A Response to "I Lied"

The following essay by retired Quebec English teacher Abigail Anderson was written in response to my last blog on Zenyatta. Although it is quite long, it is so brilliantly written and researched I felt it should be shared it with everyone.

By Abigail Anderson

"Nostalgia is like grammar, you find the present in the past perfect."(Unknown)

I have been passionate about horses most of my sixty years on the planet. My grandfather, who was born in the late 1880s, introduced me to Thoroughbreds as a young girl when it became apparent to him that I, too, had “the bug.” He had owned one of the first Standardbred horses in the province of Quebec in the early part of the twentieth century, a coal black filly whom he had gotten at a ridiculous price because she apparently hated people. My grandfather was a tiny man, a little over five feet tall, but he loved his statuesque filly and it was through loving her that he gentled her. Although he never raced her, she became a legend at horse shows in Quebec, Ontario, and New York State where her fans typically gave her a standing ovation each time she entered the ring. Her photographs hung over his desk in his office and stories about her are part of the legacy and history of my family, passed down from one generation to the next.

We spent many weekends at my grandparents’ house when I was growing up and somewhere along the way, the ritual of watching the Kentucky Derby evolved. Grandpa and I would sit together in front of the television that first Saturday in May and talk about the runners. Then we would each choose a favorite and explain the reasons for our choices.  Grandpa usually made his selection based on bloodlines. And so it was I learned about Man O’ War, War Admiral, Seabiscuit, Gallant Fox, Count Fleet, Whirlaway, Stymie, Citation, Nashua and Assault, as well as entertaining stories about Will Harbut, Eddie Arcaro, Samuel Riddle and the dynasty of August Belmont and the Whitneys.

My grandfather would lean back in his favorite armchair and recount stories about Man O’ War’s races, or the bond between Eddie Arcaro and Citation, or the War Admiral-Seabiscuit match race or an anecdote about the “people’s horse,” Stymie, as though horse and rider were standing in the room with us. It was only many, many years later that I realized he had participated in the careers of these great Thoroughbreds by listening to the radio, watching newsreels in the early cinemas of the day and reading the newspaper. In other words, it was devotion to the sport and imagination that sustained his love for Man O’ War or made it possible for him to tell, in a breathtaking and suspenseful style, about Count Fleet winning the American Triple Crown.

At Christmas there were books – Walter Farley’s “Man O’ War” and “The Black Stallion” series, C.W. Anderson’s “A Filly for Joan,” Marguerite Henry’s “Misty of Chincoteague,” as well as Breyer model horses. Through the spring, summer and fall there were trips to the fairgrounds, where my grandfather’s “horsey friends” (as my grandmother called them) stabled their horses – Standardbreds, Thoroughbreds, American Saddlebreds, Hackney and Shetland ponies. The men would stand around, smoking their pipes and talking horses, while I – one ear cocked to the slow cadence of their voices – busied myself bugging kind grooms like Stanley Whaley to be allowed to brush a horse, or walk a horse, or muck out a stall. The soft, fuzzy light inside the barn, the smell of horses, saddle soap and Absorbine Junior, the rows of tack, the bales of hay and the sounds of horses’ breathing and stirring in their stalls engendered a warmth in me that told me I was home.

I suspect that it is experiences like these that engender a love of, and a respect for, all things equine. So, then, it is no surprise that the great civilizations of the Middle East, Europe and the Far East, together with the indigenous peoples of the Americas grew to revere the horse. Horses appear in the fairy tales, folk tales, myths and legends of most of these cultures and are always primarily associated with matters of the spirit, or soul: they fly above the world of mortals, they carry the dead into the afterlife and heroes into battle, they nurture courage in the human spirit, as was the case of the tiny racehorse, Reckless, who became “the pride of the Marines” during the Korean War. As deities, horses are symbols of freedom, fertility, immortality and the unfettered landscapes of the imagination in which they are often depicted as oracles or visionaries, imbued with magic, mysticism and mystery. I like to think that every horse, regardless of breed, embodies a noble history. In the case of some breeds, like the Thoroughbred, it is quite literally the case – The Byerley Turk, The Darley Arabian and The Godolphin Arabian were all the issue of cultures that considered the horse a gift of the gods.

Regardless of whether or not you would rate Zenyatta as the best Thoroughbred mare of her time, she is the product of centuries of outstanding equine individuals, making her “…a gift,” as Ann Moss has said repeatedly. Zenyatta’s bloodlines bespeak the careful breeding, over the centuries, on three different continents and in five different countries, of champions. Pre-1920, her ancestors include Papyrus, Tracery, Minoru, Rock Sand, Gallinule, Sainfoin, Orme, Isonomy, Galopin, Cyllene and Ormonde. From1920-1950: Hyperion, Native Dancer, Princequillo, Nashua, Hail To Reason, Hoist The Flag, Never Bend, Turn-To, Tom Rolfe and Tom Fool. It’s astounding to think of the legacy that Zenyatta’s family tree expresses, once again, in her. Once upon a time, in publications like Estes’ American Thoroughbred Horses, these legacies were recounted and celebrated. Today, they are usually overlooked in favor of the research of bloodstock specialists who are more focused on earning and breeding potential than the human-interest stories of great Thoroughbreds.

Below are a few stories drawn from the legacy, or bloodlines, connected to the “gift” that is Zenyatta.

Hyperion (1930): a little horse, Hyperion loved to nap and refused to prep for any of his races. He was so resistant that his owner referred to him as a “lazy little brute.” Lazy he may have been, but his indolence had little effect on his turf record. Hyperion won the Epsom Derby going away, followed by the St. Leger and the Prince of Wales, winning nine of thirteen starts and only ever being out of the money once. His reputation as a sire is, of course, legion. And, until his last days, Hyperion was noted for his dancing – on the end of a (very short) lead!

Prince Rose (1928) was a big, beautiful and astoundingly good racehorse of Belgian lineage. Of all Zenyatta’s more distant ancestors, he is the one that most reminds me of her in conformation. The grandson of Prince Palatine and, on his dam sire side, Gay Crusader, winner of the British Triple Crown in 1917, Prince Rose sired Princequillo and is the grandsire of Misty Morn, Round Table and Hill Prince. Mill Reef, Fort Macy and Secretariat all descend from Prince Rose. Exported from England back to Belgium and, subsequently, to France, Prince Rose died in a military gunfire attack in 1944 during the Second World War.

Tracery (1909) was a game little horse that was beaten in the Ascot Gold Cup when a spectator rushed onto the course and fired a pistol at the horses, causing him to fall. His son, Papyrus (1920), was an excellent colt noted for his beautiful leg action -- which also comes very close to Zenyatta’s dance and may also account for her exceptional maneuverability, given her size. Although best remembered in the USA for his loss to the Kentucky Derby champion, Zev, it should be remembered that Papyrus had won the Epsom Derby that year, that he was shipped to the USA by boat and that he caught a muddy track on the day of the match race. More importantly, through his daughter, Cosquilla, Papyrus contributed to the heritage of the thoroughbred the outstanding individual, Princequillo.
The ill-fated Epsom Derby winner, Minoru (1906) was first sent to stud in Ireland, where he stood only a few seasons before, in 1913, he and fellow Derby champion, Aboyeur, were sold and sent to Russia. Sadly, both horses disappeared during the Russian Revolution and although there were fanciful tales suggesting that they had survived, neither was ever seen again. (It is through Minoru’s daughter, Mindful, who he got while at stud in Ireland, that he figures in Zenyatta’s pedigree.)

Isonomy (1875) was described thus by his groom, John Griffiths: “He had wonderful hindquarters and was deepest through the heart I ever saw.” His strong competitive spirit led J. B. Robertson, a prominent turf analyst of the day to reflect, “ All courses hard or soft came alike to Isonomy.” A winner of the Ascot Gold Cup, as well as the Doncaster and Goodwood Cups, Isonomy’s “triple” stood until 1949. The most dangerous threat to Isonomy came in the Doncaster Cup where he was matched against Lord Falmouth's filly, Jannette, who had captured the Jockey Club Cup that same season and the year before, the classic St. Leger. The legendary British jockey, Fred Archer, was her jockey. Isonomy was partnered with his usual rider, Tom Cannon. In the home stretch, Jannette was in the lead. Cannon aimed his colt to come alongside Jannette on the rail in home stretch. In what appeared to be a deliberate foul, Archer maneuvered his foot in such a way as to drive his spur right into the shoulder of the onrushing Isonomy. The colt charged ahead to win the race in a desperate finish, tearing his shoulder on Archer's spur in the process. Afterward, Archer proclaimed that his ankles were weak and difficult to control. It was a poor excuse, but Isonomy was swathed in glory for the rest of his life because of the tremendous heart he had shown on that day. At stud, the little guy (15.2 hands) with the courageous spirit sired two winners of the British Triple Crown, Common and Isinglass.

Ormonde (1883) was considered the best colt of the nineteenth century in Great Britain – if not the best British thoroughbred of all time – despite an odd history of mishaps and infirmities. Although he matured to16 hands, Ormonde was carried by his dam for 12 months instead of the usual 11. As a result, the colt’s mane never grew longer than 3 inches, his knees were very bent and he moved in a way reminiscent of Kelso’s sire, Our Host. Even though troubled by splints and breathing problems as a 3 year-old, his capacity to accelerate was the stuff of legend, as was his kind temperament and great curiosity. Part of his natural inquisitiveness was a love of non-conventional foods, which he consumed with gusto! (Nothing in my research about Guinness, but one never knows…) Ormonde was unbeaten in all of his 16 starts and won the British Triple Crown. In the Doncaster St. Leger, the third race in the Triple Crown series, Ormonde won by four lengths at a canter, needing no encouragement from his jockey. Even though he produced very few progeny, among them was the brilliant colt Orme who, in turn, went on to produce the British Triple Crown winner, Flying Fox, as well as the Derby winner, Orby.

Finally, there is the exquisitely tempered Cyllene (1895), who won nine of his eleven starts and is today considered a classic racehorse and an important international influence on the development of the thoroughbred worldwide. Interestingly, many British Thoroughbred owners greeted Cyllene with indifference when he was first retired, since it was felt that he had beaten very inferior horses during his career. (An opinion that subsequent research shows to be unfounded. The horses that Cyllene defeated, notably Chelandry, Airs and Graces, Velasquez, and even Jeddah, who reaffirmed his Derby victory by taking the Prince of Wales Stakes, were hardly inferior adversaries.) At stud, he sired no less than four Epsom Derby winners – Minoru, Cicero, Lemberg and Tagalie – as well as the exceptional Polymelus. Exported to Argentina, he also proved to be an important influence there and to this day is honored as one of the most influential South American Thoroughbred sires of all time.

So many other stories could be told about the individuals in Zenyatta’s pedigree. As we admire her beauty and strength, her sweet temperament and her great heart, I imagine that Zenyatta whispers to us of the great, great horses that came before her. In this way, we can begin to remind ourselves that each and every Thoroughbred is indeed a gift, a testament from our (human) ancestors that has come down to us over the ages, a living link to the past.

Zenyatta expresses her extraordinary lineage in every move she makes, on or off the track. It’s in her eye – the eye that both looks right at you and then, as suddenly, looks right through you. It’s in the majestic turn of her head. It’s in her prancing and dancing. It’s in the strength of her hindquarters and her depth through the heart. And it is this heart, bred in the blood, that accounts for Zenyatta’s capacity to “show up” in each and every race she ever ran. If there’s a reason that fans are drawn to her, imbuing her with magic and mystique, it is that she is unmistakably part of a distinguished heritage that speaks to us of a time when horses were partners in the experience of what it meant to be human. What a cause for celebration!

Bill Dwyre of the LA Times wrote, “Zenyatta and her connections taught their sport so much, if only it would pay attention…” (November 7, 2010) His observation touches on another reason that so many have grown to love Zenyatta – because they were recognized as important by the people closest to her and welcomed, by them, into her world. Like the team that surrounded Man O’ War, Secretariat, Northern Dancer, Barbaro and a few other notable thoroughbreds of the last 100 years, Team Zenyatta stands firm in its conviction that she belongs to the people. They have spent hours and hours reading her fan mail, hosted television crews and endless streams of fans, accepted cakes and packs of Guinness, answered questions, donated memorabilia to charities and, in short, given up their own privacy to make it possible for Zenyatta enthusiasts to get close to her and to get to know her a little. And now that she is retired, her fans can read all about her exploits on a daily basis on zenyatta.com, as well as see photos and videos of her in her new home. Not surprisingly, Zenyatta’s diary has sparked lots of occasions for learning about thoroughbred horses and their care. Of course, given her amazing interest in people and her seemingly infinite patience with them, Zenyatta contributes in her own special way. But why does Team Zenyatta do it if not because, like the rest of us, they heed the call of the muse of the “Sport of Kings”?

Penny Tweedy, during her stay in Toronto for Secretariat’s final race was quoted as saying that Secretariat had been so important in bringing people into the sport of horse racing, and that it was this that made her particularly proud to be associated with him. Before her, the handlers of champions like Man O’ War welcomed enthusiasts to Faraway Farm, where they could meet the first “Big Red” and, later, his son, War Admiral. And it was not just nostalgic fans that visited. During the war years, servicemen of all ranks came to see the champions, basking in the glory of the Old Warrior and his feisty son.

Today few people have an opportunity to fall in love with a Thoroughbred: most horses are swallowed into the vortex of the breeding industry before they reach the age of four. And prior to their retirement, very few owners and trainers are willing to take the time to allow fans to develop a relationship with their animals. The impact of this kind of distancing, it seems to me, is to create the impression that the Thoroughbred world has somehow turned inward upon itself to become a kind of “old boys club.” And, as an educator with 36 years of experience, I can attest to the dangers inherent in this sort of myopia.

For there are parallels that can be drawn between the woes plaguing educational systems worldwide and the current state of horse racing and breeding in North America. Principally, the following – both the educational and Thoroughbred communities tend to talk to themselves, rather than embracing all of the stakeholders in their respective milieus. Parents and students are marginalized in the educational system; in the Thoroughbred industry, it is racing fans that find themselves relegated to the periphery of things. In education, ignoring this population has proved disastrous and accounts for the massive abandonment of the public school system in both the USA and Canada. I submit that the same type of tunnel vision constitutes as real a threat to the health of the Thoroughbred industry as any of the more commonly cited factors, including the state of the economy. Just as parents and students themselves are the cornerstone of any educational system, so it is the racing fan that generates the passion and the excitement that makes horse racing a compelling sport – without which, there is little reason to breed and sell Thoroughbreds, let alone attract bettors.

So it is that I have read, with a practiced eye, the heartfelt comments of those “over-the-top” sentient beings (racing fans) and the seemingly calm, logical rejoinders of those terrible teases, the “rationalists” in the prelude to the Eclipse Awards. And although I have little interest in awards in general, it would seem that the old dichotomy of either/or has achieved a kind of mantra status. As in: either heart (sentience) or head (traditional view of logos, or logic) will decide whether Blame or Zenyatta takes the highest honors.

In fact, the divorce of sentience from logic in the lives of intelligent people has long been frowned upon since it is the stuff of non-sense. Thought is the product of both feeling and form – the latter being the cognitive structures that allow communication to take place and information to be turned into knowledge. People like Albert Einstein, admittedly a genius, relied upon both throughout his life: sentience provided insight and imagination – “zeitgeist” being the birthplace of reason; and logos, a structure for turning insight into knowledge. Add to this the fact that the criteria to select a winner of an Eclipse Award are, to be kind, “lacking” and the stage is set for bitterness and, inevitably, the alienation both of those very people that are drawn to the sport by great thoroughbreds like Zenyatta and the horsemen and women that care for them during their careers on and off the track. As any good teacher knows, the result of evaluating students without clear, concise evaluation criteria that are communicated before students begin to work can only bring discredit to the teaching profession. The same risk is true in the thoroughbred industry. What can one say, after all, about an award where the criteria are determined on a private, individual basis by the voters and shared in such a smug, superior tone with the “great unwashed”?

I did not write this response to “I Lied” to justify Zenyatta being awarded Horse of the Year. Rather, I wrote it to remind myself of the history of the development of the Thoroughbred and of the traditions that were once vital to Thoroughbred horse racing – wonderful stories of great horses, generous owners and trainers, the passionate devotion of horse racing fans, the sense of belonging to a community.

Like you, Steve, I can see no reason for marginalizing Zenyatta’s fans on the grounds that they are tilting at windmills. After all, if not for those of us that still regard the Thoroughbred with awe, the sport would lose its majesty and its appeal. Of course, it would be nice if the “old boys” promoted inclusion, rather than exclusion, as they pen their polemics. But, in the end, it really doesn’t matter. For those of us who have had a chance to fall in love again with a Thoroughbred named Zenyatta, as for her wonderful team, there are all those memories – of the way we smiled when she danced or laughed as she posed for a kiss, of the hitch in our throats when Ann Moss or Dottie Shirreffs or Mario or Steve’s eyes brimmed with tears, of the thrill of watching her run, or of John Shirreffs’ quiet reminder that “hundreds of years go into breeding a Thoroughbred”  -- and there are still more memories to come, to be sure! Zenyatta touched our lives as we accompanied her on her way from fuzzy baby to mature adult, learning to become a community in the process. And we will no more forget her than we could forget Man O’ War or War Admiral or Count Fleet or Citation or Northern Dancer or Secretariat or Ruffian or Genuine Risk or Personal Ensign or Barbaro …… or any Thoroughbred that we have loved.


Leave a Comment:



20 Dec 2010 1:53 PM
Lindsey S

Wow.  Great, great article.  Steve, I'm so glad you decided to share this with us.  Have a Merry Christmas!

20 Dec 2010 1:54 PM

Beautifully written Ms. Anderson.  Thank you for reminding us what is important and thank you so much Steve for sharing it with us.

20 Dec 2010 2:07 PM

Thanks for a wonderful stories about these great horses and Zenyatta...Yes, I knew about them all...We will have more other new great horses in near future after Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra...Hopefully, we will get a new Triple Crown Winner in 2011, or other few years...:)

20 Dec 2010 2:10 PM


20 Dec 2010 2:13 PM

Not only a magnificent piece of writing, but also a wonderful and logical argument in favor of many of the things -- especially Eclipse Award voting processes and criteria -- that have left so many of Zenyatta's fans frustrated and (perhaps prematurely) angry.

A wonderful tribute to the most wonderful racing mare of our generation, and maybe even ever.

Thank you, Steve, for posting it here where Zenyatta's myriad fans can read it, absorb its history lessons and ponder its many valid points.  

20 Dec 2010 2:16 PM

AMEN !!!!!

20 Dec 2010 2:16 PM
the maui cowgirl

thank you for publishing this outstanding dissertation not only about Zenyatta, but about the foundation breeding of our TBs. It reminds me of the awe I experienced when I read the names in the Stud Book in France.

