The Journey Ends

Yes, there is room for one final Zenyatta column. Farewells have a way of inspiring them.

On Sunday, Hollywood Park will become racing’s mecca, as fans of all ages bow and pray in their own manner to a Thoroughbred that has become goddess-like to her thousands of self-proclaimed subjects. They have worshipped Zenyatta up close and from afar, and it is safe to say that no Thoroughbred has ever developed such a deep emotional bond with the fans.

Many of us who cast our thoughts and opinions down on paper for a living have unashamedly left behind the pragmatic world of reason and logic and entered the sentimental world that Zenyatta inhabits. Once there, the compulsion to gush in public and paint scenes of flowering hills and colorful characters from My Little Pony is too strong to resist.

Have we been drugged or seduced or even bewitched? I don’t believe there is a plausible answer to that. Zenyattaland is virgin territory, and you can either choose to enter and drink the elixir or not. Some hardened souls might feel that elixir is nothing more than Kool-Aid, but in this day and age, if the only repercussions from such mass hysteria are countless smiles, looks of wonderment, and being inspired to write songs, poems, and florid phrases, count me in.

Some have even credited a spiritual-like connection with her for their ability to overcome tragedy and physical infirmities. Why Zenyatta, as opposed to other great champions? One can attempt to answer that with the usual attributes – courage, consistency, determination, personality etc. But that is merely brushing the canvas with soft strokes. The truth is, there is no answer, so why try to explain the unexplainable?

To quote Hamlet, “There are more things in heaven and earth…”

Racing nowadays has too many pressing problems that are trying to be solved by too many people with their heads in the sand. Once in a while, or in Zenyatta’s case, once in a lifetime, it does one good to clean the sand out of the eyes and nose and come up for a breath of fresh air. On December 6, when Zenyatta boards the plane for Kentucky, we can all return to the myriad of problems in racing and see if we don’t miss the magic carpet ride she has taken us on for three years. It was only until recently that the rest of the world decided to hop aboard. Just when Zenyatta’s name finally began to infiltrate mainstream America through every medium it was time to say goodbye.

When Zenyatta bids farewell for the last time (that isn’t redundant in her case), I, unfortunately, will be 3,000 miles away. But having gotten so close to her before and especially after the Breeders’ Cup, I feel that was enough to last a lifetime. Well, let’s just say at least enough to last until mid-January when I visit her at Lane’s End Farm.

Just as the mystique of Zenyatta is difficult to explain, so is the reaction of people after being in her presence or watching her run. How do you explain the legendary trainer Allen Jerkens waking up in the middle of the night, and the first thing he thinks about is Zenyatta?

“Even though she got beat in the Classic, what she did was one of the great things of all time,” Jerkens said. “It would have been so special had she pulled it off. That night when I woke up I just kept thinking about it. In my lifetime, I can’t remember a horse that kept on winning like that for so long. I know I’ve never seen anything like it. They will look at the Classic the same way they look at Man o’War getting beat.”

Speaking of Man o’War, that brings us to the matter of perfection. Was it perfection that endeared Zenyatta to so many people? No one would think so after witnessing all the outpouring of love and admiration following the Classic. She actually became more of an iconic figure than she was while undefeated.

Man o’War wasn’t perfect: neither was Native Dancer, each suffering one career defeat. But their defeats have become a part of racing lore, just as much, if not more, than their victories. Literature has shown us that perfection can be interpreted in many ways.      

Truman Capote once wrote about Babe Paley, a well-known New York socialite, “Babe Paley had only one fault: she was perfect. Otherwise, she was perfect.”

With that thinking, Zenyatta, from a statistical standpoint, wasn’t perfect, which in the end made her perfect.

319 Comments

Leave a Comment:

Susan from VA

Mr. Haskins-  You've made me sad again!   I will miss Zenyatta.  It has been a long time - since Secretariat - since I have felt so connected to a horse I never saw in person.

03 Dec 2010 9:12 AM
Robert

My lasting memory of Zenyatta will be a sentimental one.  My 2 year old son loves this mare and can pick her out of a lineup.  He cheers her name when he sees her on a commercial.  He cheers for her when he reads one of the inserts that the Bloodhorse included in a recent issue.  Zenyatta has rejuvinated a sport in a way that I can only compare to Secretariat.  I too look forward to visiting Zenyatta this spring, only I am taking her biggest fan with me.  For everyone who makes Thoroughbred racing their daily life, this mare has given us a gift we will never forget......Just in time for Christmas.

03 Dec 2010 9:31 AM
Maria

Steve, i have never enjoyed reading articles of any sort as much as I love reading yours! Intelligent, thought provoking, well written. Period!

03 Dec 2010 9:34 AM
PA Bred

Another great article Steve. I will be there to see her in person for the first time on Sunday. I live in PA have a business trip to CA that will take me out there over the weekend. I have been a lifelong racing fan and now own and breed a few horses in PA. Zenyatta is the most captivating horse since Secretariat. I was never able to see him in person and have always regretted it. We might wait another 40 years to see another horse like this. She is truly a superstar.

03 Dec 2010 9:34 AM
Soldier Course

Something that John Shirreffs once said about Zenyatta gave me some insight into her mystique.

I think we have formed such a spiritual connection with Zenyatta because she reminds us of all those times in life that we have done our best, yet ended up shortchanged. Here of course I am referring to the Horse of the Year Award. I hope we see a "correction" of this injustice next month.  

03 Dec 2010 9:38 AM
ALB

Thanks Steve, once again, you write with such emotion that keep bringing us fans back to read you wonderful column! All I can say is Wow! I am going to be one of the fans making the trek from gloomy, cloudy & cold Oregon to finally see Zenyatta in person on Sunday. I am dragging my husband with me for a short two day out of the grey trip. I heard Hollywood Park has a railbird program on Sunday mornings, so we're hoping to go there early to see if we can see Zenyatta in her barn. But, if not, then we will wait to see her dance later on in the day. I am looking very forward to see her & her connections up close!!!

03 Dec 2010 9:45 AM
nmh

beautiful article mr. haskins..

thank you

03 Dec 2010 9:47 AM
Karen in Indiana

Ah, Steve, thank you. This will be added to the numerous other of your articles that I've saved.

With all the troubles we seem to be surrounded by right now - financial, political, wars, unemployment - Zenyatta has been a lifeline of light and joy. I think part of her mystique is her  - her record and personality - but another part is the right choices of those around her. It is uplifting and encouraging to see people who have put off short term gain for long term goals, they put the horse first and we all reaped the reward. Zenyatta is amazing and unique, but so are those people who have been in charge of her. May their tribe increase!

03 Dec 2010 9:51 AM
Melissa

Steve,

I just love the way you write. Picture of your Zenyatta kiss graces my desktop.

Hugs

Melissa

03 Dec 2010 9:52 AM
Tracy

I like to think this is her next leg in her journey and wish her the best during this time of change.I will always be interested in what is going on with her and mostly that she is happy,she deserves that as she has made a whole world happier for being the Queen!!

03 Dec 2010 9:53 AM
tbpartnerperson43

Another lovely, thought provoking article.  I hope the mare enjoys the sun, green grass and mud, if it ever rains in KY.  I wish her joy in being free to run for the pure joy of running.  My sadness comes with empathy for her people, and stable mates who will miss her terribly.  I don't think any of us can feel the loss the way they will.   Keeping my fingers crossed that she will go to A.P. Indy.

03 Dec 2010 9:54 AM
Tiznow Tim

I admit for the last couple of years my main hang up on her was wondering, "who has she really beat?", even in the 09 Classic as it was a surface she was very accustomed to. I was late, falling completely head over heels for her. But when I finally got to be in her "presence" at BC, I fell in love. I still hold Rachel higher in my heart as well as Goldikova, but what she did in the Classic answered any doubts I may have had. It is simply amazing what she did over the course of her career and I feel blessed I was able to witness it and see her in person and be mere feet from her.

03 Dec 2010 9:59 AM
wee-o

Very well said and while most of us are at a loss to describe our feelings for the Queen I have read articles lately that sum it up.  We don't have the words but we know she has captured our hearts.  Will be watching Sunday with a sad heart.

03 Dec 2010 10:03 AM
RacingThroughTheAges

Steve - don't let this be your last Zenyatta column! You have to help us keep tabs on her!:) I hope the Lane's End folks realize they are getting a people's horse and don't sequester her completely from her subjects. And from what we've seen, she's delighted to have an audience, so visitors will also keep her healthier and happier!

03 Dec 2010 10:05 AM
Robert

Steve, that was an awesome article.  Thanks for putting into words what most of us feel but cannot express as eloquently as you.  

03 Dec 2010 10:12 AM
Giddyup

I think the best way to honor the great horses like Zenyatta is to work at solving those problems in the sport you alluded to Steve.

03 Dec 2010 10:18 AM
Criminal Type

Great article, as usual. Hopefully Zenyatta will have a long happy life in her new career. I am sure the folks at Lane's End will ensure her every comfort.

Steve, I am so jealous your going to see her at Lanes End. I've only ever seen her on TV. She's a stunning girl. Mid January, you say ? Hmmmm, My 50th birthday is the 16th..you should take me with you as a present...Just kidding, can't blame a girl for wishing.

03 Dec 2010 10:19 AM
wildblueroan

thank you, Mr. Haskin

03 Dec 2010 10:26 AM
Rich C

Hi Steve.  Your friend Rich from Old Bridge here.  I just felt compelled to leave a comment because I have a hard time not getting emotional when I think of her.  As you know I own race horses and I love them like my own kids.  I spend alot of time with them rubbing on them and talking to them.  They have personalities and they know who we are.  That is why I know how Mike Smith, John Shireffs, and all those connected to her feel when they think of her.  We will all realize years from now how special she is and how great she was on the track. Anyone that doesn't agree has never taken the time to get to know a horse.  May she live long and have many happy visitors.

03 Dec 2010 10:29 AM
txhorsefan

You have completely captured the essence of the Zenyatta experience, Steve, and summarized it for us to relish and remember with your words.  I am sincerely grateful for your eloquent testimony to how she has made us feel and yes, there is no explanation for the unexplainable.  I wish I could better express it, but all I can say is Thank you.  

03 Dec 2010 10:32 AM
Kim

Zenyatta was perfect in the Classic but Mike made some bad decisions that day.

All of us wish sometimes if only we could go back and do it differently, that is life.

03 Dec 2010 10:35 AM
Jean

This article should be reproduced in every newspaper, magazine, all news media of any type.  It perfectly expresses what we all feel, Zenyatta is beyond description and has become an icon.

03 Dec 2010 10:38 AM
mark

I am a 57 year old male. Love horse racing, and never in my life have I been affected in a way such as Zenyatta has. You have such a way with words in describing the Great Mare. I actually teared up when I read your article and looking at the photos of you and so many just wanting to be in her presence. I have not had the privilege, but I hope one day to visit. I told my son, that in my day, I have witnessed, Secretariat, Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, and now Zenyatta. She will forever be in that small elite company to me, and the best thrill that she has given me, was I got to share her greatness with my son.

He and I acted like kids in our den, jumping and rooting for her to make that last stride. Thank you for putting so eloquently in words memories that we can all cherish in Zenyatta "The Great". thank you.

Mark Manning

03 Dec 2010 10:39 AM
KJY

I for one, surely hope that is not your final column on Zenyatta. And glad to know I am not alone. I keep waking up in the middle of the night thinking of her too!

03 Dec 2010 10:39 AM
hopeful

Thank you for this article, I was glad to see that someone was willing to put in print the same things that racing fans and industry  have seen when it comes to heads in the sand. In today's time with all the issues that can bring you down something that gives you joy and hope like Zenyatta is very appreciated.

03 Dec 2010 10:42 AM
tasha0927

That was a beautiful tribute to the Queen. Thank you for your consistent coverage of the greatest racehorse of our generation.

03 Dec 2010 10:46 AM
Sharon M

"Have we all been drugged or seduced or bewitched?"  No, Steve, I think we've all just fallen in love.  I was a latecomer to the Zenyatta craze, Rachel was and always will be my girl, but how can anyone resist her?  She is just so special with her dancing and showmanship and her obvious love for attention and praise.  I greatly admired Zenyatta before the BCC, but what she did in the Classic proved once and for all what a true Champion is all about.  It's not about perfect records, it's about the fight to win and overcome adversity.  So many people don't have a clue what that means.  We have such a "win, win, win" mentality in this country.  Life is not all about winning, it's about living it to the fullest and giving it your best, win or lose.

03 Dec 2010 10:48 AM
Dave

I love you Zenyatta. I've been in this sport since 1975 and your the only horse that has made me cry. You've done something to me that no other horse has.

03 Dec 2010 10:51 AM
Mike S

ZENYATTA, with her 19 for 20 record, belongs in that exclusive company, with MAN O' WAR and NATIVE DANCER, who were 20 for 21 and 21 for 22, respectively.

I actually don't consider her 19 for 20, in all seriousness. I consider her record as being 19.99 for 20. She was so much the best in the BC Classic, and it's the biggest shame in racing history that she didn't win.

03 Dec 2010 10:53 AM
Pazzo Pupo

Perfectly imperfect but perfect final farewell-to-Zenyatta pice, Mr. Haskin.

Parting will be such...sweet sorrow (too soon).

Zenyatta's departure from The Scene seems...premature & yet she has put her life on the line over & over & over again...in all 20 of her races.

To quote one of the pavers at the foot of & surrounding the Secretariat sculpture at the Kentucky Horse Park:

"Enough said: I love you."

03 Dec 2010 11:00 AM
Victor De Oliveira

I will never forget that inexplicable feeling right after the BC Classic when, right by the finish line and still in shock trying to come to terms with the result…this thought took over my entire soul: “This may actually be more beautiful and poetic than if she had won.”   Don’t know why – it simply made sense. Just as the author says here,  

there is no answer or explanation. The best I can come up with is…perhaps it was more beautiful not only because of the way she lost the race (a performance that  once again proved all the skepticals to be wrong), but most important she became even more “human” than before by teaching us yet another lesson: Zenyatta redefined “perfection” as something that after all is not so important. Despite the result, she still left the track as the big  winner that day. Very few horses can accomplish that, and I haven’t seen any before Zenyatta.  

See you on Sunday!

03 Dec 2010 11:01 AM
TripleCrownKaren

Steve as usual you have done "it" again.   Captured what millions are thinking about a truly once in a lifetime mare.    Like the immortal SECRETARIAT, ZENYATTA came long in a time of much upheaval in the lives of millions of people....as mentioned before, the economy, wars, joblessness.  it seems to me that just at those times a HORSE comes along to remind us all....that things CAN get better......It happened during SEABISCUIT'S time, then SECRETARIAT, and now...."QUEEN" ZENYATTA.   Her back was broad enough and strong enough to carry us ALL, if only for a little while, and we could forget all the crap in life for a brief moment of watching her tenacious fighting sprit, weaving her way from the back to the front with every increasing ground eating stridesl  SHE NEVER GAVE UP.....maybe that's her message to us....WE SHOULD ALL JUST KEEP ON GALLOPING!

I don't know if the Mosses read any of these blogs, but from one lifelong Thoroughbred fan to them ......I would like to say THANKS FOR THE RIDE! :)

03 Dec 2010 11:03 AM
Mike Relva

KIM

It's unfair to blame Mike Smith,he did nothing wrong.

03 Dec 2010 11:04 AM
Mike Relva

STEVE

Thanks for the touching article on Zenyatta. Due to family illness wasn't able to attend the Breeders Cup. I only hope Lanes End sometime will have a Zenyatta Day at the farm.

03 Dec 2010 11:06 AM
Rachel O

Steve,

Great article except for your use of the word "maudlin." Look it up in an unabridged dictionary. How about deleting it and putting in something more appropriate?

03 Dec 2010 11:06 AM
trackjack

Steve,

Another excellent article and farewell to the best female racehorse I have had the privilege of witnessing live.  

My final memory of her, seared into my brain, was her stretch run during this year's BC Classic.  When Mike finally worked her to the outside in upper stretch, Zenyatta, her face, neck, chest and forelegs caked with dirt, lowered her head, downshifted, and began her relentless drive to the wire.  That image from my seat in the stands will always be with me.  The fact that she missed Blame by a head has been well chronicled and discussed and Blame was the best on that day.

What Zenyatta did in the stretch at CD on Nov. 6 is what the great ones do and what the Thoroughbred was created to do. Thanks Zenyatta!  

03 Dec 2010 11:19 AM
Pamela Young

I absolutely love the wonderful tributes Steve Haskin has written about the greatest horse of the 20th century, Zenyatta. Her beauty, power, and personality are astounding.I hope  the public can visit her-I miss her already.

03 Dec 2010 11:27 AM
Zen's Fan Forever

Steve, you have given Zenyatta so many heartfelt feelings that myself and thousands of other fans feel in their hearts.  I am so sad that she is retiring I'm not sure I'll be able to watch her farewell affair.  I do wish they would run her one more year if she would be happy running.  I can't even imagine what she will feel like just being a broodmare and not having all that attention.  I've been to Kentucky horse farm and seen Funnycide and DaHoss and others and believe me they do not look like happy horses.  And Zen loves all the attention and spoiling.  I worry about her.  I've followed her for 3 yrs and have not been fortunate to see her in person but I've had dreams about her.  She makes me feel like I'm 16 again riding my horse with the wind in my face.  I'm an old lady now but can't explain the love, excitement and thrills she gave me and I got so many of my friends on the band wagon this past year to watch her.  I just totally lost interest in horse racing as I speak just knowing she won't be there.  Hopefully sometime this spring it will come back.  Thanks again for writing such wonderful articles about our Queen Zenyatta.

03 Dec 2010 11:27 AM
Steve Haskin

Rachel O, Maudlin is the correct word for what I'm trying to say, especially preceding the word gush, but I aim to please, so I have toned it down and changed it to sentimental just for you :).

03 Dec 2010 11:28 AM
Novanora

Her lone defeat reminds me of the Jockey Club Gold Cup many years ago when Seattle Slew was passed in the stretch by Exceller (rest his troubled soul), and fought back inch by inch to fall just a tiny bit short.  THAT was the moment that convinced me that Slew was a great horse - not his unbeaten streak through the Triple Crown - because it proved without question that he had the courage and will to win to fight on.  Same goes for Zenyatta (although she convinced me of greatness a lot sooner!).

03 Dec 2010 11:32 AM
TL

I seldom leave comments, but as an avid racing fan, former turf writer, and Zenyatta aficionado you have compelled me to do so. I don't believe I have read a finer article than your recent post in quite some time. It and Zenyatta are something I will treasure for quite time time. You deserve a raise.  

03 Dec 2010 11:37 AM
Steve Haskin

PA-bred, lucky you. Have a great time.

Thanks, Melissa, I'm honored to be there.

This probably will be my last blog, but I will do something on my visit to Lane's End, most likely a feature. But I guess a blog is an alternative if a feature doesnt work out.

Thanks, everyone, as usual, for your comments and your feelings.

03 Dec 2010 11:39 AM
Soldier Course

Steve and Rachel O:

Thanks for changing "maudlin" to "sentimental". When I first read t

03 Dec 2010 11:40 AM
sunnysunrise

Thanks Steve, for another inspirational piece by a truly gifted writer!!!  Zenyatta--was it her unique name that compelled her to take on the persona the racing world and general public fell in love with—or was it her perfect record? Or, was she sent by the racing gods to remind us just how magical these extraordinary animals truly are?  Was it fate that she first raced on Thanksgiving Day?  Was the timing of the release of "Secretariat" a prophecy which rekindled the flame of past fans to yearn for another taste of that equine elixir? I was there with my best friend from high school to cheer for Queen Z one more time and witness something unparalleled.  We proudly carried our sequined turquoise and pink marabou “Z” symbols which brought smiles and a frenzy of photographers as we waved them for all to see.  The atmosphere took on a height of such magnitude that one felt they were elevated to a euphoric joyous plateau. The setting sun, the glowing lights, the roar of the fans and then "away they go".  Her final battle with the boys will forever be etched in my mind—she came, she raced and she left a LEGEND…"one we’ll never forget"!!

03 Dec 2010 11:43 AM
Soldier Course

Steve and Rachel O:

Thanks for changing "maudlin" to "sentimental". When I first read this article, I got a twitch when I got to that word. Only time it's happened reading Steve's work!

03 Dec 2010 11:44 AM
WWSTP

To try to explain Zenyatta is to try to define, clearly, what inspiration is and what inspiration does.  We're all hungry for it, yet we continue to worship the mind and pure linear thinking and facts, and then go "what happened" when a Zenyatta shows up.  There is a huge difference between "going emotional" and having ones heart opened.  Zenyatta, on the track and off, opened hearts.  She is in fact the total package.  She gave us the facts we so desperately seem to need, but she went way beyond that in giving us new territory…heart… to add to the elixir.  Thanks to her connections, she was made accessible...touchable.  And here is where the horse is able to do so much that humans don't seem to be able to do as well.  Touch us, move us, and sometimes even heal us at that deepest place of our core.  And that is a reality, whether or not we can explain it, define it, or render it to some kind of fact.  The memory of her resides in us now, and we too will probably wake up in the middle of the night…remembering.  Something so indefinable, yet so permeating as Zenyatta!!  Well, it doesn’t get much better.

03 Dec 2010 11:46 AM
FloridaFan

I cried the day Ruffian died; I cried when I was priviledged to touch Secretariat at Claiborne and I cry now at both Zenyatta's defeat and her retirement.  Horses like these are so rare.  Thank you Mr. Haskin for your eloquence and for expressing what so many of us feel.  I too hope there's a way Lane's End can allow some visitation rights as Zenyatta moves on to motherhood.  Godspeed and good luck to her and her owners as they enter the next phase of her life.  Thanks for the memories...

