It's A Shame Zenyatta Didn't Lose Earlier

(By Avalyn Hunter)

Perfection is a rare thing in any field. In sports, those who achieve it become legends. Yet sometimes the desire to maintain an unbeaten record can become self-defeating. Football fans know this well; every year, at least one Top 10 team goes down because it played, not to win, but not to lose–and, in so doing, lost to a team willing to take more chances. And perhaps the mighty Zenyatta was the victim of a similar mindset, not so much in regard to her chances for Horse of the Year as to the quest for greatness.

Make no mistake about it, Zenyatta is a great racehorse. Even in defeat, she displayed a magnificence that stirred the heart. But when the emotions have long since died down and only the records remain, what will be her place among the greats? My feeling is that it will be less than it could have been, not because of any fault in the mare herself, but because of overly conservative management. With the exception of Zenyatta’s two runs in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I), her connections played not to lose and in the end lost twice, losing both Zenyatta’s unbeaten record and, perhaps, a greater place in history.

Perhaps it would have been better if she had lost her first race and not her last. With no unbeaten mark on the line, there might have been more incentive to take some chances and tackle greater challenges. Even if Zenyatta had remained in California, she had more than enough talent to tackle the males in the Golden State’s premier races: the Santa Anita Handicap, the Hollywood Gold Cup, and the Pacific Classic (all gr. I). Those opportunities are forever gone, and with them the reputation that might have been.


Leave a Comment:

Paula Higgins

You are entitled to your opinion. Needless to say I don't share it.

13 Nov 2010 2:44 PM

I agree. It's clear that she's an amazing mare- she can run on both dirt and synthetics, she can face males and hold her own- so why didn't her owners take some chances with her? Perhaps she wouldn't be undefeated, but there wouldn't be so many that doubt her abilities.

13 Nov 2010 2:53 PM

I didn't see any of the east coast horses going to California to take on Zenyatta!  Why do all horses have to win the eastern races to win HOY?  Zenyatta beat all the horses that Blame did and did not loose to Haynesfield....Hmmm.No she didn't win the BC,but she showed up! And this is not bashing Rachel....that is over. That should have been Co-HOYs....IMO

13 Nov 2010 2:58 PM
Mary McQuire

Oh please. You bore me. One of the greatest racehorses ever lost her last race with no racing luck whatsoever. Management took care of their horse and kept a 6 yr. old mare running at the top of her form. Everyone who saw the 2010 BC Classic knew the best horse in the race did not win. All your musings are just silly.

13 Nov 2010 3:03 PM

I've thought the same thing, that a loss frees the connections to be more bold in their placement of the mare.  Personally, I'd have loved to see her try turf.  I had the same opinion when people ragged on Pepper's Pride's record, that as long as she kept winning, her connections were doing the right thing, their job, putting her where she could win.  Why mess with success?  Only if and when she lost, and only if there was some excuse other than lack of ability (like a bad trip), would I have left the state and tried tougher races.

13 Nov 2010 3:15 PM
Judy G Loves Zenyatta

Zenyatta is Ambassador to Horse Racing. She always has been.

I agree with Paula Higgins' comment.

13 Nov 2010 3:21 PM

Darla wrote: "I didn't see any of the east coast horses going to California to take on Zenyatta"

Darla, a lot of trainers who run on the major tracks (Belmont, Saratoga, Oaklawn, Churchill, etc) will never ship their horses to run on synthetic in California.  Cali is finally pulling their heads out of their .... and getting rid of synthetic at at least 2 tracks and probably within a year, all tracks in Cali will be dirt again.  

Zenyatta's connections kept claiming she was better on dirt then she was on synthetic, yet they only shipped her 3 times to prove it? Zenyatta hated the dirt flying in her face at Churchill.  They ran her extremely cautiously racing the SAME races against the SAME mares/fillies and then they wonder why they don't get HOY???  Really??  They can't figure that out? She did not win the one race this year that she HAD to win to get HOY. She didn't have enough experience against large fields, against the boys on dirt nor against true, high quality dirt horses. The 2 BC wins she had was on her home track on a surface she loved (more than dirt) and against lower quality fields.  She should have been out east from the Apple Blossom until the Classic, she should've raced at least once or twice at Churchill and she should've raced against the boys ALL year after proving she could beat them.  Instead, she was entered into races that she had won repeatedly already, against lower quality fillies/mares with the exception of Switch (because ALL the high quality ones were running on dirt in preparation for a breeders cup race on DIRT).

If Zenyatta would've lost sooner, she would've instantly been retired.  But she loses HOY honors because of the repeat races against subpar competition and because Blame ran harder races and races he hadn't won previously. A gr. 3, the Stephen Foster (gr. 1), Whitney (gr. 1), second in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. 1) and the Classic (gr. 1).  That is a horse than earned HOY.

13 Nov 2010 3:41 PM

Come on! Who will ever question Zenyatta's abilities after what she did last Saturday???? She proved in defeat that she belongs among the greatest ever. Her final performance in the Classic is the most assuring proof that her place in racing's history is permanent. Furthermore, what is anyone on this Earth but the memories they leave behind? Zenyatta's accomplishments will be here as long as racing as a sport endures, and thereafter.

13 Nov 2010 3:46 PM


Besides her races in the Classic, what other races could have males entered to run against her?

Her owners should have taken a page from Goldikova's connections. Take at look at what she has done vs males, and you'll realize what a real campaign for the ages is.

13 Nov 2010 3:47 PM

In my opinion, Zenyatta's career was managed brilliantly. John Sherriff's performed among the most brilliant training accomplishments in the history of the sport. Just imagine had she won this last BCC; there would not be a word spoken about side-stepping, etc. Ok she didn't quite, but I doubt her reputation now would be enhanced had she also competed in some or all the races you mention. This filly/mare was maintained at the top of her game throughout the course of her career-she even "unretired" to give it another go at age six (to my dismay). Aside from the Breeders' Cup, gone are the days when top horses repeatedly square off.    