20 Dec 2010 2:22 PM

WOW is all I can say and Thank You.

20 Dec 2010 2:28 PM

Thank you. An early Christmas present.

20 Dec 2010 2:29 PM

Wow. I am blown away.  What a beautiful, heartfelt piece.  This should be published and made mandatory reading for anyone in the racing industry.  

I, too, am a lifelong horse lover and owner who has fallen in love with Zenyatta. I follow her every move on Facebook and zenyatta.com and revel in the fact her "peeps" understand how much we have connected to her and care about her.

And thank you, Steve, for sharing this response with us.    

20 Dec 2010 2:34 PM
Kim R

Thank you for sharing Steve.  

20 Dec 2010 2:35 PM
Margaret H.

WOW!! I would have loved to have had Abigail for my English teacher. I'll bet she captured the hearts and imagination of her students with her horse stories and by sharing both her love for literature and for the thoroughbred. What a beautiful use of the English language to describe such a passion. Abigail does justice to her own lineage, her grandfather would be so proud. And as for Zenyatta, I am certain she would happily dedicate an honerable "thank you" in her diary.

Thank you, Steve, for sharing Abigail with us, and thanks for one more blog on Zenyatta. It is hard to let her go.

20 Dec 2010 2:37 PM

That is an absolutely remarkable comment.  I think it clearly states what all of Zenyatta's fans feel.  Yes, it is a very long comment, but it what we feel, in our hearts, about Zenyatta that we find difficult to articulate either verbally or with the written word.  Abigail, thank you for taking the time to write such a beautiful comment and thank you Steve for feeling that Abigail's comments were important to print.

20 Dec 2010 2:37 PM

So well stated, Abigail.  Bravo!

20 Dec 2010 2:43 PM

which is why, i will only forget zenyatta when my heart is no more.

20 Dec 2010 2:49 PM

Very interesting information, some of which I have not read or have forgotten with time.  I remember reading that Hyperion didn't like to have his teeth floated.  And I think I recall a story about Prince Rose running back to his barn when he was being led away for safety.  

Most Thoroughbreds trace tail male to the Darley Arabian through Eclipse and his get.  The Byerley Turk remains mostly through tail female lines--including my soon to be 2yo filly.  I recently read a fictionized account of his life.  Some of it was true based on his history in England and Ireland.  He actually won his only race in Ireland at an advanced age--7 or 8+, I don't remember exactly.

I wasn't aware that Ormonde was carried for 12 months, or that he ran with his neck bent to the side like Your Host.  

Thanks for mentioning all these great horses and their connection to Zenyatta.

20 Dec 2010 2:52 PM

Fabulous, well written article. The only comment I can make now is BRAVO!

20 Dec 2010 2:52 PM
Jeanenne (also a huge horse fan)


20 Dec 2010 2:52 PM

What an amazing well articulated post. This lady should win an award for her in-depth ability to translate decades of knowledge down on paper. Kudos Steve, again you out did yourself..............

20 Dec 2010 3:01 PM
Gary Tasich

Thank you for sharing such a well written piece....Merry Christmas to all and to Zenyatta, Great Warrior Queen, a restful good night!

20 Dec 2010 3:02 PM
Jeff Hite

If not for any other reason than the fact that Zenyatta has brought new fans to horse racing ; she should be horse of the year !!

20 Dec 2010 3:06 PM


20 Dec 2010 3:07 PM

To use an over used word - AWESOME and so true.  The stars and bloodlines aligned to create Zenyatta.  

20 Dec 2010 3:12 PM
Golden Gate

Steve Thank you so much for sharing this response and thank you Ms. anderson for writing it. I grew up reading some of the same books you grew up with. my parents were "non-horsey" people but they saw how much I liked them so they paid for me to take english riding lessons.

After many years of being a fan I saved enough money to buy a filly who is in her 3rd year of racing. After a 4 month turnout she is back at the track and galloping happily.

I have been bringing many people to see her and I show them the backside and all around the track and it is so much fun aquainting people with this world I have come to love.

I am so grateful that the Moss's did that with Zenyatta. They really have set an example for all of us to follow. There are so many who will never be able to afford a race horse of their own so for us to be able to share what we have been blessed with is incredible.

I can't wait to see Zenyatta's baby and talking of babies I just saw we will be having a Bluegrass Cat baby run at Oaklawn soon. It is so wonderful to see the generations get a chance to run like the wind.

20 Dec 2010 3:13 PM
Seattle Jan

What a beautiful, interesting, intelligent and passionate essay on horses, the industry, and what it means to be a "fan".

Abigail is right about the fans. When I remember some of my early racing days starting in the seventies, many of my memories are framed around the historic three triple crown winners that I saw race on television (Secretariat, Seattle Slew, Affirmed)and one I got to actually see in person at Longacres Racetrack, Seattle Slew.

When you follow a champion racehorse's career and even have the great luck to meet them (Seattle Slew) or see them race in person (Zenyatta), their magnificence is just stamped on your heart. It becomes part of your history. Thank you, Abigail, for a wonderful essay, and Steve Haskins and Bloodhorse.com for publishing it.

20 Dec 2010 3:15 PM
Pam Graham

What a beautifully written, substantive piece.  Thank you so much for the fascinating details about Zenyatta's ancestors and for the many thoughtful angles you've explored here.  

I suppose if you write a regular blog it would have been linked, but in the off chance that you do, and it wasn't included, please let us know.

20 Dec 2010 3:15 PM
Just me

What a lovely, thoughtful and heartfelt commentary.  I think it says it all.

20 Dec 2010 3:16 PM

Brilliant.Thanks for posting this Steve. And thank you Abigail.

20 Dec 2010 3:17 PM


20 Dec 2010 3:19 PM

An absolutely wonderful piece!  Thanks to Abigail for writing it, and thanks to you, Steve, for sharing it with us.

20 Dec 2010 3:20 PM
Darla Burton

Wow!!  Glad you re-submitted this story. Thank you Steve and Abigail!! Well written!! Go Zenyatta! HOY!!!

20 Dec 2010 3:21 PM
Dawn Conrad

Dear, Abigail.  Thank you very much for expressing so eloquently what so many of us who love horses and especially the thoroughbred feel.  I too am a student of the history of this marvelous creation and have grown up with attachments and stories of my own. We often question in life way some fail to easily embrace that which can only make us better.  I appreciate so much that you shared such wonderful stories.  Just think how many hundreds of thousands are still out there, but often hidden behind the walls of exclusion. My memories bring me joy, as do yours, of moments with horses that have allowed my heart to soar. The mare of my youth provided many.  Several of the names you mentioned hold a special place in my mind. Zenyatta and those that make up her team are still going out of their way to include all who love her.  There are also several farms I have visited in Lexington that are opening their doors and welcoming us. The history continues to be written.  I for one will never forget.  Steve, thank you for sharing Abigail's response.  And thank you also for being one of the story teller's who touches our hearts and minds on a regular basis.  You have given us so much!    

20 Dec 2010 3:30 PM

I fully agree Zenyatta will never be forgotton and I look forward to one day seeing her at Lanes End  She is the Queen of racing and I wish she wasnt retired but am thankful she is happy and doing well  

20 Dec 2010 3:34 PM
Kathy Agel

I have only one word for Abigail Anderson -- BRAVA!

Blooe Horse, you might want to offer Ms. Anderson the chance to write a weekly or monthly column from the fans' POV. She speaks from the heart, and she speaks for so many of us who follow the sport for the horses instead of the wagering.

20 Dec 2010 3:34 PM


20 Dec 2010 3:35 PM

Profoundly moving.

20 Dec 2010 3:37 PM
Mary M. Meek

Thank you, Ms. Anderson.  I love all the stories in bloodlines, and am sorry they are passed over.  

I'm hoping someone will realize there are droves of people who are interested in horse racing beyond cold reptilian numbers.  Horses are gloriously flesh and blood, and those of us who love them for themselves shouldn't be marginalized as nutcases and crazy cat ladies for appreciating them.

Why does horse racing seek to insult and drive people away?

I grew up in the Louisville area and have followed horse racing and loved horses as long as I can remember, and I'm 46.  The first Derby I remember was Majestic Prince in 1969.  

Team Zenyatta was an inspiration, not only to horse racing but organizations in general.  If more organizations ran as harmoniously as that one, without bloated egos and gameplaying, what could they achieve?  They all worked together for the best interests of their horse, and their horse thrived.  In other hands, the story may not have been the same.

I was lucky to have been able to visit Zenyatta's great grandfather Roberto at Darby Dan farm, when I was 10 years old.  She reminds me of him, big and dark, with that blaze.  At that time I had never seen a Kentucky Derby winner in the flesh, but here was an Epsom "Darby" winner.  I know of my family, I was the only one to appreciate him.  I'm similarly privileged to have seen and met his fine great granddaughter, and have even had her kiss me on the ear.  Indeed, I found the present in the past perfect.

Mary MMM

20 Dec 2010 3:40 PM
Nancy in Kentucky


20 Dec 2010 3:42 PM
Kari M

What a fabulous letter, in every sense of the word. Thank you so much for sharing!

20 Dec 2010 3:43 PM
Zenny Fan Forever

What a wonderfully written article, Steve.  Can't thank you enough for sharing it.  I have tons of articles for my Zenyatta book and this is one of the best and of course your article in "I lied".  I still feel this emptiness inside and still wonder what is going through her mind in KY. This article explains the majestic feeling so many of us had when we watched her run, pose and walk to the track. She gave you such a special feeling and made you feel so good and excited inside.  And her personality and kindness melted your heart.  Zenyatta and her Ancestors and other great horses are a gift to all of us.  And I would wager that the majority of us appreciate them so very much.  It probably will be a long time before we have another one like her.  Again "Hats off to the Zenyatta Team" -  if it weren't for all of them we would never have had experienced this wonderful past 3 yrs.

20 Dec 2010 3:47 PM
Bet Twice


Thank you Steve for posting this and thank you Abigail for reminding me why I love a sport that endlessly breaks my heart.  

It was lovely to read such an eloquent articulation of why fans matter and perhaps more importantly, why I shouldn't feel like a dolt for caring about a sport that views me as irrelevant at best and a nuisance at worst.

I have to confess, I'm at the end of my rope with racing.  I've been a rabid fan since I was 5 but honestly, I'm not sure I'm going to continue.  The racing world's determination to prove Zenyatta's mediocrity, combined with its rabid reluctance to evaluate synthetic surfaces in an unbiased manner made me realize it is a dying sport meant for gamblers and rich owners with the racing media functioning as a pawn to both.  

I know this is off topic, but the fact that Bloodhorse never even reported the latest University of Glasgow study on synthetics is appalling.  While I'm all for Santa Anita going back to dirt (if they can make it safe), the fact is synthetics are safer and horses running on them have fewer catastrophic injuries.  Does that mean every track should be synthetic?  Of course not, but not having a running tally in the newspaper of how many horses Del Mar killed that day has been kind of nice.

Apologies for the rant.  Thanks again to Zenyatta's connections and to Abigail, for reminding me why I love this sport.

20 Dec 2010 3:47 PM

Wow.  Just... wow.  

20 Dec 2010 3:53 PM
Laura R

Brava, Ms. Anderson.  This is an exquisitely well-written, heart-felt article. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your prose and hope you consider writing about racing as a new career.  Than you Mr. Haskin for sharing  Ms. Anderson’s well-crafted commentary.   I look forward to sharing this article with many other passionate race fans.

20 Dec 2010 3:58 PM

Perfectly written and heartfelt! Thank you so much for shading!

20 Dec 2010 3:59 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

I am sitting here, a little stunned at the beauty of your prose, historical knowledge and insight. Thank you very much. It was a pleasure to read your trip down Historical Lane, Zenyatta Street, and Insightful Avenue. Can I talk you into becoming a Haskinite if you aren't already and writing in his blogs more often? You are a joy, a special Christmas present under the tree, and a hopeful prelude to a Hew Year. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Thanks again for a wonderful present.

20 Dec 2010 3:59 PM
Gunner's Pal

Wow. . .

Though it concerns Zenyatta, this is actually a paean to thoroughbred racing in general, and possibly the finest piece of writing on the topic I've ever seen. . .

Well done.

20 Dec 2010 4:03 PM

This is one of the best things I have ever read about horses in any venue. Ms. Anderson is a gifted writer as well a great teacher. Thank you for sharing this with us.

This is what no one can take away from Team Zenyatta, which really includes all of us who have followed her since the beginning: true love.

20 Dec 2010 4:06 PM

I always think of little Reckless when I drive by her old stable area when I'm on Camp P...how sweet of you to mention her.

I wasn't fortunate enough to know about Zenyatta until her 4 year-old year, when she took on all the top mares that year & we all sat up and took notice!

She certainly is a treasure right up there with the "famous" girls that I have been privileged & have loved to watch run in my lifetime...Ruffian...Relaxing...Lady's Secret...Xtra Heat...the incomparable Miesque...Dahlia

...Dance Smartly...Shuvee...TaWee...Chilukki...Go For Wand...Azeri...Bayakoa...Genuine Risk...Winning Colors...Personal Ensign...Mom's Command...Rags To Riches...Rachel Alexandra...Goldikova...

OOh, I hate to forget or leave out any of the girls...

20 Dec 2010 4:07 PM
No Class

Beautifully written, thank you for sharing.


Ontario - Canada

20 Dec 2010 4:09 PM
Ted from LA

Beautiful... just beautiful.

20 Dec 2010 4:09 PM
Rachel O

Thank you so much for writing this beautiful piece, Abigail. Your knowledge of Zenyatta's bloodlines and the stories that go with them are fascinating. I'll save this article along with the many I have about Zenyatta and treasure it. Your account of the horses from Z's pedigree is so well-written that we can almost reach out and touch Z's forbears, just as we have so fortunately been allowed to touch her.

I'm a bit older than you are, I think, and part of my growing up included learning to ride cavalry horses at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas! Don't ask me to ride now, because if I did I be so sore I wouldn't be able to walk. I went on a short safari horseback ride in Africa about a dozen years ago, and the mare I was on had pile-driver action in her legs--most unlike Zenyatta's gazelle-like stride--so I was in agony for days afterwards!

Thank you, Steve, for publishing this in your columns. Such knowledge and ability to share it should never go to waste.

No matter how much I adored Zenyatta to begin with, another article like this one just makes me love and appreciate her all the more.

20 Dec 2010 4:12 PM
Mike Relva


20 Dec 2010 4:15 PM

This is one of the most beautiful, articulate descriptions of what makes us love Thoroughbreds and horses in general I have ever read. Thank you so much for sharing this with us. Every horse, great or ordinary, is the product of a long line of horses, people, and stories.

20 Dec 2010 4:21 PM

I believe Abigail's response to Steve's "I lied" blog. Sums up what many of us have come to know and understand about the breeding and racing of Thoroughbreds. Thank you Abigail. I really get what you have written here.  

20 Dec 2010 4:27 PM

Fantastic response Abigail. I am sure you are the Canadian teacher who posted on my wall; you definitely convey your thoughts more eloquently than I ever do or will. Thanks Steve for posting this...

20 Dec 2010 4:30 PM


 Thank you so much for posting this wonderful essay.  I was drawn into the sport by reading an excerpt from Laura Hillenbrand's Seabiscuit book in Reader's Digest and have basically grown to love the sport in much the same way as Ms. Anderson's grandfather, ie through print and video media.  The modern version is Bloodhorse.com, Youtube and some of the wonderful books on the subject.  This essay touched the heart of why I am a fan of thoroughbred horse racing.  I have no use for gambling, will never even own a piece of a horse, and while I enjoy learning about breeding and great stallions almost as much as great runners, I will never be involved in it.  My love of the sport comes from the stories of the horses and in some cases their connections.  The rivalries between east coast and west coast champs, the homebreds that beat the gazillion dollar purchases, the horses that come back from life threatening injuries to come within a length of winning the triple crown are all things that keep me interested and following the sport.  Then there are those special rare horses whose exploits set them apart as awe inspiring.  Man O War, Count Fleet, Citation, Secretariat, Ribot, Sea Bird, Dr. Fager, Mill Reef, Brigadier Gerard, Seattle Slew and now Zenyatta have accomplished things that took our collective breathes away.  This is why I follow the horse racing as a fan.  When there isn't a current star on the scene, I can enjoy going back and learning about the feats of horses of yesteryear and still enjoy the sport.  Thanks again, Steve and thank you Abigail Anderson for a wonderfully written essay that introduced me to some great horses I'd never read about and some I had, but about whom I learned something new.  Merry Christmas  

20 Dec 2010 4:33 PM

Steve and Abigail - I have no illusions about my writing abilities, no hubris giving me any inflated ideas that I can communicate with the passion and grace that you share with us. I do know that every night my prayers include my family, my friends, my dog, and a thank you for several horses mentioned in your writings - Secretariat, John Henry, Barbaro, and for the past 2 years Zenyatta.

20 Dec 2010 4:34 PM
Max's Mom

Thank you for posting.  WONDERFUL read.  Enjoyed the history lesson. Very thoughfully written. Loved it.

20 Dec 2010 4:43 PM

I loved every word of this piece. A pleasure to read, just as it was a privilege to watch Zenyatta run.

20 Dec 2010 4:44 PM

Wonderful article, thanks Steve and Abigail.  A great story on a cloudy windy day!

I'd add another relative if I could, of the many wonderful ones in Zenyatta's family tree.  Her dam is Vertigineux, and her sire was For the Flag, and his sire was Forli.

Forli, a large Argentinian, is arguably most famous for his most brilliant son, Forego, who knew a thing or two about heart and about finishing a race from the clouds.  And whose fans came out in the worst possible weather to cheer him home, whether he finished first or now.

20 Dec 2010 4:46 PM

I am outside this controversy as I am not a 'racing fan'.  This essay is wonderful - brought tears to my eyes.  I can feel the passion for the horses and the sport.  Thank you Ms. Anderson!

20 Dec 2010 4:52 PM

All I can say is "Wow!" What a great essay. Thanks, Abigail! And thanks, Steve, for sharing it with us!

20 Dec 2010 5:04 PM

Thank you, Abigail Anderson and Steve Haskin, for sharing this wonderful history of the Thoroughbred in your story on Zenyatta. It is not about wins, awards, and earnings, but about the love of a horse and the willingness of owners and trainers to allow people  to get close to the horse that has claimed their heart.

20 Dec 2010 5:18 PM

wow. i'm speechless...

20 Dec 2010 5:18 PM

I am in awe of this wonderful woman's essay.  What a beautiful, moving tribute to Zenyatta and the sport of horseracing.  I have tears in my eyes.  What a lady.  I hope she gets to meet Zenyatta in person someday.  Thank you for publishing this article.