03 Dec 2010 11:47 AM
Steve Haskin

Soldier Course, I wanted it to be a strong word to show that she makes a frowned upon (by many) word acceptable, but in the long run, sentimental probably works better, especially if my use of maudlin is taken a different way. I dont want anyone to twitch when they read it :). See, I can use all the copy editing I can get, so I'll have to put Rachel on the payroll.

03 Dec 2010 11:48 AM
Phil McSween

Captain Steve....like Queen Z herself...you both FIRE EVERY TIME.    

I'll admit, i was a late convert to the Zenyatta MAGIC, but she won me over, hook line and sinker after the '09 BC Classic.   I had tossed her that day and was actually surprised when she opened up as the 5-2 ML favorite.  But the oddsmakers obviously knew what they were doing...and so did she.  She was MAGNIFICENT in winning that race and especially in winning the hearts of racing fans of all ages, throughout her brilliant career.      

Vic Stauffer's call in the 2010 Lady's Secret when he said "SHE'S GOING TO HAVE FLY AGAIN" really stands out.   And she did indeed take flight to her mow down Switch and win her 19th straight.    That was ELECTRICITY PERSONIFIED.    

Her effort in Louisville both in the morning with fans and in the Classic speaks for itself.    The shot of her just after the wire, covered in dirt for the first time, but still full of run, will resonate me for a long time.  

THANK YOU ZENYATTA !!!  

03 Dec 2010 11:49 AM
Richie

Amen, Mr. Haskin. Thank you for being our guide through the Zenyatta years. I sensed along the way that you were drawn to her more during her last year just as we all were. I'm guessing you will have another article on Queen Z. I know we will all be very disappointed if you don't.

03 Dec 2010 11:53 AM
DBH

Thank you for your comments.   You are one of the few thoroughbred racehorse writers I enjoy.  You give a different perspective adn it comes form a wonderful eye for a true champion.

03 Dec 2010 11:56 AM
Karen D

In my lifetime, there is only one horse that compares to the way Zenyatta has touched hearts and captured the imagination.  His name was John Henry.

Neither were mere horses, they were an experience.  To experience either was to see the strength of the personalities that made them who they were.  Race records, although impressive, were a distant second. Frank Sinatra's song "My Way" is the closest I can come to explaining the phenomenon that was John and is Zenyatta.  It's not just what you do, but how you step up.

As with John, I can't help but smile whenever I hear Zenyatta's name. That's what I would call a legacy.

03 Dec 2010 11:57 AM
Mj Hawk

Steve, what a ... perfect line to end with.  I think it brings her down from Mount Olympus to us.  (Although her connections were always great about sharing, and she spent more time with regular folks that just about any racing Thoroughbred in living memory.)  

Like Jimmy Jerkins, I believe what she did in her first and last defeat was beyond remaqrkable and possibly superhuman.  Anyone who thinks she lost a step is just plain wrong.  

I still have a right-ward tilt,  having been that way since the night of the Classic, when I, along with millions of others, tried to get her past Blame--using my neck and head.

Any horse who can reconfigure the posture of millions has to be great.

03 Dec 2010 11:59 AM
Heidi

You said it better than I ever could have...as always.

03 Dec 2010 12:06 PM
Jem

Man O' War lost his race because he was turned in the opposition direction when the gun went off. Pretty good reason I'd say!

For me, Zenyatta was great, but the retirement of Rachel Alexandra was like a knife in the heart. Racing just didn't seem as exciting afterward.

Both girls did so much. Thanks Ladies!

03 Dec 2010 12:14 PM
Linda in Texas

Steve, exactly perfect in all you wrote. Count me in also to being drugged,seduced and bewitched.

If indeed she makes one smile, she has done her job well. If she healed someone and gave them hope, she has done her job well. And most of all she did her job well on the racetracks.

She will always be a mystery even though she came into our lives as large as anything could possibly be. She hid nothing from us and will no doubt be spoken of and written about fondly for eons.

She is perfect. She is love and

I hope to see her one day in person.

And i too, like Trainer Jerkens, wake up and think about Zenyatta, just like i do about my son and those i care deeply about.

Thank you Steve, for all your articles. I don't know what you are going to have to do to write something that could be more spectacular than the subject of Zenyatta! She has left you with some mighty big hooves to fill in the journalistic department.

03 Dec 2010 12:20 PM
Linda M

Hi Steve....always waiting for your blogs.  All the superlatives that have been bestowed on OUR QUEEN, the one that is omitted is HEART.  And does she ever have heart, with her determination to get to the finish line first...ala Secretariat.  The thrills Zenyatta has given us, well, what word can we use for that.  And yes, am really hoping Lanes End, will let her fans see her, since the farms don't let the public see the mares in foal.  This would be so so sad for us all, we adore her, we will miss her antics, and....wonder how she will feel being away from her "humans" that loves her to pieces, cared for her as one of the family, and has done all the right things for her.  And, of course, the ham she is, prancing, and posing for her adored fans, and loving the attention.  Hope Lanes End sees this.  I truly believe she needs her fans and still keep them captivated and posing for us.

Be happy Dear Girl, WE ALL LOVE YOU.

03 Dec 2010 12:41 PM
catts

While I am so grateful that Zen retires sound and healthy I can predict that she will hate retirement.  We had a saddlebred show mare that reminds me of Zen.  She never was as happy at home as she was at a horse show.  The good ones love their work.  Zenyatta will always be looking for an adoring public to dance for and be listening for their cheers.  She will always be listening for Boots and Saddles and forever be looking for the starting gate and an empty track ahead of her.  She was a true entertainer in every sense of the word and will miss her fans.  How her connections will go on without her I don't know.  It was evident she lit up their lives as well as ours.  I will never see another like her in my lifetime.  Thank you Queen Z for being you.

03 Dec 2010 12:43 PM
Zemonized

The unexplained "it factor" of Z that forms a strand of connection, admiration, love, hero worship and recognition of greatness that transcends the realm of logic occurred to me only once before when as a nine year old, already sports crazed, (Thank You Dad!), impressionable girl, Mickey Mantle took the time too walk over to the fence at Yankees training camp, sign my autograph book, & shake my hand. I remember not wanting to wash the hand-shake off for as long as Mom would allow!  Only lasting damage, (according to many), I've been a lifelong Yankees fan.  NOBODY'S PERFECT. . . .

03 Dec 2010 12:44 PM
Linda in Texas

Steve, i bet you never thought there are so many of us who 'hang' on every word you say. Your word 'maudlin' seemed inappropriate to Rachel O and you changed it.

Now, in one of your answers you stated "this will be your last blog" and i thought, last blog about Zenyatta, or last blog period. I hope not your last blog period.

I would hope that as we all do, Zenyatta is simply beginning the second phase of her journey, that of hopefully producing a likeness in her foals.

Her journey is far from over and i hope you will be there to write about all of her journeys.

You know her best next to those who

have been so close to her in her racing journey. You just have such a deep rooted appreciation for effort and heart in horses and a gift for relating that deep emotion to all of us. Thank you.

03 Dec 2010 12:45 PM
Goldie

Seduced, beguiled, moonstruck.  In this age of coining new words, like "Plutoed" or "McGyvered", I would like to submit "Zenyattaed" or "Zennied" to connote the overwhelming adoration towards something, or someone, without any explanation needed.  

I will be there on Sunday, most probably with a box of tissue nearby, to be completely Zennied by the phenomenal mare we love so fiercely.

Thanks once again for such a great article.

03 Dec 2010 12:46 PM
Virgil Fox

Thank You AGAIN, Steve.

- Peace

03 Dec 2010 1:08 PM
Gary Tasich

Well said...Zenyatta and Secretariat are the benchmarks for me. Thanks to Team Zenyatta for their stewardship. God speed great mare.....!

03 Dec 2010 1:09 PM
Carol

You're comments are right on.  I can hardly believe I won't be able to see Zenyatta race anymore.  She gave a lot of us the ride of our lives.  The connection that people have with her is truly wonderful and it would greatly benefit the horse racing world if that kind of connection between the fans and the horses could continue.  Obviously not all thoroughbreds have the personality Zenyatta has.  She was truly a wonderful experience!

03 Dec 2010 1:13 PM
Karen in Indiana

Last blog period or last blog about Zenyatta? I hope you just meant about Zenyatta. Your blog's are a voice of reason in an unthinking world.

03 Dec 2010 1:24 PM
NancyP

Hi Steve,

Thank you for the eloquent and heart felt wrap-up of Zenyatta's racing career.  She gave herself as a gift to all of us - young and old, rich and poor.  She elevated us by just being herself!  

I shall miss her and news of her here on The Blood-Horse terribly, but I will be at Lane's End next year by hook or crook to see her up close and personal.  I agree with Mike - there is no stallion worthy of her on any continent!

Thanks to Ann and Jerry Moss, John and Dottie Sherriffs, especially Mike Smith and Mario - they all loved her unconditionally.  Thank you most of all to Zenyatta for gracing us with her presence!

NancyP

03 Dec 2010 1:32 PM
NancyP

Steve - Just a quick question - will Zenyatta's farewell at Hollywood be televised on any of the networks?

Thanks,

NancyP

03 Dec 2010 1:55 PM
Zemonized

Attention  Goldie:  On Monday Night Football I believe it was Mike Ditka who commented that the San Diego Chargers were "Doing the Zenyatta".  Starting out slow & then coming like a freight train  (or something like that).  She's already become a part of our lexicon.  A Thoroughbred Julia Roberts - Pretty Woman -  How Cool!

03 Dec 2010 1:58 PM
Lonnie

Thank you, Mr. Haskin, for again bringing to life what we feel in our hearts for Zenyatta.  The empty hole that is left with her departure to Lane's End farm will most likely never be filled again.  We will watch on Sunday and try and take the day and memorize every detail about her so we can remember Zenyatta the way she has been the last three years to us.  Dancing, pawing and preening before all of her fans.  And we will never see that "late run" of hers again except on replays of her races.  They are just as exciting to watch again as they were the first time.  Please keep all of us informed of this beautiful mare and may her life be filled with the same joy she has brought to us.

03 Dec 2010 1:59 PM
Kathryn Cogswell

Dear Mr. Haskins:  There seems a mystery about the broodmare phase of a Thoroughbred's life.  With one so dear to the public as Zenyatta has become, it is impossible to relinquish the hope we can be given insight into her next months and years.  You, with a great equine veterinarian, might write a meaningful article illuminating the care and handling Zenyatta will receive -- it just must be as full of love and her best interests as the Mosses and Shirreffs have given her so far, mustn't it?

03 Dec 2010 2:00 PM
Sharon M

Mike Smith was NOT at fault for Zenyatta losing the Classic!  How could he change her running style?  She ran the way she always runs, from the back of the pack.  There was nothing he could have done to change the outcome no matter what anyone thinks.  I know he was beating himself up about it, but who hasn't had regrets over what to him was the most important race of his life?  He simply played the cards he was dealt to the best of his ability.  It was due to him that she was as close as she was at the finish line.

03 Dec 2010 2:02 PM
Ellen Zachary

I am all misty again...I am so going to miss her...we all are...good luck, Z...

03 Dec 2010 2:07 PM
Aluminaut

It was a while before I could watch a replay of the Classic.  

In a "Twilight Zone" moment it seems that maybe she'll get up this time.  I'm not going to "Groundhog Day" the Big Mare's trip in the Classic, or the outcome of her great race.  

She showed everyone what she is made of, and I tell you, after John Henry I never thought I'd be taken on a wild racing trip again.  Zenyatta came along and "turned my world around."

I know I'll never see one like her again, but I'm looking forward to a Triple Crown one year soon.

Zenyatta slips away on the Tex Sutton Monday morning at Ontario.  I don't like to get up that early, but I'd do it to see her one more time after the madness on Sunday Afternoon.

03 Dec 2010 2:09 PM
dianeche

Thank you, Steve.  What a horse and what a ride.  Farewell to the Queen!

03 Dec 2010 2:12 PM
Darlene

Hi  I am very sad about Zenyatta leaving her world at Hollywood park i have never got to see her except on tv but I love her and I wonder if she will be happy away from the world thath she knows I have been to lanes end and it is a beautiful place but will she be happy away from the track? I hope so I hope to visit her at Lanes end I just hope they let her fans come and see her. Please keep us posted on hhow she is once she is at the farm I will be watching Sunday as we say farewell to Queen Z  be happy Z I love you.

03 Dec 2010 2:21 PM
Lisa A in CA

Sharon M, I LOVE your definition of a champion.  "It's not about perfect records, it's about the fight to win and overcome adversity.  So many people don't have a clue what that means.  We have such a "win, win, win" mentality in this country.  Life is not all about winning, it's about living it to the fullest and giving it your best, win or lose."  I think you hit the nail on the head as far as describing our devotion and awe toward this wonderful horse. She became noble in defeat.

03 Dec 2010 2:26 PM
GJU

Steve, thanks for another Zenyatta column. I adore Big Mama Z and her connections and I'm beginning to feel that Team Zenyatta explains some of what is so special about her. John Shirreffs is a great role model for the people working in his barn. How he and all of Team Z kept her safe and sound for so long is a miracle. Her coat is always shiny and dappled. She's stunning. For me, before knowing much about the connection, of course it was the perfection streak. Just win one more, Zenyatta. Just one more! But even in her lone defeat, people have said she was more impressive than in any of her wins. Ha! Only Zenyatta herself could come up with an ending like that! If I had a race horse that fired each and every time it raced, especially with a come-from-way out-of-it kick, I would get on my knees every day and thank God. She's the most special thing in horse racing I've ever witnessed in my over 25+ years of following it. I'm a scrapbooking geek and I'm getting ready to document her career in photos, magazine pictures, magazine articles, blogs (oh, you're going to be in Mr. Haskins! You better believe it!), signed items, ticket stubs, programs and whatever else I can find. When I look back at it, I will instantly be taken back to the races I saw her win and what a special time it was in horse racing. PLEASE, Steve! Take pictures of her in January and post them for us to see. I'm going on Sunday to Hollywood Park to say goodbye. I hope I don't become an emotional wreck...

03 Dec 2010 2:27 PM
quarterhossgal

Thought provoking article Steve. Not just sentiment but facts about the way thousands of fans feel about this great mare. I have been lucky enough to see some great ones, Cigar, Alysheba, Personal Ensign. Lady's Secret, John Henry, Easy Goer etc. but the talent, personality and strength of Zenyatta are in a class of her own.

Seabuscuit, Secretariat and now Queen Z have come along at a time when the world needs a rosy bright

future.  This great mare inspired a generation of people, many new racing fans.  Let's not let her just slip in to retirement as a boodmare without any public information. Steve, we are counting on you to keep us up to date on everything Zenyatta.  She is a national treasure and we want to continue to use her as an ambassador for racing.  She has the temperment to continue to charm the world.

03 Dec 2010 2:49 PM
Rhonda

Zenyatta's story broke into public consciousness around the time of what surely was the most rancorous and divisive general election in recent memory.

Many of us set aside our differences, even those nagging petty doubts about her skills, as we watched her launch into that valiant-but-unsuccessful stretch run.

I wish her good luck, good grazing and good/fast babies.

Rhonda Lane

http://thehorseyset.net/

03 Dec 2010 2:50 PM
Dani

Thank you Steve for once again so eloquently putting into words what we all have come to feel for this amazing creature who, for me, has reached a mythical status.

I am not one of the lucky ones to have met Zenyatta in person; touch her velvety nose and gaze into those soft, gentle and intelligent eyes. But I relish every photo in which I do get to do so. The same magical qualities are there to behold.

I am neither a religious nor spiritual person though I often wish I were so as to have faith, belief or hope in something to help me through the tides of life. I pause to say something so personal - that I have found those elusive needs in a horse, of all things. For me I am astounded and in awe that this should happen. But I am no longer surprised as I look at those photos -  close ups of those eyes that seem to look into the soul and say everything is going to be alright.  

I wonder if later I will be embarrassed that I've shared all this in a public forum. But maybe others feel the same as well.

Thank you Zenyatta. You have been the angel I have been looking for -  sent to earth bringing faith, belief and hope.  

03 Dec 2010 2:52 PM
Pam S.

Of all your wonderful Zenyatta pieces, Steve, I think this one is my favorite.  Bewitched, seduced, drank the Kool-Aid, whatever, like Linda in Texas said, count me in!

"Drank the Kool-Aid" is actually not very flattering to Zenyatta fans, as most of you bloggers know.  Mentioning the Queen in the same breath as Secretariat seems to set some people off, but in my opinion, it doesn't detract from the legend of Secretariat -- if anything, it embellishes memories of the great horse.

I don't think we should worry too much about Zenyatta's happiness and state of mind away from the "spotlight."  Just think of her enormous will to win and her wonderful temperament, and you'll have to conclude that she'll adapt to her new life easily.  I, too, feel sorry for her human family, but they'll adapt too, and I know they are smart enough not to be looking for another Zenyatta.  There'll never be one.

03 Dec 2010 2:54 PM
Barry

Kim was right. Even Mike Smith said it was his fault that Zenyatta did not win the race. There is nobody to blame other than him. He should have started his move earlier than he did.

03 Dec 2010 2:58 PM
Soldier Course

Karen in Indiana:

This can't be Steve's last Zenyatta blog.

He's got to write one when she wins Horse of the Year.

03 Dec 2010 3:03 PM
AJ

That was quite compliment from Allen Jerkens. The 81 yr. old legendary "Chief" aka "The Giant Killer" is  one of the greats of all time and has seen (and beaten many) of the greatest horses in the last 7 decades.  

03 Dec 2010 3:04 PM
Margaret H

I think that it has been a magical moment in time, to have been caught up and swept away by this enchanted horse. I had followed her career and witnessed her races on tv and via the Internet. I read the media and savored your columns, and the photo of Zenyatta and Mike crossing the finish line from last year's BCC is my screensaver at work. I was so fortunate to get to attend the 2010 Breeders Cup. It was a first for me to attend a race, live and in person, an incredible experience, beyond all my expectations! I went there to see her last run, I just could not miss it. We saw Zenyatta on the track that Thursday, and we thought we were lucky then. When we were driving to the track on Friday morning we were among the lucky ones to catch her out grazing behind the barn. All of my photos have fence wires, but I was as close to her as I am to my computer screen, now. She was so aware of the fans lining uo to see her, the grazing was just a prop she used to get close to us. Her groom, Frank answered my questions and John was there, too. On Saturday morning, much to our joy, we found her out grazing again, took more photos and stayed to talk to her and watched her get her bath until the police showed up to move our vehicles. I thought then, that my heart would break if she didn't win the Classic, but it didn't. I was on the rail in Section 120 and when she came up the backstretch, I felt the power and the momentum she had as she passed all the others on her way to Blame - the feeling I had when she blew by me, just a few yards away from me was undescribable. When she fell short by a few inches, my heart did not break, I was in awe of what she had done. I was witness to greatness that few lifetimes are privy to. She will be my Queen and I will never forget how she made me feel. She is beauty to behold and as Churchill said - the outside of a horse is good for the inside of a man. Long live the Queen!

03 Dec 2010 3:06 PM
Tracy

No regrets Zenyatta,you are perfect!

03 Dec 2010 3:36 PM
Smarie

I will always treasure Zenyatta. How could one not? She was one of a kind - a horse who breathed life and excitement and wonder back into horse racing. I have never seen a Thoroughbred react to the crowds as she did. She knew they were there to see HER. Absolutely everything about Zenyatta is special. I agree with Mike Smith, when asked who he thought would make a good mate for Zenyatta said that he didn't think anybody was good enough. We will never see her like again; at least I won't. I applaud her connections for making her so accessable to the fans. No aloof owners or surly trainers there! God bless you and keep you safe, Zenyatta. Thank you, Mr. Haskins, for this wonderful blog.

03 Dec 2010 3:37 PM
eightbelles

Steve, You were born to be a writer. Another beautiful Zenyatta story so well written and deserving of her. I will be seeing her on Sunday for the first time in person and I am beside myself with glee about it. She is really something special isn't she?

03 Dec 2010 3:50 PM
Mike Relva

BARRY

Do you know why he didn't "start his move" cause at first she wasn't taking to the track. It's not his fault.

03 Dec 2010 3:51 PM
Afleet Treet

Steve,

Bravo to you! Yuo captured what so many of us feel and have been saynig (although not nearly as eloquently as you) for so long now! I have followed Z snce her 2nd or 3rd start and been hooked ever since. Something about her presence though is truly what hooked me...had nothing to do with her winning ways or her records nearly as much as her "presence" which is truly a wonder to behold and all the TV cameras in the world don't do her justice, I feel it is truly something to experience in person. For this reason Hubby booked me a trip down to Hollywood this weekend to see her and say my final farewell to her at the track. I will most assuredly be at Lane's End next year and can only hope an dpray that her foals get the very best of her personality and are "people horses" just like their champion mother.

Zenyatta stirred the senses, became an icon, jarred imaginations and inspirations, and snuggle the ill, and special needs children who greatly benefitted from the touch of this gentle giant. Horses are amazing creatures and yet when they were dishing out amazing, Zenyatta got an extra dose. A true wonder and joy to all of us, even those who dont' fully see it. As someone previosuly mentioned to know a horse is to love a horse and if you have never "known" the love of horses in your life then you simply cannot know how truly amazing they are. To have personally snuggled Zenyatta myself, I feel priveleged to have known her and had the chance to meet her and regardless what anyone thinks about her or her "family" I thank them all from the bottom of my hear for sharing her with us in a world where so many are shieled and spirited away from their adoring fans and where all we get is glimpses across the wire or from article we read. To allow fans in to actually meet them is a true joy and honro and Team Z has stepped up big time. I can;t wait to meet them all and especiallt to stand next to perhaps one of the mightiest mares we'll ever see in our lifetime. To touch this gentle giant again, will be a memory I will cherish always and when she takes her final dance steps in front of the massiv crowd that will assemble at Hollywood Park to bid her a racing and rousing farewell, I am sure there will not be a dry eye in the grandstand. I know I will be tucking extra Kleenex n my picket and proudly wearing my Queen Z sweatshirt!