13 Nov 2010 3:48 PM

You know, Ms. Hunter, you really did NOT need to post on this topic.  There has been more than enough negativity toward Zenyatta posted in multiple blogs on this site.

One would think that, as a respected Pedigree specialist (as opposed to handicapper or racing analyst), you might have refrained from joining the fray.   That you could not is a disappointment.

Zenyatta's place among the best of the best - her Greatness - will not require your validation.  I am quite sure of that.

13 Nov 2010 3:52 PM

look bottom line is zen didnt win when it counted was is amazing yes but she never tried and did what rachel did the 3yr old campain rachael had was un heard of and thats why zens owners cost her what she could have been come on 17 of those races who did she beat nothing thats who i rest my case.

13 Nov 2010 3:58 PM
Linda in PA

I couldn't agree more! Well said.  We will never know how good she really was.

13 Nov 2010 4:06 PM
Sara Keogh

Zenyatta brought the sport back to national tv and famous magazines. I know people that were cheering for her that don't know a thing about horse racing. Shes a Horse of a lifetime. Stop trying to take it away from her!

13 Nov 2010 4:08 PM

I agree with you 110%. While I love Zenyatta, I feel sorry for her. She could've gotten horse of the year, but because of the play it safe races she entered in she never got a chance to show the world what she can really do. This amazing mare could've had an amazing year, but because she was only entered in one big race(Breeder's Cup), and lost, she will not get horse of the year. She probably deserves it more than any other horse that raced this year, but she never got the chance to prove that. Unfortunatly that's just the way it is.

13 Nov 2010 4:15 PM

My wish at this point is that Team Zenyatta keep her racing in 2011 but that they do what they said they were going to do in 2010, showcase her to her fans. This time, ship her east and run her at Belmont, Saratoga and hopefully even Woodbine (I am in Canada and would love to see her run here). And then take her back to Churchill for the Classic and try and avenge her loss. Run her against the boys &/or the girls in the Grade 1's. Let's shut the naysayers up already and prove to them that she is as great a racehorse that all of her diehard fans believe her to be.

13 Nov 2010 4:17 PM

The REAL shame is that some people feel compelled to waste their time worrying about what didn't happen.  What DID happen was nothing short of astonishing. Nothing like we will ever see again in our lifetimes!

I have no doubt this mare will receive all the accolades she is due. Sadly it will probably have to wait until all of us are gone and unbiased people can look back and marvel at what a wonder she was and wish that they had witnessed her magic.

13 Nov 2010 4:22 PM

You needen't "worry".

Zenyatta will not only be remembered, she will become a legend. And her connections will be remembered for all the right things they did to get her there.    

13 Nov 2010 4:33 PM

Ms. Hunter,

Please, your timing is in bad taste.  Couldn't you at least wait for a couple more weeks to give out your opinion on how the connections handled Zenyatta.  What just happened less than a week ago is still being felt throughout the industry.  

Frankly, I getting sick of all you who are out there that say the same thing..."Zenyatta is a great horse, but..."

It's the same hue and cry from people that are never satisfied.  To people like you, Zenyatta could never do enough.  To people like you, Zenyatta will always have a "but" somewhere in the second phrase of the first sentence.

It will always be that way for people like you, sadly.

13 Nov 2010 4:34 PM

Sorry, I don't agree.  The connections took their time with her and let her grow up. Then they kept her at a high level over 3 seasons.  Not many trainers and owners can say the same thing. They weren't afraid of losing, they were just putting the horse first.   The first mare to win the BC Classic.  The first mare to finish 2nd in the Classic even.  The first horse to win 2 different BC races and of course the first horse to win the BC Classic while undefeated. Sounds like they took chances to me.  Dont' forget they could've run in the Ladies Classic this year and prob. retired undefeated.

13 Nov 2010 4:41 PM

Thank you for this article.  Sums it up perfectly.  Her spineless owners and trainer should have challenged her greatness like they said they would.  She definitely wouldn't have gone the BCC undefeated but she would've been used to the pace and techniques on dirt.  You can make up 20 lengths on PVC coated kitty litter but not on dirt.  Truth is, Blame isn't that great.  The BCC time was very modest (6 lengths slower than average) yet he still beat the so-called best female racehorse of all time.  By the way, that title belongs to Personal Ensign who went undefeated on dirt with a grade 1 victory over males.  Zenyatta can't make that claim.

13 Nov 2010 4:47 PM
Canada loves Zenyatta too

Oh just shut up already!!! Obviously the best horse did not win this one race everyone has an off day so give it a rest!!And I agree with Paula Higgins

13 Nov 2010 4:48 PM

Stop all your bad comments about Zenyatta,she is the best horse ever.

Women Power!


13 Nov 2010 4:50 PM

Your opinion and comments meet on deaf ears.  Zenyatta's reputation for greatness has been well established and she will go down in history as the Queen!

13 Nov 2010 4:52 PM
needler in Virginia

What an enormous load of cattle excrement. Would a loss early on have meant she was a better horse?? Or a lesser horse?? And what purpose can be served by going down the "shoulda, woulda, coulda" trail? Zenyatta won her first 19 races, and got half a win in her last. I can live with that.

Cheers and safe trips.

13 Nov 2010 4:54 PM

That run down the stretch last weekend was nothing short of epic, and should have put all questions and musings like the article above to rest. I sincerely doubt we will see greatness like what this mare so eloquently displayed ever again in our lifetimes. I thank everyone who had a hand in guiding this magnificent mare's career. She has left a indelible mark not only on racing, but on the hearts of the countless people she touched over the course of her career.  