Happy holidays to all.

20 Dec 2010 5:27 PM

What a beautiful essay! I will urge all my horse-loving friends to read this wonderful piece. It describes so well the feelings that I had every time I saw Zenyatta walk out onto the track and run in her races.

20 Dec 2010 5:30 PM
Donna Dapp

this blog should be required reading for all that cast their vote for horse of the year.  hopefully, it might be influential in marking of the ballots for Zenyatta, the Queen of racing.  Will we ever hear of Blame after this year?  I sincerely doubt it.  Great blog !!!

20 Dec 2010 5:30 PM
Tressa Ann

Wow!  Well said.

20 Dec 2010 5:33 PM
Donna S.

Keep writing her story Abigail, and a special request from me to tell about Personal Ensign, 1988 was another year two great fillies ran.  

20 Dec 2010 5:36 PM

Wonderful just wonderful very very nice thanks

20 Dec 2010 5:36 PM

Thanks Steve for sharing this essay to all of us. Abigail said it best Zenyatta touched all of us in away that cannot be explained. Zenyatta is a gift from the heavens. All racing fans and the general public witnessed a racehorse who is a legend and the likes we may never see again.

20 Dec 2010 5:42 PM
Donna Powell

Wonderful piece Abigail.  I am proud to be your friend.  Thanks so much for all your thoughts.  

And thank you Steve for posting.

20 Dec 2010 5:44 PM

wow. beautiful. and i couldnt agree more!

20 Dec 2010 5:50 PM

Thank you for sharing this brilliant piece with us.  It is so elegantly written, carefully researched, coherent and yet heartfelt.  I would love to see more of what you write, Ms. Anderson, and I'm certain that your students were extremely fortunate to have had you as a teacher!

If it makes any sense, I think that it both matters very much and at the same time doesn't matter at all whether Zenyatta wins Horse of the Year.  It won't change who she fundamentally is and what she has accomplished, or her fans' love for her, and it is, after all, just an award.  But as a demonstration of the current influences running horse racing and of what the future has in store, it is extremely important.

20 Dec 2010 5:51 PM

Bravo, well said!



20 Dec 2010 5:54 PM
Tom (Louisville, Ky)

Absolutely brilliant article!  These are the kinds of fans that need to be heard to correct all the problems that are facing horse racing today.  Too many people in this game don't look at the big picture when making decisions that will challenge the future of our great industry.  I can't imagine anyone that wouldn't be energized to rally the troops to save this great and historic industry after hearing Ms. Anderson speak about what racing means to her.  Keep the flame alive Abigail!

20 Dec 2010 5:56 PM

Lovely, thorough, moving and captivating.  Reminds me of my friend and me,  in possession of badges on the backstretch of Pimlico after the Preakness the year Afleet Alex won.  We were insane for Alex and his website.  With peppermints in hand, all we wanted was a glance at Alex, but we were denied any contact, even a glance, by his trainer.  Although I've since had race horses in partnerships, I find this mind set prevalent even when I have a percentage of ownership.  I'm in MD.  Everyone knows the state of MD racing.  Need I say more?  Thank you Abigail for your wonderful article.

20 Dec 2010 5:59 PM

I am in awe.  

20 Dec 2010 6:10 PM

WOW!!!  I've tried to write a few good sentences to form a complimentary comment, but I have concluded that "WOW!!!" sums up my reaction to this splendid article. Thank you, Steve, for publishing it for all of us to read, and thank you, Abigail, for writing it and sending it to Steve.

20 Dec 2010 6:14 PM

Thank you so much for sharing.  That was so interesting and thought out.  And you are right, I will never forget Zenyatta.  I was able to see her in person at Santa Anita and I will never forget her "dance" and how the croud reacted as she wound her way around all those males and made her way to first.  I just wish for more, but will settle for her safe retirement and look forward to her babies to come.  Also, who will her date be with?  Can't wait to hear.  

20 Dec 2010 6:17 PM
Sunny Farm

Mr. Haskin ; Thanks so much for printing Abigail's story! It is a real treasure & a soothing balm to the soul.What a pleasurable read, and one to share with others !

                    I LOVED IT !

20 Dec 2010 6:19 PM

I think that somehow, the phenomena, if you will, that is Zenyatta, has enabled many of us a glimpse past the veil of ordinary form.  Of everything I have read that has been written about her, I think the words of an old family friend, who, not akin to animals, simply said when she walked onto the track for her 19th race, "There is something special about her".

20 Dec 2010 6:19 PM

Eloquently penned and further proof that those who appreciate the gift of Zenyatta are not merely irrational, dewey-eyed teenagers.  If the fans that truely appreciate the sport of horse racing and the stars that flesh it out are denigrated for embracing its emotional content, we may as well race unmanned go carts.  

If nothing else, hopefully this controversy will spur a revision (or, more appropriately, a creation)  of the Eclipse award criteria.  Thank you, Abigail for not only expressing so beautifully what I have felt, but also for the educational aspect of your posting.  And thank you, Steve, for sharing

20 Dec 2010 6:20 PM
needler in Virginia

Beautiful, just beautiful, Abigail. You've written a response deep in heart and filled with facts....that's a double-barreled tough presentation with which to argue! I have NO intention of arguing with a single word. I simply wish to thank you for this lovely holiday gift, one which will be re-read and pondered for many days to come.

Thank you for saying what the almost 500 posts on Steve's "I Lied" blog tried to say. You've managed to distill all of them down to this one. For that, I'm grateful.

Happy holidays, cheers and VERY safe trips to all.

20 Dec 2010 6:28 PM

I think that's awesome!I also believe the horse is a gift from god to carry our troubled hearts . And Zanyetta took our hearts to another level, she gave us hope to overcome our hard times and focus on  something else.  

20 Dec 2010 6:31 PM

This is the most inclusionary perspective that I have ever read. I can truly say, I feel exonerated after reading this outstanding insight into love and devotion of our greatest champions and legends. One can almost endure the slings and arrows of the detractors and nay sayers after this experience.  Almost.

Abigail, you have been truly blessed with a life long experience with horses and for having a family that instilled this love in you. If there's one wish for me during this time of year, it would be that all children be given this gift.

Sadly, Zenyatta probably won't receive the HOY award and that will mar racings integerity, forever. For it will only legitimatize the notion that the breeding shed is all that matters. How unfortunate for the future of racing.  

20 Dec 2010 6:31 PM

Anyone who knows me will laugh when I say "this left me speechless!" Thank you, Ms. Anderson.

20 Dec 2010 6:31 PM





20 Dec 2010 6:33 PM

Beautiful to say the least, I don't think there are any words left. Thanks you so much for a wonderful article and no it wasn't long at all enjoyed every word.  

20 Dec 2010 6:36 PM

How lovely... and what a wonderful homage to the wonderful antecedents without whom there would have been no Zenyatta, no Curlin, no Blame, even...

One very small correction, Kelso's sire was Your Host (I'm sure that was a typo!). When I was a kid one of our neighbors was Dr. Walker, the vet who saved Your Host. I was always very pleased to have had a connection (how many degrees of separation?) with that horse and his wonderful son Kelso.

Any time you want to relate other little biographical stories, please feel free to do so. I grew up on the same fodder you did, in the same and slightly earlier time frame. My grandparents were of the same time as your grandfather. My dad used to tell tales on his mother and her adventures with the horse and buggy...

MUCH appreciated...

20 Dec 2010 6:38 PM

Well said!! Let's hope the "old boys" listen, however, I will not get my hopes up.

20 Dec 2010 6:38 PM
Carolyn in NC

What an excellent, informative and analytical essay written by Abigail Anderson, and a true pleasure to read.  While I do not share such a gift of words with Ms. Anderson, I certainly share a life-long love of horses and the stories that went with them.  Many trips to the library when I was a child resulted in a stack of horse books, "biographies", if you will, about so many of the legends of racing past.  What moved me in reading these was not always so much what they did on the track that made them famous, but what they were like off the track, their personalities, their tendencies, their tricks, or their more human-like qualities.  I think that this defines my great admiration for Zenyatta, as well, because like so many others, I am just as awed by her kindness, her "fancy footwork" and her statuesque curiousity as I am by what she accomplished in her career.  In any case, I am not the only racing fan born this way!  Thank goodness Zenyatta's owners and handlers "get it" by allowing the general public to get so close to her in so many ways.  She has been a blessing to this industry so I can only hope that the lessons she and her people have taught will not go unnoticed to the powers-that-be in the sport.

20 Dec 2010 6:43 PM

Thank you for sharing Steve.  This is why I make it a point to always read anything with your name on it.

Also, Thanks to Ms. Anderson for her beautiful words that reached into my soul and brought out emotion in the form of a tear in my eye when speaking of the majesty of the thouroghbred.

20 Dec 2010 6:47 PM

Abigail Anderson's article is both passionate and captivating.  It was enjoyable, informative and thought provoking. I especially enjoyed the survey of Zenyatta's pedigree and the attempts to link her personality with some of her ancestors.  Kudos to her for penning her thoughts so brilliantly, to you for evoking her response and to Zenyatta, the inspiration behind it all.  It seems quite clear that "Big Z" is destined to become a legend and a "larger than life" horse given the ocean of sentiments similar to Abigail's that out there.  While I wouldn't hesitate to endorse that she is indeed worthy of being a legend, by virtue of her 19-1 win record, longevity at the pinacle of the sport, her devastating Breeder's Cup Classic performances as well as her charismatic idiosyncracies, the "soft-campaign bogie" will continue to attend her legacy, and rightly so.  Every honest fan should learn to live with this fact and try not to be aggitated that "rough spot" on the "landscape" of her overall performances, if the "marriage" between "sentience and logic", "feeling and form" and cognition and emotion is allowed to peacefully co-habit in future reflections on the great mare.

BTW I also think that Abigail made a pretty good supporting case for the sharing of the HOTY award this year between Zenyatta and Blame.  I agree that this year's award should not leave anyone bitter or alienated.  Both horses are deserving in different ways and afford us an opportunity to close down the polemics and acrimony attending the HOTY award for the last two ar three years.  Bravo Steve.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you.  

Looking forward to the Derby Dozen in the New Year.    

20 Dec 2010 6:54 PM
Fuzzy Corgi

Superb! Just before reading this I saw the pics of Zenyatta's first turnout. My day is complete.

20 Dec 2010 7:01 PM

Great article written by a top notch teacher and bloodline expert.  I loved that Ms Anderson mentioned Man O War so much.  Might I add that Zenyatta has Hoist the Flag on top and bottom of her pedigree and he goes back to Man O War through War Admiral.  Even to this day, I try as much as possible to find Man O War in pedigrees and his line is alive and well through Tiznow.  Thank you Steve.

20 Dec 2010 7:05 PM

BRILLIANT!!!   Thanks for this.... didn't want it to end.  

20 Dec 2010 7:08 PM
Becky F in MD

Thank you to Abigail for the eloquent writings and to Steve for sharing them.  The Zenyatta Effect continues to spread.  Isn't it wonderful?!

20 Dec 2010 7:17 PM

Wonderfully written, intelligent, thoughtful and wise. I only wish that it could be required readong for all those smug, superior "rationalists" who are voting on the Eclipse Award.

20 Dec 2010 7:20 PM

I am so glad, Steve, that you shared this wonderful essay. It says everything. And thank you, Abigail Anderson!

20 Dec 2010 7:26 PM

Abigail, thank you for such a wonderful response/essay!  You're students must have been honored!  All I can say is Wow and Thank You and Happy Holidays.

Steve, thank you for sharing this with us.  Many of the horses above, I hadn't heard about (way before my time) and some, I have. I loved this History lesson!

And to all the Posters, Happy and Safe Holidays!!!

20 Dec 2010 7:32 PM

Ms. Anderson's blog was absolutely brilliant. She wrote, so very eloquently, what I feel about horses and our attachments to them too. I could never put my feelings into words like she has. If there was a President of Thoroughbred Racing office, I'd vote for Abigail Anderson to fill it. Racing is so determined to shoot itself in the foot anymore that I often wonder why I continue to follow it at all. Then along comes a horse like Zenyatta and her wonderful human partners and my questions are answered for me. Racing is suffering from all manner of things and a loss of fans is at the top of the list. Why so many try to deny or belittle a horse like Zenyatta, who is the best thing that has happened to racing in a long time is a mystery. The Eclipse Awards don't mean much to me - the bias in the voting is so very obvious. Zenyatta is tons a better horse than Blame could ever be, no matter if she is once again denied Horse of the Year of not.

Thank you, Mr. Haskin, for sharing this wonderful blog with us. Merry Christmas!

20 Dec 2010 7:33 PM

Incredible! Classy!! Wow!!

Thank you for sharing this with us and for all of your work and research.

20 Dec 2010 7:36 PM

Thank for that piece, eloquently written. My father introduced me to the mysteries of the lore of the thoroughbred of the ages, much like your grandfather did for you. It is all in the mentoring. And you as an educator, showed how the turning point can be found and rejoyced.

Ah, for all my practical dismay at pinhooking, drugs, the trials of people now in the sport, horses are so beautiful..magnificant animals, I think of Alexander the Great and Bucephalus...it does go back.

And Zenyatta...looked like modern perfection to me..


20 Dec 2010 7:37 PM

Bravo! Bravo!

You described the heart and spirit of our enchantment.

20 Dec 2010 7:37 PM

Stunning!  Thank you!

20 Dec 2010 7:42 PM


Your heuristic prose summed up comprehensively the human/equine relationship without being overly antagonistic to those less spiritually inclined. It is indeed a mithridate to the venom spewed by so many.

While each have a unique entelechy, it is no surprise that YOU ARE STILL a teacher to those with an open mind.

Thanks to Steve for availing your wisdom to the grateful.

20 Dec 2010 7:51 PM

I cried....:)

20 Dec 2010 7:56 PM

After sitting here several minutes trying to compose something to express my gratitude for this article, I've finally determined that I simply do not have the words.  You have spoken of the past that brings Zenyatta to the present and propels us to look also to the future and I am just dumbstruck - the only thing I can come up with is WOW.  Thank you, Abigail, for expressing what so many of us have felt.  Thank you, Steve, for sharing this beautiful piece.  May you all have a beautiful holiday season.  

20 Dec 2010 7:58 PM



20 Dec 2010 8:03 PM

Oh to be able to express as beautifully as you have my own passions and the reasons that I have taken Zenyatta to my heart as she has taken my own.

Thank you for sharing the gift of your own love of those glorious thoroughbreds of the past and this most magnificent one in the present. I hope we will hear from you again.

And thank you Steve for sharing Abigail's stunning essay with us.

20 Dec 2010 8:04 PM

Wow,wow and wow. Amazing and wonderfully reserched and written and  all so so true. I will always love her as I fell so deep in love with her I will never be able to pull myself out. I just hope to feel the same for another one someday. Awards to me mean nothing on this earth and I know they don't to Zen. As we will all receive ours one day but not on this earth. Zenyatta will always be the horse of my lifetime.

20 Dec 2010 8:08 PM
susan barry

As a writer myself, i am seldom in awe. But this piece is exceptional. To capture the well from which so much enthusiasm has flowed for one horse, and give voice and context for it, is remarkable. As a horses-owner for decades I thank you.

20 Dec 2010 8:08 PM

Loved the literary trip down pedigree lane!

20 Dec 2010 8:13 PM
Paula Higgins

This was quite wonderful. Abigail, thank you for writing it and Steve, thank you for posting it. Loved the biographies of her "ancestors." They remind us that Zenyatta didn't just pop out of an oyster shell, like Botticelli's Venus, and that she is the culmination of quite an impressive gene pool.

Abigail, the people who do not "get" Zenyatta are the gamblers and the numbers crunchers. It's all about cash and statistics. Truly, it is their loss not to be able to experience the wonder of Zenyatta and I no longer have any interest in trying to convince them. I just put them in my "doesn't like dogs" category. The category I reserve for the unredeemable.

20 Dec 2010 8:15 PM

Folks,  Go over to DRF.com and check out the pictures of Zenyatta romping in her paddock at Lane's End farm.  They are beautuful to see,  The Moss's, Sherrifs, and Mario and his wife all flew in just to see her romp for the first time.

Just like good parents do,  they are constantly checking on their daughter.  Isnt that something,  they just left her two weeks ago and already flewn back out to see her.   Now, thats what you call loving parents.

20 Dec 2010 8:16 PM

Beautifully written. Like Ms. Anderson, I feel that there is a lot more to Zenyatta that enamored her to most racing fans - something that the sport critically needs and will sorely miss. Now that you've shared this with us, you ought to send a copy to Andy Beyer.  I recently read a Beyer column of why Zenyatta should not be named HOY.  Like Scrooge, Andy is an opinionated, self-centered curmudgeon.

20 Dec 2010 8:24 PM

What a beautifully written article..I wish she had been my English teacher.  I am learning so much about the horse world and the people involved, past and present.  I have never owned a horse but I feel "the bug" everytime I read or see a horse.  I have been seriously thinking about volunteering at a rescue farm so that I can experience a very small part of this world.  Thank you, Mr. Haskin, for sharing it with us, and thank you Ms. Anderson for writing it!

20 Dec 2010 8:34 PM

Finally, an article that eloquently expresses what is in our hearts. Steve, thank you for recognizing the dire need in the horse racing industry for these words to be shared. To Abigail, thank you for providing us with the foundation in which this sport was built on, an insight into what true "horsemen" were.  We are privileged to have John Shirreffs carrying on such a tradition in what some have turned in to a greedy and abusive sport with no regard for the majestic creatures who unconditionally obey them.  Most of all, a thank you to Zenyatta, who has brought the sport to the forefront.  Perhaps she is the "gift" to teach us all a lesson of a "lifetime".....

20 Dec 2010 8:43 PM

Gracefully written a heartfelt thanks to Abigail for taking the time to write this for us to enjoy.If only we could replace Jason's space with hers

20 Dec 2010 8:47 PM

Thank you so much for printing this wonderful response.  

20 Dec 2010 8:49 PM
Karen in Indiana

And I add my Wow! This should be required reading for anyone even remotely involved in the horse industry.

Ms. Anderson, you have written words from my heart as well. What sets this sport apart from all others is the history traced in bloodlines. It is woven throughout and displayed in the results we see today and hope to see tomorrow.

You are right. While the bettor may support the sport, without the passion and enthusiasm of the fan, it would die a long, slow death.

Thank you for such an eloquently expressed, heartfelt article.

20 Dec 2010 8:53 PM
Elizabeth Tobey

This is a beautiful letter. Thank you for sharing it.

20 Dec 2010 9:01 PM
Rita Boucher

What a great history lesson. And so well written. We all have been touched by this creation of God. Thankyou for sharing.