Most of all THANK YOU to Zenyatta for just being Zenyatta...as my Gramps would have said "Here's to her, there's none like her"...Thanks to Team Z for helping her become The Big Z...Thanks to them all for sharing her so graciously with us and setting the standards by which all connnections could stand to take a lesson. After it is the fans that create the masses and it seems it is those fans that see things more clearly than even the powers that be...they could take a lessn from us and from Z.

I like what one person above said....we have truly ALL been "Zenyattaed"....Although I prefer to contineu to believe in the glorious power of Zen!

See you this weekend Big Girl...Bringin a Honeycrisp from WA just for you!

Three Cheers for Zenyatta...

HOOF HOOF HOORAY!!!!

:-)

03 Dec 2010 4:00 PM
GJU

Oh yeah. Just so you know Steve, I really do know your last name is Haskin, without an S at the end. No, really, I do know that. Why I put an S at the end of your name in a couple of the blogs I've posted on here, I will never know. My apologies sir! (But you're still going in my scrapbook!!).

03 Dec 2010 4:05 PM
ALB

TVG showed Zenyatta's retirement party last year, so they will probably be showing it again on Sunday.

03 Dec 2010 4:07 PM
Soldier Course

Dani:

You're not alone for finding great spiritual connection and comfort in abiding with the horses. The last eight years have transformed my life.

03 Dec 2010 4:09 PM
Jay

Steve,beautifully written.I have been stabled next to John Shirreffs and about 40 feet from Zenyatta since the end of Del Mar,and I consider it to have been one of the most pleasurable and priviledged times I have spent at a race track.She is all that has been written about her and more,and you and Mr. Jerkens have it so right-her one imperfection is what made her perfect.

03 Dec 2010 4:11 PM
Dona

I thought it was odd the way I felt about her losing the Classic because I couldn't read anything about her or heaven forbid watch a rerun of the race. It took a while, that's for sure but a couple of days ago I read Jay Hovdey's column and after seeing it in print realized what it was. Jay used the phrase "mourning her lose", that's what has happened to me.

Now. more than ever I realize how differently we experience an event and how personal our reactions become. Though we all danced at the ball, some of us were a little out of step. I'm trying to enjoin your reaction to Zenyatta's lose with mine and in time maybe I'll be able to see and enjoy the outcome of that merger but right now her lose is unbearable.

I've loved horses before I could walk and Native Dancer was my first great love. The Dancer's lose in the Kentucky Derby has always been such a tragedy for me as a fan because of what it cost him and his legacy. That's how I felt about Barbaro's death, he never had a chance to prove his greatness on the track although we knew there was something special happening and sensed he was for real.

I wanted Zenyatta to win for those that have been so critical of her and her record. I wanted her to step on them on the way back to the winners circle because their opinions had soured and festered their credibility as true racing fans and they truly were not worthy.

I think Zenyatta will be my last. I can't believe that someone else will come along and capture my heart and mind like she has. I feel fortunate to have seen and loved some of the best like Swaps, Round Table, Native Diver but some stand alone in a special place and that's Native Dancer, John Henry, Barbaro and Zenyatta. I don't know how to deal with her leaving California but I will hold onto the thought that maybe Lanes End will be more fan friendly.

03 Dec 2010 4:13 PM
amfcf

Very beautiful article.

This horse won the Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic, came back the next year and won the Classic, then came back the following year and came up 6 inches short of a repeat win in the Classic. For anyone who knows anything about race horses to suggest Blame is a better horse, is simply ridiculous.

Here's another thought: maybe Mike Smith should have warmed her up prior to the race? But, I digress and I'm sorry. Enough about the 2010 Classic; time simply to revel in her greatness. Can't wait to see her at Keeneland Dec. 6th, but the atmosphere will likely be as sad as it was at Churchill Downs on Nov. 6th.

03 Dec 2010 4:17 PM
kathleen o

I can't thank you enough, Steve.  Once again I am brought to tears by your beautiful article.  Please pet her for me as well when you see her in January.

03 Dec 2010 4:18 PM
LetItRideMike

I'll be driving 5 hours each way to see Zenyatta one last time at Keeneland on Monday. Tears will be shed coming back, I'm guessing.

03 Dec 2010 4:22 PM
GoldenBroom

Long live the Queen!

I still wish Sheriffs would have taken a note from Asmussin's superior handling of Curlin's career (not so much Rachel's)...let him do things once, then he'll do them again perfect (Dubai '08). If she had worked at Churchill before the race, she's be a perfect 20 - 0. She just didn't get all that dirt in the face...oh well, Rats. She's still the best horse we've seen in a long long time...what a unique running style to come from behind and only go as fast as you have to. That kept her sound and she's retiring healthy. THAT is most important!

03 Dec 2010 4:32 PM
Dianne

I agree with some of the posters that Zenyatta will be going from a life of being in contact with people who care about her every day--an interesting life from a horse's perspective--then to a life of just being in a pasture, doing nothing, with little human contact or fussing.  How boring for the horse.  Horses are bred for a job and they are happiest when they have a job to do with their people.  My horse was most unhappy when I had to keep him at a California boarding stable with nothing to do.  I could not be there as much as I wanted to.  When we moved to another state, I put him in dressage training at 14 years old and he just blossomed with the mental and physical stimulation.  Stallions and mares all need something to keep their minds and bodies active through their lives.  Retirement sounds nice but it's deathly dull for a horse's mental state.  Also, these great mares need to have applications from stallions as to whose foal she will carry.  Let the mare owner decide if a stallion is good enough!  It's ridiculous that great mares have to pay stallion fees--and in some cases, they improve on the stallion!  And I certainly hope that Zenyatta is bred for the betterment of the breed and NOT for commercial foals.  

03 Dec 2010 4:39 PM
Steve Haskin

GJU, Don't worry, I'm used to it. Apology accepted.

Thanks so much for writing Jay. Will you and Sandy be there Sunday? (note: Jay is Jay Robbins, who has his own place in the history books as trainer of two-time BC Classic winner Tiznow. Like Shirreffs, a terrific guy and a darn good trainer).  

03 Dec 2010 4:54 PM
Steve Haskin

Dianne, somehow, I can't picture Zenyatta in a quiet field with little or no human interaction. She eventually will get used to this other life once the maternal instincts start kicking in, but I can only imagine what it will be like for her in the beginning.

03 Dec 2010 4:58 PM
Kim

MIKE

Believe me I am not an expert on riding a racehorse.

I have watched the race many times and I feel if he had kept her in the middle of the track all the way she would not have got all the dirt in her face from the kickback.Instead he tried to run the same race as he did last year staying on the inside and then coming out.

There were not that many horses to run around.

I have always liked Mike and still do, I know he deeply regrets his decision, as I said before that is life.

03 Dec 2010 5:15 PM
alphaecho

When the spirit manifests into ego, it starts to go south, but when it stays pure,

You have Zenyatta!

Thanks for another great tribute Steve.

03 Dec 2010 5:40 PM
LeeAnne

Why Zenyatta, as opposed to other great champions?

1. Charisma, all horses have personalities to those who work with them daily but hers explodes over the TV screen and even in still photos.

2. Access to her has been freely given by the Moss's and Shirreff's. Access to the media and the fans. They've taken the time to blog about her and share photos. That You Tube video of her working from the helmet cam is simply amazing.

3. She is a closer who wins with her ears pricked by usually short margins. She looks like she is laughing at the others as she goes by...

4.Animal Planet's Jockeys series.  I know the folks at the Western barn where I ride learned about her from Jockeys. Some watched their first Kentucky Derby to see Joe Talamo ride I Want Revenge and their first Breeder's Cup to see Mike Smith and Zenyatta.

5. Because she is The Queen! ;)

03 Dec 2010 5:45 PM
rams2050

I am a long-time racing fan but I actually veered toward Rachel at first, before switching my allegiance to Zenyatta.

Z is truly the Queen; none of this year's Kings come close to matching her in accomplishments or in outpouring of the public's affection.

Long may the Queen reign!

03 Dec 2010 5:46 PM
longtimeracingfan

One more notch on your gunbarrel, Steve, yet another insightful and intelligent piece. You have an uncanny knack for being able to stand back as an experienced, impartial observer, yet convey all the emotion and color and interest.

Of course we will now miss the anticipation of Zenyatta's next thrilling finish, her dance, the smiles of her connections, and the cheers of her throngs of fans. She will have a good life as a broodmare, and since she is priceless (yegawds, I'd hate to think of the cost of her insurance premiums!!) she will have the best of care and attention. But our opportunites, as fans, to visit and see her will be limited. We may be lucky enough to see photos of her in articles by Steve from time to time... especially once that first baby hits the ground!

Well, as one who used to love Silky Sullivan's amazing finishes, and saw the careers of Secretariat, Ruffian, Slew, John Henry, Forego, etc., and enjoyed all the more recent stars, I still think Zenyatta stands out just for her sheer courage, heart, and tremendous personality, which was enhanced and protected by her entourage.

Add to that all the exposure to media -- print, TV, internet, etc., and here is a personality we can all feel connected with. No, she's not human, as so many have referred to her "humanity" --- but she's a very real and very interesting character and we can't get enough of her.

Aren't we lucky her owners are rich enough that they could afford to just watch her race and don't feel they have had to go for the biggest purses or add black type to her catalog page? Though she has done that for sure, hasn't she?

Go enjoy your well earned retirement, Zenny, and when Our Steve comes to see you, give him another kiss... though I'm sure he will be carrying kisses from thousands for you.

03 Dec 2010 5:49 PM
linkfamnh

Yes, it will truly be a sad day to finally realize that we will no longer see those "EXPLOSIVE" finishes..but I for one think that 6 years is long enough to ask these magnificent animals to run. Zenyatta not only retires on top of the world, she gets to retire with her health intact. Not all race horses get that privelidge. We have so much to look forward to, we get to watch baby "Z" 's be born and grow up to be Prince and Princess "Z" 's. Rest assured only the best stallions will be chosen to have the honor to step into  "QUEEN'S" court!  

03 Dec 2010 5:56 PM
Fran

Thanks, again, for another wonderful article on Zenyatta.  I have to think you will be writing about her again; after her farewell party on Saturday and upon her arrival in Kentucky and surely after your visit with her in January.  Z's fans and Z will certainly want you to write about her again.  Zenyatta has such a wonderful personality that has created quite a fan club, but it would have never happened without having John and Dottie, Steve, Mario and his wife Carmen and the Moss', Jerry and Ann.  I feel like they are our friends, and they are the rainbow after the rain-if Jerry and Ann were not willing to share Z with her public, what would have happened?  We are very lucky.  To Mr. and Mrs. Moss-Thank you so very much for sharing Z with us.

03 Dec 2010 5:59 PM
Karen2

And I didn't think anything could top your last blog on her....was I ever wrong. This is my all time favorite. LOVE Zenyatta and LOVE Steve Haskin!

03 Dec 2010 6:01 PM
Suzen

Mr. Haskin,

Thank you for your expert and heartfelt writings. Zenyatta's effect on horse racing is immeasurable. But you have captured the essence of her magic very well. And I will happily drink the "elixer" any time I can get it.

03 Dec 2010 6:11 PM
alybar

I wish I could express myself and be eloquent with words as you are. As Trevor said Z is perfection and she is perfection is every sense of the word  - her career, her attiude, her love for her fans, her disposition, her antics, her looks, her talent, and  most of all her heart.  I have foloowed  her on TVG for over 2 years.  Everytime she came down the stretch she would bring tears to my eyes as i jumped up and down and cheered her on.  I  know in my heart she was the best horse in her last race. She did not get the perfect trip that Blame did.

It is so hard to tell her good-by.  I hope you will continue to write about her  No horse  that I have known in my lifetime has the fan base that she does. I live in a state (Georgia) where you are considered strange to be a horse racing enthusiast as I am.  I have never had the chance to meet her, but I hope I will get that opportunity.  

I made a trip to Lexington about 3 years ago.  I had hoped to be there before John Henry was euthanized, but was not able to.  I was there for his memorial service at Kentucky Horse Park.  I was so disappointed  when Gainesway  would not let me meet Afleet Alex who I had followed during his career.  I have not been able to get back to Lexington due to some finanial set backs,

Zenyatta was so lucky in having the team she did as we the fans were.  

03 Dec 2010 6:28 PM
Kathy B.

It's funny but for about a week after the 2010 Classic I kept waking up in the middle of the night like from a bad dream thinking "she couldn't have possibly lost!"  It took awhile for life to go back to normal.  She has a phenomenal presence... she brings courage, strength, grace and beauty back into my world.  I visited her at her barn last week and when I looked up into those magnificent eyes it was if all was right with the world. Kudos to her and her team for sharing this experience with regular people like me.  It's been an amazing ride, and I will definitely visit her in KY!

03 Dec 2010 6:30 PM
Redondo johnny

Homerun Haskin! As usual. Her personality and her RUNNING STYLE make her our favorite. But her brain makes her one of the best ever! How many horses can you think about in history could have made up the ground she did? The sad fact is the story ended the wrong way. There are no racing gods. I thought there were. I was wrong. Z is still the best horse i have seen.

03 Dec 2010 6:33 PM
Pete

Been a racing fan for 25 years, Hope she gets the HOY vote, any horse who puts a lump in your throat galloping back to be unsaddled win or lose, deserves the award in my opinion.  She is the only horse that has ever done that for me.

03 Dec 2010 6:36 PM
smartysgal

Any horse can run around the track.  It takes a special horse to run around the track and love it!

Thank you, Zenyatta, for being YOU!  I can't wait to see you come "home" to Kentucky.

03 Dec 2010 6:38 PM
Steve Haskin

Karen2, you know you'll always be Karen1 to me. Love ya right back.

All wonderful comments and beautiful words. Thank you.

Longtimeracingfan, beautiful post. Thanks for sharing.

03 Dec 2010 6:56 PM
bowlofflowers

Thank you, Steve for another wonderful blog.  Yes, please take pictures when you go in January to see how Zenyatta is settling in to her new routine.  I sure hope LE will let people go see her in the field or something that is not too much for a broodmare.  Because I never got to meet her or see her race and I hope to do so before I leave this earth.  Great to let us know that Allen Jerkens was still thinking about her classic the next day.  That is high praise.

03 Dec 2010 6:57 PM
Maria K.

Great article Steve.  Long live the Queen.  I will miss her so much.  She is an amazing horse and has given so much to this sport.  

03 Dec 2010 6:59 PM
Horsefirst

What is it about Zenyatta?  She didn't merely tolerate people, she connected with them, and not just those closest to her.  Watch her pose, dance, and look into the stands after a race.  How many horses react like that?  It is her ability- and willingness- to connect with us that makes her different.

She wins hearts because she is all heart.

03 Dec 2010 7:06 PM
Denise

Dona, I have felt the same way as you: I desperately wanted her to win to silence the critics. I wanted them to realize that she, indeed is something very special. I had had a feeling for a few weeks (intuition) that it was not going to happen. I dreaded the classic because of that feeling. But I forgot who Zen is, who her connections are. That greatest is shown in adversity. That Zen will not be any different. Richard Migliore said there is a special "presence" about great horses, that he had felt it from Seattle Slew. That he felt it in Zen. Her connections have given us something we have all needed in such a disconnected, narcissist time: connection. We have been allowed access, physical access. We have been allowed to experience her. So she touches us with her willingness to allow to pet her, have pictures taken with her, roar for her, flash the camera at her. She does not mind. We have needed kindness and the Mosses and Shirreffs have been generous with it. They have given us the example of sharing, kindness, of taking things in stride. Zen and "her" people have given to us. Bless her and them for it.

03 Dec 2010 7:11 PM
Bellwether

SHE PUT OWN ONE DAMN GOOD SHOW...& ONE HELL OF A RIDE...& WE LOVE HER FORE THAT..."A QUEEN STEPS DOWN"..."A KING STEPS UP"...STAND BUY..."THE GAME" IS COME N BACK TO THE TOP!!!...ty...

03 Dec 2010 7:24 PM
Carl

Mr. Haskin,

I wish all the writers at "The Blood Horse" had half your skill. I might visit more often.

I fell in love with race horses in high school. I read a book on Man O'War and instantly became "lost in the stars". Even then I thought: these magnificent animals-so beautiful-and all they want to do is run as fast as they can. All for a little kindness and a comfortable life. The bargain seemed unfair to me, even then. This was after Secretariat set the skies on fire with his brilliance. I was only a kid, but everytime I saw a film of his Belmont, I would tear up at his greatness. He was several time zones ahead of his field. He broke poor Sham's heart. I did not hate him for never coming to the west coast, or running on surfaces I disliked. I was more grown up than that, even as a teenager.

Lately, I have been reading up on the incredible Dr. Fager and the unbelievable things he could do (yes, Damascus was great too).

But until Zenyatta, I had really lost touch with racing. I have not been to a track in well over ten years. I only follow the Triple Crown chase long enough to be disappointed, then I forget about horses until next year, like a lot of people, I'm sure. But, oh that Zenyatta! I was awestruck and screaming at the tv everytime she ran. When she won the Classic last year, I actually lost my voice from screaming and tearing up. I had reason to believe again. No Triple crown chase. No end goal, other than to win. That's why I fell in love with Zenyatta and why I could not understand people bad-mouthing this majestic creature. Even now, I think she is the last great race horse I will see in my lifetime.

So, bottomline: thank you for your open mind and praise for this gifted creature. You made the ride worhwhile. Now, I'm going to listen to some King's Of Leon so I won't be sad anymore.

Thank you

03 Dec 2010 7:27 PM
Kelso Fan

Thanks, Steve, for another great article.   You capture the essence of Queen Z so well.  I am looking forward to hearing about her after she gets to Kentucky.

03 Dec 2010 7:34 PM
Bailey

Man O' War's defeat was very different than Zenyatta's defeat though Man O' War's loss was not his fault..he would have won if it hadnt been for barrier difficulties, Zenyatta lost fair and square, Man O' War was way different and better than Zenyatta.

03 Dec 2010 7:37 PM
Bellwether

ps...SHE WILL MISS THE RACE TRACK...U ALL BETTER BELIEVE THAT...SHE WAS BORN TO FLY & FLY SHE DID!!!...LONG LIVE "THE QUEEN"...ty...

03 Dec 2010 7:44 PM
LuvEmAll

I fell in love with Zenyatta the first time I saw images of her crossing the finish line with her ears pricked forward (maybe her right ear cocked a bit to the side for the sound of her fans).  This lady loved what she did and she carried us along with her every time she ran.  Thanks, Steve, for another wonderful piece of writing.

03 Dec 2010 7:48 PM
cher

Thank you, so beautifully put.  And---part of the magic of racing is gone.

03 Dec 2010 7:50 PM
merrywriter

I don't know why (male) writers find  that there is even a mystique with Zenyatta.  Just her appearance is as 60 Minutes said, "quite simply the most beautiful creature we have ever seen."  Just her playfulness and wanting to be in front of the crowd is obvious with her "dancing." Just her heart makes her run in huge strides of earth to win.  Just her size that says "I am the better of any, male or female."  Just her goodwill to mankind by putting up with our OOOs and AAAHs while the flash bulbs pop and not being unnerved.  Stars have "it" which she had not just in spades but in a full house.  I wish her a safe delivery of the Curlatta or Zenlin I hope she will have.

03 Dec 2010 7:52 PM
Joni

Steve,

Love your columns and am a huge Zenyatta fan. She is a very special horse no doubt but when I read "and it safe to say that no Thoroughbred has ever developed such a deep emotional bond with the fans" I just have to say.....

Helloooooooo......SECRETARIAT!!

Please tell me for a fact that you think you will ever lay your eyes upon another like him??

03 Dec 2010 7:53 PM
merrywriter

Zenyatta NOT eating her carrots so she can be kissed...

www.facebook.com/.../video.php

03 Dec 2010 7:55 PM
AzCav

Beautiful article. She is truly a legend. Love live the Queen! I love you Zenyatta!

03 Dec 2010 8:02 PM
Abigail from Montreal, Canada

Hi Steve.

This is a beautiful tribute that you've written here. You are just the most skilled of writers and I just love the feeling that emanates from your words. Reading everyone's comments makes the whole page just exquisite! I hope Team Zenyatta get to read these pages at some point. I agree with what many have said here about what perfection really means and it's made me wonder when & where perfection became connected to gain, or the accumulation of wins, in our minds as a society. Sylvia Plath wrote: "Perfection is a terrible disease...it cannot have children" and Yeats' definition was the moment caught and pulled out of time -- as in The Grecian Urn where the devotee never quite catches the focus of his affection. To Yeats, these suspended moments, captured forever in words or art or the human heart are true moments of truth and beauty.

For me, Zenyatta is perfection because she stands as just such a moment in the hearts and souls of so many. She is, like those figures on the Grecian Urn, so much greater than herself that there can never be a flaw. For the same reason, her exploits are the stuff of legend --beyond mortality and beyond the mundanity of win or lose. Zenyatta has moved beyond all of those things that weigh us down as mortals. For me, her final run said exactly that -- watching her, all I saw was the beauty of what it means to be alive, indomitable courage and a spirit that will flow on forever.

03 Dec 2010 8:04 PM
Riket

Mr. Haskin I can´t realy explain my feelings when I read your words, unfortunately, here in Mexico, I can´t talk of these themes with anybody, nobody knows what I´m talking about, it is realy frustrating. We have a  little industry of thoroughbreds, and it is 99 percent local.  I´m a guy that truly love horses and has a real passion for thoroughbred history, I know your stallions, your tainers, your studs, your journalists, your female families, your TRUENICKS, ENICKS...etc.etc.....I can´t debate of these themes with  anyone, nobody understands this, nobody understands me.  You are an inspiration, I hope that you can accept an invitacion to come to Mexico in 2011. It will be my pleasure to have you here.

