Rev you are first class gents for giving us a superb conditioned horse who put on a show that all us racing fans will never forget.While you showed that you believed in your horse and SUPPORTED the BC, A PHONY named Jesse dissed the BC , track and cheated his horse of a opp to run against Zen because he was SCARED , a showdown that would have given racing a boost like never before.So happy and appreciate your courage to put it all on the line knowing the unbeaten streak could have ended but you believed in your horse and had her ready and made HISTORY.The RA fans just can accept ZEN's greatest but who really cares.

Whether she wins HOTY is unknown but anybody watching that performance knows who is number 1 and its not the vacationer.As for the no show owner Jesse I'll repeat again [read again Greg mr meow j] he's a PHONY! Hey professor meow why don't you send some words that are the same as PHONY if you are tired of reading my blog and your such a creative guy did you win the CT lottery yet by mistake LOL.

11 Nov 2009 8:41 PM
Paula Higgins

Steve, beautiful piece on Zenyatta. She is mighty and magnificent. A horse for the ages. You captured that perfectly. I have played her race on Youtube at least 20 times. Rachel is one for the ages as well. I agree that the award should go to both. It would not be diluting it and it would be the right thing to do. But if one of them does not get HOTY, I will not care. Nothing can diminish what they have both done.

Quality Road's situation is heartbreaking and I think they should give him rest and TLC. Although they did a great job hanging onto him, I don't think blindfolding a traumatized horse is a good idea at all. If he had gotten lose blind folded it could have ended in tragedy. If a horse absoultely will not load, don't race him. Then try to re-school them later if possible.

Presious Passion ran a phenomenal race and ditto Goldikova. What a greta Breeders Cup.

11 Nov 2009 8:42 PM

Thank you everybody who agrees with me that Zenyatta should NOT be HOY!!!! I'm not taken away any of her victories but Really? Rachel Alexandra worked her butt off every race. She won every race this season. Different tracks, different races, different competition, STAKES cometition, different states, and NEW surfaces. And also, she raced more races in 2 years than Zenyatta did in her 3 years of racing. Zenyatta was not facing the best at the top of their game. And sorry to say this, but she probably would not have won the BC Classic if it was on dirt. Sorry. I totally agree with pasturelands, Ron, el, and Bobhutt99. Thanks for realizing the truth guys.

Go Rachel!!! Rachel for HOY!!!!

11 Nov 2009 8:43 PM


Curlin and Rachel Alexandra are most likey hooking up. Not Curlin and Zenyatta. Sorry to burst your bubble.

11 Nov 2009 8:51 PM

Excellent article, Mr. Haskin.  I'm glad I will have the print issue for a keepsake.  This BC had some great stories; but Zenyatta is the top.  Mr. Shirreffs and the Mosses deserve kudos and thanks for their handling of Zenyatta's career.  They allowed her to mature before racing her late in her 3-year-old season so she missed the spring classics; but obviously this was the best choice.  Zenyatta became a racehorse who actually enjoys racing.  Even watching TV from 1000 miles away, one can see she revels in it all: the paddock, the post parade -- and, of course, the running!  You can't "make" a horse have that attitude. I hope she doesn't get bored when she's at the farm waiting for her foal.  If she misses the crowds, perhaps (as suggested by another blogger) she can be trained in basic dressage -- not to compete, but to attend a few shows and show off.  Mr. Moss is a successful record producer, so I suggest making a DVD with all Zenyatta's races, including comments from those closest to her.  Surely in A&M's vast music library there's just the right accompaniment to Queen Zenyatta's prancing and dancing.  

11 Nov 2009 8:58 PM

I must say that although I am an avid racing fan, I find it hard to find time to watch the races, but I wasn't about to miss the Breeders' Cup--not with Zenyatta facing an all-male field!  She had so much to lose, but yet so much to gain, and I can't help but admire her spirit.  This race will go down in history as one of the greats...and I'll always remember sitting here, in front of my computer, yelling and screaming as Zenyatta came flying down the homestretch, witnessing such history.

11 Nov 2009 9:15 PM
Matthew W

Steve, did Eastern fillies run 1/2 in Juvy Fillies?...2/3 in Ladies Classic....1/2/3(?) in Rubber Band Mile?

11 Nov 2009 10:54 PM
Billy Giamou

Quite simply the BEST Breeder's Cup to date! A to Zenyatta!