20 Dec 2010 9:33 PM

What a beautiful piece of writing.  Thank you, Abigail.  And thank you, Mr. Haskin, for printing it for us all to enjoy.  

20 Dec 2010 9:34 PM

Thank you Ms. Anderson for putting into words the feelings many of us have just being a small part of the legion of fans that Zenyatta has brought to the sport of horse racing. Since reading most of Steve Haskin's articles I know he too, is an ardent fan of Queen Z.

Please write another article soon, this one was inspiring!

20 Dec 2010 10:01 PM

Ms. Anderson,

Wow!  Thank you for such a beautifully, poignantly written piece about Zenyatta.  I enjoyed reading the history of her bloodline and lineage, you showed us exactly where the dancing and prancing comes into the picture.  And that was a refresher course on the Arabians for me, who bred with the horses of England are what our American thoroughbred is today.  I went to a facility in Morocco last year and saw some of the Arabian racehorses stabled there.  I would like you the read the writings of Mr. Rob Whiteley, a PHD in English and Psychology, and he is rated as one of America's top 20 breeders.  He has bred such champions as El Corredor, Roman Ruler, Henny Hughes, and Champagne D'Oro.  Rob is a brilliant, genius of a man, who has been published mamy times in Thoroughbred Times and Bloodhorse.  He, more than anyone, could understand your correlation between the educaton community and the horse industry.  Rob has written many articles on the state of affairs in the horse industry and proposals on how to save it.  One that comes to mind in particular is called "A Modest Proposal" in TDN I believe.  But all can go to his website, which is LiberationFarm.com and his articles are listed there.  He was also involved in the documentary "Losing The Iron Horse" featured on Bloodhorse.  Deacon, if you are reading this, you would just love his works as you love the breeding aspect of the sport and Rob is one of the best and my friend.

I'd have to agree with Ms. Anderson that all thoroughbreds are a gift, Zenyatta being a very special gift.  Somehow for me, Zenyatta and Lane's End in the same sentence is a juxtaposition.  It just doesn't fit, not that I am in any way criticizing Lane's End for I am sure it is a finely run breeding establishment, one of the best.  The greatest female racehorse of all time at Lane's End?  Sounds like part of that "good old boy network" you are referring to.  Part of me wants her to breed and the other part wants her to be an ambassador for the sport.  She could come out at the Belmont carrying the crown of the next TC winner!  But whatever she does I, as so mamy do, want her home base to be California.  Maybe we will all be more at ease after Steve visits Lane's End and informs us of her status and well-being.  The industry needs a Commissioner.  My heart still goes out to Larry Jones who basically had to go it alone after the death of Eight Belles and address the entire industry.  And I am so glad to hear that Larry is back in the game!  It is a "good old boy network" with many chauvanistic ideas (admitted to me by males) that needs uniformity and structure.  Owners have no voice, different states have different procedures, no one is on the same page, polytrack or dirt?, marketing is virtually non-existent, and stars are being wisked away at age 3.  Zenyatta, and her wonderful owners & trainer, made inroads to implement change in the industry.  All others should follow suit.

20 Dec 2010 10:01 PM
Jenna M

Lovely.  Thank you.

20 Dec 2010 10:03 PM

Zenyatta has the power to heal.  She has made me such a better person by setting example.  The day after her only loss, as I was so depressed, I saw her walking around the barn area at Churchill, happy as a plum, not concerned about the photo finish the previous day.

If Zenyatta had retired a maiden, she would still be special!!

20 Dec 2010 10:26 PM

So to the point, and well written.

I am an out of work teacher and I agree both professions are following the same path. Amen to all that you stated Abigail. A beautiful tribute to Zenyatta and thoroughbreds all over. Made my Christmas musch better. Happy Holidays to all!!!

20 Dec 2010 10:26 PM

What a pleasure to read!  Thank you, Abigail and Steve, and happy trails over the holidays!

20 Dec 2010 10:27 PM

Maybe if we are lucky, Abigail's writing will be read at the start of the next Board of Directors/Trustees/you-name-it meetings of some of the "leaders" in this "industry."  It would be a refreshing reminder of what may have led most of those in authority, or their ancestors, into the awe-inspiring sport of kings in the first place.  The horse has a majesty, nobility, and mystery that has created a bond with us humans unlike any other.  When that core bond is ignored, everything else in the "business" suffers. Zenyatta touched that core with us.

Thanks to Abigail for the facts...and the feelings...which together add up to an undeniable truth, beautifully articulated.

20 Dec 2010 10:29 PM

You are all right. Abigail was an amazing teacher. The way she expresses her passion for Zenyatta is the way she shared her passion for teaching and learning with her students. Abigail was by teacher over thirty-five year ago and she continues to be my mentor and teacher now. Abigail, all these wonderful comments are a tribute to YOU!

20 Dec 2010 10:33 PM
Sue w

It is so apparent that it was destiny for Zenyatta to grace our lives.  Seeing the pictures of her first run in the paddock at LE today moved me to tears.  She symbolizes the greatness of the thoroughbred ...thank God her connections have allowed and encouraged us to be close to her.

20 Dec 2010 10:40 PM
Lisa in Colorado


20 Dec 2010 10:49 PM
Barbara W

What an awesome article. I've been so busy on Zenyatta's page that I haven't kept up here. Oh, how I wish you would write a book about all the great ones who make up today's Thoroughbred. I would be first in line to buy it!

I hope and pray this love affair with Zenyatta will never end. Our ranks seem to be swelling daily. Our best wishes and prayers for Z and her human family.

20 Dec 2010 10:59 PM

Like "Secretation" I was drawn into horseracing after reading Hillenbrand's book. I've visited Ridgewood Ranch, Seabiscuit's retirement home, several times and been able to imagine his well-earned rest in that gorgeous part of N. California.  

And like "nycveg" I believe that it really matters and at the same time doesn't matter at all if Zenyatta wins HOY.  I truly understand that tension and will try to be only interested "dispassionately" when the results are announced.  At the same time a huge part of my mind/heart will cry foul if she isn't voted HOY. But I won't quit horseracing since the majesty and spirit of these equine athletes has touched me well beyond the ability of words to express.  I think it's in their eyes.  

Thank you Abigail, Steve and a special nod to Bill Dwyer who has written so well about Zenyatta.  

20 Dec 2010 11:02 PM

Wow!! Thank you! How absolutely beautiful!

20 Dec 2010 11:02 PM

the difference is her ancestors weren't coddled hothouse flowers

20 Dec 2010 11:08 PM

Thank you both for this.  It IS a better Christmas gift than I could have imagined.  ~ This is the only place I would risk asking:  Will those around 'Z' now be good to her, love and treat her as 'Z' Team One has?  Although the reports are encouraging, today Zenyatta ran 'a bee-line to Mario' from her free-style place across the paddock.  It broke my heart, having had a colt I raised run to me that way.  So much loving attention he so easily gave her.  It just clutches some days, thinking of them doing their duty by her, but . ...   ~ Forgive the sentimentality.

20 Dec 2010 11:09 PM

I am so moved right now I simply can't continue...

20 Dec 2010 11:19 PM

Thank you, thank you for that very truthful and heartfelt essay. I really enjoyed the stories about the horses that have gone before and their attributes seen in present day wonders like Zenyatta.   I hope someone from the horse racing industry reads it.  And, we all could do with marrying our hearts to our heads!

20 Dec 2010 11:21 PM
debbie bernhard

wow!!  now that i am done crying i can actually see to write this.  thank you so much for expressing what i (and my horsey family also reading this) feel about zenyatta specifically and horses in general.  i hope to meet her in person one day, but if not i will love her from afar just like i have all of those before her and all those that will come after her.  thank you, steve, for posting this.  happy holidays to all!!

20 Dec 2010 11:55 PM
christy tate

thanks steve for posting ms. anderson's well written and awesome essay. she speaks the truth, and echoes the sentiments of a lot of people. so agree with her about thoroughbred racing should do more to include the fans. i have noticed that standardbred racing seems to be a little friendlier, humm.

21 Dec 2010 12:14 AM

Thanks.  Well written and it allowed me to feel great about all the horses mentioned because I do remember all of them.

21 Dec 2010 12:26 AM

Has anyone ever used a comma with such aplomb in the history of the Bloodhorse website, I dare say NO!

21 Dec 2010 12:47 AM

Christmas came early for Zenyatta fans.

All of us who love the Great Mare  received two fabulous presents.

The first one, a superb essay written by Ms. Anderson and presented to us by Mr. Haskin. Words fail me to express my gratitude to both of you for this treasure wrapped in the most beautiful prose.

The second one was the glorious pictures of Zenyatta free to run and dance in her paddock at Lane's End.

Do you think Santa had something to do with the perfectly timed orchestration of these two gifts, showing up on our computer screens on the same day? Or is it another illustration of the Zenyatta magic?

21 Dec 2010 12:58 AM

Beautifully written piece!  The author provides us with a few stories and comparisons about the bloodlines connected to Zenyatta.  Although a bit of a stretch, Man o'War can be traced on both sides of Zenyatta's pedigree.  Her incredible stride of 26.5 feet always reminded me of "Big Red" and his legendary 28 foot stride, so I like to think that a little bit of Man o'War is present in her.

21 Dec 2010 1:02 AM

What a blessing to read! Thank you, Ms. Anderson, for a captivating read and thank YOU, Mr. Haskin, for sharing this with us. Such great life and history in these paragraphs!

Yes, this is truly an incredible sport and every cog of it's machinery holds magnificent stories and secrets, sweat and tears, triumphs and of course, heart.

Zenyatta has rekindled in the heart of this nation a love and respect for the magical Sport Of Kings. And rightfully so, as Ms. Anderson points out, with all of the regality coursing through her blood!

Bravo, Zenyatta! Bravo, Jerry, Anne, John and all those involved in the phenomenal love story that is Zenyatta. And cheers to Ms. Anderson for clarifying exactly how special this "gift" really is, deep down inside.

May the Queen provide her endearing fans with many more royal children.

21 Dec 2010 1:05 AM

Steve and Abigail, thank you for the best birthday present I could ever have hoped for at this stage of my life.  I will cherish this gift and keep it in my Zenyatta memories' book.

I still feel emotional about our great Queen.

21 Dec 2010 1:48 AM
Between Friends

"For those of us who have had a chance to fall in love again with a Thoroughbred named Zenyatta, as for her wonderful team, there are all those memories – of the way we smiled when she danced or laughed as she posed for a kiss, of the hitch in our throats when Ann Moss or Dottie Shirreffs or Mario or Steve’s eyes brimmed with tears, of the thrill of watching her run, or of John Shirreffs’ quiet reminder that “hundreds of years go into breeding a Thoroughbred”  -- and there are still more memories to come, to be sure!"

How very true for so many of us. We did fall in love again and being able to share this emotion with so many others just added to our happiness.

Abigail,  what you have written will be read and cherished by all those whose hearts have been touched by a special horse. Thank you. And thank you, Steve, for sharing this with us.

21 Dec 2010 1:52 AM

Thank you Abigail.  What an amazing, emotional, and educational piece.  This could easily be a major publication's year-end article on Zenyatta, the state of thoroughbred racing, and what it means to be a fan. Really, really good stuff!

21 Dec 2010 2:31 AM

Wow! Simply amazing! Nicely written Ms. Abigail! Like a few others have stated, I wish you could have been my English teacher.

Thank you so much Steve for sharing this.

21 Dec 2010 4:12 AM
Monica in CA

These are stories that we enjoy reading no matter their length.  This is a source of good news and joy that is needed when there is so much grief to be reminded of.  Zenyatta's story humbles me astounds me.  The Moss's have shared almost all of the aspects of Zenyatta's life.  We are still waiting for breeding seasons to come, and horse races to watch in the future.  It is these stories that I look forward to reading each day.  A sweet diversion to any chaotic day.  I just lost my dog Kross (my soulamte) and the pain is unbearable.  The story that the Moss's are sharing with the world concerning the next pages of Zenyatta's life are helping to heal my heart.  Thank you!

21 Dec 2010 5:03 AM

I feel renewed!

Thank You so very much!

Healthy and Happy New Years!

21 Dec 2010 6:55 AM

Abigail, with your words, you have made me proud to be a Canadian, and re-affirmed my innermost reasons for loving the horse that is Zenyatta. Your historical information is absolutely fascinating and I thank you, through Steve, for sharing it with all of us. I was fortunate to have had my heart captured in 1973 by Secretariat and his "team". I have been captured once again by Zenyatta and her "team". Thank you as well for instilling a sense of kindness and civility into the Eclipse Award discussion. And finally, thank you Steve, for recognizing that Abigail's wonderful words should be shared with those of us who love the Thoroughbred. The best of the holiday season to all from a Zenyatta admirer north of the border in Canada.

21 Dec 2010 7:00 AM

Thank you Steve for bringing us that article.  It made me tear up on many levels, such a well written piece.  It was also refreshing to see the 'Sires' referred to.  As most people know, both the sire and dam contribute 50% to the offspring, but so often you only hear of the female side of the TB pedigree from the Dam's side.  When in truth, all the horses in the total pedigree have contributed equally.  I have often thought that Zenyatta's fantastic ability, both racing and staying sound, was her well rounded pedigree with a refreshing lack of double Mr. P, Native/Northern Dancer, etc.  More breeders should strive for this as the result is sounder horses.  Bravo!  Loved the article...keep on writing Hillhouse.

21 Dec 2010 7:03 AM
Mike E.

Thank you, Steve Haskins, for knowing that the rest of us needed to read Abigail Anderson. And thank you, Abigail Anderson for reminding me of the passion I felt when I was a child reading the Thoroughbred Record, too young to understand the stories but just the right age to fall in love with Calumet Farm.

21 Dec 2010 7:37 AM

Thank you for sharing that wonderful essay.  We can never speak enough of the great ones.  Can't wait to visit "Z."  

21 Dec 2010 7:47 AM

Fabulous, thank you so much for sharing.

Way part ime for the HOY to be done on a POINT SYSTEM.  It is so unfair as of now.  

21 Dec 2010 7:56 AM
Lee Ann

Thank you! So educational and beautifully written.

21 Dec 2010 7:56 AM

This is the kind of historical perspective that the voters should have,to be eligible to vote.They should have to take a test given by Ms. Anderson, to see if they have a clue. Now that would be interesting.

Thank you Ms. Anderson, for your beautiful and inspirational piece. And thank you Steve , for sharing it.

Merry Christmas and a very happy, healthy New Year.

21 Dec 2010 8:09 AM

Stunning!  There's little left to say because, Abigail...you've said it all quite elegantly.  Your students were fortunate to have you guide them.

21 Dec 2010 8:28 AM

Heartfelt and very well written.  But Kelso's sire was Your Host.

21 Dec 2010 8:37 AM

Very well written and obviously came from the heart.  But alas, hearts are often broken when faced with the truth.  Blame is the HOTY!

21 Dec 2010 9:04 AM
Pat in New Jersey

Wow.  Thank you Ms. Anderson and Steve for putting into words what the intangibles of the Thoroughbred.  And as always, thanks to the people who care enough to share these great horses with us - the Mosses and the Jacksons.    

21 Dec 2010 9:11 AM

Steve and Ms. Anderson,

Thank you for this wonderful Christmas gift which so brilliantly expresses how I feel as a fan of Zenyatta and all Thoroughbreds! Well done!

21 Dec 2010 9:12 AM
LouAnn Cingel of Union, Missouri

Fantastic and wonderfully written-what more can be said:

The gift of Zenyatta!


Love & Blessings


21 Dec 2010 9:16 AM
Swaps fan

I was really touched by Ms. Anderson's beautiful writing about Zenyatta. I am sending this from Africa, and I'm in my late 60's, and have been a horse racing fan for decades. The only other horse that ever inspired this kind of passion in me was Swaps, who ran in the opposite style from Zenyatta, but he had her kind of charisma. I actually had tickets for a seat in a Breeders Cup Box at Churchill Downs that I had convinced some friends who were new to Zenyatta and horse racing to buy see Zenyatta; then I had to come to Africa, and at 1:00 a.m. over here I yelled words of encouragement at the TV to help Zenyatta make up...all... that...ground that she lost through the first 7 furlongs in the most amazing race that I've ever seen. (Thank God for television!) I want to thank Abigail Anderson for writing the essay and Steve Haskin for recognizing how much it could touch all who are privileged to read it. And, yes, it DOES matter who is Horse of the Year. It has to be Zenyatta.

21 Dec 2010 9:32 AM

The "either rational or sentiment" choice is really a false dichotomy.  Zenyatta is as rational a choice as Cigar.

I'm sure Freud would have a comment or two about this year's "rationalists".

21 Dec 2010 9:40 AM


21 Dec 2010 10:50 AM
Love 'em all

Mr. Haskin, thank you for sharing this most interesting, informative

and beautifully written essay by the very gifted Ms. Abigail Anderson.  

We thank you both.  

21 Dec 2010 11:08 AM
Sally in Indy

Insightful and thrilling commentary, Ms. Anderson. What a lovely gift to all of us who also love this grand sport and, especially, cherish its equine athletes. Thank you very much for writing precisely how and what we feel.  

21 Dec 2010 11:14 AM

Spoken from the heart with the head leading the way. Loved the sentiment, and loved the history lesson as well. Really do wish I was in your class as a student. I know I would never be bored!

Thank you and Happy Holidays to all!

21 Dec 2010 11:23 AM

Thank you Abigail and Steve for this informative, heartfelt article.  I love learning about the horses whose blood lead to the joy that is Zenyatta.  Ellie

21 Dec 2010 11:30 AM

Amen! Merry Christmas and thanks Abigail and Steve!

21 Dec 2010 11:42 AM

Thank you Mr Haskin.  Thank you Abigail.  Mr Haskin please, if at all possible, forward Ms Anderson's letter to Team Zenyatta.  


21 Dec 2010 12:06 PM
Linda in Texas

Hope everyone who has tried to explain how truly special this horse, Zenyatta is feels like i do. Would i could shout her name from atop The Three Gables of Churchill Downs,i would say hear ye' hear ye' Zenyatta is her name! She is what she has in her bloodlines from 100+ years ago. Try hard as many have to dispel her and dismiss her as simply something "emotional"  with no substance, is to deny her existence and say she never was here. For some, they want her forgotten and to move on. I say, not so soon, not so soon.

Abigail, i feel totally justified and vindicated in my admiration, love, and respect for Zenyatta and all who preceded her, be they in her pedigree or another's.

Prince Rose especially touched me.

I will go back and search his story further. I love the bloodlines and always go back 5 generations to find out about their ancestors.