13 Nov 2010 5:07 PM

I've been saying this for a long time. Zenyatta's career would've been so much less stressful to watch if she had lost say, her maiden race. Nobody can fault a horse for not winning first time out, look at Secretariat. Like you said though, Zenyatta's campaign over the past few years has been extremely careful and had she lost earlier there would be less to lose by running against the boys.

That being said, I must say that I'm just as happy with the way she was campaigned. People might criticize John Shirreffs for pampering Zenyatta throughout her career, but the truth is that because he wasn't as "daring" as Rachel Alexandra's connections, his mare was able to have a great career with longevity. Shirreffs understands that you don't rush things and you don't try to win as many races as you can before the year is over. Had Jess Jackson sent Rachel Alexandra to John Shirreffs, who's more similar to Hal Wiggins than Steve Assmussen, she might still be running in top form.

Despite what Zenyatta could have done by running against the boys more often, she accomplished so much in her only loss. There's little debate that she was in fact the best horse in the race and would have won had she not had to check off of Quality Road and then Musket Man. She showed the world that a 6 year old mare could take on the best males in the world on their home turf. I'd give Goldikova the same praise, except her competition was questionable and she stayed within her comfort zone, a mile on the turf. Zenyatta took on better males who all were in peak form while being a 6 year old mare who had trouble getting a hold of the Churchill Downs surface, suffering a horrendous trip that made victory impossible yet almost won. Whether you like it or not, Zenyatta is the greatest horse in the world.

13 Nov 2010 5:15 PM
Ed Kane, Ph.D.

Dear Mr. Hunter,

You're entitled to your opinion, but your article should have ended at "Make no mistake about it, Zenyatta is a great racehorse."

Her connections as you fault them and her management, are the kindest, the best, the most wonderful people within the sport.  Mr. and Mrs. Moss and John Sherriff's along with Mike Smith did their best for the mare.  She and they owe no one anything.  She and they have done more for the sport of Thoroughbred racing, not only in their careful management of  her career, but as you fail to mention, bringing her back in 2010 for the sport, the fans, and for another run in the BCup Classic. No horse has captured racing fans and the general public's adoration since Seabiscuit.

If they played "not to lose" as you say, she ran 20 times, thru her 6YO year, and faced, despite your contention that she only ran competitively twice in two BCUP Classics, she did so, when another mare, I'm sure you and others voted for HOY in 2009, did NOT do so in both seasons.

The Moss's and John Sherriffs owe you nothing, though you owe them greater respect than you show in your piece.

I've been around Thoroughbred racing for many years, growing up in the shadow of Belmont Park, working around and seeing many of the greats run from Secretariat, Seattle Slew, Buckpasser, Dr. Fager, Cigar, Go For Wand and Ruffian.  

There are no finer people in the Sport than Jerry and Ann Moss and John and Dottie Sherriffs.

In her 20th, Zenyatta almost pulled it off, only losing by an inch to some of the finest in the world.  She, the Moss's and the Sherriff's should be thanked, commended and adored for what they helped bring to Thoroughbred racing.

13 Nov 2010 5:22 PM
Mike Relva

I don't agree at all with your comments. Question? Do you think for a second that ratings for the Breeders' will be triple like it was last weekend next yr? I doubt it. How long do you think it will be before a horse comes along that captured the interest of the public? Oh,that's right,they come along everyday! Right.

13 Nov 2010 5:34 PM

Personally I would have liked to see Zenyatta in the Pacific Classic, Hollywood Gold Cup or Santa Anita Handicap but that still would not have been enough for some people because it would have been on synthetic.  Zenyatta went to the Apple Blossom this year, no one showed up - no Life at Ten, no Unrivaled Belle etc.  They could have gone to the Stephen Foster or Jockey Club Gold Cup but decided not to for their own reason.  I am glad the connections didn't gut her the way Rachel was gutted last year.    

13 Nov 2010 5:44 PM

I completely agree!!! You are correct, and the pursuit of perfection, or the protection of perfection, has only raised the question of "what could have been?" Unfortunately, most people are blinded by the huge mare and can't take the least bit of criticism, even when it is NOT directed at the mare but actually directed at her campaign. There is no reason to have put her on a such a conservative campaign; she failed to beat a Grade I winner this year. Let me repeat that, she failed to beat a Grade I winner this year. For a horse of that talent, that is inexcusable. And for everyone with that pathetic response of "hey, they could have shown up," not they couldn't have, unless they were a filly or mare and could run with success over the synthetic surfaces. You know where Grade I winners were (especially if you were staying in CA)? The Santa Anita Handicap, Hollywood Gold Cup, and Pacific Classic. In her career, what is her record in those races, the premier races of California racing? This article is spot on and it is a shame that we had to wait until this incredible horses 20th and final race to watch her against top flight competition on dirt. What could have been.....

13 Nov 2010 5:54 PM


Are you an expert and what qualify's you to judge how Zenyatta's career should have been managed? Where are the rolling eyes when I need them?

13 Nov 2010 5:59 PM

I think that zenyatta is and alway,s will be number one she is queen of the queen there will never be another zenyatta like her. It will take a while. Or never for somebody to win 19 race or tide her race career I always say. There will never be. Another like zenyatta god bless her

13 Nov 2010 6:14 PM

I think that zenyatta is and alway,s will be number one she is queen of the queen there will never be another zenyatta like her. It will take a while. Or never for somebody to win 19 race or tide her race career I always say. There will never be. Another like zenyatta god bless her

13 Nov 2010 6:15 PM

sure, the unbeaten tag was a bit of a monkey on zenyatta's back, but blame got beaten this year and I don't see him hanging around for any prizes next year. he certainly won't be back defending his crown like zenyatta did.  