11 Nov 2009 10:56 PM
Dave Anderson

Loved your story; I feel you captured the scene perfectly. I'm sure I wasn't the only one watching on TV who had tears in his eyes after the race was over and the connections were being interviewed. I first got interested in racing in 1991 watching an allowance race where a horse was coming off a lay-off at Arlington Park and came from 8 lengths behind at the 1/8 pole to win by 8 lengths (He was named Unbridled and could close pretty well also). It gave me goose-bumps! Performances like that and Zenyatta's are why I still go to the track. The wagering aspect is fun,but the occasional great performance is what is remembered long after winning and losing bets are forgotten. Keep up the great writing, telling the human stories as well as the stories of the horses.

11 Nov 2009 11:32 PM
carolyn rogers

Food for Thought, Zenyatta is North Americ'a "All Time" Richest filly, No filly in all these years has amassed her accomplishment. The richest filly of all time, and that ain't a HOTY to some of you, along with "UNDEFEATED" winner of both "CLASSICS" defended her other titles this year, only filly to ever win the BCC, Zen for HOTY, my goodness, I wonder about some of you.

12 Nov 2009 6:10 AM
Bob Z


The amassing of career earnings is done ... just that... over the course of a career... It should have no bearing on an award for Horse of the Year.

Undefeated sure. 5 races this year.

Rachels undefeated in 8 this year.

Winner of Both Classics?  Yes a great accomplishment.  Too bad last years dosen't mean anything for HOY this year.

The award is for Horse of the Year not horse of the last 2 years...

12 Nov 2009 1:32 PM
Mike Relva


Guess you have FAR GREATER insights than: Bob Baffert,Carla Gaines,Richard Mandella,others' cause they all put their support behind Zenyatta for HOY!

12 Nov 2009 2:44 PM

Carolyn Rogers,

Yes, Zenyatta won the BC Classic and became the first female (she's considered a mare, not a filly at her age btw) to win that 26 year old race. Wonderful achievement, I agree.

On the other hand, Rachel Alexandra was the first filly in 85 years to win the Preakness. She was the first female of any age to win the Woodward Stakes in it's 56 year history. She's the first 3yr old filly to defeat males in three races in one year since HOTY Busher in 1945.

And by the way, when Zenyatta was the exact same age Rachel is today, she hadn't even raced once yet. She did all her great racing as a mature 4 and 5 yr old mare. (she broke her maiden 11/22/07,five weeks before turning 4).

Rachel is still growing up.

How good will she be when she's a filled out mature mare same as Zenyatta? Scary thought.

At any rate, she should be and when the voting counts, will be HOTY this year. Her achievements for the entire year exceed Zenyatta's. Her connections should have raced some outside California and in more than 5 races. Winning one race is not more important than the entire years accomplishments. It's Horse of the YEAR.

But in order to make everyone happy I have no problem if they award both of them, co-HOTY's. If only one, it's Rachel.

12 Nov 2009 5:00 PM
carolyn rogers

Bob Z, I know that. Quit acting like the BCC isn't a big deal here, because it is. It will play a big role , I bet. Have you noticed the poll on this website. Don't think that your voters aren't looking at them either, because they are. IMO Zen is best choice for HOTY, but you know what is better a feeling than that. It is the fact that now all the RA fans and JJ have got to hope that by the end of next year,that RA can have the same or better resume than Zen has, and also, if by chance, that is by chance, that RA does run in the classic next year, then hey, they will aways hope and pray she can do it as good as Zen done it, and aways remember, Zen did it first. " PRICELESS"

12 Nov 2009 5:20 PM

carolyn rogers:

I'm afraid you're in for one heck of disappointment in January.

Let's handicap the competition:

Curlin beat her out last year for the same reason she'll lose this year...she's basically a synthetic track specialist who raced in one state on the same 3 tracks. And her record was even slightly better last year(7 for 7, 4 G-1 wins) than this year(5 for 5, 4 G-1 wins).

And when you compare Curlin's 2008 (5 for 7 on 5 different tracks, 4 G-1 wins)with RA's 2009 (8 for 8 on 7 different tracks, 5 G-1 wins) Rachel's resume appears to be even stronger. And it's much the same people voting this year as last. You do the math!

I know who I'd put my money on!

12 Nov 2009 6:57 PM

Just look at the "World Throughbred Rankings".  Zenyatta is number 4 and Rachel is #6.  