I think you all ready have my email adress: (martillo23@hotmail.com),  the other one is fertorresk27@hotmail.com.  Thanks for your time, my real name is Fernando, and as I all ready told you many times,  I´m a real fan of you!

03 Dec 2010 8:15 PM
Tracy Campion

Steve ~

Your blogs describe the often indescribable feelings of many, including myself. Zenyatta took us all on such a remarkable journey. All we could do was grasp a handful of mane, peer between those ever-perked ears, and enjoy each ground-devouring stride as she made the impossible possible. Zenyatta ran for the pure joy of running, and even in defeat, she was triumphant. Her perked ears, twinkling eyes, and buoyant presence provided some comfort in the pregnant moments after her defeat. I couldn’t breathe; I couldn’t speak; but even in defeat, Zenyatta was inspirational. With that ferocious last-to-almost-first charge, she wasn’t just carrying Mike Smith; she was carrying the hearts and hopes of a nation who so badly needed a hero. And, perhaps most clearly in that final race, we found our hero.

As a horsewoman and lifelong racing fan, I cannot describe the beguiling phenomena that is Zenyatta and the emotions that she evokes. She gives me goosebumps, makes my eyes moist, and gave me more heart palpitations than I’d like to admit. My typically nondescript calendar would read “Z Racing TODAY!!!” every time she graced the track. As a writer, I appreciate the fact that you have brought her closer to so many of us. You have put into words the emotional and spiritual experience that is Zenyatta. Thank you. I will certainly never tire of reading blogs about this horse who raced her way into our hearts and danced her way into our souls.

03 Dec 2010 8:17 PM
Phil Nicholson

I first witnessed Zenyatta's first  race in November three years ago on TV here in Ottawa, Ontario on HPItv. She immediately impressed me like very few before her. I can honestly say I watched at least 18 of her 20 races on TV; perhaps all of them. She has enriched horse racing more than any horse since Secretariat. Hopefully she will have offspring to maintain her memory.

03 Dec 2010 8:22 PM
mike

Zenyatta, just the name itself is enough, but what she did on the track is, in the realm of magic. I've been in the sport and business for a long time and have only once seen anything like her, yes, Secretariat, anyone who doubts that ought to trace their mind through time, this was one tough mare, who somehow lost once, she will never lose her way amongst the best of all time!

03 Dec 2010 8:37 PM
Denmark

I've always thought that Zenyatta did not see Blame.  It was dark, the lights threw shadows and when she did see him it was just plain too late.  But, boy did she come close!!!  It she doesn't get HOY, the writer's will set horseracing back and lose all those wonderful new fans.

03 Dec 2010 8:37 PM
ZenyattaLover

Thank You so much for sharing this Amazing Equine with the world. We always want to stay in touch with Zenyatta ~

Please keep her safe and sound ~

We all Love Her very much !

03 Dec 2010 8:43 PM
sodapopkid

Steve, I read that "60" Minutes is going to follow Zenyatta from California to Kentucky on Monday.  That means they must plan on doing a follow up segment on her.   I love it........

You can read this at www.Zenyatta.com   Diary post #20 or #21.

03 Dec 2010 8:49 PM
sodapopkid

Merrywriter,  That video was absolutely great.   So sweet just like the queen is.  She is so gentle for a thoroughbred.

03 Dec 2010 8:52 PM
Susan Barry

I was not in the country for the BC. When I finally returned and faced the pictures, the photo finish was arresting. Why has no one said the obvious? That was NOT an "outright win" for Blame. In the Jockey Cup Gold, it was an outright win for Haynesfield and an outright loss for Blame. But it is hard to call the BC an outright win or loss. Blame's loss to Haynesfield was outright, but not Zenyatta's to Blame....look at that photo finish. Their chests were even.  (the differences were an extended head, and,as Ann Moss charmingly pointed out,Zenyatta's extended tongue.) Zenyatta proved she could defeat the same top world horses as Blame on dirt. )And she never had an "off-day" as Blame did in the JGC).How can anyone logically study that photo finish, and the two horses' BC race to that point, and think it definitively crowns HOY for Blame?  HOY SHOULD be reserved for a bigger-than-life horse who transcends definition by any ONE dimension or ONE Older/Juvenile/Filly/Male category. It's not reserved, because there is not one such horse every year. There is this year.  

03 Dec 2010 8:54 PM
sushyne

I didn't think there were any more tears left after reading quite a few farewells yesterday and dealing with red eyes today while teaching. Steve, as usual, you made me feel like you really do "feel" that connection to Zenyatta, that you are not just writing a racing column for a job about any horse in any career. Thank you for always sticking by her, for giving her the credit and recognition all along when "masses" weren't. We have been so blessed to have her these 3 years, and as John Shirreffs stated in the superb Bloodhorse commemorative issue, "it's a shame that the horse racing industry had missed its chance until now...." But let us rejoice that we have in our memory, on dvds, you tubes, fb pages, etc, her fluid movements, gorgeous conformation, eyes, beauty, majesty, intrigue, mystique, magnificent racing talent as a thoroughbred, and any appropriate Shakespearean or Henry Ward Beecher quotes that we can summon and recall through you to remotely explain what Zenyatta, Racing's Queen, has meant to us, the fans, and "horse racing" these past years.

03 Dec 2010 8:58 PM
Horses Rule

BC Classic 2010:

Zenyatta steps onto the track a GREAT horse.

Zenyatta steps off the track a LEGEND.

03 Dec 2010 9:11 PM
Rebecca

Thank you for another great article. I was fortunate to work with thoroughbreds and followed Zenyatta's career during that time. I am sad I have not been able to see her in person, so am even more grateful for your ability to almost be able to smell, feel and even taste the experience through words and pictures. Thanks a thousand times over.

03 Dec 2010 9:14 PM
Robin from Maryland

I will miss her come from behind finishes, her "dance" in the paddock and post parade.  But most of all will miss her "Look".  She was a champ and she knew it.  People say the eyes are the mirror to the soul.  Queen Z had the "Look", and that I will miss most of all.

03 Dec 2010 9:26 PM
NancyP

merrywriter - Thank you, thank you for the video of precious Zenyatta forsaking her carrots to get her kisses, she has her priorities right!  God keep her.

03 Dec 2010 9:28 PM
John T

Zenyatta reminds me of the painter

Vincent Van Gogh,when he was alive

his paintings were regarded as worthless,but after his death a lot

of his paintings became priceless.I

think long after she has gone racing historians will see what a great priceless mare we are really talking about here.

03 Dec 2010 9:57 PM
Sondre

Outstanding article - especially liked the Truman Capote quote - pretty much says it all. (-:  Look forward to your Lane's End report...

03 Dec 2010 9:58 PM
Linda/Maryland

Thanks Steve. Another wonderful column about the most spectacular hose on the planet! I certainly wish I had the writing ability that you have. In your writing about Zenyatta, a person can feel the love and respect for her that you have. I think that is what makes your articles much better than anyone elses.

She has most certainly inspired more people in her short 4 years than any other horse has since Secretariat.

I think one day the story will be told differently. It may be said she is more.

03 Dec 2010 10:17 PM
racingheart

Dear Mr. Haskin,

 What a lovely surprise to come home & open Blood-Horse only to find another beautifully written blog on Zennie. The passion & emotion that spills forth from every line make your love of this mare so evident.& there are so very many of us who feel as deeply about her as you but are unable to put it into words. Thank you for your poetic heart & your ability to help us get our emotions out there! You are a gift.

I was in total agreement with your comments in the latest edition of & They're Off! I don't know if the industry will ever be able to repay or reward Zenyatta for all that she has done for the game. And I appreciate that John and the Moss's would like to see her recognized for her incredible run.  But watching how her fans flock to see her, bring her gifts, scramble to pet her and have their picture taken with her and weep in her presence, I believe that this is Zenyatta's reward. She seems very pleased with the attention and as we mentioned, what would she do with a trophy from an awards ceremony that she isn't even invited to attend?

(She probably would enjoy the festivities if she WERE invited.... guys?)

Thank you again for evoking a profound tug at the heart strings.

03 Dec 2010 10:19 PM
Sunny Farm

Of all the wins and all the awards and all the moneies won ; I think one of the greatest victories is right here in this story and from all the people who responded right on this page & all over the world. The Z-TEAM should be very proud.

Mr. Haskin; You have written a beautiful and moving piece. THANKS SO MUCH !

ZENYATTA THE QUEEN !!!

03 Dec 2010 10:24 PM
Barbara W

Steve, thank you for another beautiful piece. In her "defeat", she left it all on the track in a memory that will burn in out hearts forever.

I've said this before on other blogs, but love is the strongest force in the world. The love between Zenyatta, her connections, and those of us who love her is palpable. It would be a cold, wizened heart that can't get that.

Like some of you, I worry about her transition. What about her not having a winter coat? Will we ever be allowed to visit? Will she be treated as "just another horse"? We don't know, so we are worried.

Steve, please promise to let us know the plan (if there is to be one) at Lane's End.

03 Dec 2010 10:36 PM
ctgreyhound

Zenyatta is so smart. She came along just when the planet sorely needed a distraction. And what a lovely distraction indeed. For a brief moment we could forget the world is in turmoil, the dollar is being devalued  & that someone meaning us harm may be coming over the border. She lifts us up from the ordinary & takes us to a reality where the pieces fit in place once again. All this from a being that asks nothing of us in return. That's a WOW. That's Zenyatta.

03 Dec 2010 10:42 PM
Paula Higgins

steve, fantastic as always. I loved the part about Allen Jerkins. High praise indeed from him. Also, loved the allusion to Barbara Cushing/Babe Paley.

Joni, I remember Secretariat very well, the magazine covers etc. But there has NEVER been an outpouring of love for a horse, like there has been for Zenyatta. People have connected to her on an emotional level because of the access her owners and trainer have allowed us. It is unprecedented in horse racing history. Then there is the fact that she has the personality of Queen Elizabeth and Mother Theresa combined; regal, yet kind and gentle. Then you throw in her heart and never say die attitude, well you can't resist her. The people who don't "get her," I put into my "doesn't like dogs" category. In other words, they are not my kind of people. There is something missing in their psyche and it can't be fixed.

03 Dec 2010 10:51 PM
needler in Virginia

Steve, I can't think of any words to say other than "thank you"..... yes, boring, unoriginal, decidedly repetitive but entirely fitting. Thank you for the words and the memories of the Big Girl AND the photos AND the thoughts AND the elegant treatment of this phenomenon called Zenyatta.

MY reasons for feeling the way I do about Zenyatta? Simple: other than Seabiscuit and Secretariat, it's almost impossible to come up with any other horse/owner/trainer combo that has been so very accessible to the general public. Just when we've bitched ourselves brainless about the amazing 2 year olds that race 3 times and then retire to stud before a third birthday, leaving us no time to know any of them, along comes Zenyatta. For three years we've watched as she races, she dances, she drinks Guinness, she eats carrots, she grazes, she rolls, she enjoys attention, she likes kids, she likes her owners, her jockey, her grooms, her handlers and her trainer, AND she might be able to sing an aria before breakfast! WHEN, though, have we had such access to a racing star? When have we seen pictures of all phases of a racehorse's career, training, sleeping, eating, standing, walking, being ponked by a happy kid, meeting hundreds of strangers? We said we wanted horses to stay longer at the ball, we said we wanted stars to stay around for longer than 15 minutes, we said we wanted to KNOW these horses we follow. Well, WE GOT WHAT WE WANTED, and, I for one, am eternally grateful that I got to see her star rise. I'll never forget it, and many of those memories are directly tied to your words about our superstar. What a ride it has been!

Thanks, Steve; thank you, Mr and Mrs Moss; thank you, Mr and Mrs Shirreffs; thank you grooms, hotwalkers, exercise riders, poop shovelers, stall pickers, bathers, and a special thank you, Mr Smith. You all allowed us to be a part of the magic of your horse and her career; for that there aren't enough thanks to go around.

Cheers and safe trips to all.

03 Dec 2010 10:52 PM
christy tate

another good article. so much has been said about Zenyatta by reporters and fans alike, that it's hard to think of anything to contribute. I like all of her other fans will be sad that she'll be leaving racing behind, but i hope she acclimates to her new life really well and has healthy and beautiful foals. she deserves the best, because she is one of the best ever.

03 Dec 2010 10:57 PM
Freetex

Steve, count me in as hopelessly smitten by Zenyatta.  How will we do without her?

For me, Steve, it is Zenyatta's soulful gaze that got me every time she has stood and scanned the adoring looks and sighs she received from her subjects.  That look of hers, I will never ever forget.  

Thank you for imperfectly perfect.  So well said, as always.

03 Dec 2010 11:07 PM
Bill B.

Zenyatta is a great, great mare, but I highly doubt that at her peak she could beat Secretariat, Seattle Slew, Affirmed, Alydar, Forego, Spectacular Bid, Easy Goer, Sunday Silence, Cigar (all at their best of course too) & perhaps others. Let's not get carried away.

03 Dec 2010 11:53 PM
GhostTown

Mr. Haskin,

Growing up in Las Vegas did not afford me the opportunity to experience live racing.  And even though my dad worked in the hotel industry and placed a few bets for me, the only racing I did get to see was usually on Wild World of Sports.  On top of the racing, I could not wait to hear what back stories Jim McKay would have to tell that week.  It didn't really matter what his stories were about, whether it was horse racing or some other sport, and his Olympic coverage...I won' even get started there, but his racing stories had that extra emotional connection due to his love of the horse.  I was more upset hearing of his passing on Belmont day than Big Brown not winning the Triple Crown.  I am sure you are wondering what this has to do with anything, but your writing reminds me of him.  You also have that connection to the horse and truly love the sport.  I look forward to your stories just like I use to look forward to my weekends with Jim McKay.  It's so nice being swept up in happy childhood memories once in a while. Thank you.  

I really wanted to write something prolific about Zenyatta, but my emotions are running from adulation to grief and it's impossible for me to make any sense of it right now.  The best I can do is to thank Zenyatta and her entire family for sharing this most amazing ride with all of us.  I have had the privilege to see her race on multiple occasions and I will be ther Sunday to watch that beautiful bulldog of a butt walk away one last time.  

04 Dec 2010 12:16 AM
trackjack

According to TVG, Zenyatta will visit the track Sunday after the 6th. race.  First post is 3:30 Eastern time.

04 Dec 2010 12:25 AM
J Blessing

As always, Mr Haskin, beautiful article, and a wonderful farewell. Zenyatta has done so much for this sport that no one in recent memory -- not even Smarty Jones -- came close to. I will miss her, and feel privileged to have been a fan of hers, even if I have never been to see her in person. I can only hope that when the next Zenyatta-caliber star of racing rises up the ranks, that he or she has such wonderful connections as Zenyatta, because Zenyatta alone couldn't have made herself the star she became, no matter how talented. It was a combination of her generous owners, kind and considerate trainer and charismatic jockey that helped show off to the world just what an amazing animal she really is.

This entire season of 2010 was a gift from the Mosses, who were all set to send her to the farm after last year's triumphs, and I would like to think that the fans have showered their appreciation, and Zenyatta has responded in kind.

She will remain the Queen in the Sport of Kings, until someone with an even brighter star dethrones her... which I somehow doubt will be within any of our lifetimes.

04 Dec 2010 1:15 AM
NancyB

What made her so special? I have watched horseracing for many years. The problems surrounding the sport are multiple. For me, the George Washington fiasco with the breakdown in the mud was the end. But, I got sucked back in to the beauty of the sport by a gal named zenyatta. And, it was the entire package - horse, owners, trainer, rider, etc. At times, in any sport, there is perfection. In this era, zenyatta represents that perfection. And we all got to witness how the game SHOULD be played by all who participate.

04 Dec 2010 1:29 AM
BK1

Steve - like Zenyatta, your beautiful article was perfection.  Someone should print it, laminate it, and hang it in her stall.

04 Dec 2010 1:41 AM
Delrene

Thank you Steve for that beautifully written article - I will be there Sunday to witness her last appearance in Ca.  I have to say that last entry with facebook video-- she is the one and only Zenyatta.  A sweetheart that can run like no other horse I have ever seen.  I know I will cry as it is going to be an emotional day for the entire crowd at Hollywood Park.  I feel so blessed to be part of it.  Please write about your visit and take lots of pictures when you see her in Ky.

04 Dec 2010 1:55 AM
Barbara Sanders

Vince Lombardi's famous quote "Winning isn't every thing, it's the only thing." was actually a misquote. What he really said was, "Winning isn't everything, TRYING to is." That was the quote that stuck in my mind when I watched her amazing effort on Nov. 6th. She was pure "trying" that day and she pranced off into equine history more loved and respected for it than before the race. I am one of the many truly fortunate individuals who live right near Hollywood Park and can visit her @ barn 55 often. Every time I see her there she amazes me more and more. Today, I watched her patiently allow 35 or 40  adoring fans take pictures with her individually with a calmness and regal stature for a thoroughbred that took my breath away. There is no mystery about it. She really is one of a kind and she will be sorely missed here.

04 Dec 2010 2:25 AM
deana dameron

Zenayatta is the symbol of what real life is. She has worked hard, had fun, been competitive, has supportive friends and family, and has done everything that has been expected of her; however, sometimes she has encountered closed minds and people set in their ways determined to not award her for her achievements due to bias. As in life the rules constantly change but Zenyatta's "truth" will always remain the same. She is simply the greatest female racehorse of this century, perfect or not!

04 Dec 2010 5:42 AM
Rachel

I so dearly respect you Steve, but "Bow and pray?" "Virgin territory?" I love her, too.I just want to watch her as a great horse not an anthropomorphised deity.

I am no hardened soul by any means but I cannot worship an animal...all she wants to be is a horse and I love her enough to let her be just that...a great, great racehorse.

I appreciated her greatly, but her actions were not human...she "danced" to alleviate stress, she was kind to all because of the temperament she inherited and she had a great race career because of good genetics and great management.

04 Dec 2010 7:19 AM
Tom Conway

Mr. Haskin, you have an amazing talent; the abilility to put into words not only your feelings, but the thoughts of many others as well. Meeting you on the triple crown trail and talking with you at Churchill and Belmont was a thrill I shall never forget. Reading your piece on Zenyatta brought back memories of reading Damon Runyon. Thanks Steve

04 Dec 2010 8:20 AM
Slew

Bewitched, bothered, and bewildered, but thoroughly enchanted am I....with your words and the phenomenon that is the mighty Zen.  I am transported back in time to the early 60's to a word that was often applied to JFK...Charisma.  Zenyatta is probably one of the most charismatic horses I have ever seen.  Even on TV, the magnetic pull to appreciate her every gesture captivates us with such bold promise, so seductive is her presence.  Time with Zen is always much too short, separations...much too long.  Must we really say, "Adieu"?  It is most difficult to imagine any time without the mare who reigns on top of the world.  I can barely tolerate the deeply felt sense of loss as she moves toward the breeding shed (let alone imagine the sadness of her connections). But then again...I'll actually have so much to look forward to when she foals.  Wow...can't you just see them?  Little bays with white blazes romping is a lush meadow with mom, spindly legs tottering while stretching and craning their necks to reach a bit of milk.  So very much love will always attend them both.

04 Dec 2010 8:27 AM
Steve Haskin

Rachel, I am assuming you know the meaning of anthropomorphise being you used it, but if people "worship" and "bow and pray" (by the way, do you really believe I meant that literally?), those are human characteristics, not putting human characteristics to a horse. and what does the term virgin territory have to do with that. Egyptians used to worship cats. What human traits in here have been attributed to Zenyatta? As far as her "dancing" and any other human-like personality traits people wish to give her,  I'm surprised you would be offended by something so harmless. And as far as your definition of what her "dance" really is, how do you know that for certain? I'm sure Zenyatta didnt tell you. After all, we dont want to anthropomorphise her, right? :)

04 Dec 2010 8:33 AM
Steve Haskin

Wow, Tom, that is the ultimate compliment. Thank you very much. I enjoyed meeting you as well. Hope Stately Victor is doing well. I guess it's back to grass. Not many synthetic races around for him. Best of luck with him whereever he goes.

04 Dec 2010 8:38 AM
No Class

Beautifully written, poetic prose.

Thank you again for one of your very well written, from the heart articles.

Very much appreciated,

Heather (Canada)

04 Dec 2010 9:04 AM
Old Timer

In the late 80's I was in Lexington, called Lanes End to ask if I could come to the farm to see a horse I had spent much time with when he was running, a stake horse, I explained who I worked for at the track, I heard all kinds of excuses, don't hold your breath for a day for Zenyatta.I called Gainesway and was given the "royal tour". HOTY for Zenyatta.she will be a victim of east coast ignorance.

04 Dec 2010 9:06 AM
Slew

How bitter must one be to criticise loyal fans for saying farewell in their own way?  Adoration is more a term and not a fact....when what it is, is simply another aspect of love.  Which, with Zenyatta, rings more true than adoration of a Bieber or a Cyrus.

When we look into the eyes of any living animal, we do get a sense of what they feel...and we can express those feelings only within the confines of a human perspective.  Being so severely limited, we tend to use terms that relate most to human behavior.  I can find nothing sinister in using terms such as love and adoration when trying to explain a sensation based on such an abstract idea as love.  Perhaps, at times, we are overwhelmed by those emotions, and our exaggerations are merely our meager way of saying, "Thank you for being you."

and PS...I still love Stately Victor, and am anxiously waiting to see more from him.  He's so regal!