I must admit there are some things about us racing that confuse me. I understand the triple crown and the breeders cup of course. what confuses me is the bits in between. I mean what are the "must" races for 4-y-os and above? do west coast and east coast horses have the chance to face each other regularly? I see blame won the stephen foster, whitney and got beaten in jc. quality road won the woodward. fly down got beaten a nose in the travers. what do these races mean in terms of prestige? zenyatta has been criticised for not going in the pacific or the goodwood. these are all grade 1 races. seems to me the us just has too many grade 1 races, which spread the competetion much too thin. can anynone out there explain the significance of these races to me? what is the top 3-y-o race outside the triple crown and what is the top race for older horses outside the bc? west and east. what I really mean is what races could or shoud have zenyatta won to have secured her hoty and still lose in the bc. that also confuses me. thanks.    

13 Nov 2010 6:29 PM
Jim H Horse trainer

I agree with Darla. It seems the onely way any horse from California is going to be considered great is to go anywhere east of the Missippi River. No matter how great they are, no matter what they win. Win a Breeders Cup Classic run second in one the next year still not good enough. Break records have a winning record like no other horse or pro team not good enough,makes no sense to me Haveing trained I know how hard it is to win anything twice much less do it for that long and keep them sound

13 Nov 2010 6:29 PM
MK Allen

I completely agree. That's the one big thing that I have a problem with when it comes to her career. What bothers me most is that no one is talking about Goldikova.

13 Nov 2010 6:53 PM
jeanie l

I have seen many great racehorses, but none like the Queen.  All of her detractors need to get a life.  Greatness is measured in many ways and she has done more for her sport than any other horse in recent memory.  There is no doubt who the best horse was in the breeder's cup.  The Queen would win it 99 times out of 100.  Blame got the luck and she did not.  Hail to the Queen, the best horse that I have ever seen.

13 Nov 2010 6:56 PM

I love Zenyatta, and I hold her in the highest regard, but it is a shame that she didn't tackle some tougher challenges, which I know she could have handled. Could she have won the Pacific Classic? The Hollywood Gold Cup? Now, its all left to the imagination and to speculation. And there will be no end to the speculations and opposing oppions. If her schedule would have been more difficult, Zenyatta could have less critics. But then would she have accomplished everything that she has? Would she have gone 19-19? I will forever wonder. Even with her "conservitive" campaign, there is no doubt in my mind that she deserves to be 2010 HOY. And despite what she didn't do, she is one of the greatest racehorses of ALL TIME.  

13 Nov 2010 7:04 PM

While the rabid Z fans will attack you for this - it's true. I would have felt very different about her had she run consistently against the best and had a loss or two in there. Perfection is amazing, but come on, Pepper's Pride retired unbeaten, but would anyone think to put her up there with Man O'War or Secretariat? No, she didn't face the kind of competition or do the kinds of things those two did, even though they lost races.

13 Nov 2010 7:12 PM

I think you overlook that Zenyatta's loss was jockey error. She was full of run and Blame is the one that got lucky. Period.

She was picking off horses as she swallowed ground and Blame had the perfect trip. That is racing but her loss does not diminsh her greatness.

13 Nov 2010 7:30 PM
anew zenytta fan


Are you writing to be right, or are you writing to just write (something/anything)?

Either way, your article there is self-indulgent and kinda...uhh...ridicilous.

13 Nov 2010 7:49 PM

My feelings exactly. Well done.

13 Nov 2010 7:51 PM

You totally miss the point of what true believers know - that Zenyatta is one of those rare great ones.  I, too, point out that at least Zenyatta went east three times to take on all comers yet not once did any "co-called' good ones from the east go out to take on Zenyatta on her turf. I, for one, am tired of people downing one of the greatest ever.  She showed, in defeat, how great she is.  She showed her class and determination at Churchill - seemingly beaten, unable to handle the track, and the dirt flying back into her face, yet but for six inches she would still be unbeaten.  But in that six inch defeat, we saw the greatness that is Zenyatta.  God save the Queen!!!  God bless Zenyatta!!!!

13 Nov 2010 7:58 PM
pam r


I completely agree with you.

13 Nov 2010 8:00 PM

I don't believe this. Her owners and trainer did a superb job.  I think everyone realizes Zen is in a class all to herself. The remarks about her not being challenged enough are jealousy that they didn't have her. She is vibrant, sound and loving every minute she spends on the track. That is what we as fans love to see. Someone loving the track instead of bucking to get out of the gate. Zen never gave me the feeling that she was not "happy to be there". That is why we LOVE her.  She loves what she was doing. What a pleasure!! She is the ultimate race horse. The people that managed Zenyatta knew how to bring that out in her.  Enough said.

13 Nov 2010 8:07 PM
paul watson

 Where does she stand in comparison to Personal Ensign? I do know this, that when Zenyatta had a chance to break Personal Ensign's record, they chose the Breeder' Cup Classic as the race to do it in. I'm thinking that was pretty bold. She did travel back east to meet the reigning Horse of the Year, only to have the HOY be a no show. You and your ilk have the hubris to heap abuse on an animalmerely because she did not run at your tracks. So what. Hell hath no fury like a New Yorker scorned.

 I go back to Damascus. I saw Dr Fager, Affirmed, Seattle Slew, Spectacular Bid and Cigar. I believe Zenyatta would beat any of them. I doubt you know enough of the history of the sport to have the ability to convince me otherwise.

13 Nov 2010 8:15 PM

Water seeks its own level -- your understanding of horseracing is reflected in your statements.  Z lost a race.  She did not deserve HOY before the classic and she doesn't deserve it now.  

13 Nov 2010 8:49 PM
Rachel O

We fans out here are getting very turned off by the same old arguments dissing Zenyatta's connections and their "overly conservative" management of her career.