12 Nov 2009 9:12 PM

Fabulous article Steve.  I was there and have never experienced anything like it.  New York Times had RA @ 70+ percent for Horse of the Year. We need to do something about this.  Zenyatta, without a doubt deserves this title.  Afterall RA did not show up to the World Championship (and the ultimate end of season test) at Santa Anita. She,(RA's owners) made some lame excuse regarding the synthetic surface, yet one of the greatest trainers in the world Aidan O'Brien, said and I quote "Synthetic surfaces are really kind to horses", and he won the Marathon with Man of Iron.  Ballydoyle has a synthetic training surface in Tipperary and they (+horses) love it.  Lets rally behind Zenyatta for this title.  She is five and has an amazing record.  RA is three and has two more chances at this title provided she stays sound, a feat in itself....Easy answer, Zenyatta deserves the title of "Horse of the Year" without a doubt.

12 Nov 2009 9:35 PM

Yenyatta proved to be the best California horse racing on a synthetic surface after an easy compaign in which she really won only one important race--the classic. That does not make her horse of the year.

12 Nov 2009 10:34 PM

Gary.. how do you explain 14 wins from 14 starts, is this a great achievment or what?

 Do you think RA would have been still on top of her game by the time the Breeders Cup came around?we'll never know. Also will RA still be running as a five year old?

It is not easy to keep these delicate athletes sound. Z and her connections (principally her trainer) have achieved this..Z really deserves HOTY award. The fact that the racing public have had the pleasure of seeing her run her heart out at SA and all her other successes for the last three years, makes her a true champion.

13 Nov 2009 12:10 AM
carolyn rogers

Joanie, I appreciate your insight, but as I must say, yes, I can accept co-HOY, as long as Zen gets her recognition, but as Zen just proved to all you naysayers about her. Also, about HOTY for 09, DON'T COUNT YOUR CHICKENS BEFORE THEY HATCH. crazier things have happened in the end of the year.

13 Nov 2009 1:46 AM
Saratoga AJ


The World Rankings you allude to are bases on each horse's BEST RACE OF THE YEAR...ONE RACE!

Zens BC Classic win was rated a little better than Rachel's Haskell.

Sea of Stars was ranked #1 for his win in the Irish Championship Stakes, not the Arc.


13 Nov 2009 5:52 AM
Bob Z


Zenyatta winning the Breeders Cup Clasic is a HUGE deal... but that great accomplishment factored in to her other races during the year creates what is called a "body of work"..

... and all I am saying is that the HOY award is given to the horse that had a better "body of work"  for the racing year ... 2009...and that looking at that... which is based on numbers not emotion says that Rachel should get the award...

I hope they split the award.. but if they don't and  it has to be given to only one horse than that award should go to Rachel.

"Quit acting like the BCC isn't a big deal here, because it is."

I'm sure the BCC is very big deal there...  the same way Rachel winning the Woodward at Saratoga was a very big deal there... with reports that the crowd response was over the top... the loudest anybody could remember...

It was a HUGE deal at Monmouth Park in the Haskell when 35,000 people braved a 2 day summer downpour to watch Rachel beat the colts by 6 lenghts in the slop just missing the record time for the Haskell....

My opinion is that the poll on here is heavily based on the emotion of the moment...

If the voters for the HOY are looking at this poll then I'm sure they are looking at the NY Times Poll where the result so far  has a decidedly different view...

The last time I looked voters were voting for Rachel ... 70% to 30%..

Unless Team Rachel is running against Team Zenyatta next year ... I don't think that Team Rachel is giving Zenyatta a second thought...other than acknowledging her winning the BCC which was a great accomplishment....

13 Nov 2009 8:32 AM

Joanie- Zenyatta suffered from bad nerves and hives, so they were patient and took their time with her, because of that and her size.  What is the point of saying that she didn't even start until the end of her three year old year when the reasons have been documented and you can't blame her connections for taking care of her.  She also has as bad a temper as her relation Balance, and so they really worked to keep her temper in check.  So many other trainers and connections would not have had the patience it took to get Zenyatta where she needed to be.  Rachel Alexandra will probably get HOY.  Be happy your horse will get it.  But, Zenyatta has never let any horse finish ahead of her, and if Rachel's connections went ahead and ran in the Beldame as they said they would if Zenyatta came, and Zenyatta was pre-entered- Zenyatta would still be undefeated..... because she doesn't lose.  And she would have beaten Rachel, and then there would have been no debate.  But suddenly Rachel zig-zagged to the Woodward.  Most said Zenyatta couldn't win the BCC.  Many said she wouldn't even hit the board.  So of course when she wins, and wins easily, many now discount it.  Give the statue to JJ.  I have better memories of watching Zenyatta inhale the field and win without being asked for her best.  I have better memories of watching Ruffian's 8 stakes wins, 7 stakes records, 1 equaling the stakes records and two track records running from 5.5 furlongs to 12 furlongs.  I have better memories of Zarkava easily beating Goldikova twice and easily winning the Arc as a three year old.  All Goldokova did was easily beat our best milers as a 3 and 4 year old.  There are great horses everywhere.  It is not just reserved for Rachel.  She's a wonderful filly- but I have seen better imo.  Obviously not in yours- and that's fine.  And by the way- if Sea the Stars came, Zenyatta still would have run in the BCC and still would have won.  She does not lose!