04 Dec 2010 9:29 AM
Tracy

I feel for Team Zenyatta as a whole as the day draws near for her to move on,I can't even imagine how difficult it will be for those who have spent everday with her over the last several years.My heart goes to out to them,you know it will happen but you always hope it will be tomorrow,not today!Love you Team Zenyatta!

04 Dec 2010 9:39 AM
Joe from Kansas

Before the Breeders Cup race, one of the TV commentators said that if Zenyatta won she would be the greatest horse in history. I scoffed because the truly great horses like Man o'War, Count Fleet, Native Dancer, Kelso etc. raced against the best of their generation on a monthly basis. Zenyatta did not. Yet, while the Grade-1 fillies and mares she beat up on in Southern California were not the best they were'nt New Mexico state-breds either. Running the way Zenyatta did is a very tough way to win a horse race. To do it repeatedly against the class of horses she ran against is truly remarkable. When Rachael was at the top of her game and there was all the talk of a match-up between them, I wondered if Zenyatta would be able to run so far off the pace and catch Rachael. I think the Breeder's Cup answered that question. One wonders,though, what she could have accomplished if her connections had run her closer to the pace and against the best of her generation on a frequent basis. She might indeed have been the greatest of all time. We'll never know.

04 Dec 2010 9:49 AM
Jennifer Snitko

Steve, as usual, you write with aplomb, brilliant metaphor and style.  

I would that some of your other readers  could take the time to understand rhetorical device and literary tools.  These are what make your writings so delicious and alive.  

What great use of the apparatuses of literature, Mr. Haskin!  You drew me in.

04 Dec 2010 9:51 AM
Lauracrown

Steve,

What a wonderful piece of writing, as usual! You have again both given deserved tribute to Zenyatta and provided balm to the souls of her fans who are now dealing with the end of her unique racing career! May Zenyatta find peace and contentment in her new role as a broodmare! There is something very touching about the love between a mare and her foal. I believe a horse who loves people so much will also find great happiness in caring for her own foals.

Good luck to Zenyatta in her future! She will always be loved and remembered! Thanks to her human family for taking excellent care of her and for sharing her with her fans.

04 Dec 2010 10:03 AM
Dawn in MN

I saw this article yesterday when it first went up on the website.  I started to read it and then realized that I needed to brace myself for another tear-jerker before I could read it.  

This morning I braced myself and read The Journey Ends, and all the comments.

Zenyatta captured my imagination the first time I saw her race, the way she pranced in the paddock and to the gate, the way she pricked her ears as she crossed the finish line, and galloped out like she just wanted to run some more blew me away.  

I try very hard not to anthropomorphize horses.  In my opinion horses are such wonderful creatures that assigning human characteristics to the horse does them a disservice.

I saw a funny video on YouTube yesterday; a woman was singing a song she wrote about Zenyatta, to Zenyatta.  The lyrics said something about Zenyatta being the queen of the sport of kings...it fit, and I can't help it...

In my heart Zenyatta will always be the queen of the sport of kings, right up there with Ruffian the princess and Secretariat the king.

"Zenyatta, from a statistical standpoint, wasn’t perfect, which in the end made her perfect."

Thanks a lot Mr. Haskin, for all your writing about Zenyatta.

Thanks a lot Mr. Haskin for reducing me to a blubbering anthropomorphizing fool every time I read your writing.  I say all this with admiration, appreciation and love, Dawn

04 Dec 2010 10:16 AM
Rachel O

Paula,

I usually agree with what you say, but I think you might take a closer look at Mother Theresa and Queen Elizabeth. Both of them have shown some pretty unkind moments in their lives and many would raise eyebrows at descriptions of them as gentle! Please don't compare Queen Z to them. Princess Diana, maybe?

04 Dec 2010 10:41 AM
Horselover

I know this is a Zenyatta column, but I didn't know where to ask this?  What happened to Rachel?  Has she been bred?  Did she drop off the planet?  It would be nice to know.  

04 Dec 2010 10:50 AM
John

Steve,

I think that Racing International put it best..."In all the bad times since 1917 in America, whether War or Depression or the despair of today, a truly great and innocent horse has emerged to inspire and help a nation heal its pain.   Man O'War, Seabiscuit, Secretariat and Zenyatta are those horses.   Zenyatta...has only become greater and more beloved after losing the BC Classic.  Zenyatta has become an Ambassadress for U.S. racing...there is only one Horse of the Year or Horse of the Decade or Horse of a Lifetime or one of the greatest Thoroughbreds of alltime:  Zenyatta."

blog.racingint.com/.../zenyatta-for-horse-of-the-year-2010.aspx

04 Dec 2010 10:52 AM
Ofelia

Steve, what a wonderful article! I think what made Zenyatta great was her love of the game and the people connected to her. She loved to run and showed us what truly makes a Thoroughbred. She is exemplary of her breed and showed sass and personality with it. She lured non-horsey people into her world and they were happy to stay. Ah Zenyatta, you will be missed.

04 Dec 2010 10:53 AM
Beulah Park Fan

Steve,

Thanks for the great article.  I have never seen the great Z in person, only on TV, but I can recognize how special she is because  I have known horses that have the same special personality which reaches out to the fans who attend live racing.  

It was just that kind of connection that has kept me coming back to see live racing.  Even here

at Beulah Park where racing is barely surviving a fan can find it.  Maybe Zenyatta's true legacy will be getting the fans to come back and see live racing again or for the first time.  I hope so.

Thanks again for all you do for racing.    

04 Dec 2010 10:58 AM
zenyatta mondatta

Wow, Rachel, apparently you dont see the heart and soul of god's creatures like some of do.  IN a wicked world we live in the only thing man can really put his trust in is God himself or the next closest thing his animals.   Animals aren't human, but in this life some act better than alot of humans do.  Zenyatta is a true gift and she does not show all the high strung ways as alot of thoroughbreds do.  She is gentle, kind and a force to reckon with on the tracks.    Yes,  Steve is right on when he is writing about Zenyatta.  He has written for years. how long have you been writing?   When you have been around horses as long as he has then you can condone his feeeling and writings about a horse or horses he writes about.  Until then . you leave the professional writng up to him,  You can see he knows what he is talking about.

Zenyatta means a whole lot to some, maybe not as much to you, but I would expect there have been other horses in your life that meant as much to you as she does to most of us.

04 Dec 2010 11:28 AM
sherpa

Mr. Haskin, I'm so glad you didn't resist the compulsion to enter Zenyatta's world.  You are one of the select few who really *get* the Zenyatta Experience. (I hope you have seen Barbara Livingston's Zenyatta blog at DRF - she gets it, too.)  

The thing that seems to set you apart from other bloggers here and elsewhere is that your first love is The Horse and racing is secondary.  That love shines through in everything you write; and for we whose priorities are the same, you give us a voice.

Those whose only appreciation for an individual horse is if they cash a ticket on him/her are missing out on the inspiration this sport, like no other, can impart.  When I'm not angry with them, I pity them for their hardened hearts.  

And then I go to YouTube and watch another Zenyatta video and all is once again "scenes of flowering hills and colorful characters from My Little Pony."  In this sad old world, there is still some Joy and Magic to be found, and I will gratefully partake of it wherever I find it and with whomever wishes to share it.

As always, thank you.

04 Dec 2010 11:32 AM
Jennifer Wirth

Beautiful article, Steve.  I loved every word.  :)

04 Dec 2010 11:44 AM
Teezee

It's been said, that when one door closes another opens. I guess that's what we have here. It's too bad Zenyatta is being retired, but so it was last year as well. I'm hoping I will be able to see her one day at the farm and that she will produce a little one that will carry on her legacy on the track. I'm hoping she has a long and happy life.

She came close to being unbeaten, but that's what makes her so endearing. I bet if Mike Smith had it to do all over again he would have had her a half length closer at the back - that's probably all it would have taken for her to win at the end.

God Bless Zenyatta. Stay safe, honey, and I hope to visit you one day at the farm

04 Dec 2010 11:52 AM
Grand Prix Show Jumper

Steve, Thanks very much for a great article.  Like everything I read of yours it has so many levels of truth to enjoy and think about.

I don't know if this is still going to happen as it is expected to be in the 20s for a high Monday, but Zenyatta is supposedly going to appear at Keeneland at 4:15PM on Monday after landing at Bluegrass Airport at around 3PM.  Not for me to say, but I'm not sure that's the best plan.  However, if she'll be there we should all get out there for her if we possibly can.  

I don't know if this is the forum, but I would respectfully suggest that they let her leave the airport, go settle in on the farm, and maybe in a few weeks have a ceremony for her at the new, heated, indoor arena at the KY Horse Park in a little while in a way that would make sense with her new schedule.  They could sell tickets to benefit her favorite charity!

04 Dec 2010 12:09 PM
Diana_NV

Thanks, Steve, for another sincere acknowledgement to the Queen.  She is indeed the Man o'War among mares.  She generates the kind of feelings that arise when you really understand the greatness you are witnessing and how rare this greatness is in any sport.  I plan to make the trip on Sunday and hope to see her again despite the rain which may indeed represent the tears of sheer joy and emotion elicited from her many admiring fans.

04 Dec 2010 12:57 PM
T. Earnhardt

I realize my comments forthcoming might spin some heads but here's the way I feel: Zenyatta is such a special horse that she is THE PEOPLE'S HORSE. I would love to see her, if she has to be retired, to the KY Horse Park, so that they can get her out on their track to exercise, and MEET her people! The mares just vanish after they get done racing, and you all know that. All we hear about is the studs, and there is not a stud goood enough for her, as Mike Smith says. Ladies, would you want to be constantly pregnant for your reward after doing what she did?! They are going to take her to Lane's End, let a couple of photographers in there, but good luck in getting in for the "normal" Queen Z fan to see her. Throw her in the paddock and keep her pregnant. That's what poor Zenyatta is going to now. Example: When is the last time we heard about Rags to Riches? And I can personally tell you I tried for almost a YEAR to get into Claiborne to look at Private Terms and visit with a relative of THE GREAT RUFFIAN, and also to visit Personal Ensign. I got nothing but big NO NO NO's.  I hope I am wrong about this, but those of you thinking you are going to be able to get in on a regular basis to see our Queen, think again.  This industry needs a personal rep. to bring it up again and Queen Z is it. If she went to the Horse Park, we could get to see her! And she would do great things for the industry. She is better than breed, breed, breed, every year. What happens, for God's sake, if something happens to her as it does to so many mares we DO NOT even hear about while birthing? How many mares die while foaling? They don't want to take the chance of her running more and hurting herself, what if something happens to her after retirement?!  Let the people have Zenyatta, let Zenyatta have a weekly show at the track at the KY Horse Park, so she can still have someone to dance and prance for. And does anyone know if she is going to be separated from her beloved groom? Sorry, forgot his name, but you can tell she loves him.  

LOVE YOU ZENYATTA!!!!!

04 Dec 2010 1:05 PM
Paula Higgins

Rachel O, you cannot be serious! Mother Theresa, for goodness sakes, was a living saint. There is no point in even arguing this point with you. As for QE II, she may not be perfect, but she is alot further along than anyone else I know. She has been the best possible Queen the Brits could have asked for. O.k. I cannot believe I am defending Mother Theresa and Queen Elizabeth on a horse racing blog. But I do think you missed my point. Geesh.

04 Dec 2010 1:49 PM
Cris

When are the track owners going to wake up and understand these horses are a draw. I went to Ghost Ridge to check out Smarty Jones and police were needed to direct the traffic. They thought maybe one or 2,000 people would visit between 10 and 2, that many people showed up by 11! There would be more people at the track if they could regularly see horses they know. Why not have a day for the retired horses each meet? Zenyatta has been so available to the public and that is what the fans want, the icing on the cake is she is a wonderful ham and a great racehorse.

04 Dec 2010 2:05 PM
Steve Haskin

Grand Prix Show Jumper, I actually like your idea of the indoor arena. That could be a tremendous event, and people wont have to freeze waiting for her and seeing her in the paddock. And I like the charity idea.

Horselover, Rachel, for all intents and purposes, has indeed fallen off the face of the earth, which is sad. It's not like I havent tried to find out. I did inquire, and let's just say you would be shocked and appalled at the vulgar reply I received. And that reply was not even from the person I had asked. And neither Jess Jackson nor anyone at Stonestreet was involved in that reply. You can figure out the rest. I don't have anything to do with classless people, so wherever Rachel is is no longer a concern of mine.

04 Dec 2010 2:08 PM
Paula Higgins

Barbara W, I am worried too. What will happen when that frigid cold sets in and she doesn't have her regular group of people around her? I just hope they spend alot of time with her and nurture her so she doesn't have too much separation anxiety. Horses do have anxiety when they are separated from their routine and the people they know. But I know, ultimately, she will be fine. It looks like a wonderful place and they have a great reputation. She will love running in the grass and making friends. It will just take time.

Rachel, you may be right that the dance was the way she dealt with anxiety. But here's the reality: she didn't bite people and thrash around, instead she did a dance. Her temperment may be a result of genes, and just maybe it may also be a result of the wonderful care she has received as well. The point is, regardless of why she does what she does, and is what she is, we can take joy in the totality of her greatness and personality. Why try to pick it apart into smaller parts to diminish her?

04 Dec 2010 2:09 PM
Rachel Hensley

Not just California Fans!!I am still pinching myself. I got to stand next to Zenyatta yesterday morning and have my picture taken with her. My daughter and I had planned a trip to Socal a year ago for the week ending on 12/3. I read a few weeks ago that Zenyatta would be shipped out early in December and I was so afraid I would miss her. Before heading to the train in LA to return to our home in Tucson, AZ I mapquested the way to Hollywood Park and stopped at a grocery store to pick up a couple of their finest carrots. I found the track and parked near the main entrance. After walking to the main gate I found out we had to walk all the way around the casino and the property and find the back gate and get a pass before seeing Zenyatta. After about a two mile walk we arrived at the gate and were given our passes. We got directions through all the barns to #55. After wandering a bit I stopped and asked a nice Hispanic woman who was winding bandages where Zenyatta was and found out I was talking to Carmen-Mario's wife and the hot walker. I was so excited I took a video of her and then Mario came around the corner and I got to talk with him on camera. I was as excited to meet them as Zenny. After that we went out to the grassy area where Zen was just done jogging and watched as she got her bath and her blanket on and I got to talk to Steve Willard, John Shirreffs and then found I was standing right next to Liza Fly who did the Zenyatta video! After many more pictures and videos we got a ride back to our car from some new friends we had made during the morning. Zenyatta was the picture of elegance and beauty just as she appears on TV. She stood and posed with head held high for over 50 pictures with fans and never once appeared bothered or spooked. I have never seen a thoroughbred so in love with people or so well behaved. I have never gone out of my way in my life to meet a celebrity but I will always treasure my morning with Zenyatta.

04 Dec 2010 2:12 PM
Steve Haskin

Never mind about when the cold sets in. It will be setting in on Monday, so everyone who is going to Keeneland, dress extremely warm, especially if youre going early to get a spot. The HIGH is going to be 23 and the low 14. And she doesnt arrive until 4:30, so it's going to be bitterly cold out there.

04 Dec 2010 2:19 PM
Steve Haskin

Thanks for sharing that, Rachel. I'm glad everything worked out so well. You actually could have driven to the stable gate and saved yourself the walk. But I'm sure that didnt bother you at all in the long run.

04 Dec 2010 2:28 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Count me in also. From the first time I saw Zenyatta race, roaring from dead last to win, I was hooked, and from that point on I had to watch every race live on TV or the computer, and every time during the race I thought the streak was going to come to an end. I had that thrill many times. Zenyatta The Closer knew where the finish line was and how to seal the deal. She played off of the crowd which was music to her ears that inspired her to dance up a storm, then run from the clouds. Zenyatta connected with humans in a Buddhistt-like, spiritual way. What a sweetheart to us, what a heartbreaker to the rest of the field. I hope you saw her race and rooted for her many, many times because it was a once in a lifetime experience. There was never anyone like her, and never will be. It is impossible to win that many races in a row running from dead last everytime but somehow it happened.

04 Dec 2010 2:33 PM
Yvonne and Maurice Kirby

As usual, you have brought tears to my eyes.  I truly love Zenyatta so.  Hubbie and I have been to many of her races and I was there at Hollywood Park the last time she retired.  My friend and I are flying out tomorrow just for the day to honor the greatest champion of all time.  She is truly the Horse of the Century.  She will be missed but like you, I will also visit her in Kentucky.  She is blessed and is from heaven and everyone in her presence feels her energy, warmth and grace.

Love her so.

04 Dec 2010 2:36 PM
cathy polansky

Thank you Rachel. I also got to meet Zenyatta on Thu. I took over 200 pictures of her (some were good) and I got a picture with her also. That was so wonderful to be able to do that. It's so nice of John to let us be so close to her. Steve Willard said on Thu. that she is the peoples horse and he is so correct, she is. I will miss her deeply and I will go see her in KY next spring or summer. All the people at the barn are so nice and helpful they are GREAT. Thanks for sharing it was nice to read you post.

04 Dec 2010 4:17 PM
Linda in Texas

Good for you Steve, i had a message ready to submit, but i figured consider the source. And also the comment by Bill B. surmising that Man O' War and Secretariat would have won in a race with Zenyatta. We don't know that. Circumstances, humidity, track conditions, rain, snow, my goodness. Talk about grasping for things to argue about. And then the R O comment. I have a comment I held and did not submit and i tried to be civil in my post. Maybe after reading Steve's latest post re: R O i think my post would have been mild.

Slew you are right also. If you are breathing, give a flip about life, you cannot look into Zenyatta's eyes and see anything bad. Nothing. If you cannot gain hope, love, happiness and frivolity and serious business experiencing her, you have one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel.

I am so proud to post with so many heart and love filled people who recognize greatness when it is placed before them.

And that is why i respect Steve Haskin so much. It is a trait that

he was born with to have the deep thoughts he comes up with to reveal and share with us. One has to be born with ambition and also the ability to accept and talk about love, even of horses.

The responses by every single poster take me on a lovely trip that does not cost a dime to take.

To give credence to the poster R O

was to reward someone for bad behavior. When i behaved badly, i had to go to my room and think about it as a child. I have learned the difference between good and bad behavior. And if i were so hate filled, i would be ashamed.

I must say, that i wish i knew each and every person who has written beautiful words on Steve's

s blog. Who ever figured that one animal could bring out the poet in so many people, not so much poetry, but words worthy of poets and story writers. But Zenyatta is real. That makes it all the more difficult because she begs description and she isn't easy to

describe.

I appreciate every kind person on

this blog and feel that we have all been truly blessed to have been able to express our feelings one to another and learn so much about each other. All because of a 4 legged perfect creature that was created to please. She took her mission in life to the hilt and has not stopped.

I have been Zenyattaed, Zenned,

Zinnied, and treated to Zensationalism. And i feel blessed. Period.

And Steve, bless you, now you are worried about the temperature when Zenyatta arrives and concerned about people dressing warmly.

You are just too much. And that is why so many people besides your wife and daughter love you.

04 Dec 2010 4:26 PM
Rachel O

Paula,

I do get your point, Paula. However, Mother Theresa, saint that she has been designated, was known for being quite difficult to get along with at times. And I'm not a particular fan of British royalty.

I didn't mean to rile you. I apologize.

04 Dec 2010 4:34 PM
txhorsefan

Steve, you are absolute, pure class.  Thank you.  You write a beautiful article to bid our queen farewell, yet you go back and make changes because we make requests over the use of certain words.  You spill out your heart as well as helping us to understand our own, yet you are still calm and courteous in the face of criticism because we believe in the heart and the soul of this wonderful race mare.  You truly are the champion of turf writers and definitely the Writer of the Year!  Because my skills are so lacking, all I can say is once again...thank you.

Paula, Sherpa, Aluminaut, Needler, Slew..thank you all also for sharing.  Rachel Hensley - I'm so jealous, but I'm so happy for you to have been able to experience Zenyatta.  Let no one rain on your parade!

04 Dec 2010 4:49 PM
Fuzzy Corgi

What a great ride it has been.

04 Dec 2010 5:14 PM
seatariat

Steve,

My cup runnith over with gratitude for your beautiful  words for our Queen.   I'm glad that you have tasted the elixir that so many have.  You have experienced her aura and you understand what she does to us mere mortals.  I still don't want the ride to end and I find myself wondering if Zenyatta wants it to either...just food for thought.  

I'm happy she is retiring healthy and sound and it sounds like the team is doing everything they can to assure a peaceful transition and a happy life at Lanes' End.  My worry right now is living a life as a broodmare for a intelligent horse like Zenyatta.  Years ago I helped a friend with a breeding, I held the mare, and it was not pretty for the mare.  I am having a hard time imagining that happening to Zenyatta and her reaction to it.   And yes, I think she will be a wonderful mother but how will she handle the weaning process.  When I was a kid we had a Shetland pony that we bred and we just assumed that the mare would wean her filly on her own.  Well it didn't happen and so when we finally sold them we insisted on selling them as a pair because we didn't have the heart to try and wean a five year old.  I was once at a farm that raised paints and they had separated the mares from the foals the day before and it was so hard to watch all the crying going on with both foals and mares that I had to leave.  I know..I know this is all part of the breeding process and without it we wouldn't have racing but Zenyatta is different and I'm worried as to how she will react, I keep picturing it breaking her heart.  

In my perfect world I agree with T. Earnhardt and would love to see Zenyatta sent to the Kentucky Horse Park where she could be condoled and admired by her fans for the rest of her life.  You see there will never be another Zenyatta no matter who they breed her to. Steve, any encouraging words?

04 Dec 2010 5:52 PM
Mike Relva

STEVE

Regarding RA if it's the individual I suspect,not surprised at all. Please don't give up on finding info on RA.

04 Dec 2010 6:29 PM
Kerry in Saratoga

Once again, you have summed up all of our feelings in a single column. Haskin, your writing dates back to a time when good reporting was coupled with an extensive knowledge of your subject matter and an impeccable command of the English language. I'm sure I'm speaking for us all when I thank you for your dedication to the profession.