When did a mare her size race and stay sound through 20 races, most of them grade 1's? Her trainer did a magnificent job keeping her happy and ready to race for more than three years. If the "good" competition didn't show up, it was hardly the fault of Z's connections. Let's blame Zenyatta for being too good. That makes more sense than most of your nonsense. The only one of those "brilliant" colts she didn't whip was Blame, who earlier lost to Haynesfield on "a bad day." Zenyatta has never had "a bad day," although she had some difficult moments in the BCC last week. We watched Rachel Alexandra get run into the ground for her place in history. Sad.

Take a look at some history. Looks as though great horses who were shipped to Dubai didn't do well afterwards. Cigar made it clear he was tired of the track after he came home from Dubai. And then there was Curlin. He didn't do so well, either.

Believe me, Zenyatta will be remembered long after some of these other horses have faded from memory. Her greatness is measured by much more than consecutive wins. She brought a nobility and joy to the sport of racing that has been missing for a long time.

13 Nov 2010 9:18 PM
Linda in PA

Horse of the year is not a popularity contest!  It is what the horse has accomplished through out the year.  Things like what kind of race, and who is in the race count.  Did their owners and trainers take risks with the horse? Did they race him or her out of their comfort zone? Horses that are not asked to take risks or be challenged through out the year don't have a good chance against horses that have been asked to take chances and race out of their comfort zone.  Zennyatta was not asked all year to be challenged or race out of her comfort zone except once and she lost.  She ran a terrific race to be sure and proved she was a great race mare, but she still lost.   If she had been in more open races against all (male and female) and won just a couple, I would agree that she deserves Horse of the year even with the loss in the Breeders Cup.  I think there is a lot of emotion overriding common sense and then there are some that do not know much about racing throwing their two cents in the mix.  Great horses are defined by who they run against and what kind of races they run in.  If you look up the first top ten horses in the Blood Horses best horses in the 20th century you will see that all of them took many risks and took on all.  None of them played it safe.

13 Nov 2010 9:24 PM

Zenyatta is magnificent and has been in EVERY race she ran.There is nothing, you hear me, NOTHING any of the Sports writers can say to change that!

Zenyatta is Perfect~!!

I agree with Paula Higgin's comment.

13 Nov 2010 9:53 PM

Mary McQuire said:

"Oh please. You bore me. One of the greatest racehorses ever lost her last race with no racing luck whatsoever. Management took care of their horse and kept a 6 yr. old mare running at the top of her form. Everyone who saw the 2010 BC Classic knew the best horse in the race did not win. All your musings are just silly."

That sums it up best for me. Thanks! Now I don't have to write anything!

13 Nov 2010 10:01 PM
Sherry Bogiantzis

I don t think anyone "thinks" What Might Have Been when it comes to the great Zenyatta.To even go there seems so insignificant at this time.

The bigger question to many is why retire Blame after this win? Was he just lucky as Z was not as fortunate?

Her connections did not retire her after her win last year and she has more than "shown up' under circumstances that most racehorses could not have overcome. But then,she is not like any other!

13 Nov 2010 10:20 PM

What a bunch of crap! Zenyatta is the best that's come along in ages and those of us old enough to have seen Secretariat and Ruffian race have some idea of what we're talking about. Zenyatta could "only" outrun what was in the races and you didn't see any of them come to take her on. Don't airplanes fly both ways? Let's look at this differently for a change....Zenyatta WAS GOOD ENOUGH to run on synthetic tracks. Maybe those right coast horses weren't. Curlin sure couldn't handle it, could he? And Zenyatta...just outran Awesome Gem, Colonel John, Einstein, Gio Ponti, Giralamo, Mine That Bird, Regal Ransom, Richard's Kid, Rip Van Winkle, Summer Bird, Twice Quality Road, Haynesfield, Lookin at Lucky, Espoir City, Paddy O'Prado, Musket Man, First Dude, Fly Down, Etched and Pleasant Prince. Now, take a look at the first 11 of these and tell me that Blame outran better! Pick your head up and look at the facts for a change! Of course she's a better horse, better race horse and certainly has classier owners. By the way, it takes a special type of trainer who can keep a horse sound, happy, and racing at the highest level for over 3 years. Ask Rachel's trainer or maybe Mine That Bird's. Did Blame ever win carrying 129? I doubt it. And he immediately retired, was taken to Claiborne Farm, where just the farm help welcomed him. Sad, don't you think? When people are still coming to Zenyatta's barn? Wishing her well and just wanting a glimpse of her, hoping some of whatever it is she has will somehow rub off, just a little, into their lives.

13 Nov 2010 10:28 PM


What a privilege it's been to actually see one of the greatest horses ever to race live.

Next year looks pretty bleak as well as the next 50 years. Horses like Zenyatta just don't come along very often in ones lifetime.

13 Nov 2010 10:29 PM


You state

"There is no reason to have put her on a such a conservative campaign; she failed to beat a Grade I winner this year. Let me repeat that, she failed to beat a Grade I winner this year. For a horse of that talent, that is inexcusable"   -  It seems to me that she beat Grade 1 winner Quality Road as well as Grade 1 and Classic winner Looking at Lucky quite handily.  

Let me repeat she did beat grade 1 winning males on dirt at the classic distance of a mile and a quarter.  

13 Nov 2010 10:49 PM

With regard to the title of this blog, Ms. Hunter, I wonder...what do you think Zenyatta's connections should have done? Throw a race? Purposely place her in a race they knew she couldn't possibly win as a maiden?  

John Shirreffs did NOT expect her to win her first, maiden allowance.  He considered it too short for her but wanted her to gain racing experience.  Clearly, Zenyatta's NATURE and ability dictated that she must WIN from the first time out.

I also wonder why you think she should have run in the Pacific Classic, Gold Cup or Goodwood when she had already beaten the winners of those races in the 2009 BC Classic.  Quite handily.

In criticizing her connections for her campaigns, you have discounted the relevance of her behemoth size and all the difficulties of keeping one like her healthy, happy and ready to run to the age of 6.5 years.  But you think a mare of her age should have been running all year against 3-4-5 year old Colts in their prime??  