To say that Zenyatta has touched people who have never been interested in horses is amazing. There is hope for the rest who know about her but give her no credit. She is the epitomy of a 'spokeshorse' for every single one regardless of their type. From a horse like Silver Charm and Reckless to a Seattle Slew. They all come with their own history. If only we would take the time to research them.

I feel like Dr. Drunkinbum and Gunner's Pal, and Sherpa and others, i am stunned and in awe of the prose that you, Abigail, have found and put in words to describe so completely, eloquently and viscerally everything that is in my heart when it comes to all horses. Be they winners or simply participants. They all have a story behind them and bloodlines for proof. I am totally in awe and thank you for your post, and especially to Steve for realizing that this is what it all is about, and the heart of the matter. As Abigail said, horses do indeed "nurture courage in the human spirit." I have at last found my answer, thank you Abigail.

And I cannot help but wonder what will be remembered and written about Zenyatta, and how she will affect people who read about her 100+ years from now. She is truly a gift to us now. I will gloat in her being and am thankful for her.

Merry Christmas All.

21 Dec 2010 12:13 PM
Mary P

OMGoodness....Thanks for covering with such depth, our love of Zenyatta and the great history of the race horses in her pedigree.  I'd love to read stories of these animals on a daily basis.....hint, hint.....I'd love to see more owners and trainers step up, allowing us to become familiar with them.  Actually, quite a few of the horses are on face book and post regularly.

21 Dec 2010 12:16 PM

Abigail? You can share my bomb shelter any day! I read it once and I will save and read it again and again. Thank you as well Steve for sharing her thoughts.

21 Dec 2010 12:17 PM
kathleen o

I had the opportunity to see Sgt Reckless in her retirement at Camp Pendleton when I was a kid.  She was such a tiny mare with such a huge heart.

21 Dec 2010 12:23 PM
steve from st louis

Thank you Abagail (and Steve) for such a beautiful  treatment of the blooded background that is Zenyatta. That's why I'm so intrigued by thoroughbreds and their bloodlines, enough to put up with those, including one who has his own blog on Bloodhorse.com who sees thoroughbred racing only as a betting proposition and to put up with those horseflies who buzz around these blogs, denigrating the accomplishments of the greats, whether it be a Ruffian, Secretariat or even the latest and greatest in the form of Zenyatta.

21 Dec 2010 12:25 PM
Patti K

I too say wow.  I was also introduced to Thoroughbreds by my father, in our case steeplechase races. Thank you Abigail for saying what was in my heart.

21 Dec 2010 12:41 PM

WOW!!!  what a superb article I hated for it to end.

such a wealth of knowledge

21 Dec 2010 12:52 PM
Deborah Biediger

I learned so much from this article.  It was fabulous.  There are not enough personal interest stories about racehorses out there.  Thank you so much for printing this piece!

21 Dec 2010 1:21 PM

Bravo, indeed! I can add no more.

Ms Abigail Anderson, you are a gem! People like you are why I keep having hope for the industry I so love.

Merry Christmas and Happy Racing!

21 Dec 2010 1:39 PM


Thank you, for this incredible lesson in Thoroughbred History. I'll never forget these amazing stories. It's interesting to see how all of these horses, in some way, shape, or form have provided the genetics, responsible for shaping a once-in-a-lifetime racemare, Zenyatta.  

Steve thanks for sharing that great piece of writing with everyone. It'll be a longtime before people stop talking about Zenyatta. Happy Holidays!!!          

21 Dec 2010 1:56 PM

What a fabulous article.  Thank you for sharing it with us.  I will never forget Zenyatta and pray that one day there will be more like her and more owners like the Mosses that will share her/him with us.

Thank you Abigail for putting into words what I feel.

21 Dec 2010 2:01 PM

steve   is there any way this

wonderful paean of love and praise

be published in bloodhorse... this

is truly lovely and loving and

expresses so well the love we all

have for ZENYATTA

21 Dec 2010 2:05 PM
Susan from VA

Fascinating!  I've seen the names of these horses in many pedigrees, but never knew anything about them.  Thanks to Ms. Anderson for writing this and to Mr. Haskins for posting it.

21 Dec 2010 2:09 PM

WOW to Abigail and Merry Christmas! Her essay should be required reading in racing. Plain and simple: horses must come first, always, regardless of value. What made Zenyatta extra special in addition to her fantastic size, grace, dancing, courage and talent... She was safe to love because we knew that her best interest always came first which, sadly is rare in a cold, calculating "it is a business" industry dominated by ego and money instead of securing the welfare, safety and dignity of all its horses while pleasing and comforting horse fans along with them.

Zenyatta was OUR Horse of the Year last year, she is OUR Horse of the Year this year and it is all that matters.

21 Dec 2010 2:18 PM

A VERY wise woman...who sees and shares the much larger picture, dispelling the idea that only logic holds credibility.  Thank you!

21 Dec 2010 2:24 PM

WOW.....I'm speechless. Abigail's story reminds me of why I fell in love with racing at the age of 8 and I have remained a fan and horse owner throughout the years of my life. I love to read all the comments from the fans. They are the reason horseracing has survived and will continue to do so. Thank you Steve for sharing this story of America's Queen, Zenyatta.  

21 Dec 2010 2:32 PM
Andrea Kubovcik

Steve thanks for sharing Abigail's brilliant essay with us all. What a history class she's given us! Isonomy's incredible heart reminded me of Ruffian's last race. She is right about racing fans. If  Zenyatta is not named HOTY in January, we are no longer relevant to the industry as a whole. No wonder racetracks (like our beloved Bay Meadows here in San Mateo)all over the country are being sold and demolished. Thank you Abigail, for an amazing Christmas present. Andrea

21 Dec 2010 3:04 PM

Thanks for sharing such an eloquent and touching piece. I too was raised with my mother's father listening to the races from Santa Anita on the radio and  with the influence of my father's  family with an uncle that painted famous racehorses in England. I also became an equine artist.  

I have been following racing for many years and have had the privelege of getting to know and paint many well known horses. I have also worked at the racetrack and seen the decline in racing attendance.

The fan base has deteriorated significantly.

Not since John Henry have I seen so many fans turn out for an individual horse.

Zenyatta has inspired a resurgance of fans and interest in racing that the industry so badly needed.

Thanks to her brilliance and even more so to her team for allowing her to keep running long enough to build a fan base, giving us the chance to get to know her and allowing so much access. And not sending their star asset to the breeding shed too soon.

I believe so many bright stars career's in racing are cut short by being sent to the breeding shed too soon and not allowed to race long enough to build a fan base. Nor are the eastern "stars" of the triple crown races shipped west to run enough except when the Breeders' Cup is here. So the western fans don't get the opportunity to get to see so many potential stars.

The fans around the country are the base of racing and too often they are overlooked by the short sighted and self serving decisions of many of the owners and trainers that isolate and insulate themselves and their horses from the fans. It may be remnants of the "Sport of Kings" and a class society that they feel is their due but times have  and are changing and that attitude alienates the fans. Wake up ... without the fans you don't have a game !! Without new fans you don't get bettors, without more bettors you don't get better tracks, facilities and purses. What's a horserace if nobody comes to see it?

Zenyatta and her team have given racing a breath of fresh air and an opportunity to revive interest in racing. Many people came to see her that hadn't come to the races before and many "old" fans came out of the woodwork to see her. For her to not win HOY will alienate all those new people as they will never understand the reasons the turf writers may come up with for why she shouldn't. You may be statically correct in choosing Blame but the damage to racings image as an elitist sport that the average fan cannot understand may be irrepairable. Again, without the fans is there won't be racing and without them there won't be a need for turf writers and their opinions. Look around you the next time you are at the track and see how many fans are left and are the ones that are left, can the opinions of so many be wrong? The few fans that are there are not usually newcomers. As a turf writer, didn't you start as a fan? We may not have another Zenyatta in our lifetime to bring those fans back or time to build a new base of fans. Can racing afford to lose this opportunity?

i would think that the credibility of the Eclipse Awards will be in serious question after Zenyatta did not win HOY last year after winning the BC Classic and should Blame win this year because he did. So keep the big picture in mind when you vote.

21 Dec 2010 3:08 PM

This article was simply awesome.  Thank You!!

21 Dec 2010 3:10 PM
Cowboy Bill

retired Quebec English teacher

Ms. Abigail Anderson is simple old school-that's a compliment by the way.

21 Dec 2010 3:12 PM
Kathy in Connecticut

Awesome writing and such interesting information! Thank you, Steve, for all you have written about Zenyatta, and especially for publishing this well-researched and well-crafted commentary by Abigail Anderson. Zenyatta is a gift to horse racing and to all who love horses. Re the HOY debate, shame on critics who only define success by a vague, ill-defined standard. The sport is suffering, and all who love it should appreciate how many more potential fans Zenyatta has brought into its sphere.  Taking nothing away from Blame and his accomplishments, but it's Zenyatta who will long be remembered for highlighting a sport that so needs rescuing!

21 Dec 2010 3:17 PM

Now when I look at our beloved Zenyatta, I will also see all her great predecessors. Thanks for sharing this wonderful essay with us, Steve.

21 Dec 2010 3:24 PM
Suzan G

Thank you so much for sharing this precious letter that you received.  My family moved to Saratoga Springs when I was 18.  Secretariat was charming us and firing our blood at the time.  Now, years later, having raise my now grown children in another place, I have returned to Saratoga Springs and renewed my love of the sport.  I don't do this because I want to bet, I do it because something draws me to these magnificent horses.

Zenyatta has astonished me.  Yes her wins are a feat to be admired and proud of, but it's her personality that has captured me the most.  Her curiosity, her awareness, her brilliant eyes taking in everything around her are a thrill to me.  

To learn so much about her ancestors in this letter from Abigail Anderson is a great treat.  The stories they inspire are what make a horse great.  In the end that is what we remember.

I spent this year learning and re-learning as much as I could.  I kept a list of horses to check up on everyday.  They are all beautiful and grand.  But none of them had that certain something in the eye that Zenyatta has.  With her it became personal.

Her website is a great treat as so many of the horses I was following were retired at what seems to me to be young ages.  I find it sad and I never hear about them anymore, except for the occasional mention of their stud fee, or in an article about Zenyatta.

I've resigned myself to starting over and developing an entirely new list of horses to follow.  I'll miss them all, including Blame and Rachel Alexandra but don't know that I will ever hear their names much anymore.

Zenyatta will never leave me.  Even her last race, the Breeders Cup, seemed to me to be an exceptional run on her part.  What heart and determination it takes to overcome the bad start she had, the sudden dirt in her face, falling back so far, Quality Road momentarily impeding her progress, and still she recovered and thundered on, losing by only a nose to a horse who was on his home track.  She was and is brilliant and beautiful and an inspiration.  And oh, how she fires my blood.

Zenyatta is my horse of the year.

21 Dec 2010 3:26 PM

Such a lovely article!  We would have been such good friends, had we grown up together!!  :>)

I remember, "riding" my horse home from my friends house in the evening.  Cantering down the hills through the snow, easing the strong stride, the reins gently held in my hands, talking quietly, easy big guy, easy.......and how the neighbors must have laughed as I ran down the hills on my own two legs.....They just did not realize I was astride Man O War or Assault or Regret.....it was not until I was in my 30's that I owned my own OTTB, and actually felt the gentle kind power and could close my eyes, and feel the same overwhelming joy I had, as a child..only this time for real.  Thank you for bringing back those wonderful times!

21 Dec 2010 3:43 PM

Thanks Steve for sharing this article. I felt I was listening to a kindred spirit. My interest in the thoroughbred comes from the stories and their history, as well as their prowess on the track. They are gifts that should be revered. Like Secretariat before her (Zenyatta), it took decades to breed this concoction of perfection. Zenyatta had it All; speed, turn of foot, endurance, personality and above all, heart.

21 Dec 2010 3:55 PM
Steve Haskin

See what a nice Christmas present Santa (me) left under everyone's tree. I'm so happy to see the amazing response, but am certainly not surprised. Thats why I posted it. Happy holidays to everyone.

21 Dec 2010 6:28 PM

thank you so much for this beautifully detailed article, for we cant understand ourselves or horses without understanding heritage.

21 Dec 2010 7:07 PM
Buddy Hogan

Thank you Abigail Anderson

21 Dec 2010 7:16 PM
Paula Higgins

I don't know where to post this, so I will do it here. I want to thank everyone involved for posting the video of Zenyatta in the paddock. Made my day. She looks great and very happy. Good to see all of her ""family" there as well.

21 Dec 2010 7:31 PM
Greg J.

Bravo Abigail! Perfection...

21 Dec 2010 7:48 PM
Mary Zinke

Dear Mr.Haskin, I would love to re-read Ms.Anderson's words as the forward to your Zenyatta book. May I also add my "Wow!" to the others already posted.

21 Dec 2010 8:16 PM

Our sport is in trouble.   Santa Anita is raising the takeouts, Maryland may not be racing this year, and infantile people want to give Zenyatta Horse of the Year based on winning ZERO open company races.

21 Dec 2010 8:19 PM
Rhonda from Saskatchewan

Thank you Abigail for a succinct overview of what it means to be Zenyatta from a historical, intellectual and emotional perspective. Thank you Steve for sharing her essay with us.

Zenyatta is so much more than a horse and she is so much more than a mere Eclipse award can make her.

Her story and accomplishments will make her immortal.

21 Dec 2010 8:50 PM
Cheryl Denton

Thank you so much, Steve. I too agree that the Thoroughbred industry has always seemed a "good old boy" network. I always felt like an outsider looking in, even though I have been a racing fan since I was a child back in the early 70's.  But my experience with Team Zenyatta at the Breeders' Cup changed all that. They welcomed us to their barn, and being allowed to touch and feed Zenyatta was a moment I will never forget.  

21 Dec 2010 8:57 PM

Well said fellow Canadian!

21 Dec 2010 9:52 PM

Santa Haskin, you did good :-)

I will treasure and share this grand epistle just as I do your own work.  I think of how amazed and delighted you must have been on first, then second reading.  It is appropriate that such a gift was given to one who gives so much to his readers.  Bless you for sharing it with us.

Ms. Anderson, the perfect lucidity of your letter is rare and precious in this age of high-speed communication.  Words are inadequate to express my admiration.

In particular, I want to thank you for the stories of Zenyatta's gallant ancestors.  I have studied her pedigree as far back as the charts will take me.  I am familiar with all the great names and have read many dry recitations of their careers. Here, however, you made them breathe once again as distinct individuals.  It is good to know of the special qualities each contributed to the making of Zenyatta.

Thank you both, from the heart.

21 Dec 2010 10:15 PM
okie girl

That was a beautiful read.  Thank you Steve for sharing it. Merry Christmas to you and those you love.

21 Dec 2010 10:17 PM
Robin from Maryland

Such a wonderful article and so well written.  I've always been a student of thoroughbred breeding and bloodlines and history.  I am so proud to have witnessed history with Queen Z.  It will be an honor to tell future generations of her.  Just finished watching the video of her at Lanes End having fun exploring her paddock.  Running free.  It was touching to see the interaction with her and Mario - actually brought tears to my eyes.  Thank you Blood Horse for all the wonderful articles this year and, all the great blogs.  I hope everyone has a wonderful Holiday season.

21 Dec 2010 10:21 PM
Shelby's Best Pal

Totally terrific!  Thank you for sharing.

21 Dec 2010 11:28 PM

Simply WOW!

22 Dec 2010 12:20 AM
Sharon in MA

Thank you for sharing. Thank you to Zenyatta's Team.  As I have read in blogs of others ,many friends and relatives and others have been introduced to the Sport of Kings these last few years once I told them Of Zenyatta and they watched her race.  I have been a horse owner (AQHA,appaloosa,paint,pinto)and a racing fan-I was there to see Seattle Slew win the Belmont for the Triple Crown and also a few others run such as Genuine Risk and one that I haven't seen mentioned is the great Forego. Especially since both he and Zenyatta share bloodlines through Forli. I mention it because of the heart shown by both horses. Also they both have carried over 130 lbs, stand 17 or greater hands and have great speed closing.

Zenyatta is truly a  gift and its a great reminder of all the generations that brought forth this horse. The video was awesome!

Merry Christmas to all!

Sharon and family from Massachusetts!

22 Dec 2010 12:29 AM
Sharon in Ma

OOPs... I made a mistake in the fact that Zenyatta didn't carry 130 lbs.. she carried 129 more than once... my apologies....

I am sorry....


22 Dec 2010 1:04 AM

awesome awesome awesome i am going to print this out and save it.

22 Dec 2010 2:04 AM

Ms. Anderson, you have out-Haskin'd Haskin! What a journey your essay has offered. It should be nominated for any award open to its entry! A Pulitzer even. Brava!

22 Dec 2010 3:46 AM

Ms. Anderson's essay should not only be required reading for everyone within the sport, it puts to shame 99% of the writings by those of us who cover the sport.

As a turf writer for the last 40 years--and an Eclipse voter like yourself--I find it curious that there is even any debate as to who the Horse of the Year should be.  In my mind--and on my ballot--it is an award that should consider the overall contributions she made during the year to the sport; not just the cold lines of type in the past performances.

I found it interesting that in online polls (which no longer seem to be open) as to who the fans think the Horse of the Year should be, Zenyatta was the clear choice.  When I last looked, she was a 72% choice at bris.net and an 86% pick at drf.com.  Now if the Eclipse voters prove to be so out of step with the public perception that they fail to make Zenyatta the Horse of the Year, then perhaps we need to reconsider who gets to vote.

Steve, you and I were both at John Shirreff's barn the morning after Zenyatta's B.C. loss, and I think you'll agree we were both in awe and admiration of what she had given us.  We weren't mourning a narrow loss, we were celebrating what she meant to us personally and to the sport as a whole.

Ms. Anderson touched on something about Zenyatta that reminded me very much of the closing lines in John Taintor Foote's book "The Look of Eagles," which was the inspiration for the old classic movie "Kentucky."

Taintor wrote:

"And now there came, mincing back to us on slender, nervous legs, something wet and black and wonderful.  It pawed and danced wildly in a growing ring of curious eyes.  Then, just above the grandstand, the inky cup of the sky was broken and there appeared the light of an unseen sun.  It turned the piled white clouds in the break to marvels of rose and gold.  They seemed like the ramparts of heaven, set there to guard from earthly eyes the abode of the immortals.

“'Whoa, man!  Whoa, hon' said Blister, and covered the heaving sides.

"As he heard Blister’s voice and felt the touch of the blanket the colt grew quiet. His eyes became less fiery wild.  He raised his head, with its dilated blood-red nostrils, and stared—not at the mortals standing reverently about him, but far beyond our gaze—through the lurid gap in the sky, straight into Valhalla.

"I felt a hand on my arm.

“'The look of eagles, suh!' said Old Man Sanford."