13 Nov 2009 9:26 AM

As a small horse crazy child I tore picicures and articles out of any publication of the great Secretariat. For the last three years it has been video and internet articles of Zenyatta. These two horses have spaned almost of my life and they are the only two horses I've collected as they are the only two horses that have made me fill euphoric when they run. I don't expect to live long enough to collect yet another. I thought Zenyatta was unfairly denied the Horse of the Year last year and I will be horrified if it happens to her again this year.  ZENYATTA 2009 HORSE OF THE YEAR!!!!!!!!!!!

13 Nov 2009 12:18 PM


"And by the way- if Sea the Stars came, Zenyatta still would have run in the BCC and still would have won.  She does not lose!"

Is this really you or do you have a twin somewhere posting under your name......Great post.....They are both great but it is hard to be fair to one without seeming to slight the other......LOL and have a good day.

13 Nov 2009 2:05 PM

Who is voting in the N.Y. Times poll?  People from the east coast?  Well that explains why Rachel is far ahead.  I wonder what will be the the result if LA Times conduct the same poll?  

13 Nov 2009 2:18 PM

Saratoga AJ

The recent World Thorougbred Racehorse Rankings (just published in DRF 11/12/09) is covering the period from May 9, 2009 to Nov 8, 2009.  It's based on the entire horse race performance within that period not just one race.

13 Nov 2009 2:54 PM
Bob Z

The New York Times is available world wide and with this invention called the Internet anybody living anywhere can access the poll....

Now ... who is voting for Rachel?

People from New York?  Absolutely as she won the Woodward at Saratoga and the Mother Goose at Belmont...

People from New Jersey?  Absolutely as she won the Haskell Stakes and beat the Belmont winner at Monmouth Park...

People from Kentucky?  Absolutely as she won the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs.

People from Maryland?  Absolutely as she won the Preakness at Pimlico..

People from Arkansas?  Absolutely as she won the Fantasy Stakes and the Martha Washington Stakes at Oaklawn Park.

People from Louisiana?  Absolutely as she won the Fair Grounds Oaks in New Orleans.

Rachel has gotten around a little bit this season...

I was at Monmouth Park drenched in the rain and I can tell you that the reception the 35,000 gave her was over the top...

13 Nov 2009 3:45 PM

Laz- yeah it's me!  I know it might be close, but Zenyatta proved to me that she will do whatever it takes to win.  But then I also believe Zarkava would have beaten him in the Arc this year also, because she also refused to lose.  You have a good day too!

13 Nov 2009 4:15 PM
Saratoga AJ


I'm not going to argue about it. Read the article!

It's NOT based on the horse's entire campaign, but his/her best race or sometimes two.

I'd match RA's entire campaign with any of them. Especially the fact she is a 3 yr old filly and pulled it off. Scary how good she can get when she's a 4 yr old.

Also look at:

13 Nov 2009 4:56 PM
Mike Relva


Why don't you show just a "fraction" of class and spell her name correctly!

13 Nov 2009 5:41 PM
Saratoga AJ

Bob Z:

Excellent (3:45) post. And right on target!

You want to be HOTY, you have to show the people everywhere just how good you are.

At all the greatest tracks. And it was real American racing. On dirt.

It will be years before they schedule the BC Races on synthetic again.