I have truly begun to think that all of you who think like that would NEVER be satisfied with anything this splendid creature did until or unless you saw her drop dead on the track.  Such thinking is beyond all rationality, beyond comprehension.  

You've heard the old saw, "looking a Gift Horse in the mouth?"  Now I understand the full meaning of it!

13 Nov 2010 11:04 PM

If Zenyatta would of lost or not raced in any her previous races, horses such as Reinterval would now be classified as Grade one winners.

If you have a horse and want to win a Grade One, don't run in the same race as Zenyatta. Go to the East coast and race. Hollendorfer took Blind Luck thousands of miles away from Zenyatta, Assmussen retired RA instead of facing Zenyatta.

Nuff said.

13 Nov 2010 11:07 PM

Her connections should be given an award for keeping her in such great condition and racing for so long. They did not get to pick the horses that entered the races. Her first few races b/f she became well known seem to have many more horses, but after people realized her potential they didn't want to run against her. They were grade one races. How many horses retired after this years BC? and why was she the only female in the Classic last year and this year? Some say that RA's campaign "ruined" her, she was never the same-was it worth it if that was the case? They retired her after her losses, if she had kept on winning would they have kept her going?  It seems our society is obsessed with winning-but we want the wins to come from the hardest level everytime. If it was so easy we would see so many more horses doing it all of the time (as well as every other sport). The racing industry needs more connections like Zenyatta's, not ones that race their horses into the ground or retire them early. As for being remebered she will. Comparing horses from different eras is difficult,if not nearly impossible,even comparing from the same is hard. Besides, many remember the horse, but not everything that they did, they just know that they were great. (Zenyatta beat some of the same horses that RA did, and beat the one that beat RA)

13 Nov 2010 11:09 PM

"By the way, that title belongs to Personal Ensign who went undefeated on dirt with a grade 1 victory over males.  Zenyatta can't make that claim."

Now I love Personal Ensign as much as anyone.  And she did win a grade 1 race over males.  It was the Whitney at a mile 1/8th I believe and she beat 2 males. Just 2. Not a full field, just 2.  Granted Gulch and King's Swan were good horses (Gulch won the eclipse for Ch. sprinter that year) but good or not, Personal Ensign beat 2 males on a sloppy track.  Plus she was carrying 117 to King Swan's 123 and Gulch's 124.  

Again, as much as I love and respect Personal Ensign (one of my all time favorites) you can't compare that win to Zenyatta's 2009 BC CLASSIC victory and her 2010 runnerup performance.  

Personal Ensign missed the BC Juvenile fillies because of an injury and DID NOT TRAVEL to Santa Anita for the 87 Distaff where she prob. would have been favored.  She did win all 7( or 8) of her starts in 88 including the Whitney and she def. Winning Colors twice. The last being her only start outside of NY I believe.

So both P. Ensign and Zenyatta defeated Derby Winners but Zen also defeated a Preakness Winner and Haskell winner as well as a Belmont winner.  Two Jockey Club Gold Cup winners ( Summer Bird and Haynesfield), the Met Mile winner etc.  

Two exceptional mares managed exceptionally well with wonderful connections. But how is it ok for P. Ensign to make 1 start out of NY but not ok for Zenyatta to make 3 starts out of Cal.?   Zenyatta made 3 BC races. Personal Ensign only 1.  

And it's time to get over the synthetic bias.  There are synthetic surfaces in Dubai, Cal. , Ky, Illinois, Canada etc.  Do all of those races deserve an asterik by them because they are supposedly "inferior"?

13 Nov 2010 11:18 PM

Small correction to my above post.  P. Ensign did win in NJ so she won races in NY, NJ and Ky and was 7 for 7 in 88.

13 Nov 2010 11:26 PM
Leslie Fisher

I don't race horses, breed them or own them; I do love them however. The owners of Zenyatta should be proud of what she accomplished with or without the history books.

She is a beautiful Lady.

13 Nov 2010 11:31 PM

All this "Monday-morning quarterbacking" and psycho-analyzing is doing nothing but stirring up a hornet's nest! It is what it turned out to be: Zen came from about 15 lengths out of it, thru at least two traffic problems, cold hard November dirt beating her in the face to miss by one stride!

And, by the grace of God, The Big Mare returned home safe & sound.

All the writers & bloggers of this nature need to recognize and sit down and be quiet!!

13 Nov 2010 11:31 PM
Mike Relva


You are senseless morons!

13 Nov 2010 11:32 PM

It was a honor to watch Zenyatta run for the past 3 years.  I not saying she was the only great one out there to watch cuz there were plenty of great horses running this year.

As far as I am concerned, the Mosses took a risk every time Zenyatta ran, as she could have lost at anytime, to any horse.

Hats off to the Zenyatta connections for putting the welfare of her first.  

13 Nov 2010 11:40 PM

She was a Rock Star! She was a racehorse!

Zenyatta's 2010 campaign makes sense if her owners thought of her as a rock star first and a great racehorse second. They did a magnificent job of showcasing her.  "How can you argue with perfection?" Great showbiz! They made a huge contribution to racing by drawing people in worldwide. Racing owes them.

But if they had considered her a great racehorse first she'd have raced males and raced on the east coast because that would have added most to her reputation as a race horse. As for losing, the Classic she lost with such magnificence did more for her place in history than the last few she won.

If racing opportunities for Zenyatta were sacrificed to stardom that's a loss, but let's celebrate her two great races.

14 Nov 2010 12:12 AM


14 Nov 2010 12:22 AM


14 Nov 2010 12:31 AM

Conservative management gave us a thoroughbred who maintained her brilliance and remained sound and happy as a six-year old, not burned out like Rachel Alexandra this year or, earlier, Lady's Secret.  One can hope that conservative management might also yield a broodmare who can better bear foals than, say, Genuine Risk (unclear though it is whether the stress of racing in the Triple Crown contributed to her troubles in carrying foals to term).  And there are few doubters of Zenyatta's place at the top of her sport, conservatively managed though she may for the most part have been.  