For those of you privileged enough to have seen Zenyatta in the flesh, remember those words when she looks past you at something we cannot see.

It is something rare and something to be treasured.  It is, as "Old Man Sanford" said, the look of eagles.

22 Dec 2010 4:20 AM

One extremely moving thing for me watching Zen's video...she certainly loves her old groom...I read that she made a beeline for him. Her whole demeanor changes with him. (this does NOT mean she does not/will not have a great relationship with her new "family", Just means horses have deep attachments, too.)

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

22 Dec 2010 6:22 AM
K. Kladstrup

For me, one of the things that make the Sport of Kings interesting is that it has an element of the transcendent. Although horse racing can certainly be reduced to statistics, a winning bet, or a mere “vote” among a small group of mortals—among many other limiting, disappointing and even saddening aspects—what makes this sport special is that it also has the power to transcend the secular and touch us on far more profound levels. If we just glance at the group of male horses that Zenyatta has defeated in her two Breeder’s Cup Classic performances, we can imagine that history might correct the sometimes-held opinion that she only confronted inferior competition—as was the case for one of her ancestors, as Ms. Anderson so aptly pointed out. And, HOW she performed during the one-for-the-ages race that she in fact, LOST, will also, I believe, ultimately actually prove her greatness. But, in any case, the impact and importance of Zenyatta goes far beyond statistics or Eclipse awards or narrow defeats and enters a realm that is much greater. It has to do with something indefinable, astounding, meaningful, esoteric, and inspiring—something that enlarges us and adds to the quality of our lives. At its best, down through the ages, the Sport of Kings has offered this, as Ms. Anderson’s letter/essay so brilliantly reminds us. Lately I have felt grateful to have lived in Zenyatta’s time—to witness all that she has inspired, including the reflections from my fellow human beings such as Steven Haskin, Abigail Anderson, Zenyatta’s connections, and all who took the time to comment.  Thank you.

22 Dec 2010 7:39 AM

Kudos to Ms. Anderson for writing this piece and allowing Mr. Haskin to share it.

This line says it all to me: "...each and every Thoroughbred is indeed a gift." The people who work with these magnificent creatures need to remember this and act accordingly.

22 Dec 2010 8:12 AM

Thank you for sharing Abigail Anderson's wonderful and informative essay with us. It is the best Christmas present I will receive this year. It only supports the knowledge that every breeder knows...Genes are everything! I am going to share this with every horse racing friend I have. Reading about Abigail's life long love of horses totally mirror's my own. As a child, I couldn't wait for the next "Black Stallion" book to come out. I went to Chincoteague to see where Misty came from. I watched every production filmed about Seabiscuit. Now the computer has it all. It is such a wonderful tool to keep us connected with the Horse and the spiritual connection we have always had with him throughout the history of man! Now I am watching Zenyatta flying around the paddock in Kentucky and I am on her back flying with her.

22 Dec 2010 8:21 AM
Mike Relva


Zenyatta deserves HOY,period!

22 Dec 2010 9:51 AM


HOY is broken.  It does not work.  HOY needs to be on a POINT SYSTEM,  WON, not voted on.

22 Dec 2010 10:21 AM

Absolutely AMAZING! This wonderful story took me, too, right back to my childhood and what brought me into the thoroughbred fold. I've been blessed to meet some of the best (equine and human) who ever were (and some who should have been). Now, again, we have been blessed with an equine who clearly brings out emotion in those who didn't even know they loved horses. Zenyatta has - at least for a while - reminded us of what is right in the world of thoroughbred horses and their racing.

22 Dec 2010 10:23 AM

There are tears in my eyes right now.  What a beautiful letter!  I felt the same way growing up.  I felt life was not complete without horses.  I still feel the same today.

22 Dec 2010 10:56 AM

Mrs. Anderson, thank you for your remarkable post.  It is clear from your insights into the problems confronting our educational system that your are a dedicated, passionate educator.  I sincerely hope that your former students appreciate how truly fortunate they were to have you as a teacher.  Thank you also for taking the time to share your incredible knowledge of thoroughbred bloodlines, and of the horses themselves, with all of us.  Your vivid prose and the pictures it paints are worthy of Bill Nack, or Laura Hillenbrand. (Note to the editors/publishers of The Bloodhorse: please consider making Mrs. Anderson a regular contributor!)  Finally, to all of Zenyatta's supporters, can we all agree, right now, to stop referring to Zenyatta's BC "loss?"  She did not finish last, she in fact beat 12 other colts entered in the race!  A game, hard-fought battle ending in a second place finish by little more than a nose is hardly a loss!  Let's start reminding the Eclipse voters of that by choosing our words more carefully!

22 Dec 2010 11:41 AM

BEE-U-TEE-FUL!  What an article.  You've said it all.  I hope some of the trainers, owners, jockeys, turf writers, etc. get to read this.  They should.  They might learn something.

Thanks so much.

22 Dec 2010 12:16 PM


Thanks for the article. Very well written. The lady knows of what she speaks.

Thank Blood Horse for this morning's Zenyatta video. If you watch carefully she is still doing her pre race dance in some of the video.

Lastly, thank God in His infinite wisdom for giving us Zenyatta.

22 Dec 2010 12:24 PM

...touched right down to the soul. I was moved to tears. Thank you.

22 Dec 2010 12:41 PM
Afleet Treet


COngrats on being voted Best Blogger by TB Times readers! I know all of us here who hang on every word you brilliantly say AGREE! YOU ARE THE VERY BEST!

www.HorseRacingMania.com salutes you!!!

You ARE the most deserving without a doubt!

Hoof Hoof Hooray!

22 Dec 2010 3:30 PM

THANK YOU! Beautifully written Ms. Anderson.  Your knowledge of the key bloodlines and their historical significance is to be admired. My pace of reading always slows when I have the opportunity to probe the depths of 150 years of bloodstock. Your examination of the mare half of the Zenyatta pedigree was compelling and enjoyable. Of Rose Prince, I knew much. Of Tracery, I knew little. Thank you.

When the truly great ones comes along every 40 - 50 years, a close look at the bloodline reveals that we should not be so surprised. Yet, while other thoroughbreds along the years possess strong pedigrees, one important factor must also be acknowledged; somewhere in the midst of this bright moment is a trainer or owner the provides that sprinkling of magic dust. Zenyatta had it. Secretariat had it. It is that human intervention, the strength of the bloodline, and the Grace of God that comes together to produce "The GIFT" and we are all better for experiencing it.

Thanks again for your amazing reply. Merry Christmas!

22 Dec 2010 3:59 PM

Why would I trust a liar?  It's clear you're just pandering to the Zenyatta crowd to get more views.  

22 Dec 2010 4:28 PM

"Today few people have an opportunity to fall in love with a Thoroughbred: most horses are swallowed into the vortex of the breeding industry before they reach the age of four."  That's the problem with the sport right there.  Some disincentive needs to be put in place by The Jockey Club to keep the horses racing instead of studding babies because it's more lucrative.  We don't know if the horses are true champions.  Blame?  A champion?  Come on.  The animal hasn't raced enough to know.  So he won a few and had one good year.  Is he tough?  Don't know.  He's never been pushed.  To gather new fans we need heroes.  To strengthen the steadily degenerating Thoroughbred we need to really test the horses and weed out the lame and weak no matter what large purse stakes race they may have won (ie Big Brown and his garbage feet).  

22 Dec 2010 4:38 PM


Your comment is a thing of beauty!

22 Dec 2010 4:39 PM


Congratulations on your blog being voted #1. It was no surprise to us, your devoted fans, but it's always nice to have great talent and greater heart recognized.

We love you, we appreciate you and we are grateful for the gift of YOU!!!

22 Dec 2010 4:59 PM


22 Dec 2010 5:51 PM
Mike Relva


You don't know what you're talking about! What's your problem?

22 Dec 2010 6:34 PM
Mike Relva


Congrats,you deserve it without a doubt. You are truly a gifted writer.

22 Dec 2010 6:35 PM

A.P. Indy had "garbage" feet, too. I'm glad they didn't weed him out.

Re HOY: I am firmly in Zenyatta's camp, but I could accept Blame except for his horrible performance in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. He was absolutely crushed in that race by Haynesfield. Their excuse was that Haynesfield was allowed to get an easy lead and slow the pace down. With Zenyatta, it didn't matter whether the pace was 1:09 or 1:15, she still ran her race and won. She made up about 5 lengths on Blame in the stretch and just ran out of room. Even Gomez was asking people after the race if he had won. She was obviously the best horse in the race and would have won easily with any kind of trip. Blame's campaign was overrated this year. Zenyatta sailed right by the same horses Blame was beating all year (while he was carrying 118 and 120 pounds). One of the knocks on her was that she wasn't beating Grade 1 caliber mares. The problem in California was that Zenyatta won all the Grade 1's and didn't leave any for anyone else (although Switch proved her quality in the BC Sprint). I would be shocked if they gave her HOY, however. Some of the Andy Beyer types will always find some reason not to vote for her.

22 Dec 2010 7:18 PM


22 Dec 2010 7:55 PM

Congratulations Steve on your Best Blogger Award, but of course we all knew you would win.  Your writing always reflects the spirit of the horse and the sport.

Thank you for also writing the most treasured books about our equine heros to read over and over again.

Thanks to Bloodhorse for Zenyatta's paddock video.  Another treasure.

Happy Holidays to all you caring horse bloggers, each and every one.

22 Dec 2010 8:15 PM

wonderfully written, and much appreciated.


22 Dec 2010 8:46 PM

Monica in CA - I am so sorry about the loss of your doggie.  If reading about Zenyatta and seeing the beautiful images of her in photos and the video can ease your pain, I hope you will soon feel better.  

22 Dec 2010 9:11 PM

So well written! As I have written on other sites and as I told my friends and family who tease me about my adulation of Zenyatta--Zenyatta has taken me back to my 13th year when I fell in love with Secretariat and my 8th year when I read Farley's book and Man O'War was my love. I have fallen in complete and udder love with a horse again!

22 Dec 2010 10:25 PM
E A Blythe

To all Eclipse Award Voters, re: Horse of the Year. Zenyatta's fractions in the Breeders' Cup Classic were: 26 3/5, 23 2/5, 24, 24 1/5, 24.

Blame's fractions in the race were: 24 3/5, 24 2/5, 24, 24 1/5, 25.

This great mare came home the last quarter a full second faster than he did. That is 5 lengths faster!

Any questions NOW on who the Horse of the Year is???

It begins with Z and ends in A.

22 Dec 2010 10:37 PM
Matthew W

Agree with Mary MMM's post---sure, you can love this horse emotionally, but you can also logically percieve her as Horse of the Year--when they passed the grandstand in the Classic, it looked like Life At Ten, all over again--Zenyatta had lost contact--her last mile was one of the greatest finishes ever--you can love this horse AND see the greatness....

23 Dec 2010 12:17 AM

Thank you so much for running this response And to the writer:The words were beautiful and touched my soul thru your love and passion for the magnificent animal called horse Thank you again both of you

23 Dec 2010 12:31 AM
Tory Braden

Thank you Mr. Haskin for publishing  Ms Anderson’s Response.  Here is mine...

Dear Ms. Anderson,

I too am of the same age, reared on the same books and mystified some are not in print.  In your Response you essentially wrote horse stories, the kind we grew up on.  My favorite horse book is C.W. Anderson's "A Touch of Greatness" about all the great horses who weren't great names - Dark Secret and Black Gold who won races on broken legs have never left my memory.   Be it though oral or written history, the bloodlines, personalities and anecdotes are not forgotten.

It is the story of the horse that indelibly links the fan to the horse, and in consequence the attraction to  racing.

What surprises me is that everyone here seems to forget Seabiscuit. Hillenbrand should have had the Pulitzer for that slice of life in the 30s - horse racing, America's favorite sport:  When people were still close to the farm and animals.  When businesses closed on Wed. afternoons and people went to the races.  When horses were the sports heroes.  When train stations held platforms full of people waiting to see Seabiscuit in his train car (or just the train car) as he went East.  When his connections opened the door so people could see him.  When the everyone was in love with this horse.  When the nation literally came to a standstill to listen to the broadcast of The Showdown, War Admiral and Seabiscuit. (East vs West, and all the po-pooing of Seabiscuit by "the good old boys," sound familiar?) Only two times in my life have I known the nation to stop - Kennedy and 9/11, both epic tragedies.  

I too sat with my daddy, a San Francisco dentist, who had seen Seabiscuit race and I heard his stories of Dan Patch,  Man O War, and all the famous one’s your father talked about.  Near Bay Meadows was The Southern - second best fried chicken in the Bay Area next to my mom's.  Our waiter was an old Pullman Porter, white jacket and gloves, named Seabiscuit.  Willie Shoemaker, the legend, ate there.  Horse and rider were not separated in my mind either.  Any of the Triple Crown races were events equal to Thanksgiving, Christmas or Easter.  (I wasn't as enthusiastic about boxing, but just to be with my daddy was the best of days or nights.)  In 1964 he became a Kentucky Colonel and saw Northern Dancer win.  

I knew my life would never be complete if I did not see a Derby.  In 1977 I found I couldn’t get a check cashed at the gate (I can hear the laughing), but someone stepped up and gave me an employee pass - laugh away, I had the run of the place.  But where did I go?  The paddock of course.  I saw Slew walk in, saddle up, and walk out - and during all that time I saw that he knew he was going to win.  The other horses were just there, he was a presence.  Until that time I didn’t know that horses knew they were going to win, but it was in Slew’s eyes and walk even before he went through the tunnel.  Out of books and into reality - an indelible memory and impression seared in my heart - the greatness.  I then went on to see Secretariat and was offered a job at Patchen Wilkes.  In my stubbornness about cold weather I didn’t take it, a life missed.

Well I knew it too when I first saw Zenyatta dance and race - the greatness.  I suffered through  Surfer-Matt at TVG to see Zenyatta.  I took notice in Nov. of ‘07 and it was cemented when she broke the synthetic track record in January.  This was no ordinary horse and Trevor Denman knew it too.  From then on it was solidified love.  Even a kid like Cody Baffert recognizes her greatness and was mystified that his father would race Looking at Lucky against Zenyatta.  And I have never seen her  “in person.”  

Gambling is the farthest thing from my mind in relation to a horse, but when I see the greatness, it occurs to me - I can bet on that.  Probably not what the industry wants to hear from fans since most aren’t big bettors.  But then they marginalize the fans for tilting at wind mills?  Ha!  That is the pot calling the kettle black.  The whole industry is based on tilting at the windmills of gambling.

When I went to see the movie “Secretariat” I was touched to see a mother with her children of six and eight years.  What touched me was that in her hands she carried her childhood stuffed Secretariat horse into the movie.  I saw there her heart carried into her bloodline, is there nothing stronger?  Ms. Abigail, you and I have had the luck through our parents to have a past with horse racing through all the “gifts of god” of whom we have heard, read, or seen.  The past is there, but it would serve well the industry media to write of it, and  especially of the horses running today.  I personally pray for a good transition into another wave of popularity - a transition for which Zenyatta has paved a golden road.

23 Dec 2010 1:13 AM
Tory Braden

Thank you Mr. Haskin for publishing  Ms Anderson’s Response.  Here is mine...

Dear Ms. Anderson,

I too am of the same age, reared on the same books and mystified some are not in print.  In your Response you essentially wrote horse stories, the kind we grew up on.  My favorite horse book is C.W. Anderson's "A Touch of Greatness" about all the great horses who weren't great names - Dark Secret and Black Gold who won races on broken legs have never left my memory.   Be it though oral or written history, the bloodlines, personalities and anecdotes are not forgotten.

It is the story of the horse that indelibly links the fan to the horse, and in consequence the attraction to  racing.

What surprises me is that everyone here seems to forget Seabiscuit. Hillenbrand should have had the Pulitzer for that slice of life in the 30s - horse racing, America's favorite sport:  When people were still close to the farm and animals.  When businesses closed on Wed. afternoons and people went to the races.  When horses were the sports heroes.  When train stations held platforms full of people waiting to see Seabiscuit in his train car (or just the train car) as he went East.  When his connections opened the door so people could see him.  When the everyone was in love with this horse.  When the nation literally came to a standstill to listen to the broadcast of The Showdown, War Admiral and Seabiscuit. (East vs West, and all the po-pooing of Seabiscuit by "the good old boys," sound familiar?) Only two times in my life have I known the nation to stop - Kennedy and 9/11, both epic tragedies.  

I too sat with my daddy, a San Francisco dentist, who had seen Seabiscuit race and I heard his stories of Dan Patch,  Man O War, and all the famous one’s your father talked about.  Near Bay Meadows was The Southern - second best fried chicken in the Bay Area next to my mom's.  Our waiter was an old Pullman Porter, white jacket and gloves, named Seabiscuit.  Willie Shoemaker, the legend, ate there.  Horse and rider were not separated in my mind either.  Any of the Triple Crown races were events equal to Thanksgiving, Christmas or Easter.  (I wasn't as enthusiastic about boxing, but just to be with my daddy was the best of days or nights.)  In 1964 he became a Kentucky Colonel and saw Northern Dancer win.  

I knew my life would never be complete if I did not see a Derby.  In 1977 I found I couldn’t get a check cashed at the gate (I can hear the laughing), but someone stepped up and gave me an employee pass - laugh away, I had the run of the place.  But where did I go?  The paddock of course.  I saw Slew walk in, saddle up, and walk out - and during all that time I saw that he knew he was going to win.  The other horses were just there, he was a presence.  Until that time I didn’t know that horses knew they were going to win, but it was in Slew’s eyes and walk even before he went through the tunnel.  Out of books and into reality - an indelible memory and impression seared in my heart - the greatness.  I then went on to see Secretariat and was offered a job at Patchen Wilkes.  In my stubbornness about cold weather I didn’t take it, a life missed.

Well I knew it too when I first saw Zenyatta dance and race - the greatness.  I suffered through  Surfer-Matt at TVG to see Zenyatta.  I took notice in Nov. of ‘07 and it was cemented when she broke the synthetic track record in January.  This was no ordinary horse and Trevor Denman knew it too.  From then on it was solidified love.  Even a kid like Cody Baffert recognizes her greatness and was mystified that his father would race Looking at Lucky against Zenyatta.  And I have never seen her  “in person.”  

Gambling is the farthest thing from my mind in relation to a horse, but when I see the greatness, it occurs to me - I can bet on that.  Probably not what the industry wants to hear from fans since most aren’t big bettors.  But then they marginalize the fans for tilting at wind mills?  Ha!  That is the pot calling the kettle black.  The whole industry is based on tilting at the windmills of gambling.