04 Dec 2010 6:35 PM
Mike Relva

KAREN D

Regarding John Henry,had the honor to visit him three weeks prior to his passing. I had goosebumps! That's the presence he still retained even while very ill.

04 Dec 2010 6:44 PM
Steve Haskin

That's very kind of you to say, Kerry. Thank you very much, and thanks to everyone for taking the time to write. There is one thing about Zenyatta no one can deny -- she sure has started a heckuva family and brought a lot of people together.

04 Dec 2010 6:49 PM
Marilyn

Sadly, just when the world discovered Miss Z, she is exiting the stage; it is sad in a way that this magnificent ambassador for horse racing and her wonderful connections did not come to the attention of the world a tad sooner; For me, it was Rachel that I loved so much; after watching 60 minutes and watching the Breeder's Cup I fell in love with this wonderful, amazing mare; As John Shireffs has described her, she is "soulful"; her kindness and her seeming ability to connect with humans is unparalleled in the industry. I am sad that when she becomes a broodmare, she may lose that human connection that she obviously relishes in. I am sad that I never got to see her in person; I love you Zenytatta; you are so very very special; I imagine we won't see anything like you again for a long long time, if ever.

04 Dec 2010 6:56 PM
John

My favorite quote about Zenyatta comes from the 97 year old legendary Hall of Fame trainer John Nerud, whom trained the "fastest" horse in the history of the universe, Dr. Fager,..."Zenyatta, she's a helluva horse.  The greatest female racehorse I've ever seen".

And this is from someone that has witnessed all the female greats from Twilight Tear to Busher to Star of India to Moccasin to Pebbles to All Along to Allez France to Ruffian to Dahlia to Personal Ensign to Azeri.

04 Dec 2010 7:30 PM
Carol Engles

Steve,

Once again, you capture so much with your words! My friends and I saw Zenyatta at Del Mar this summer - her dramatic paddock entrance, her dance, and her thrilling come from behind victory. Then she returned to the grandstand  with all of us  cheering, clapping and CRYING as she proudly paraded in front of us before entering the winner's circle. It was an amazingly emotional experience! She will be in our hearts forever!

04 Dec 2010 8:30 PM
Terri Z

Thanks for such a well written article.

I hope that the Zenyatta experience will help to improve the accessibility to race horses. It would be great if we could access more information about retired mares.

Once a mare is retired, she is hidden at the farm.              I have been unable to find out how one of my favorite mares, Gameface is doing since she retired.

I hope that Team Z will help to change that.

As you are going to Kentucky in January, please try to stop by and see Penny Chenery's special yearling filly Carah Mariah at Calumet.

It would be lovely if you could visit and photograph some other wonderful stallions at Lanes End. And please take a picture and visit with Life is Sweet.

Thanks in advance. Many thanks for the wonderful articles and photographs.

04 Dec 2010 8:51 PM
txhorsefan

Linda in Texas - thank you for putting into words what was in my heart.  You have a special way of doing that and I appreciate it very much.  Steve you are right that Zenyatta started a heckuva family right here - the extended, very large, Haskin family!

Dr. Drunkinbum - we never counted you out - we always knew we could count on you!

Seatariat - My mind has also been mulling over some of those unpleasantries of the breeding shed.  Yes, I do understand that this is animal behavior, but it doesn't make it easy for that maiden mare no matter that she may tower over the stallion in size.  Knowing that the Mosses love her so much, my heart is hoping that they will only breed her sparingly because .. well,  can you really picture them selling her foals?  I'm thinking, dreaming that they would attempt to see if she could bear a foal with some slight measure of her talent and then after a few foals, retire her to the KHP so her fans could see her again.  Ok, ok, so I'm a dreamer, but in my My Little Pony world, that's how it would be.  

04 Dec 2010 8:59 PM
Paula Higgins

Steve, I am stunned that someone was rude to you when you inquired about Rachel? What is that all about?? Many of us love Rachel too and she is a presence on Facebook. They are warm and fuzzy on Facebook. Must not be the same people. All I can say is I am sorry for that and I am sure that Jess Jackson would not like it if he knew, or Steve Asmussen for that matter.

Rachel O, I understand that Mother Theresa and QE II were/are not perfect people. I tend to look at the larger picture where people are concerned. The sum of each of their lives was and are phenomenal. Royalty serves a purpose that is crucial to England's economy (tourism) and history. Mother Theresa, well, her life's work speaks for itself. So that is my point, I did not mean to offend you either.

04 Dec 2010 9:01 PM
Dr Dave

What great stuff!  Excellent article Steve!  So many wonderful comments and stories.  I usually don't read entire blogs, especially during championship football weekend but just couldn't turn away!  

I think it has all been said and said well however...  Zenyatta is truly a gift from God, she melts hearts she makes even the strong man cry, happens to me almost every time I think about how great she is.  I too wake up trying to push her past Blame.  I think we all wanted to see someting very rare like Don Larson's perfect game in the World Series (way back in '55?).  Nevertheless Zenyatta proved a lot of things to her Naysayers in that race.  

The Big Girl has so many many great attributes where do you start to praise her?  I do think that she is a very unique horse and could compete with the best of any era.  She is ultra consistent (like every time), was Secretariat as great as he was?  No.  It is mere opinion and speculation to say that there were X number of great horses from the past that could beat her.  A mute point.  She is Zenyatta, she is The Queen, the Great One.  As great as Secretariat's Belmont was I have to say that every time Zenyatta turned on the jets in the stretch I experienced that same feeling, the goose bumps, the chills, the tears and all but just think she made it happen 20 times not just one or two.  

I vote for letting her run another year if she wants to like she did last year.  I've been a fan since Native Dancer's time and have had trouble finding my favorite horse. I've read a lot, watched a lot, made a lot of comparisons thinking it had to be a colt (probably a common mistake) and then one day out of the blue along comes a big, beautiful, charismatic and talented filly named Zenyatta.

04 Dec 2010 9:18 PM
Cleone

After reading all the other comments, I don't have anything to add - except thank you, Steve, for being the outstanding writer and all around classy guy you are.  I always know I'm going to enjoy a story or a blog when your name is on it.

And thank you as well to all the folks connected with the Queen - John, Dottie, Steve, Mario, Carmen, Jerry & Ann Moss - they were so kind when some of us visited the day before the Lady's Secret, and have been so gracious about keeping us in touch and informed and letting us feel as if we are a part of it all, too.  And mostly, thank you to Zenyatta for being who she is.  Amazing.

04 Dec 2010 10:16 PM
Barb P

Hi, Steve:

Well, I am very, very late to the Zenyatta fandom-- I have only seen her in action for my first time today! In this "Zenyatta-cam" video: www.youtube.com/watch

I see what you all mean: even the back of her neck and head seem, well, regal. And what a neat ride! I understand now why the exercise riders and jockeys love to do what they do.

I dearly hope with the rest of you that she gets to have an enjoyable, fun, and interesting rest of her life.

04 Dec 2010 10:45 PM
MRO

Beautiful words for a beautiful mare. I would have never thought I would have said this on November 6th, but the outcome of the BC Classic actually does seem to have increased her star stature. I also hopes she adjusts to life at LE well. I worry about her missing her people and not getting enough special attention. Please do keep her in the headlines. I miss Rags to Riches, who disappeared from the headlines pretty quickly after she retired, and I don't want to lose Zenyatta too.

04 Dec 2010 11:20 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

mark- Yeah, I re-injured my back more than once, jumping up and down cheering Zenyatta down the stretch. Maybe now I can get better.

Mike S.- I love your comment, 19.99 for 20. It sounds more realistic than 19 of 20.

AJ- I think it was Nick Zito that said someting like- Allen Jerkens, I don't know if Giant Killer says enough, he's just A Giant.

txhorsefan- Thanks. I love your posts. You have the heart of a champion.

Many, many fabulous posts here from very smart and creative people. I loved it even though I had to look up a few words in the dictionary.

Zenyatta- We love you very much. Let us know if we can send you any sweaters or Down jackets. It's a bit nippy there. I hope you enjoy it, and don't forget to write.

04 Dec 2010 11:20 PM
needler in Virginia

Yeah, I know all the stuff about the breeding shed, and deliveries and weaning and all the rest. And YES! I know all about the finances of racing and breeding. I also know that this situation is completely unique in racing history. There have always been stars and fan favorites because, as humans, we connect with the special, the heart-warming, the super talent, the monarch, the star, the magic. We also connect with beauty and grace and power. Plus, humans have been connected for thousands of years with horses and have moved through time with them. Horses are one of the very few partnership animals with which we emotionally connect. Now we're in real trouble because we have all that (and more) in one single creature ....... Zenyatta. How do we, as fans, reconcile the loss of our favorite? How do the owners let go of their beloved mare? How do we convince Lane's End that the treasure it will soon guard is much more  than just another broodmare? Clearly, Zenyatta is much more than just another horse; even if we don't know WHY we've got this "bond" with her, we know we have it, in spades.

Maybe this is one of those times that we must think VERY creatively; maybe Zenyatta isn't just another candidate for the breeding shed. It is more than possible, even probable, that she will NEVER recreate even a pale copy of herself. She is a freak in the best sense of the word, just as Secretariat was. It's almost a lock, though, that if she enters a breeding program she will disappear into a broodmare band and only her owners will see her again. Are there any ideas that might make almost everyone happy? I must admit the idea that I have is pretty pitiful (and VERY SELFISH), like she could stay in our master bedroom and we'll move into the barn!! I'll even teach her to drive, fer Pete's sake!

No owners have ever had to face this sort of situation before. The stallions go off to stand somewhere and people get to visit them on tours in the off-season. That's been the way of it, and we live with it. But, even the very best of the racing fillies and mares, excluding Ruffian, haven't raised this sort of lather in fans. Zenyatta really has done something powerful; while no one is quite sure exactly WHAT that is, or how to evaluate it, it's clear her fans are NOT ready to let her go. I really do feel sorry for the folks at Lane's End if they think pictures or video on a website are gonna keep the fans off the fences every morning. This phenomenon just keeps growing and is presenting an opportunity that should be mined. Someone far smarter than I should be able to come up with something that will allow both a normal life for Zenyatta AND serving as an ambassador of racing AND contact with her fans. Let's face it, fans are a HUGE part of her life and have been for three years. She enjoys them and they REALLY enjoy HER. The detox of losing her previous world will be tough on her. Maybe someone can come up with a clever plan for loads of good to come out of her retirement.

I firmly believe that the Mosses have NOTHING but the mare's best interests at heart, and I've no idea how they will let her go. They will, though, as they have said. It's my wish that there be a way to share her with the world as she lives long and prospers.... OR she could always come stay at my house.

Does anyone have any really good ideas???

Cheers and a VERY safe trip to all as you say "adieu" to her in California and "bienvenue" in Kentucky.

05 Dec 2010 12:38 AM
Dianne from LI

Steve, thank you for another heart warming article.

I am sad to see Zenyatta leave the race track, but I know from working with horses, and being a Horse Racing fan for 40 years that it is for the best.

She leaves healthy and sound, and I believe that if Ruffian and Eight Bells had been handled as she has been, they would have not have ended up the way that they did.

I agree with Mrs. Moss that Zenyatta is a gift from Heaven, sent to lift our spirits at a time when our world needed it.

Before Zenyatta, I had never traveled on an airplane to see a particular horse, but for some reason for her I had the compulsion to do so, and I did. I went to Churchill on Nov. 6, and she was amazing.  I could see that she was having trouble getting her footing at the beginning of the race (a workout before the race at Churchill Downs, I believe, would have helped), but once she got her footing, she ran a Monster of a Race. When she ran by me in the home stretch, she sounded like a "Locomotive Train".

I will never forget it or her.

As I said the first time that I saw Zenyatta (and Secretariat)

"Wow" What A Horse".

05 Dec 2010 12:45 AM
Wilson

Great post Steve, really.

I agree that it is indeed fun to drink in the Zenyatta experience because there really is no upside in knocking this horse or her accomplishments, and there is no doubt she is incredibly unique.  I got to LA on BC saturday 08 to see Raven's Pass but too late to see the Ladies' Classic and therefore Zenyatta. Then I returned in 09 and saw her win the Classic the only time I ever saw her in person.  I'll never forget that day and no one else who was there will either.  You know the connections of Sea The Stars were nodding in agreement after watching that race that they had made the right decision to duck the Classic.

05 Dec 2010 1:17 AM
Kathy B.

Hi Steve....I have no idea how many comments you have to your lovely blog...I can't seem to find the beginning anymore.  If the HOY award really doesn't matter except to the owners and trainers, can someone please create an award that reflects the contributions of those truly exceptional horses whose performances far transcend any physical racetrack and become the stuff of legend?  I think that's what is happening here.....all anyone has to do is read the comments.  In this day and age when one horse can inspire and unite so many people from so many different walks of life I find that to be nothing short of amazing!    

05 Dec 2010 2:42 AM
jayjay

Ahhhh, this one did me in.  It brought back so many memories of watching her race.  The way she ran her race everytime was just phenomenal.  As Dr. D said, as much as we all love her and know how good she is, she manages to make you question whether she'll win the race or not, EVERY TIME.  We then go bonkers when she hits that gear and up until the finish line, we hold our breath and then go into hysteria, losing our voices (I have many times) from screaming her name.  

Steve, it's pretty amazing how you can describe the feelings of most of her fans with the way you wrote this article.  It shows you're a genuine fan of Zenyatta.  Not that I questioned it but many writers try to write these types articles and they mostly describe what they see from the fans.  You, it shows how much you love the horse (and all horses for that matter).  I thank you and appreciate all the articles you've written.

I hope the Moss' lets us know what the deal is with keeping ZenZen warm and comfortable over there.  I hope they use that excuse (the cold weather) to bring her back to California and maybe race her again :)

Man, I'm gonna miss her...I'm going to miss a lot of things about her.  Thank God for Youtube and thanks to all who posted videos of her there.

Ceil : Thanks for the info about the stall.  I still hope they put a streaming video out there so that we can see her play and relax and drink her guinness over the web.  I bet she has other dance moves that we've yet to see.  It'd be cool to see her practice her moves before seeing her fans.

05 Dec 2010 2:44 AM
Amy

Superb writing! What can I say, that others have written already, Steve. Your column brings tears to my eyes, and expresses how I feel about this incredible mare. In defeat, she ran her most incredible race. In defeat, she has become legend.

05 Dec 2010 6:43 AM
Andi Beyer

I was wrong, and I feel like a real loser! Sorry Zenyatta!

05 Dec 2010 10:03 AM
Linda in Texas

Dr. Drunkinbum, you are a ray of sunshine to all of us on a dreary cold day every time you post. If i do not see your name on a post, i begin to worry, and feel the same about Deacon,Zookeeper,Winnah Pickah,et.al.

txhorsefan: we always enjoy your from the soul posts. i might reveal too much sometimes and leave nothing to the imagination, but i have a sensitive heart and it is always bursting when thinking about the perfection that God created when he made Zenyatta. And in my daily life, if i encounter a smart person, or a beautiful baby or a talented handsome young man or a pretty girl, i will always compliment them. It doesn't cost a penny and you would be surprised how it helps their self esteem. Been this way all my life and i have no regrets. It doesn't hurt to compliment the man upstairs once in a while either, whether it be a beautiful specimen of a 4 legged creature or a human.

Needler in Virginia: agree totally with your statement that maybe Zenyatta does not fit the mold so to speak of a 'regular' brood mare. I have worried about that all along. How do you take her out of the center ring of a circus where she has been the star attraction and turn her out to a pasture to graze even if the grass is the best?

Also your mention that she may never reproduce, i had that fleeting thought but did not want to jinx the situation. And one time i posted that if i had a horse like Zenyatta i would keep her real close, very close.

It is the nurturing in all of us whether male or a female. We want to protect her and keep her safe, and i don't find that offensive at all.

I don't look for her to have a foal year after year after year.

I think maybe 2 would be her max.

I don't want her made a machine grinding out foals til she is 20.

So many mares when they hit 18 start having issues in foaling.

At least that is when you read

about them. I know some mares having issues much younger than that and lost the foal and their own life.

Zenyatta will probably never reproduce all of her own traits as has been mentioned here. Hard as it is to type the word 'freak', she really exemplifies the definition of that word in a positive way. As caring as the Mosses are for her, i would venture a guess that all of the things we worry about have already crossed their minds and they won't

ever leave Zenyatta to fend for herself.

In one of the posts, mention was made of Zenyatta's favorite charity. It is "Old Friends Equine Rescue and Home for Thoroughbreds" in Georgetown, Kentucky and their  sister home in the great state of New York not far from Saratoga Springs in Greenfield Center, NY. Check out the web sites: oldfriendsequine.com and oldfriendscabincreek.com. Super photos, information and interesting history on many many great and deserving thoroughbreds.

It will keep you connected and they are a great places to honor a friend by a donation. Just a suggestion. And all equine rescue farms across the U.S. are just as thankful for gifts to them also.

You must check out the photo of a horse on the cabin creek site, seated on the ground staring at the proprietor of Cabin Creek up close and personal. Poignant, all i can say. Says it all without hearing a word.

Safe travels everyone. And thank you Steve.  

05 Dec 2010 11:23 AM
racehorselover

Oh Steve, YOU have to write THE book on Zenyatta. You truely capture not only Her but how We all feel about The Queen. If those that vote HOY would read your blogs and articles and do their homework by reading the bio The Bloodhorse did with Exculesively Equine, then maybe they could see her better. No horse since Secretariat has caputered the heart and soul of America. Please keep going ! You have to tell us about her at Lane's End, please. She is special, she is real, she is The Queen. She is Zenyatta. God Bless the Queen, Team Z and the Mosses' Thank you for the thrill of a life time.

05 Dec 2010 11:49 AM
RGGC

Thanks for the article Steve. I never got to see her run, but hope to visit her at Lanes End some time. The fondest memory I have of her, was showing my 88 year Dad, who introducted me to racing, her races on the computer. He was so amazed by her and became an instant fan. He just died this weekend, but he got to watch her BC classic and usually when my favorite horse would get beat, he would good naturedly tease me about them just not being good enough. He never teased me about Zenyatta. All I remembered him saying was how she was amazing and how hard she tried.

I glad Zenyatta gave me something to share with my Dad in his last days. I will miss seeing her run and I will miss talking to Dad about her.

05 Dec 2010 12:00 PM
Rachel O

needler in Virginia,

Your post is marvelous, and I have a suggestion. We'll never really know just how powerful Zenyatta truly is because we've been given just a good glimpse of her talents. She has been a great therapy horse for many lucky people who have been up close with her.

I could see her looking into a person's eyes with those deep, brown eyes of hers, for just a few moments, and the results being magnificent. There are a number of stories pointing to her healing qualities. Maybe she should hang out a shingle.

And in her spare time? Dressage and perhaps a little steeplechasing.

05 Dec 2010 12:26 PM
needler in Virginia

WOW! WOW! WOW! What a gracious thing to post, Mr Beyer. It really IS too bad that it took you so long to come to the fair, but it's not too bad, is it? WELCOME, FINALLY..............

MANY cheers and safe trips to all.

05 Dec 2010 12:54 PM
Mike Relva

NEEDLER IN VA

Well said and I couldn't agree more.

05 Dec 2010 1:16 PM
Michelle

Steve, thanks for "getting it" and understanding what this horse means to so many people.  She is one in a million.

05 Dec 2010 1:58 PM
Linda in Texas

Steve, 2 comments:

1. HRTV.COM will be showing the  

  Hollywood Park fan farewell

  send off today. And if you

  miss it live, they will have

  the video for future viewing.

  Minimal monthly fee, $9.95.

2. Last but not least, I received

  my Commemorative Issue of

  Bloodhorse featuring Zenyatta

  on the cover and a beautiful

  8 x 10 photo of the lady up

  very close. With cotton in her

  ears i might add. It is a

  treasure. Hope all her fans

  have ordered it to keep.

Thanks Steve.

05 Dec 2010 2:07 PM
ROBINM

Beautiful article Steve (as always).  I sense this blog is really for those thoroughly smitten with Zenyatta, so my comments might not be appreciated but, here goes.  I have loved race horses for nearly all of my life.  I don't always love horse racing, but I love race horses.  My first love was Native Diver (admittedly a good horse, but not truly a great one. Since then my absolute favorites have been Seattle Slew, Easy Goer, Cigar and Rachel Alexandra.  For some reason I never "got" the mystique of Zenyatta.  Bash me if you will, but even now I don't "get" her but I can say that her loss in the 2010 BCC finally convinced me she is a great race horse.

 I'm more in the camp with Mike Relva and Sharon M in that I can't blame Mike Smith for "losing" the race.  He tried very hard to get her into the race earlier and considering her come-from-behind running style, I don't believe there is any way he could have positioned her in a large field to avoid the dirt kick back. Zenyatta has never been a "mid-pack" type race horse. She always comes from far off of the pace. Once she got clear it took many, many applications of the whip to get her so close at the end.  No one can say she wasn't "all out" at the wire as has been said of all her previous races. It took a good field of race horses to finally see the best of Zenyatta.  I only wish I'd had the opportunity to see her have to give her absolute best before. Maybe then I'd "get" it.  

05 Dec 2010 2:09 PM
SusieQ

Steve...I wasn't going to post here but here I am...teary eyed again after reading one of your great articles.  Zenyatta is one of God's createst creatures ...her ability to touch us in an often spiritual way is nothing short of amazing.  I was at the BC this year and what I saw was the heart of a champion streaking down the backstretch and capturing everyone's heart in the process.  Two men who were sitting behind me had betted against her.  But...when she hit that gear that only she has... they screamed their heads off like the rest of us.  Zenyatta, Zenyatta...the sound was ringing in my ears.  Afterwards they looked at each other and commented that she was indeed the best horse in the race.  Need I say more?  Her legacy is complete.  We won't see another like her in our lifetimes or perhaps...ever.