14 Nov 2010 1:15 AM

Sure, this argument holds some merit if we're discussing Zenyatta's place among the very greatest horses of all time, horses like Secretariat, Affirmed, Forego, or even a more recent horse like Cigar.

Zenyatta's connections largely stayed within the paradigm that has been well established in North America, to run females against other females.  However, the two exceptions the Moss' did make were fairly significant, running twice in the Breeder's Cup Classic.  The Breeder's Cup Classic is only the most important maintrack race in the world, run at the classic distance of 10 furlongs.  And Zenyatta was asked to win on both synthetic and dirt, and she came just a head short of doing so.

So, instead of comparing Zenyatta with Secretariat, or Citation, and the very best males, let's say we instead compare her with the greatest females in North America.  Well, then, arguments like the one presented by the above writer hold little water.  The Moss' were a heck of alot more risky than the Phipps were with Personal Ensign; Personal Ensign faced males only once, in a 3 horse Whitney field.  And instead of throwing down against fellow Horse of the Year candidate, Alysheba, in the 88' Classic, they instead chose to keep Personal Ensign with females in the Distaff.  And while Personal Ensign's dramatic win over Winning Colors in the Distaff was certainly a wonderful effort, how can it be compared with Zenyatta beating males in the Classic last year(to go one better than Personal Ensign at 14 for 14) or even Zenyatta's 2nd in the Classic this year?  Zenyatta could have remained with females in the Ladies Classic this year to secure a 20 for 20 record, but the Moss' did show courage, and made Zenyatta go out in that 20th race and face males in a 10 furlong race on dirt.  So, if Personal Ensign is considered by most experts to be one of the top 4 North American females ever(along with Ruffian, Gallorette, and Busher), then I just don't see how Zenyatta can be ranked any lower.  

To summarize, let's first be more specific in defining the debate.  Are we talking about Zenyatta in comparison with the 10 greatest (male) horses ever, or are we talking aout the top 50(where she definitely fits), or are we talking about the greatest females.  If it's the latter, I have not seen anyone make a convincing argument why Zenyatta is not among the 5 greatest females ever, and I personally believe she is #1.  If we don't define the debate, it gets really confusing, and some people can take things the wrong way.  

14 Nov 2010 1:37 AM
Lil Bunny Foo Foo

Zenyatta has beaten somewhere in the neighborhood of 90 horses so far in her career.  "Same horses?"  Really? The facts don't back you up.  Look at the horses she beat in the BCC 2010.  Quality Road looked like he was tied to a post when she blew by him.  lookin at lucky was looking at her fine arse at the end. So, please, if you're going to try to diss the queen, at least try to stick to facts.

14 Nov 2010 1:50 AM

So let me get this right, if Zenyattas connections are spineless cowards what do call RA's owner? Maybe if RA was handled more like Zenyatta we wouldn't have seen tired wrung out RA this year. The real disappointment was RA's campaign this year. The going got tough and they retired her because they wanted to save the embarrasment of losing again after they ruined her the previous year. They knew she would never be the same after the Woodward.  Zenyatta's connections put together 3 solid seasons and who knows they haven't officially retired her yet.

14 Nov 2010 2:08 AM
Mike S

I don't think that ZENYATTA had a "conservative campaign" at any point in her career. Grade 1 races are not easy. Her place among the greats should be right in the top 10. And when it comes to fillies and mares she is the best.

I really don't understand all the talk about "an easy campaign" and "cream puffs" and all the other nonsense we hear about. No race is easy to win. There is never a guarantee of winning when a horse enters the starting gate. If you want proof of that ask RACHEL ALEXANDRA's connections who only raced her in one Grade 1 this year (she lost), and races her in Grade 2's and listed races instead. RACHEL ALEXANDRA was defeated by "cream puffs" three times this year, and she was defeated by them a few times as a two year old as well. I don't like the term "cream puffs," and I only use it to make a point. But, seriously, if you're going to criticize ZENYATTA's competition, by calling them "cream puffs" why couldn't the Horse of the Year defeat that same caliber of horse?

The same misguided and confused people who criticize ZENYATTA talk about BLAME and how "he deserves Horse of the Year because he ran against tougher company." That's an argument we can toss out the window instantly. What "tougher company"? QUALITY ROAD? What's so great about him? Didn't he just finish last in the BC Classic? HAYNESFIELD? Wasn't he just down the track as well? Where is this "tough competition" that you people are talking about? And didn't ZENYATTA just leave QUALITY ROAD and HAYNESFIELD in the weeds the other day, with no problem whatsoever? There was nothing at all that was "tough" about those horses. And HAYNESFIELD even defeated BLAME, quite easily, by 4 lengths in the Jockey Club Gold Cup!

It's insulting and ignorant to say that ZENYATTA's place in history should be in some diminished capacity. She won 19 of 20 races. That is the kind of record that reminds one of MAN O' WAR (20 for 21) or NATIVE DANCER (21 for 22). I don't hear anyone saying, "MAN O' WAR? Oh, he was nobody! Who did he run against?"

Why is ZENYATTA the only American female racehorse whose incredible record of perfection is dismissed by some because she ran mostly against fillies. I don't know if you've noticed, but in America, fillies and mares usually run with females. Other great females don't get this type of criticism, though. SUSAN'S GIRL never defeated males, but she was a great mare. AZERI never defeated males, and was Horse of the Year in a campaign where he raced exclusively against females. LADY'S SECRET's Horse of the Year campaign did include a win over ENDS WELL in the Whitney, but that wasn't the most amazing competition she defeated. PERSONAL ENSIGN sort of "beat males," I guess, but that a 3 horse field, and GULCH was mostly a one turn sprinter/miler type, and KING'S SWAN was sort of over the hill at the time. INSIDE INFORMATION didn't defeat males. PRINCESS ROONEY defeated males in an allowance. I don't recall PASEANA or BAYAKOA defeating males. FLAWLESSLY didn't defeat colts either. These are all great mares too! But ZENYATTA did defeat males in the 2009 BC Classic (GR-1), and came a few inches short of doing it again in 2010, so what's with all the pooh-poohing going on? ZENYATTA doesn't deserve that!