When I went to see the movie “Secretariat” I was touched to see a mother with her children of six and eight years.  What touched me was that in her hands she carried her childhood stuffed Secretariat horse into the movie.  I saw there her heart carried into her bloodline, is there nothing stronger?  Ms. Abigail, you and I have had the luck through our parents to have a past with horse racing through all the “gifts of god” of whom we have heard, read, or seen.  The past is there, but it would serve well the industry media to write of it, and  especially of the horses running today.  I personally pray for a good transition into another wave of popularity - a transition for which Zenyatta has paved a golden road.

23 Dec 2010 1:22 AM

I know I'm just repeating everyone else, but this is just a terrific article.   I think we need a book of essays on the Thoroughbred and the sport -- Steve's columns and this essay would be a great start.  Really enjoyable reading.

23 Dec 2010 4:09 AM
Fonseca Lorenzo

It took so long to scroll down to the Comments box that I forgot what I was going to say, other than what a wonderfully, heartfelt piece of journalism.


23 Dec 2010 5:33 AM
Barbara Sanders

Steve, the length of your blog still blows me away. It's here in all the comments that I find myself in the company of those who may or may not even understand the spell this spectacular horse has cast over them.  We're willing to admit, however,to having fallen "in love" with a "horse" and don't give a hoot why. We're guilty on all counts of letting it just wash over us and feel the pure joy of being  being ridiculously, giddily in love with Zenyatta. I was privileged to see her 19th victory and her loss at the BC wasn't even a blip on my love radar. I was ecstatic that she had come through her 20 race career unscathed and still dancing. The pictures of her running free in her paddock the first time made my heart leap inside me with joy.  I cried, like many others evidently, at the video of her cavorting,  tail in the air and whinnying in the cold Kentucky air.  It made my Christmas wish list complete. She IS the gift of unbridled beauty. And Abigail you are so right. No award or lack of one, no loss at the BC by a nose has made one little dent in this feeling for her. I was privileged to spend many days with her and her unbelievably patient team @ Hollywood Park and your recognition of her TEAM's contribution to the sport is spot on. I was continually astounded by their graciousness and forbearance with all of us besotted fans. They were a preciously important ingredient in her rise to the halls of greatness. My hats off to them. Thank you for your delightful comments and thank you Steve for having the wisdom to print it.

23 Dec 2010 6:44 AM
Craig Salzman

I Have Read So Many Terrific Pieces On Lady Z But This Is The One That I Will Personally Consider My Favorite!! Thank You And Happy Holliday's To You And Yours Ms Anderson

23 Dec 2010 7:35 AM


23 Dec 2010 8:09 AM

A breathtaking tour de force, Ms. Anderson...

& the only remark that comes to mind (a mind frequently chastised for using too many words to express itself) is (& I am not religious)...

Hallelujh (הללו יה)!

Here's to the English dictionary (& those who rise up to use it), Ulbrich's Peerage of Racehorses, The Black Stallion (& Coppola's magnificent film of the same name), Bold Ruler (R.I.P.),&...

the unforgettable, incomparable, & incandescent sentient being...Zenyatta :)

Thank you, Mr. Haskin, for your superb & moving work...& for publishing Ms. Anderson's extraordinary meditation.

These are good tidings...of great joy!

23 Dec 2010 8:31 AM

Steve congratulations on your rise to the throne as best blogger. We've always known as much.

The recent video and photos of Zenyatta have really made my spirits soar and my heart swell with great happiness for her and her connections. I will always remember her squeal of joy as she runs and bucks and kicks up her heels around the paddock. It's one of the most magical moments of the year for me.  

23 Dec 2010 10:57 AM
Soldier Course

The Blood-Horse video of Zenyatta at Lane's End is my best Christmas present. Hope her connections will continue to visit on a regular basis - this will go a  long way in reassuring her fans. Zenyatta's still dancing - at @ 4:30 on the video.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

23 Dec 2010 11:34 AM
Mike Relva


Hope you have a Merry Xmas!

23 Dec 2010 12:36 PM

Now I know who Abigail Anderson really is ... other than just 'Terlingua's biggest fan'.

Nicely done.

23 Dec 2010 1:48 PM

Paula Higgins--"no longer have any interest in trying to convince them. I just put them in my "doesn't like dogs" category. The category I reserve for the unredeemable."

I say BRAVO BRAVO!!!!!!!! :)

23 Dec 2010 2:00 PM


Kudos to you for your outstanding journalism and love of the Thorougbred. Your blog is simply the best and also Kudos to Ms. Abigail for such a beautifully written article about our beloved Zenyatta. Simply an amazing story that needs to be told over and over and over again. Her words were so beautifully crafted and brought tears to my eyes.

Thank you Ms. Abigail for your Xmas present.

23 Dec 2010 2:13 PM
Ellen Zachary

I just finished reading Ms. Anderson's essay...oh my goodness, thank you for sharing this incredibly insightful and wonderfully written piece...a masterpiece...

23 Dec 2010 2:33 PM

I sent a long-ish post several days ago but it must have vanished into cyberspace. >SIGH< Timeless prose forever lost >>>SIGGGHHH<<<

Just a quick note to thank Steve for all the wonderful words and insights, and the connections... Abigail for this lovely essay... Zenyatta for being her remarkable self... her entire team who have shown us true sportsmanship, horsemanship, loyalty, and love for the HORSE, FIRST, and for the fans next... and the folks on this blog who have provided all sorts of interesting brain fodder as well as a new kind of comaraderie, very much appreciated.

A moment to remember those whom we have lost, whether human, equine, or canine...

And now to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year...

...and especially you, Steve... you totally deserve the Blogger award, and an Eclipse Award for your body of work at the very least. Hope you never TOTALLY retire...

Patricia in far northern California -- wet but not flooded

23 Dec 2010 3:01 PM

WOW. Thank you Steve, for posting this wonderful essay. So well written, well thought out, well researched. What a Christmas gift for all of us!

23 Dec 2010 3:21 PM

Wonderful.  Abigal has really said it all.  Thank you, and to you Steve, for sharing

23 Dec 2010 3:47 PM
K. Kladstrup

To Md-D--(and many many others who have commented here)--WELL SAID!! HERE, HERE!! And, Bravo!

23 Dec 2010 4:11 PM
K. Kladstrup

Thank you, TucsonJon for your comment:

"Lastly, thank God in His infinite wisdom for giving us Zenyatta."


23 Dec 2010 4:21 PM
Linda in Texas

How nice to win your award Steve. No one else could even come close.

Glad the powers that be have as good a taste in recognizing greatness as we do!!!

Yes, count all of us, or most all but 1 or 2, in your corner.

Mike Relva has your back Santa if someone tries to slip something untoward in!

And 'Santa Haskin' strutting his stuff with an extra twinkle in his eye is just fine with us. We will march right behind your drummer!!

And longtimeracingfan,thank you for the mention of those who have left us be they human, equine or canine and may i add feline, Zookeeper lost her special one when Zenyatta ran her race in California.

For our tiny human family it was whittled down to 3 immediate from 6 in the last year and a half.

So empty spaces will be noticeable for sure. Son has to stay in DC to sing for services at The National Cathedral. So i will be spending time with my brother's widow in San Antonio, our home town. There will be 2 at a table that used to seat 24. The table was hand made and carved in Iowa in the late 1800's and does not have 1 nail in it. Neither do the other 2 pieces that go with it. So there have been many folks spend many hours at that same table at a time that no ones arms were long enough to do the 'boarding room please pass the biscuits or taters.'  

If you include canines,their number was whittled down by cancer to 3 from 6 on my sister in law's side of the family and 2 in mine. I still have 9 i have rescued from the highways and byways. But the ones not here were special and no one here needs help in the explanation of what that word means for sure.

Treasure your time and caress every moment of every day with what makes you happy.

And Fonseca i know what you mean, i just wish there was a short cut to get to the bottom of Steve's comments when i first open my computer. After i have scrolled 6 million words and 555 comments, and refilled my coffee cup twice, I will simply minimize the last comment, then to read new postings, i have learned to hit the go back one page arrow and pause then hit the go forward page 1 click and it will take you to the last comment because it loads what has been added when you hit the go back arrow. Did i 'splain that okay???

The video of Zenyatta is my second Christmas present. The first was that she retired sound. I counted 8 kicks in the air on her maiden paddock run. Was that beautiful or what?? She is a racehorse. No doubt about it. And she loves it.

And the third is, once again that

everyone has a wonderful Christmas and thanks to those who wished me one also. And a special thank you to Dr. Drunkinbum, that was very humbling what you wrote,my daddy would be proud and Deacon, same goes with your kind comments and your superb knowledge and not to forget Aluminaut and Mike Relva, et al.

And thanks again Abigail, you remind me of my freshman English Teacher, Gertrude Dodge, from 1954 at boarding school. She loved prose and imagination mixed with history, i did well in her class. You would have excelled.

And thanks Steve. Because of you we all have something to look forward to in 2011. It truly has been a wonderful year on this blog.

23 Dec 2010 4:52 PM
Michael Blowen

Steve, As usual, you attract the most intelligent, wise people to your work. There's nothing more to say. I printed out all the pages and put it at the entrance to our visitors center at Old Friends. All the Best, Michael. I've never seen anything like this...and she deserves it all.

23 Dec 2010 6:03 PM
Bruce Greene

This piece should be required reading.  No explanation needed about it's length.  Funny how most people recognize stunning prose when they encounter it.  Thanks Steve for making this essay accessible to so many.  Ms. Anderson, aside from a thoroughbred lover, is also a teacher.  She plies her craft well.  

23 Dec 2010 7:02 PM

Another heartfelt BRAVO to Ms. Anderson. I hope this article appears in print somewhere. And, Steve, congrats on the award. No one is more deserving.I'm glad the word is finally out and you are officially THE BEST!

23 Dec 2010 8:15 PM
Shannon From Cool

All wonderful comments to an exceptionally well written and wonderful letter by Abigail Anderson. It is most comprehensive - love all the history she includes - and proves, hands down, why Zenyatta is the 2010 Horse of the Year.

23 Dec 2010 9:00 PM
Mike Relva



23 Dec 2010 10:16 PM
Matthew W

Steve, who wouldda thunk it, but the first Strub Series I was witness to, 1972, was the bestest that I ever saw--this year's Malibu brings back those hopespringseternal feelings of yesteryear, when Santa Anita was king of them all, as far as long meets went--the Big Cap was the greatest race in North America, bar none, as far as class/greatness was concerned--everybody ended up in the Big Cap starting gate, and this year's Malibu gets the juices flowing, so to speak...but 1972, my gosh, the San Fernando, the dead heat of Autobiography and Triple Bend, with Unconscious, Good Counsel and His Majesty all within a neck of the wire! Five classy noses! I don't remember who won the Strub, but I was witness to Unconscious beating Triple Bend in the San Antonio, five clear of Cougar (at 4-5)..Cougar would be heavily bet again, in the Big Cap, and Triple Bend got him a nose--what a Strub Series and it carried over to the older division--Also saw Bid beat Paster in '80, another story, the unsung rivalry cuz it was so one-sided, but talk about two horses with monster records, was there ever anything quite like Bid/Paster, when it came to shear dominance in their respective races leading up to the Derby? Steve I can echo praises of you, about your love for the sport, for the Derby horse! The hope of the Derby Trail...you see it as a historian--and that's good--My favorite post by you was when I was writing about the West Coast three year olds of that year (72)...Steve, you had me at Finalista! I figured anybody who knew about that gutsy little string bean from Caliente, Finalista, who, could hang with Riva Ridge and Quack--been hangin' with ya ever since, best wishes to you and yours, and to all on here....

23 Dec 2010 10:22 PM

For Mike at 8:19 on Dec. 21,

someone needs to notify those infantile people who gave HOTY to the following that didn't win in open company: Azeri, Point Given, Charismatic, Favorite Trick, Affirmed ('78), Seattle Slew, Secretariat ('72). Darned idiots. They killed racing.

24 Dec 2010 12:35 AM


Did I not tell you that this essay (tour de force, indeed!) was a gem? I knew you would appreciate it as much as I did... and, in view of the comments, we are not alone.

Your own description of the Great Mare was (itself) a jewel:"...the unforgettable, incomparable, & incandescent sentient being... Zenyatta." (Be still my heart!) :)

24 Dec 2010 12:43 AM
Scottish Racing

A masterpiece!That made my eyes water. Congratulations on your blog this year. Terrific.

Hopefully we'll get to see some history over the pond when Kauto Star goes for his 5th King George. Weather permitting.

24 Dec 2010 4:13 AM

Beautiful article.  It made the clear distinction between the horses who are gifts to the fans, such as Zenyatta and Barbaro & Brothers, vs. the "corporate" horses that are shut from our sight.  Beloved by us all, but removed by their owners, who, of course, have the right but who are definitely missing the point.  I am so grateful to the owners who share.  It can't be easy, but is very important and appreciated.

24 Dec 2010 6:46 AM

Ms. Anderson, what a beautiful writing.  I loved all of it and I am so glad so many others did.  You really nailed it completely.  Yes, Zenyatta and her connections are unique in this world and we so much appreciate them and their sharing their gorgeous horse with us.  Zenyatta brought out emotions to a pitch and we are so grateful we are able to keep up with the whole team through her website.  We are truly grateful and we all share a gift of greatness in Zenyatta.  Thank you so much.

24 Dec 2010 4:31 PM
Patricia Guthrie

Thank you Steve for posting that brilliant blog.  It brought back memories.  Many of the horses mentioned I saw (on TV) and never realized as they won or lost the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont that this was a horse who would be remembered as one of the great ones. It gives me chills.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all and to Zenyatta, Rachel, Blame and all the others who have moved our hearts.

24 Dec 2010 10:22 PM

Yes, Zookeeper, Md-D = M-D :)

I am so enjoying the good will that Zenyatta & all of thos who are basking in her light are sharing--& that, of course, includes you & yours (your bright light)!

As Sunny Farm noted: This incandescent being, Zenyatta, has been a beacon of such good will...

& a light to guide us (however momentarily) through these nights & all this darkness...

I am lifted & buoyed...& inspired to be a & do more.

Now to take this into all situations, interactions, challenges, difficulties, trying times, & into all the exasperating relationships (human & non-human alike)...

that is the opportunity I (we) have before us.

Happy Festivus to you, Zookeeper, Sunny Farm et al. :)

25 Dec 2010 12:14 AM

A very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all.  May your day be filled with love and joy, peace and contentment.  (and our little Marine made it home for the holiday too, and we're thrilled.)  Have fun everyone, and take it easy on the eggnog Dr. D.  Too many great folks here to single any one out because you have all been an inspiration along with Zen and her family.

25 Dec 2010 3:58 AM

That was amazing! As Mrs Anderson went through Zenyatta's pedigree I could see bits and pieces of her in all of her ancestors. That was a great piece of writing. And she makes a wonderful case about the Horse of the Year voting. I am convinced, now, that mabe it doesn't matter after all. That is some of the best writing I have every seen.

25 Dec 2010 7:07 AM
Gerry Laverty-Richmond, Va

She should win a Pulitzer and a Peabody award on the strength of this magnificent piece alone. Throw in the Nobel while we're at it.

25 Dec 2010 10:40 AM
Linda from Vermont

Thank you for such a well written article! Wow!

25 Dec 2010 7:01 PM
Mj Hawk

Absolutely beautiful. And true.

26 Dec 2010 12:55 PM

Mr. Haskins,  Thank you for "I Lied" and for Ms. Anderson's response.  Wonderful!

26 Dec 2010 3:24 PM


26 Dec 2010 7:52 PM

I think you people are nuts!

26 Dec 2010 8:28 PM
Dr Drunkinbum


  Now you tell me !!!!!  Happy New Year.

26 Dec 2010 10:08 PM

That was truly touching.

26 Dec 2010 10:22 PM

Lets not forget all the other Thoroughbreds who share many many of the ancestors that Zenyatta has. I have an OTTB who is a grandson of Seattle Slew and shares many many of Zenyatta's ancestors....he was a dismal failure on the race track but went on to be a trail horse at a ranch for troubled youth, and now is the best trail horse I've ever had, and carries my grand daughter with grace and gentleness...he is no less a hero than Zenyatta, as are many many of the TBs that don't make it on the track despite having all that great blood in their veins.

26 Dec 2010 10:28 PM

From the number of responses I conclude that thoroughbred racing has many fans and that we all need to understand what our sport needs is greatness.  Every endeavor is defined by greatness.  Ms. Anderson has captured us all in her brilliantly written piece. The educational value of what racing was, is and can continue to be is defined for the ages.  The owner's of Zenyatta should be in charge of thoroughbred racing.  They understand greatness.

27 Dec 2010 6:29 AM
TripleCrown Karen

All I can say is.....

IS THE "INDUSTRY" PAYING ATTENTION?    there is a very old saying.....Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it......here's hoping the "powers that be read THIS!

BRAVA Abigail for writing this and BRAVO to you Steve for having the greate generousity to let us all read it!

27 Dec 2010 10:48 AM

An absolute masterpiece! This is the magic that makes horse racing what it is. Todays leaders look at casinos and slots to save racing, when only racing can save racing.

Horses like Zenyatta and horse people like the Mosses and the Shirreffs. This letter from Ms. Anderson describes in few words (not long at all Steve) what makes Thoroughbred racing the magical event it is. For it is the magic of the stories of horses past that make up what the horse is today. And that is also why HOY should go inequivocably to Zenyatta, for it is for her that this year will be remembered. That is what Horse of the Year means.

27 Dec 2010 12:08 PM
Terri V

Absolutely beautiful!  And so directly to the heart - horses are not about numbers.  They are of the spirit.  Zenyatta touches people heart and soul through the beauty of her spirit.  The word Zenyatta may have had no meaning originally for the record album but now it means " treasured gift".  Thank you, Abigail and Steve.

27 Dec 2010 3:57 PM


You are so correct, when I fell in love with Barbaro I discovered he gave me the capacity to lov'em all.   From the pasture horse,the rescue to the majestic Zenyatta and that wonderous Rachel Alexandra there is room for all ..

What a wonderful article full of historical information.

Thank You

27 Dec 2010 4:27 PM

Dear Ms. Anderson,

The grace and power of your writing is literary perfection!  Thank you so much for sharing your memories.  When one writes so eloquently about greatness, Zenyatta and her ancestors, one becomes a part them.  

The parallels that you drew between the thoroughbred world and educational issues is a sad commentary on modern times.  That line of reasoning also applies to the same problem of disrespect and disregard for the public by national governments, corporations and other entities.

May you enjoy a Healthy and Joyful New Year.  



27 Dec 2010 4:42 PM
Kathleen Burnham

Wonerful article!!  Thank You for sharing it!!!!

27 Dec 2010 5:10 PM

I believe it was the Godolphin  Barb??  Maybe I'm wrong.

No matter,  very interesting and well researched.  To be honest I had never really looked far back in her pedigree.