05 Dec 2010 2:57 PM
Tammi

Thanks Steve, as always! You are the only one who can bring Zenyatta to us. BTW, how is the book coming?:) I'm just like everyone else...can't stand to see her go but there is nothing I can do about it. I'll just try to get my hands on everything Zenny from now on and meet each day with a view of a Zenyatta dvd or UTube. Hopefully I'll get by:) She has really been a lifesaver to me and I will always love and cherish her. I'm so glad you do too:)

05 Dec 2010 3:51 PM
Freetex

After reading all the posts I realize there is an abundance of love that still survives in our society.

There are many posters on your blog Steve, (of course, including you), I would consider a privilege to think of as friends.  I admit I am amazed how much many of us have in common regarding our perceptions of the sport and what the Zen experience does for us.

I am sure the Mosses' have struggled about Zenyatta's future life much as many of us have written about our concerns.  

Sure wish Zenyatta will be truly accessible to her public.  If not, I don't think either of us will be very happy.

05 Dec 2010 4:12 PM
ColetteMarie

I feel sorry for those few who have not truly enjoyed Zenyatta these past 3 yrs. What a loss for them. We have had one of those rare opportunities in life where we experience sheer joy. Anticipating Zenyatta's races, watching her race & then basking in her victories has brought me so much joy and excitment and I feel proud to have been alive to watch her race. Forever more, when she is talked about, I can say that I experienced this amazing mare. I never got to see her in real life, but it doesn't matter. Those of us that only got to see her on TVG, still got to experince the joy that is Zenyatta. Today, I was scheduled to work all day, 7am to 7pm. But, I was not to proud to beg. I just had to get home to watch Zenyatta'a Day @ Hollywood. I was able to get another nurse to come in & work the last half of my shift so I could get home & watch Zenyatta on the track for the last time.

I hope to get down to Kentucky this summer to see Zenyatta. I can't imagine Lane's End being able to NOT come up with some way for Zenyatta's fans to see her. I also think the Mosses are very much appreciate her fans & will make sure something is worked out. Zenyatta, herself, needs the attention. I think crowds around her will be very important in keeping her happy. Watching the Mosses faces as they watch Zenyatta with her fans is like watching very proud parents basking in their child's glory. They don't just tolerate the fans. They love Zenyatta's fans as much as she does. I truly believe they will work something out with Lane's End. Lane's End must understand that how they have always done things does not apply with Zenyatta. Nothing like Zenyatta has ever been experienced by anybody before. That lends itself to changes in one's routine. So, Lane's End have to know that Zenyatta's fans won't just forget about her. That will never happen.

I don't understand all the sequestering of the brood mares, anyway. I have had many horses over the years & have had about 35 horses bred & have babies. An older Irish vet told us, when we had our first pregnant mare,"Don't treat her like she is broken. Let her live her life". So, we did. We had babies born to high strung Arabs, TB's & Quarter Horses. ALL our babies were born healthy. We have never lost one or had a sick foal. When a foal is born, we do keep the mom & baby by themselves for a week. During that week, we spent alot of time imprinting the baby. We sit quietly in the corner of the stall for hours at a time, on an upside down bucket.The baby comes up to us, curious & gets comfortable with humans. Very early on, humans become part of their world & they learn humans are OK. The moms are so comfortable with us that they will munch on their hay & even lay down while we are in the stall. They are OK with they baby coming over to us. But, all this takes time & work. Anyone who wants to visit, visits. i have to believe that Lane's End has enough staff to send the time acclimating the babies to humans around them as well as the moms. Then, what is the harm with having visitors?

I remember, about 15 yrs. ago, we got a very high strung Arab mare. She came to us newly pregnant. She reminds me of Goldikova in her stall. We had to get her used to us around her in her stall before she had her baby. we don't believe in twitching a mare in order to get near her baby. So, after a lot of time and by the time she had her foal, this Arab mare was as comfortable with us in her stall with her & her baby as all the other mares. She didn't lay down when my husband was in there with them, but she did eat. She'd lay down when I sat in there. I think she liked my voice as I talked to her & her baby. So, it can be done, without anything detrimental happening to mom or baby. Of course, when the mares & their babies are turned out to the paddocks, they all come to the fence to be petted & see what we have for them. There is no stress at all.

Lane's End already has a huge advantage. Zenyatta is Zenyatta & loves people. So, it stands to reason that with care, her baby will follow her cue & learn that humans are OK in their world, too.

ColetteMarie

05 Dec 2010 4:39 PM
sleepwok

CHAPTER TWO

    After reading Steve's blog today, I am filled with all the emotions that Zenyatta's fans have expressed in their attempt to wring out every attribute that this great mare posesses.  It took me awhile, re-living what seemed like a dream, before I became aware

that a new chapter, in the life of Zenyatta, was about to begin!

THE POSSIBILITIES:

(1)  

Zenyatta's connections probably have already selected the sire.

Her people are smart, have access to the best bloodstock-agents, and, most likely, have had many offers from the best breeding-farms to send her to their best stallion.

(We probably won't hear who "he" is until the contract is signed, or after "Z" is moved to the farm, or until she is pronounced "in-foal" to .....?)

(Obviously, they weren"t going to put this important decision off until after the final hurrah.)

So, now Zenyatta will have about 2 1/2 months to "come-down", settle into her new life and give to the world a new gift.

I believe Zenyatta made her own pedigree.  We may never see the likes of her again, but with the proper sire-line to enhance what is

already there, the ensuing foal only has to inherit "Z"s heart and desire to excel, and (dreaming again) we could be taken on another ride in 2013-2014!.....and

I can't imagine "Z" giving up the Dancing when she is excited...so, who knows, maybe the foal will pick up on it as it grows, because the little ones always try to mimic their mommies.  (I'll bet a "dancing foal" couldn't be kept secret for long!

.........and then there is this possibility:

(2)

Rachel Alexandra:

Heard much of anything about Rachel?  Of course not.  And we won't for awhile, for the same above reasons.  She is one of the greatest 3-yr old fillies of all time.  I think they were smart to retire her and wait to breed her as a 4-yr old, or better, as a 5-yr old, when she has fully matured.  However, IF she drops a foal in the SAME YEAR as Zenyatta.........will we see the offspring of both these great racehorses running in the same year?(What if the foals were Both fillies or Both colts?  How exciting to play with the thought of it working out the way we want it!)  The year of the Girls/the year of the Boys?  OMG!  Gotta go...be patient and keep following the dream....it ain"t over yet!

sleepwok

05 Dec 2010 6:29 PM
sleepwok

Mr. Haskin:

Have you ever seen a stallion that was listed as a dk b or brn homogygous stallion?

sleepwok

05 Dec 2010 6:35 PM
Dani

'It was something unpredictable...but in the end we found...you gave us all the time of our lives'.

05 Dec 2010 6:42 PM
Paula Higgins

Well, just saw Zenyatta's farewell on TVG. Wonderful and sad at the same time. A very large crowd came to see her. Everyone had their cameras out and they were clicking away. She is an incredibly beautiful horse and a horse who connects with people. How lucky have we been? There will never be another like her in my lifetime.

To those wondering about Rachel, I have asked the facebook "Rachel Alexandra" to see if they can get any information. They said they would try. If they do, I will post it. I do understand that when a horse is being bred they have to keep her under wraps to some degree, but I do think these farms could post information. Zenyatta's connections are going to still post updates on her website courtesy of David, Dottie's son. His assistant, Sarah, will actually be checking on her and doing the postings.

05 Dec 2010 6:53 PM
Slew

Hmmm..very interesting...HRTV relayed a statement from Dottie Ingordo who said that just because Zen is going to Lane's End does not mean she will choose a Lane's End stallion as her beau.  The final decision has not yet been reached.  (Isn't Bernardini right down the road at Darley?).  Of course, with top sire AP Indy waiting...I wonder.  Wish I could have seen her today at Hollywood Park...Zen is so inspiring.

05 Dec 2010 8:26 PM
quarterhossgal

It is hard to  top that last post from Andi Beyer!!

I agree Zen should be an ambassador for the sport of racing.

There have been few great horses that have out produced themselves. In fact it is hard to think of one. It is not the easiest thing to get a maiden mare in foal ask the owners of Genuine Risk about breeding shed problems. In my rose colored world Z would have a couple of foals and then spend her time at the Kentucky Horse Park inter acting with her thousands of fans.

05 Dec 2010 8:55 PM
Barthart

Only six words do I wish to say.....SHE HAS BEEN AN AMAZING GIFT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

05 Dec 2010 9:56 PM
Dr Dave

Here is the answer to a pressing issue but I don't know who would initiate it and/or see it through to fruition:  Some kind of a fan visitation schedule should be set up until, should that day ever come, fans have had their fill of visiting Big Mamma Z.  It should take into account of course her breeding schedule and should be housed somewhere nearby that could handle a crowd, say the KY Horse Park for example.  All in favor say I.  Otherwise the way farms around Lexington are about visiting broodmares we all may have a very tough time getting to ever see her again.  I had that problem trying to see Genuine Risk (in VA), Winning Colors at Gainsway and Personal Ensign at Claiborne.  

05 Dec 2010 10:14 PM
sherpa

To those who mentioned here that they'd like more news of retired race-mares, I want to mention that Anne Eberhardt did some nice photo-journals on Life Is Sweet, her dam Sweet Life, Balance and Octave in her "Behind the Lens" blog here at BH.  Look in her Aug-Oct archives.  I'm hopeful she'll pick up the subject again when she's free. It was good to see these ladies and Anne's commentary gave some interesting insight into a broodmare's life.

I was able to watch Zen's farewell live at Calracing.com.  I started weeping when Lisa Fly started singing the Zenyatta song.  Man oh man, I am going to miss that mare so much.

05 Dec 2010 11:09 PM
Fuzzy Corgi

needler in Virginia, I love your plan for letting Zenyatta sleep in your bedroom. How wonderful it would be to have her curled up at the foot of your bed! However I think she might be a bit of a bed hog.

I too have a Zenyatta retirement fantasy. I would LOVE to see if she can jump. Can you imagine Zenyatta the Olympic show jumping champion? Michael Matz did it but in reverse... Grand Prix show jumping to racing at the highest level.

Zenyatta would love it too. She could learn new things, keep being pampered, and stay in front of her adoring public, just in a different venue. It would work for me!

06 Dec 2010 12:43 AM
Zen4Zen

Wonderfully expressed, as always, Steve.  Thank you for memorializing that magic creature and please tell us about your visit with her at Land's End next month.

I think it's one of your readers (do, please, let us know who it is if you know) who encapsulated it best:  "God smiled and created Zenyatta."

06 Dec 2010 1:17 AM
Deacon

Classy article Steve honoring a classy race horse.

All of you choregraphers out there we need to put in human step the "Zenyatta Dance". We have the "Lambada", the Forbidden dance, we have Salome back Biblical times doing the dance of the 7 veils, of course we had Michael Jackson's classic "Moondance", and now my fellow friends, we now have the unforegettable "Zenyatta Dance".

Ok, I know, I am being silly but this mare will never, and I repeat never be forgotten. She came along and saved horse racing, even if the powers that be don't know it.

Everytime Steve I think you can't top yourself, you blow me away by another incredibly written blog.....

06 Dec 2010 1:42 AM
Slew

Fuzzy Corgi:..better yet...Dressage.  She's perfect!  I have a feeling that Zen has too much mass to get over jumps easily.  Think of Stefan Peters on Ravel in freestyle...I would love to see her in the ring.

Deacon:  looks like a Salsa to me.  Or we can put her with a Zydeco band and have a fais do-do with a Cajun flair.  

06 Dec 2010 8:02 AM
Slew

Sleepwork: homozygous means the black gene is dominant.

""E" = no red factor detected. The horse can be assumed to be homozygous for black pigment (EE). It cannot have red foals (chestnut or sorrel) regardless of the color of the mate. The basic color of the horse will be black or bay, but depending on genes at the other color loci, the horse may be buckskin, zebra dun, grulla, perlino, gray, white or any of these colors with the white hair patterns tobiano, overo, paint, roan or appaloosa."

06 Dec 2010 8:12 AM
Zenyattafan

To Fuzzy Corgi,

Just read your post... here's my Zenyatta Fantasy... besides wanting to ride her myself...Breed her to Moorlands Totilas, dressage King of the World... Can you imagine???

Steve,

You have a great group of people here. Of course we mostly all think the same way, but still, very respectful, and that's refreshing.. it's always a pleasure to read your blog

06 Dec 2010 8:57 AM
Dani

In case you didn't know, you can make Zenyatta postage stamps on zazzle.com. I have a beautiful headshot that I used.  You can also make the ususal, t-shirts, mugs, mouse pads,etc.

06 Dec 2010 9:24 AM
Golden Gate

Beautiful Dreamer

The sun had set and I closed my eyes... falling asleep a vision filled my mind

A beautiful black mare and riding her back was a man with brown eyes and strong hands and quite slight

I was enveloped with the essence of power of beauty of flight and I soared along with her through the coal black night.

Higher and higher and faster and faster...she caused me to soar with her wings of flight

If Santa were here and he saw what I saw he would have chosen her with the reindeer to fly

06 Dec 2010 11:04 AM
kathleen o

I cried through the Zenyatta song as well.  A little bit of sunshine is leaving my life.

06 Dec 2010 11:12 AM
kathleen o

Seatariat......not all stallions are brutal.  I had a stallion that romanced the mares, and even in his old age, the mares loved him.  Let's hope for the best.

06 Dec 2010 11:19 AM
Shelby's Best Pal

I imagine hearts are breaking all over the place and not just in California.  Thank you for your wonderful words.

06 Dec 2010 11:35 AM
needler in Virginia

Fuzzy Corgi.........CURLED UP ON THE END OFTHE BED?NO WAY.........she gets the entire king size bed and the bedroom to go along with it! I'm going to the barn!!

Thanks, Mike Relva, for the kind words. This thing really is getting to me; we've NEVER seen anything like Zenyatta and her fans and the commotion surrounding her mere (MERE?? Come on......) presence at a track. Going out to watch her graze, or get a bath, or hotwalk or sleep? COME ON......when has this EVER happened before? NEVER that I can find. This is unique for everyone, so now's the time to figure out how to make everyone marginally happy. As a broodmare, she disappears and we will NOT be allowed access. No farm wants visitors bothering the mares and foals.....NO FARM. Most farms don't mind visitors, by appointment and OUT of the breeding season, to see stallions. But this is so different and unheard of someone is going to have be very creative. VERY creative, indeed. Which leads me right back around to my original suggestion.......Zenyatta can have my house and I'll teach her to drive. Problem solved. No worries!

I'm glad I'm not alone in my concerns, though. The uniqueness of the situation does seem to cry out for a unique solution, don't you think??

AND, I now have it on the BEST AUTHORITY that the poster "Andi Beyer" bears NO RESEMBLANCE to the Beyer speed figure guy. Don't do like I did and jump in all warm and fuzzy with congratulations about leaving the Dark Side.

Cheers and safe trips to all, and especially Zenyatta.

06 Dec 2010 11:47 AM
Doreen Espeseth

After just reading the description of her parading in California yesterday,with tears all over me, I now come to read Steves column~

Well now I am focusing on Z's future...who she will be bred to, how she will be as a Mom and how about her babies?  Can you imagine that...and oh yes, they sure do have huge things to measure up to, but it will surely be amazing to watch that unfold...if any of them do go to the yearlings sales, (which I kinda doubt)  I sure hope its Saratogas select sale in August, and how about Z's colt or filly going for an all time top sale price for a yearling or better yet, the triple crown winner we have been waiting for so long...surely we have much to look forward to~

Her time out in the fields at Lanes End is well deserved, although being as fit as she is, it will be interesting to see how she unwinds and as I write this, I am wondering, how long has it been since she has been turned out to just be a horse?  The fields at Lanes end may get a little tearing up, wouldn't you say?

Enjoy Z, I couldn't think of a better place for you to do so and I thank her owners for managing her so very well....

Story to be continued, as her lineage will prove~

06 Dec 2010 11:54 AM
needler in Virginia

With apologies to all, I forgot two things. First, Linda In  Texas, I meant "freak" in the very best sense of the word, and would only apply it to horses like Secretariat or Zenyatta who both are so clearly unique that they really don't fall into accepted frameworks. And, second, ALSO to Linda in Texas: I DO know Old Friends, am a member, and own several shares of their horses. Michael Blowen and his crew are the best of the best and can be proud of what they are doing. But, in this case, I would think the Horse Park would be a better venue for Zenyatta were she to become and ambassador of racing. They are much better situated to accomodate the hordes of fans that would come see the Big Girl; Old Friends is wonderful but big for the horses.....not so much for hundreds of people all at once.

NOW I'm gonna shut up.

Cheers and safe trips.

06 Dec 2010 11:55 AM
Frank in Woodstock

Steve. As well said as it can get. Saying she is a special horse is so understated. What she did for this wonderful sport is endearing. We all will miss that Z strut and powerful finish.

06 Dec 2010 11:57 AM
Dr Drunkinbum

Linda in Texas

  You sure made my day. You're like Steve, and Zen, and so many here, you have a big heart. I hope this group continues blogging on Steve's Derby Dozen blog, the best blog of the year anywhere. We won't see the likes of Zen again but we'll see other great ones that capture our heart. Zenyatta is going to a much reserved retirement. Lucky for us Steve Haskin isn't. I don't know how he can top all of the phenominal articles he wrote in 2010 but you never know- maybe we'll get lucky again. He is the master. Happy Holidays to you Linda, and to Steve and to everyone else here. It was a good year, in large part thanks to the astonishing Zenyatta, and Steve's writings. May the racing world and all of you have a great 2011. And thanks for coming back Deacon.

06 Dec 2010 12:21 PM
Miranda

Hopefully she won't be a Genuine Risk when it comes to making babies, but it sounds like that would satisfy quite a few here just fine. Really? Not breed her just so fans can see her at the horse park??? This is still a business. Don't forget that. I'm sure the connections will make sure that some kind of connection is maintained, but if not, so what? It's their horse.

06 Dec 2010 1:55 PM
Deborah

So what now?  Look in vain for another half as compelling? It is like finding that one great love; that one grand passion, then losing it forever.  You know you will never feel that way again; there will always be that empty space in your heart. Better to have loved and lost than never loved at all? It is more painful than I imagined to give Z up.

06 Dec 2010 2:51 PM
Robyn Robbins

Touche Mr. Haskin : )Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but, by the number of moments that take our breath away...Zenyatta has been the ride of a lifetime for me... : ) She is simply divine....& if I could be the one 2 choose her soulmate it would have 2 be Midnight Lute... with the first foal being named "American Honey" aka Zenyatta......... : )

06 Dec 2010 3:36 PM
Aluminaut

sleepwok,

Seattle Slew, Bertrando and Tiznow have no chestnut offspring.  Going way back St. Simon also.

06 Dec 2010 4:25 PM
Linda in Texas

Needler in Virginia, someone had posted earlier about Zenyatta's favorite charity and that is why i mentioned Old Friends. I for sure don't think Old Friend's would be a good place for her. Just that if someone wants to donate that is where Dottie posted Zenyatta likes people to donate to.

And i mentioned "Freak" as you do. Not in a bad way at all.

I appreciate everything you say.

Always have and always will.

06 Dec 2010 4:34 PM
Linda in Texas

Dr. Drunkinbum, you are a good man Charlie Brown. Got a lotta heart yourself.

It has been a wonderful experience for all of us. We have shared something downright terrestrial. Hope i spelled that right, as that is a 50 cent word and not in my everyday vocabulary.

And the new year looks promising with so many new faces getting ready to load the starting gates.

Best to everyone from Central Texas, exactly 16 miles from the geographical center. Highway going thru my little city takes Horses going to San Antonio Retama Park,

Lone Star Park near Dallas, and Zia Park in New Mexico and Remington in Oklahoma. I get to talk to a lot of folks pulling trailers through here. I keep asking if one has Mine That Bird on it, but he took a different route back to New Mexico.

It is 4:44 EST, and i imagine that

Air Slatton One has landed with

Zenyatta and she has felt the first blast of Canadian cold air by now.

06 Dec 2010 4:46 PM
mike williams

I have a special affinity for those horses, regardless of whether they are stakes, allowance or claiming calibre who show up day after day enteraining the fans.That Zenyatta kept on winning from 2008, 2009 and 2010 will always remain special.And regardless whether she is voted HOY, I am quite sure that her name will forever remain in the lore of racing.

06 Dec 2010 5:14 PM
Linda in Texas

TEX SUTTON - TEX SUTTON - TEX SUTTON

i was on the phone with a company i do work for, checking my emails and trying to answer Needler.

i know Tex Sutton is his name. Not

Slatton. That is someone else i know.

Sorry about that.

AIR SUTTON ONE WITH VALUABLE CARGO

ON BOARD.

06 Dec 2010 5:23 PM
Will W

This isn't a magic carpet ride and Zenyatta has no spiritual powers to help any human overcome tragedy or illness. What she does have is true greatness and what she is is not a goddess with spiritual powers, but simply the best racehorse since Secretariat and the most consistent horse that ever ran. Ragged on for facing inferior competition this year, her wins in paceless races at a 1 1/16 on synthetic were tougher than  any victories she would have had to pull off against colts at a 1 1/8 and a 1 1/4 in races full of pace that set up for a closer like this mare. She is better on dirt than synthetic so those short route wins take on added significance. What a travesty that she is not allowed to vindicate herself by a return to the track at age 7. Instead, she is being forced to end her racing career after a heartbreaking defeat, stymied by a large field that she had to weave her way through as she was steadied briefly and angled wide, leading to her near miss. With the win streak history, Zenyatta could have been freed up to take on the colts on dirt in 2011 and been allowed to put to rest any questions about her greatness, culminating her career with a win in the Classic in what probably would have been a much shorter field with entrants chased away by her greatness against the colts. Would her owners had been those of Goldikova for then what a heightened legacy she would have had the opportunity to leave on the racetrack. She leaves as Curlin did on a sour note after a real downer and, because of her greatness and valiant nature, she deserves the chance to leave the sport on a better note than that. Never was there a more disheartening retirement than that of this greatest of race mares.