13 Nov 2009 6:13 PM

I must thank Zenyatta for being the 1st horse that not only brought me to tears but also the guys too! Am referring to my world wide friends that are fellow handicappers/avid punters. They not only set their alarms to view the race, put our $$s on her at $6.50/1 even after the news that she might opt for the BCC while Sea of Stars was still busily campaigning for the race, trusting what I knew all along (was right there with you John on the who can beat her?) the mighty Zenyatta would find the wire 1st no matter which distance as we were all hoping she'd face the very best so we could see more of her ability -drool drool! My confidence in her while traveling overseas luckily rubbed off hehehe! Immediately after her win the emails flooded in saying 'spine tingling, the world stood still, she could've won the Melbourne! distance? pff no worries, 1 of if not 'the' best race of all time, WOW seemingly effortless earn of the title 'World Champion', etc... All of this gracious awe coming from several countries where horse racing is still a revered sport. No one commented on the $$s we won (our reward was true appreciation of those amazingly long strides) yet the 1 comment that was repeated after the admiration was 'she is proven & it will stun her critics to silence' as I'm ROFL that a lot of you are still here because I forewarned that not even a locomotive like Zenyatta would get you off the 1 track -pun intended! To deny she is now 1 of the immortals because you have a fave that only races on dirt? LOL & too late the world has now embraced Zenyatta even tho they have many fine champions (male & female) of their own.

I watched the Preakness & the Breeders with my best friend from MA (avid fan of US racing for 62 years now) so I asked his opinion on the HOTY award (sorry Steve) knowing he respects both RA & Z -it should always go to the winner of the Breeders Cup was his reply. I'll go with age before beauty on that 1 lol! It didn't take long for some of you to forget Rags to Riches Belmont win in the toughest leg of the Triple Crown & it did not win the HOTY -Curlins BCC win did.

Steve thank you for the lovely article that takes us from the paddocks to post celebration with all of her connects  -as usual you captured everything honestly & with flair! It will be an honor to forward to my friends that only saw a 3 minute prelude then the race itself knowing they will enjoy the 'not long enough read' immensely! Oh question please -is there any other country that still separates the girls from the boys?

For her 1st sire IMO Phar Lap was the only 1 with a heart big enough for our girl! I'm sure Ann & Jerry will choose well especially after managing her career so lovingly, always putting her health 1st, & allowing her to be a part of all the decisions :) Although I'd love to see her race in Dubai (hint hint) especially since we haven't seen all of her gears yet! at least she allowed us to witness a chapter of horse racing history as we gratefully concede to whatever is best for her.

If you turn the # fourteen upside down it says 'hi' -what a way to greet the world! You will always have my <3 Zenyatta & I will never forget your free spirit chasing butterflies right up to the point where you knew if you didn't kick in a gear someone else might dare to cross that line 1st, always taking a moment to acknowledge your fans, then right back to chasing butterflies! You're the greatest thoroughbred I've had the pleasure of following & yet you leave me wondering how good your best really is??! "For the love of racing" is my motto, I believe it was yours too =D

13 Nov 2009 8:14 PM

Saratoga AJ

I finally agree with you on one thing.......Rachel should get HOY, but only based on the body of her accomplishments, not necessarily the quality of her opposition.....I really don't think that there can be any doubt about it.......But who is the best......ZENYATTA, and it's not even close.....and I really don't think that there is any doubt about that either.

13 Nov 2009 9:01 PM
Saratoga AJ


I still believe Rachel at her best would beat Zenyatta, and I know you feel otherwise.

But that's what this debate is all about. I haven't seen anything like this who's better debate in a long long time. East vs West; synthetic vs's got it all. The compassion of both the Zenyatta fans and the Rachel fans is amazing.

Maybe horse racing does not have the fan base it had when I was a kid. But as long as it has people who continue to love this sport as much as all the bloggers here at Blood Horse, the sport we love will never die.

And for the sake of everyone, let those two great ladies of the 2009 season both be named Horses Of The Year.

13 Nov 2009 10:00 PM

How could Rachel be the horse of the year if all she defeated were "B" group of horses (except for 1 or 2)?  Can someone tell me other than Summer Bird & Mine That Bird who are the other G-1 horses that she beat?  I am not saying that Rachel is not a good horse.  She is a very good filly but not great enough to win the HOTY.  Rachel still has to prove that she can win at longer distance (10 furlongs) and against the "A" group of horses.  Next year she will have that opportunity.  

14 Nov 2009 1:17 AM

Saratoga AJ

You're right.  In past years when the BC was over, for me the season was over and I would think, well what is going to happen now.  A lot of the big stars will be retired and I'm not sure who or which is going to take their place......Then there would be a void until the winter racing started and the derby horses wold begin to make their presence.....this year there is no void.......Interested hasn't peaked and passed by, it seems like it is just getting started..... LOL

14 Nov 2009 8:25 AM
Suzanne Mencer

great horse, great story, great writing - Bill Nack, move over.

here's another man in love with another great mare.