Its  a shame that in the end,  they are going to give the award to Blame.

27 Dec 2010 5:11 PM
Mike Relva


If you're going to make a statement as such why don't you back it up w a thesis?

27 Dec 2010 6:39 PM
Rachel O


The world needs a lot more "nuts" like the bloggers here!

27 Dec 2010 6:55 PM
Linda in Texas

Mantonetti,your post was well stated. i do not remember any prior posts from your angle. There have been several blogs regarding this subject and some believe as you and i do and others not so much. But i liked your reference to Ms. Anderson's "the magic of the stories of horses past that make up what the horse is today" as it is a different twist from most of the reasons people like Zenyatta. Yours are my thoughts exactly as one being interested in the bloodlines.

Nice point. Thanks for your post.

Just now on Bloodhorse.com and seeing that War Pass is no longer with us. 5 years old, a stallion returned to Lane's End for stud duty. Dead in his paddock one day after returning from Australia.

This is very sad news and he was such a handsome 'youngster' at 5.

I feel very sorry for his handlers and owners. RIP War Pass.

27 Dec 2010 7:22 PM
Jim C.


27 Dec 2010 7:55 PM
Lise from Maine

Bonjour Ms. Anderson,

Your article is very much appreciated, and I can relate to it.

First of all, I was born in Quebec City,Canada,and my first language is French which is why I use the salutation "bonjour."

Barbaro's and Zenyatta's fans are very fortunate that these horses are loved by their owners and their caretakers, and they showed it to the fans.

They understood the sense of

"community, and shared them with us,the fans.

Imagine for a few minutes had both Barbaro and Zenyatta been owned by "Wall Street" such as Big Brown was/is.

Would there have been a sense of

"community" as Ms. Anderson mentioned in her article wth these horses?

No way!

With Wall Street it is all about money and status, and I get that sense with Rachel Alexander's owner.

So sad!

Rachel's owners do not comprehend the concept of "community" as it relates to her fans which is why we haven't heard much about her since she retired.

I do worry about her.

Horse racing is much more than JUST business. It is about sharing, love, community, concern for the horses, growth, communication, etc.

Merci beaucoup, Ms. Anderson, for sharing your thoughts and feelings with us, Zenyatta's fans and to Steve for sharing it with us.

Love to you and Steve.

27 Dec 2010 9:25 PM


I get it that Zenyatta has evoked a rare kind of mass sentimentality for the horse in horsracing that makes her "america's horse".  The question is however, should this consideration, which is really flowing from her cumulative quality performances over her three years of campaigning, trump what Blame has accomplished on the track THIS YEAR, in the contest for Horse of the Year?

My own view is that both horses merit the award this year as they both have strong cases in different department of the sport.  Blame wins outrightly in on-the-track performances and Zenyatta does what few horses have done, that is, arouse fever pitch passion in/for the sport and stimulate widespread affection for THE HORSE, she being the lightening rod.  Love for Zenyatta should therefore not produce hate for Blame or any other rival HORSE that has eclipsed her in the past.

Justice is a pivotal value in any worthwhile enterprise.  Justice must be done to all parties concerned in this HOTY issue because without a sense of justice there will be no peace.  It is time to bring a happy ending to the acrimony and polemics of the past two HOTY awards and most of all to Zenyatta's career.  A sharing of the award this year by Zenyatta and Blame is the only fair and happy ending that I can see.  This perspective is also in the interest of preserving the prestige of the award.  There must be a way to make this happen.


Grateful if you would oblige with a comment on this.  You have a great sense of even-handedness and fairplay, and you campaigned vigourously for this approach last year when the HOTY contestants were not so closely matched.  Your silence this year is deafening.  

27 Dec 2010 9:39 PM


28 Dec 2010 5:56 AM

Another gift would be if every voter read that...thanks to both of you.

28 Dec 2010 6:23 AM

here is a blog I posted to my own site after the race-

She nearly did it. She was almost perfect. One could argue about the trip she got or the ride Smith thinks he should have given her. But she did not get to the wire first.

As she struggled to catch Blame at the finish I told my grandson, “just like the Slew and Exceller. This loss defines her as one of the greats.” Now I’ve seen other blogs and articles write similar things.

My grandson was crushed. But the heart of the 7 year old is resilient.

Zenyatta has the heart of a great champion. She was the betting favorite but none of the experts pegged her to win. They droned on about facing tougher competition than the prior year. They questioned the ‘lite’ season her owners laid out for her. But in the end, she proved them that she could run with the best of the boys. Another stride and she would have had Blame- maybe. And Slew would have caught Exceller.

But for a moment last Saturday, she was The One. She caught the attention of a nation apathetic at best to racing. For a few brief moments, all eyes were on the big dancing mare. She showed them the best that racing can be. She proved what her fans already knew, she has the great heart of a champion.

Let’s hope Racing lives up to her legacy by returning the sport back to those who love the horses and the joy of watching them run. Let’s hope Racing finds a way to deal with their financial issues and most importantly, find a way to honor it’s athletes by ensuring zero tolerance for slaughter, by rewarding owners and trainers who retire their athletes before they break down and help retrain them for a second career.

There are owners who do love their charges. Mickey and Karen Taylor spent Slew’s last hours with him. They learned from their Swaps debacle. I believe the Motts will also do right By Z. After all, they allowed her the time to mature and grow before racing her. I often wonder what great things Vindication would have done if he’d been given the same chance. Would he have eclipsed his sire’s accomplishments?

And what about rewarding quality over quantity in the breeding shed? Too many horses end up in bad situations or re-bred despite poor confirmation and soundness problems when they are older. Breed for soundness as well as speed.

Zenyatta was a great boon for Racing. She proved how great the heart of the Thoroughbred is. Let racing prove to her how great its heart is by making changes to to protect it’s athletes. In the long run that will draw fans back to the sport.

28 Dec 2010 7:45 AM
Fran Loszynski

When you read articles like this and read publications like Bloodhorse; I become confident as a fan of horseracing that the sport will live on forever afterall look at all the magnificent people that are involved and talented writers like you and Ms. Anderson, Steve, The racehorses are our gifts but so are all of you. To our racehorses, keep running with the wind, to our writers of the sport, keep pen in hand! I wish racehorses could read, and then again maybe they do.

28 Dec 2010 8:11 AM
Dr Drunkinbum


   I'm going to send you some marvelous fruitcake. Lots of nuts, nutmeg, wicked spirits, and age. (Don't worry, the green stuff kills bacteria). It's one I've been saving for many years for a special occasion. Made when they really knew how to make a fruitcake, supposedly another one from the batch was sent to our boys in WW2 and they loved it so you should too !!!! Enjoy.

28 Dec 2010 11:02 AM

My final thoughts on Zenyatta in 2010 -

She has come to mean so many things to so many people. Tens of thousands of people. She not only reached fans who had the good fortune to see her race in person, but to those who watched her with the same excitement on their televisions. With each race her legend blossomed as did her legion of loyal fans. Love and admiration for her started at one race track with one race, and eventually spread across the entire world. She became a star nearly reaching heights like that during the days of Beatlemania - able to bring tears and screams of joy at the mere sight of her.

Her athleticism on the track was a thing of beauty. Powerful strides lengthening as she picked up incredible speed down the back stretch, her magnificent rippling muscles a sight of 'poetry in motion', her face a picture of courage, determination and utter will power. She won 19 races and to most, her final race and her only loss by a slim margin, ended up being her greatest triumph. It stamped her greatness forever, turning even some of the most grizzled race fans, as well as titans of the industry, into believers and in awe, exclaiming in admiration that they had never seen anything like her before.  And this is true because there is no horse in the entire world who is like her.

She has calmed and brought strength and courage and a ray of sunshine into the lives of those during sadness and troubling times. She has taught gentleness and kindess in a world which needs it badly. She has brought joy and laughter to everyone who knows her. She has reached into souls with a spiritual connection that cannot be logically explained but is accepted as real and true. She has taught the will to never give up, to keep going even when the end seems far away and impossible to reach. She has given the gift of love and shown what the gift of love can do when shared with others. She has embodied all that is good in life. She has entered our lives and our hearts and our souls. Her intelligence and intuitiveness are apparent when you look into her eyes or watch her gaze out into the distance with a thoughtfulness and sense of serenity. She is caring and she is kind and she has brought us all together as we pronounce our love and admiration for her. And she has dazzled us with her glorious beauty.

How can a horse have such an impact on so many human lives? How can a horse be more than a horse, but more like an angel sent to earth to heal, to make happy, to bring joy into lives? Does it really matter that this riddle is solved? No. All that matters is that she is here and that we are the lucky ones with whom she shares her magic.  

While many have scoffed and ridiculed those of us who seem to idolize or devoutly admire her, we can simply say that we are sorry that they are not able to open their eyes and their hearts and see what we see. That she may not be justly awarded Horse of the Year will sting immensely. But her legacy and her name will be reverently repeated for years and years to come during races and debates. She will be honored for the bar she set in racing herein and thereafter. Her connections will also always be remembered by the standards which they set in making her available to fans so that they might share in and feel a part of an industry that is in bad need for such things. A standard which could go a long way towards curing some of the ills of that industry.

I like many will cherish and love Zenyatta for all of these things she has done for us. She will live on in our hearts as one of, if not, the greatest horse we will ever have the fortune to know intimately and experience.

So I wish upon her every joy she has given us. Every happiness for those values she has taught us. And all the peace and love she has spread into our lives ten fold over. All blessings to Zenyatta.

28 Dec 2010 11:42 AM

heccaiteisis: "There are owners who do love their charges. Mickey and Karen Taylor spent Slew’s last hours with him. They learned from their Swaps debacle. I believe the Motts will also do right By Z. After all, they allowed her the time to mature and grow before racing her. I often wonder what great things Vindication would have done if he’d been given the same chance. Would he have eclipsed his sire’s accomplishments?"

First...Swale was a SON of Seattle Slew.  There was no debacle; he had a heart attack.  He was not a Taylor horse, he was a Claibourne horse.

2nd...The Moss's, not the Mott's own Zenyatta.

3rd..Vindication won the Eclipse for best 2 year old.  He was then injured and retired to stud before the Derby was ever run.  In 2008 he had to be euthanized due to a stomach rupture...(and yes, he did appear to have the promise of Slew). He was trained by Bob Baffert.

Not trying to be mean, but sometimes a little research makes for a better blog.

Congratulations to HRTV for their Eclipse.  "Swale" was beautifully done.

29 Dec 2010 8:15 AM

Hecaiteisis: my apology...you mentioned Swaps...not Swale.  Swaps was also not owned by the Taylors, but by Mr Ellsworth who also bred him.  He re-injured a foot in a workout that took him out of racing, but not until he was raced against Nashua on that injured foot.  It was a poor decision.

29 Dec 2010 8:23 AM

I just wanted to post my idea for a point system for the eclipse awards. I tried posting it on another blog but it was not posted. At the bottom I analized Zenyatta and Blame using this system.

Grade 1 10 pt + # of horses

Grade 2 8 pt + # of horses

Grade 3 6 pt + # of horses

Upgraded stakes 4 pt + # of horses

2nd place in these races will earn half the number of points as first place. 3rd place will earn half of the second place points.

An extra ten points will be awarded to a horse that does the following:

- Break a record

- Win the Triple Crown

- Win the Filly Triple Crown

- Break the earnings record for colts

- Break the earnings record for fillys

There are probably more times when bonus points can be earned, this list I just came up with off the top of my head.

Winning certain races counts towards the different divisions. The division winning horse that has the most points wins HOY.


-Santa Margarita 17

-Apple Blossom        14

-Vanity        15

-Clement L Hirsch 15

-Lady’s Secret 14

-BCC       10.5

Total 85.5


-BCC 21

-WDS 14

-Stephen Foster 20

-Whitney 15

-JCC 7.5

Total 77.5

29 Dec 2010 12:04 PM

Man, what a way to end the year, great read!  Thanks for sharing this Steve and thanks for your wonderful reply Abigail.  

Just saw Secretariat the new movie and I don't know how well they represented the story of Big Red but as Steve has said before, it was probably targeted towards an audience who does not follow horseracing closely.  I do hope it brought some fans to the game though.

Hope everyone had a happy holidays and ring in the new year with good health, positive attitude and hope you hit the big ticket next year.   I'm still waiting for the news from the Mosses / Lane's End as far as the plans for her fans to visit her, anyone hear anything yet ?  Steve ?  Got any inside info ?

29 Dec 2010 12:23 PM
Betty, Ontario,Canada

Wonderful article. You speak for many. Thank you for sharing! Happy New Year!

29 Dec 2010 1:01 PM

This brilliant essay has finally let me grieve because I'll never see Zenyatta race, again.  I am so grateful to her people for retiring her sound, but I needed to be able to cry, too.  Thank you, Steve and thank you, Abigail.

29 Dec 2010 2:36 PM

Amazing and awesome article...goose bumps and tears at the same time!!  Thanks for sharing.

29 Dec 2010 4:25 PM
Barbara W

I printed all this info. for my "horse notebook".

If you haven't done so already today, go to www.zenyatta.com and read diary post #43. It's about our Abigail here.

29 Dec 2010 7:29 PM


I think the "Swaps debacle" references the Taylors' insistence that Seattle Slew be sent west for the Swaps after his hard TC campaign -- something trainer William Turner did not want to do. It, of course, resulted in Slew's first loss, so I guess you could say that was a poor decision too.

29 Dec 2010 8:23 PM

Bellwhether mentions John Henry.  He was the most wonderful horse.  I didn't think I could care about another horse like that until Zenyatta came along.  And it took me until just after the '09 Lady's Secret to buy in on her legend, although I followed her career earlier.

The way the stands shook at the '09 Breeder's Cup and the Clement Hirsch at Del Mar on August 7th was how it used to be everytime John Henry came down the stretch on or going for the lead.

The ovation for Zenyatta as she crossed the finish line at Del Mar rocked the whole grandstand.  I turned to my guy and said, "Did you feel that?  Well, you're never going to feel the stands shake like that again."  I hope I was wrong.

29 Dec 2010 10:31 PM

Ms. Anderson ~ What an extraordinary equine essay!  Your writing thoroughly engaged my heart and mind.  The opening epigraph was perfect and I've copied it into my journal.  I'll also be saving a copy of your essay in my 'Zenyatta Collection' file so I can savor it again and again.

Because of your essay, I now know more about Zenyatta's ancestors, and how the past informs the present through thoroughbred bloodlines. Oh, how I love the stories that are a part of every thoroughbred.  I was once blessed with an OTT mare and enjoyed knowing that War Admiral was her great grandsire.   Thanks to you, I now know my mare, on her dam's side shares an ancestor with Zenyatta.  Hyperion!  That the two mares I have loved the most share an ancestor is almost unbelievable.  Thank you for sparking my curiosity so that I checked my mare's lineage in more detail.  I feel grateful to you.

Thank you Santa Haskin for this present.  The gift of Zenyatta, in many forms, keeps on giving including in the heartfelt and interesting posts here.  The goodwill on this blog is enriching.

Happy New Year everyone.    

30 Dec 2010 12:19 AM

To Dani ~ Thank you for your final thoughts on Zenyatta in 2010.  Beautifully expressed.  Your ardent and loving words put a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes as you echoed so much of what I feel.  You wrote: "...in awe, exclaiming in admiration that they had never seen anything like her before.  And this is true because there is no horse in the entire world who is like her."  How true!

I don't think there will ever be another like her again, in large part, because of her deep closing style. And, the fact that this style that often makes running races more difficult, she ALWAYS showed up!  Amazing.

I noted that you wrote final thoughts 2010 so I hope there are more thoughts of Z in 2011.  

30 Dec 2010 12:42 AM


30 Dec 2010 4:40 AM

Slew- my blog was not a history on racing; it was for my 7 year old grandson to have when he is grown. I wanted to capture his excitement then got carried away.

I was referring to the Swaps Stake, not the horse Swaps, and racing too soon after the Triple Crown. As for Vindication, yes, he was a 2 year old champion but I believe 2 year olds are still growing and should be allowed to mature- the way Z. was. What if he'd been allowed to mature? Would he have raced longer and won more championships? Maybe not, but we'll never know. He was brilliant.

One of the reasons racing doesn't gather more fans (in my opinion) is that there are few long term champions to root for. They retire too early for the public to notice and fire their imaginations. Z did that.

As for the typo, sorry. I don't always see them and the spell check doesn't fix names.

30 Dec 2010 7:14 AM

thanks for catching the errors. i've made corrections for my grandson.  

30 Dec 2010 8:30 AM
Sandra Bennington


30 Dec 2010 11:15 PM

Mr. Haskin,

You cross generations, religions(, happy hannukka late), and opinions so gracefully(thanks for abigail's writing). Thanks for reading our posts.

01 Jan 2011 8:36 PM

What a wonderful post. I love bloodlines and search for the stories behind them and reading this was a joy. Lets not let her gift go without a change for Horse of the Year voting. Give Grade One wins a certain amount of points. If the Classic is the most important give it an extra point or two. Weight carried should count. If a horse wins a Grade One carrying the highest weight that should be worth an extra point too. This should stop the bickering because you either have the points or you don't. I think sport writers could use such a system on their own to figure this years votes out. Although I am a Zenyatta fan, I know I would not mind if such a system was in place and if she did not win the HOY. I know if it was because she did not have enough points lined up. All the people out there throwing darts at each other try out a simple 3 point system 1 point each for weight, 2 points each for Grade One wins , 3 points for the Classic win. Enjoy the process and stop fighting over everything.

American racing history is a wonderful history of its people, not just horses. Why can't the American Experience series do a handful of stories on this subject?

By the way, Happy New Year to the horsemen of Maryland. I know they missed the bullet by a hair, but they are alive to race another day.

02 Jan 2011 6:33 PM
Jim Labadini

I just finished reading Abigail Anderson's magnificant historic account of the thoroughbred history as it stands today. With Zenyatta and her selective bloodlines that created the wonderful magic that we witnessed this past year.  As Abigail recounted her moments with her past and how she was introduced to thoroughbreds, I too remembered and it all came back so clearly that I am so honored to read this beautiful masterpiece.  In the future as we witness events such as Ruffian, Zenyatta, Barbaro , Kelso, Ridan and Jaipur, and many more, I will always remember Abigail's reminder that this did not happen per chance but by years and years of selective breeding.  Read the books of art by Federico Tesio and we will understand a little better where we are today.

05 Jan 2011 3:26 PM

I also am a fan, and as I remember back, I had the ''bug'' at an early age, I was unstoppable. But this well written piece of history, this wonderful insightful history, should be read by MILLIONS!!! and should be understood by the industry. THANK YOU for sharing.

16 Sep 2013 10:30 AM

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