06 Dec 2010 6:02 PM
Fuzzy Corgi

Slew & Zenyattafan, I think Zenyatta would be capable of competing at the highest level of whatever disicipline she went to. OK, maybe cutting, working cow horse, team penning or roping would be a stretch. But the reason I suggest show jumping is the trend is more toward warmblood-type horses. I think Zenyatta fits that description. She is beautifully balanced, athletic, and powerful. We know she likes to go fast and her stride eats up the ground. I think she would prefer being able to use some of her speed and being able to open up her stride vs. traveling in a more compact frame with in frequent moments of lengthening. As we all know, Zenyatta began her dancing as a way to vent, so intense collection may not be ideal for her.

Most people who do not ride will eagerly watch show jumping but find the intricacy of dressage a bit dry. Similar to watching the compulsary figures in ice skating. Plus dressage is a judged event. Zenyatta hasn't had the best luck when it comes to awards connected to opinion.

Mostly though, this is my Zenyatta fantasy. Cheers.

06 Dec 2010 6:13 PM
Ragsy

Lots of love to Zenny on her new life..guess, its breaking me heart to think I will never see her again..tight throat,tears to fall Godspeed sweet Queen.  

Long live the Queen of Racing.

06 Dec 2010 6:37 PM
Sunny Farm

My ZENYATTA Commemorative book by Blood Horse Publications (and photograph) has just arrived. It is beautiful.

This arrived  Dec.06 when ZENYATTA also arrives in KY.

So now I am a ball of emotions !

I am SO glad I ordered the ZENYATTA set from Blood Horse,I love it especially the photo !

WHAT A MARE , ZENYATTA IS MUCH THE BEST ! I will frame ZENYATTA'S picture and be able to look at it every day , not only for enjoyment but as a reminder of what makes the world go round & the things that really are the most important.

06 Dec 2010 6:38 PM
Cynthia

Thanks Steve for the great article. Seeing Zen on the track for the last time brought me to tears. Very seldom in our lifetime do we see a legend. Zenyata is just that. Zenyatta may your retirement bring you the happiness you brought to all the world during your racing career.

06 Dec 2010 7:10 PM
txhorsefan

Since I'm not sure what our comments have to go through to finally get posted here, I need to apologize in advance in case something quite garbled and unfinished comes through with my name on it - the joys of not being computer savvy.  I was typing a response to earlier postings, hit a wrong key and it all went haywire on me.  Now I will just go sit in the corner, read quietly and refrain from putting my fingers on the keyboard again.  One final thought is to say thank you all again for your beautiful heartfelt comments and of course, to you, Steve, thank you.

06 Dec 2010 7:15 PM
illgetalong

Zenyatta has some very nice warm coats and she is taking then all to Kentucky.. she has too many fans for them to treat her just as another broodmare... we are all watching and for sure the Mosses are watching.. she changed my life and I always think of her now.. we love to be near greatness because there is so little of it and to see a horse like Zenyatta behave and work and win with such enthusiasm is something we could all learn from... I was at Hollywood Park and her presence stilled the air... she puts you in a trance with her graciousness and her beauty.. we will all follow her very closely.. thanks for the great article.. it was so nice to read.

06 Dec 2010 7:19 PM
Cleone

Deborah, yes, losing Zen to retirement is painful, but stick around.  Other horses will touch your heart, and someday, perhaps, another great one will come along that fills that space.

Thirty-seven years ago, there was a big red horse named Secretariat, and I thought I would never feel that way about a racehorse again.

But it happened.  Her name is ZENYATTA.  

Gosh, at this rate I'm going to be ancient when it happens to me again!  :)

06 Dec 2010 7:24 PM
Sherry S.

It's beyond my ability to comprehend that anybody would vote against Zenyatta as Horse of the Year. This mare got a sport that's one step short of terminal on 60 Mintures in an admiring and affectionate story. For my money, that makes her Horse of the Year, Horse of the Century, maybe Horse of the Millenium.

Anyone who professes to love horse racing should cherish the ground she prances on. I admire the way Seth Hancock has preserved tradition as much as the next person, and I'm glad for the infusion of cash that Blame has given Claiborne. I hope that Blame makes a good stallion, and I wish them all well.

But Blame, although he had a fine season and ran a great race, hasn't saved his sport. Zenyatta just might have, at least for a little while.

06 Dec 2010 7:45 PM
kentuckydeb55

Once in a lifetime, indeed.  Thank you so much, Mr. Haskin.  You have always been my favorite correspondent for horse-related news.  You have taken your craft to a new high.  

Love you, Zenyatta.  Miss you.  Be happy, please.  I thank my lucky stars that I saw you race once.  Only once--but you will be in my heart forever.  Horse of the year?  Horse of a lifetime.  Those who love you understand.

06 Dec 2010 7:51 PM
Michelle

RobinM -- If you have watched Zenyatta race more than 2 or 3 times and still don't "get it" you never will.  I started watching her in her 2nd race and followed her from the very beginning.  I have followed and loved several race horses but none more than her.  She is just special.  I cannot explain it.  As far as her "greatness" goes I don't know how anyone could question that after winning both the 2008 Ladies Breeders Cup and the 2009 Breeders Cup against males.  Like I said if you don't "get it" you never will.  

06 Dec 2010 7:56 PM
thederbydream.com

Steve

Great blog, the following she has now is something to see. Had a chance to see her tonight at Keeneland and have some great video of her at barn and in walking ring.

http://www.thederbydream.com/

06 Dec 2010 8:23 PM
newsline2

Thank you, Steve. And my Zenyatta special edition came today. A special keepsake.

We'll wait to read how she does in Kentucky when you visit. You must give us regular reporter updates.  

06 Dec 2010 8:49 PM
LauraS

Thank you thank you Steve.  Just beautiful.  We have been privileged to see something truly extraordinary in Zenyatta - in the true sense of that word.  She has managed to transcend her sport in a way that's never been seen before. We will never see another to compare to her.  She is utterly unique.

06 Dec 2010 8:56 PM
needler in Virginia

Then you have my apologies, Linda in Texas. I misread your post and apologize.....sorry. We both obviously love Old Friends a lot and I didn't see that at first....

Cheers, safe trips, and I hope Zenyatta isn't freezing her very handsome butt off right now!

06 Dec 2010 10:16 PM
quarterhossgal

Glad to hear that Z has landed safely in Kentucky after many deicings on her plane. Her fans waited in the bitter cold to say a last good by and THANK YOU to our champion. When was the last time a horse retired with so many people writing to tell of how this mare affected their lives?  Not in my lifetime!! Let's hope the weather in Kentucky will warm up the next few days to give Queen Z a chance to stretch her legs. God Bless Zen and all her team, they gave race fans the ride of a lifetime!

06 Dec 2010 10:59 PM
Paula Higgins

Over a thousand people came out to see her at Keeneland. Gladdened my heart to see that. In spite of the freezing cold too. Mario will stay with her a few days to get her acclimated to the new people and her new surroundings. I really wish she could have stayed in California, surrounded by the people she knows. I know this is going to be so hard on all her connections/family and I think, her, to some degree as well. It will take a while to adjust. Heck, I am having a hard time adjusting LOL. Maybe I am projecting my feelings onto the horse. Who knows.

06 Dec 2010 11:35 PM
Michelle

Steve you have power.  There is a Rachel update on Facebook and they are going to allow visitors.  I guess someone read your article and this blog.

07 Dec 2010 12:04 AM
Otherlyn

The mystique explained in three words:

She is ZENYATTA!

Nuff said, except for, God Bless Her.

Your FOB Fren, O

07 Dec 2010 12:09 AM
Brian H

I am reminded of the scene at the end of Tin Cup when Costner's character flubbed his last hole with 12 strokes ending it with a shot in the cup from across the lake.  He complained that he had just gave away the US Open. Rene Russo's character says "You sure did. It was the greatest 12 of all time. No one's going to remember the Open 10 years from now, who won...but they'll remember your 12! My, God, Roy, it was...Well, it's immortal! I am so proud of you!"

The beauty of the Zenyatta story is the fact it wasn't a story, it was real. And, yes, her Breeders Cup 2010 run was "immortal", and, yes, we are all so proud of her.

At the end of the day, the storybook ending that wasn't reminds us all that there are no guarantees in horse racing...or life, which is what makes the journey so fascinating to watch.

While others were in tears on November 6, 2010, I was smiling from ear to ear because I knew I had just seen the greatest sports moment of my life.  I was smiling because through it all Zenyatta, and horse racing, made it through without harm, without another Barbaro situation to dampen the sport I have grown to love.

The beauty of horse racing is in the animals and their connections. Afleet Alex, Big Brown, Barbaro, and Zenyatta, etc. etc., all in the last decade. The truth be told is that we can now allow Zen to simply be a horse again on the Farm in Kentucky.  While she does I wait with great anticipation for the next story, the next legend, the next fairy tale ending that continues to keep this sport relevant and interesting.

Thank You, Zenyatta.

07 Dec 2010 12:46 AM
maryann727

Thank you Mr. Haskin for an eloquent essay and tribute to the incomparable Zenyatta.  Your poignant and perfect phrasing put warm tears in my eyes and elevated my heart with gratitude for the privilege of experiencing Zenyatta. I was smitten the first time I saw her race (2008 Ladies Classic) and then fell ‘head over heels’ in love. I did not think it possible to feel this much for a racehorse. So I traveled from NYS to KY to see her run the 2010 Classic and though at first, it was a crushing disappointment, I feel like you and many here that her loss cemented her greatness.  Her one loss, how magnificently she fell short by inches is the the stuff of legends.  Or Myth?  The way Z raced seemed more otherworldly than of this earth and I feel lucky to have seen a dream while awake.

I've read and appreciated all the wonderful comments about Zenyatta and wish that I could respond to each of them.  They touched my heart.  Thank you.

And thank you for the kindness you show to the commentors on your blog, Mr. Haskin.  You display, with your writing, the class and honesty that Zenyatta demonstrated on the track. You would be a great choice as Z's biographer and I wonder if you will write a book about her.

07 Dec 2010 2:06 AM
PA Bred

Mr. Haskin, It seems that you get it. She is a phenomenon. Those outside of horse racing do not understand that she could not be named HOTY. It means nothing to me personally or to Zenyatta since she will never know. Run that same BC Classic 10 times and Zenyatta wins 9 of them.

Over 1000 people showed up to see her just walk around in eighteen degree weather. Have 1000 people even seen Blame since the BC Classic? I doubt it.

The horsemen (Nerud, Jerkens, Baffert, Robbins,Hollendorfer, Migliore etc...) certainly seem to recognize her greatness. The only ones left questioning anything are some of the handicappers and other writers. I have not seen an article or blog claiming Blame to be anything beyond a very nice horse.

Zenyatta is awesome! There will likely not be one of her type for a very, very long time.

I hope she settles in well to her new home and takes to her new career. She could be an awesome mom!

07 Dec 2010 3:04 AM
Slew

Will W: If you really believe Zen has no spiritual healing power, you haven't really experienced her presence beyond a two dimensional TV, or you haven't been in a position where that healing meant something.  Yes, Zen is a Champion racemare.  But...she exudes an aura that is magnetic and spiritual, and her fans recognize that special intelligence and charisma.  Folks who don't know a horse from a donkey have fallen in love with her....so it's not just her racing skills that have so enchanted her fans.

Fuzzy Corgi:  I believe warm bloods probably have a more even temperament than TB's, but Zen seems to be an exception for a hot blood. And I find that the finesse required for dressage is more disciplined and demanding than a run.  Also, consider dressage is judged by folks who are in the business of horses. Eclipse awards are given by turf writers who aren't...and that is the difference.  But I am still enjoying your fantasy with you :)  She's such a perfect specimen.

07 Dec 2010 6:09 AM
Steve W

Steve,

Another very nice article, well done. Thank you for putting into words just how most of us feel. She will be missed, the sport will miss her.

Zenyatta ...... Thanks for the memories!

07 Dec 2010 7:39 AM
Linda in Texas

TheDerbyDream.com thanks for the video's of Zenyatta as she was being walked around Keeneland.

Will keep those handy to watch again.

She always seems to be so aware of her surroundings. And goes along wherever Mario or John take her. She is a trusting creature and it is really one of her best traits.

I just hope nothing ever happens to cause her to lose that special trust in people she has.

Thanks Steve. This is like watching my son get on an L-1011 flying out of DFW Airport  en route to a school in Princeton to hone his voice skills when he was 11.

You just hope they stay safe.

07 Dec 2010 9:22 AM
Love 'em all

One more 'farewell' post to Zenyatta, a racing fan's dream come true in every sense of the word ... and then some.    

'Zenyatta' is her name and always will be to this fan.  Hope and pray her offspring will be honored with a classy-sounding name as was their "Mom".  Oh well, one can still dream.      

Wish Zenyatta a very happy and a very peaceful (no need to have ears plugged ever again!) life wherever she calls home.

May Zenyatta live a long, happy and healthy life ... doing what she wants to do ... and when she wants to do it.  

Cheers to Zenyatta ... this fan's favorite forever.

07 Dec 2010 9:55 AM
Steve Haskin

Brian H, that was beautifully written.

Maryann727, thank you for the kind words, but Zenyatta will have another biographer.

There are several wonderful videos on YouTube of her Keeneland appearance. We will never see or experience anything like this again.

07 Dec 2010 10:21 AM
Sal

In case it hasn't been said already, Thanks Blame for holding off Zenyatta...and perfecting her.

07 Dec 2010 3:38 PM
Michelle

Sal - you can continue believing that Blame is a better horse but I think you are in the minority.  Zenyatta is the one everyone is still talking about.

07 Dec 2010 8:26 PM
kat

I was one of those that braved the cold to see her in person at Keeneland. Nothing can compare to her in the flesh. She brought tears to my eyes-she is just unbelieveable in the flesh.

Thanks for your article.

08 Dec 2010 1:09 PM
quarterhossgal

I got chills just watching Zen parade around in Kentucky.  A bitterly cold night but so much warmth coming from her legion of fans. When people make a connection with a horse it is a spiritual feeling that is difficult to put into words unless you are Steve Haskin. One of my other favorite horses was Cigar, I had the chance to see him at several differnt places, He knew he was a Champion, but Cigar did not have the connection eye to eye with his fans. ZENYATTA knows she is a champion but will lower her head to accomodate her smallest fan! God Bless you Queen Z.

08 Dec 2010 3:24 PM
Especially Horses

All good things come from God.  And I for one have given many thanks and praises to the Lord for creating Zenyatta. Seeing Zenyatta race gave me a joyful and glad heart.

08 Dec 2010 7:47 PM
Carol M.

Is Mike S. Zenyatta's jockey? (03 Dec., 10:53 AM) I was thinking of Zen's record as 19+ out of 20, but 19.99 out of 20 is even better.

08 Dec 2010 11:09 PM
maryann727

Mr. Haskin, Thank you for the tip about the YouTube videos and for answering my question, although I am disappointed that you won't be Zenyatta's biographer.

Your statement, "We will never see or experience anything like this again." resonated.  I know it is true for me.

My favorite quote about Secretariat was penned by the late Charles Hatton. "His only point of reference is himself."  With a pronoun change, it applies to Zenyatta. "Her only point of reference is herself."

09 Dec 2010 12:13 PM
Sal

Michelle,

I love horse racing and I'm a big Zenyatta fan.  I was simply agreeing with the comment.."Man o’War wasn’t perfect: neither was Native Dancer, each suffering one career defeat. But their defeats have become a part of racing lore, just as much, if not more, than their victories. Literature has shown us that perfection can be interpreted in many ways."  It will be very hard to forget about Zenyatta.

09 Dec 2010 12:15 PM
Michelle

Sorry Sal - I guess have seen too many haters on the "other" blogs.  

09 Dec 2010 9:43 PM
Jon

I came to love Zenyatta too.  Loved her prerace dance.  One is drawn in completely.  She was quite irresistable.  If Horse of the Year were about best loved or most famous horse, she wins hands down, but it isn't or should not be.  It'a about accomplishments on the race track THIS YEAR.  When one looks at it that way, she doesn't win.  She safely stayed in California for most of her races, racing on her favorite surface against modest competition; members of her own sex.  The make or break race out of state on dirt she needed to win, she didn't.  Period.  Blame (no pun intended) her connections for not taking chances with her; for making sure she didn't get in a situation or race where she might get beat.  She raced her usual race in Louisville.  She was far back during the race because that's how she races; that's her style. Blame was quicker and got the jump on her and she didn't catch him.  He wins the race, among others, and against much better competition than she faced, and thus he wins Horse of The Year.  Anything else is just wrong.  She is very popular and will be inducted into the Hall of Fame for her career record. That's set up for that purpose. This isn't about her career, it's about THIS YEAR.  It would be a travesty if Blame had to pay the price and be denied what he deserves and what he rightfully won just because of her popularity.  And it would be a blemish on her record forever if she won the highest award based strictly on sentiment.  Ultimately that would/could work against her in future years.  She would be known forever as the horse that won raing's highest award...not on the ractrack...but on her personality and popularity alone.

10 Dec 2010 8:18 AM
sherpa

Jon, how many times have we seen horses "defending their title" in this race or that?  Those that can re-peat in a given Graded Name race are lauded by all.  But Zenyatta, who defends her title THREE TIMES in Grade 1 races (Vanity, Clement Hirsch, Lady's Secret), twice in the Gr 1 Apple Blossom, wins the 08 BC Distaff and wins the 09 BCC, is not enTitled?  Whatever you say about the "competition," those were still grade 1, prestigious races and we'll NEVER see a filly/mare - or any other horse -  who defends her/his Titles to the extent Zenyatta has done.  

Other Greats she's been compared to have "won" walk-overs because nobody wanted to race against them.  I haven't seen anyone belittling them for that.  Why just Zenyatta?  What has this wonderful runner done to deserve such animosity, except win win win?

If Zenyatta is named HoY, it will be because she DID DO IT ON THE  RACETRACK, and so much more.  As a 6 year old mare, she showed more heart than a 11 3-4yo colts in their prime.  SHE is what Horses can still mean to horse-racing.  SHE has given new energy to the sport.  Only SHE has never had a bad day, and never disappointed even in a nose-worth's defeat.

Lord, I'm so sick of all the "THIS YEAR" crap.  According to you, a Horse for the Ages shouldn't be honored as Horse of the Year, even with a better G-1 record than the one you espouse.  That stinks (and you can guess the rest of that thought...)

10 Dec 2010 10:58 PM
Jon

Sherpa, she defended titles in races restricted to sex...fillies and mares only.  Had they been open to males as well, it's totally not a given that she would have won those races; not even slightly.  She should have tried some open races during the year, as did Rachel Alexandra last year; showed she could whip the boys and the girls in open races on dirt tracks around the country.  Her connections had one goal in mind:  play it as safe as possible with her and prepare her to win the Classic; just that one race. She didn't do it. Blame beat her fair and square because he had tactical speed she lacked and she didn't get the job done; she didn't catch him.  She got lots of attention because she is a beautiful specimen and has a wonderful personality and is a female.  That doesn't make her the best on the track or horse of a lifetime or of the ages or whatever.  To call her the best/greatest horse since Secretariat is just total nonsense and sentiment run amok.  I wish her nothing but the best in her life, but she doesn't deserve to be the HOTY for 2010. It would be a total travesty if she were "given" it because of who she is rather than what she did.

11 Dec 2010 8:12 AM
candi

I love that greatest horse I wish I meet her in person prayer she have a good life at her retirement and enjoy her life she deserve it I don't know if there is another horse like her no one can compare her she gave joy for people she is the greatest hores at this era.I like to meet her someday.

11 Dec 2010 11:18 PM
Bigtex

Steve, I don't know where the suggestion box is so I'm putting this here. In regard to creating more buzz for the industry, I can tell you what I'd love to see.  Can race tracks not change their camera placements to give us a better side view so the viewers can get a real taste of the horses accelerating coming into the stretch? Youtube video of Curlin at Dubai gives a small glimpse of Curlin shifting to another gear. An old Derby vid of Whirlaway shows this.  We get a more angles head on view today and you can't tell how fast these horses are.  What I wouldn't give to see Secretariat coming into the stretch in the Derby when Turcotte gives him a few taps! I believe this would amaze newcomers and oldtimers alike!

Make it happen, Steve!

13 Dec 2010 12:33 PM
Cheryl Heath

Before Zenyatta, I did not know your writing......Isn't it amazing what she brings to many of us?  I love your columns.  Thank You.

11 Jan 2011 4:58 PM
Flights to Tel Aviv

You made some good points there. I did a search on the topic and found most people will agree with your blog. Thanks

<a herf="www.bt-store.com/.../a>

19 Jan 2011 6:50 AM
future foal

thanks for displaying abigail anderson's response to i lied, it was a masterpiece. Zen, Rachael, bring back memories of Dark Mirage, Gallorette, Drumtop, All Along, Imp, Pan Zaretta, so many great distaffers! Gallorette raced against 9 male champions and males 55 times and numerous female champions! Mocassin still the only two year old filly named HOY! Hall of Fame trainers believed Dark Mirage as a three year old could beat Dr Fager, Buckpasser, and Damascus at scale weights at a mile and a half in 1968!

26 Jan 2011 3:05 AM

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