14 Nov 2009 10:37 AM
carolyn rogers

Folks if we are going to talk about races from the past. lets talk about last year, BB against Curlin, BB won two legs of the triple crown was pulled up in the belmont,and won the haskell and monmouth, he then was retired, O.K. now I know Curlin had the better campaign , going to Dubai and winning plus being the richest horse in North America, now, my fact is Curlin showed up and competed in the classic, he didn't have to win, but he showed up. Now, whats the difference in RA and BB, both won big races, but didnt show up for the world championships. Makes a differnence, Please do not tell me the difference is colt and filly, doesn't mean much in the awards.

14 Nov 2009 7:50 PM
Pete M

Fantastic article..thanks

15 Nov 2009 11:57 AM
Dear Birdie

Steve, I really enjoyed reading this wonderful article. Got my North American Trainer in the mail before the Breeders Cup and there was an excellent Shireffs article in there which I just read again because parts of yours seemed familiar to me. They are both very good but I think similar too. Not sure if you read that before you wrote this.

15 Nov 2009 9:25 PM

Thank you Zenyatta and also a big thanks to her connections, Class all the way.  Kudos for going out on top, this memory will last a lifetime. John Sheriffs and the Moss's should be very proud!!

15 Nov 2009 10:44 PM

I love ZENYATTA, But she has raced ONLY 4 times Before the BC Classic, RACHEL ALEXANDRA raced the WHOLE Year. One race does Not HOY make.

RACHEL ALEXANDRA DESERVES HORSE OF YEAR. Her record this year shows her dominance over all the horses racing today.

ZENYATTA had a Late start and raced the Second half of the year, RACHEL ALEXANDRA Raced ALL YEAR.

her record speaks for itself, I have been a fan of horse racing since 1970 and I have seen the BEST of the BEST race, and RACHEL ALEXANDRA deserves horse of year.

In case any of you forgot THIS YEARS ACCOMPLISHMENTS???? for Rachel, .. well here they are.


2/15/09 Martha Washington: 1st by 8 lengths -- Jockey: Calvin Borel

3/14/09 fair ground oaks (Gr II): 1st: by 1 ¼ lengths -- Jockey: Calvin Borel

4/5/09 fantasy stakes (Gr II): 1st by 8 ¾ lengths -- Jockey: Calvin Borel

5/1/09 Kentucky Oaks (Gr I): 1st by 20 ¼ lengths -- Jockey: Calvin Borel

5/16/09 Preakness Stakes (Gr I): 1st by 1 length: -- Jockey: Calvin Borel

6/27/09 Mother Goose Stakes(Gr I): 1st by 19 ¼ lengths -- Jockey: Calvin Borel

8/02/09 Haskell Invitational Stakes (Gr I): 1st by 6 lengths -- Jockey: Calvin Borel

9/05/09 Woodward Stakes (Gr I ): 1st by a neck- Jockey: Calvin Borel

New Stakes Records

2/15/2009 Martha Washington (listed): fastest time

5/1/2009 Kentucky Oaks (Gr I): largest winning margin (108 beyer and an incredible -neg 4!!)

5/16/2009 Preakness Stakes (Gr I): the only horse (male or female) to ever win from the far outside position (108 Beyer)

6/27/2009 Mother Goose Stakes (Gr I): fastest time

1:46:33 (111 Beyer) four fifths off the Track Record Set by the GREAT SECRETARIAT in 1973.

6/27/2009 Mother Goose Stakes (Gr I): largest winning margin - more lengths than the GREAT RUFFIAN! under a "handride".

Won the Woodward facing Older Males FIRST FEMALE IN THE HISTORY OF THE SPORT EVER WIN FACING OLDER MALES. Something the Great SECRETARIAT could not accomplish his first time facing Older Males. he was beaten by ONION.

She has won her First seven starts by a staggering total of 63 3/4 lengths.

She won her races THIS YEAR by a staggering total of Over 70 Lengths!

19 Dec 2009 1:48 PM
Mary McLeod

Thank you, Steve, for the reprinting of this wonderful article about our Queen Zenyatta. I am a proud member of her Nation. I have long thought Zenyatta loved to toy with the competition. The only reason she lost to Blame was that she underestimated how long it would take to overtake him. High hooves all around for this outstanding racehorse who has transitioned so well to happy and healthy broodmare. She can teach us a lot about adapting to the different stages of life. Thank you, and take care, Mary in Boone

07 Aug 2013 7:29 PM

Recent Posts



Social Media

More Blogs