ZENYATTA's accomplishments are amazing, astounding, and even colossal. Losing one race by a nose, after not warming up in the post parade, getting pinched back at the start, then encountering enough little problems like traffic and trying to find a path to make a run, is surely enough to excuse that head-bob she barely missed, isn't it? Of course it is.

BLAME beat QUALITY ROAD and HAYNESFIELD, good for him, but it doesn't seem like it's such a hard thing to do. So all this talk about how BLAME beat tougher competition is absurd, because ZENYATTA was last at the top of the stretch and she defeated both of those horses by open lengths. Circumstances beat her in the BC Classic, not BLAME, he was just the lucky recipient who was in the right place at the right time, and got a dream trip, but he's nowhere near being the better horse.

14 Nov 2010 2:17 AM

It all seems perfectly clear to me.I don't get way there is any doubt. ZENYATTA IS: SIMPLY THE BEST!!! I doubt the remarks made here about her handling and what she should have done are from, sorry to say, people who are hardly qualified to make them. If Blame is so great why did they rip him off the track and retire him. Why didn't they bring him back to defend his BC title next year. He's not too old. Yes, I wonder why. NOT! I think we all know why. I doubt his owners have stopped shaking yet because he just about got his horses end beaten by a fine six year old lady.

14 Nov 2010 2:36 AM

As usual, put down Calif racing, put down brilliance, put downs syns and with a straight face call that cr*p at Churchill "dirt" and yet DRF ran a headline albeit briefly, Weds that said about the 'dead rail' clearly visisble all BC that it was "Poof Gone!" . Yep-POOF GONE!  Racing doesn't get it and neither do you. As much as I love some horses that race on East Coast won't lift a dime to support East Coast racing and I am not from California.  How many owners do you know that sit around and say "let's try to get our horse beat" . Sorry like it or not, Grade Ones are Grade Ones and East Coast not exactly full of Secretariats at every track.

Horse of the Year should be Horse of the Year--not owner of the year,how many races on cr*p like that one week only surface at Churchill, not what blind writers who probably never even rode a horse much less trained one decide THIS year is the criteria-a loss-if it can be called that-in the Classic--talk about moving goal posts each year! Try this on. Zenyatta as we know is only female to ever win a Classic-EVER--BUT since not on the pious East Coast it doesn't count. Okay fine for a second-she is also the ONLY mare to come in second in a Classic--right? Carried a perfect season and career into it. HORSE of the Year is about THE HORSE. There is no set criteria and we all know it. SHE is horse of the year--no horse did more for racing by being such a supreme talent and the cherry on top of being the biggest draw this sport has seen in years. A vote for Zenyatta is a vote for her, her talent and for all of us who look at the horses as more than a commodity-a commodity to either disappear to stud or broodmare or flat disappear to who knows where or die on the track. There is no horse that better embodies that lesson that racing refuses to learn than Zenyatta. It is about the horse --the horse. THEY are what is magnificent about racing, not the humans or the tracks. None are more magnificent than her. Vote against her again and go down in history as the nincompoops voted against her 3 years in a row-YOU deserve that dubious honor with what little power you have but she doesn't and neither do the fans she brought and those still here who love the horse.THE HORSE-not the pick six even though we all want to hit, not the track,not the coast,not the writers but THE HORSE!

14 Nov 2010 3:09 AM

I am not sure what the "nuts and bolts" people wanted other than to see a former shell of a horse emerge ( can you say Rachel?)I am stunned at all those who feel that she should have been raced till she could give no more . Rachel was a wonderful filly who's true greatness was tarnished becouse of greedy players who had to "test" her more and we all know how that turned out   KUDOS to Zens connections for her management and THANK YOU for the 3 great years you gave us!

14 Nov 2010 4:46 AM
Thom in VA

Zenyatta is going to be remembered as the greatest female horse of this time. Does anyone leaving blogs know how hard it is to keep a horse happy & healthy to win even one race not to mention 19 straight. I look forward to watching her babies run and to see if they have a fraction of what there mother has when it comes to performing on race day. Thanks for all the memories Zenyatta.  T.M.M.

14 Nov 2010 6:32 AM

Zenyatta lost the Breeders Cup Classic on August 29th when connections refused to ship to Saratoga. Had she ran there she would have been familiar with the dirt kick back.

14 Nov 2010 7:38 AM

OMG, this is what I've been saying for awhile now!  Poor Zenyatta, her unbeaten streak was the monkey on her back.  Why didn't her owners race her in the tough male races in CA?  She would have whipped some butts but her owners wanted to preserve her perfect record.  They lost HOY for her.

14 Nov 2010 7:52 AM

C'Mon stop playing the blame game. Zenyatta is superstar. The connection's gave us all a diamond in racing.Why add more negativity to a dimming sport. I have enjoyed racing for years she has been the brightest star we have . Thank you Zen!

14 Nov 2010 8:46 AM

Paula Higgins got it right in her response above and in far fewer words. Not only does this commentary slam the owners, it slams the horse as well. The most sinister part of this message is that Zenyatta's record of 19 wins exists only because her owners played it safe. Riiiiiight. NOT!!!

There is nothing for which Zenyatta and her owners need to be "ashamed." What is a crying shame is the upside-down/inside-out/twisted logic of the premise put forth by Ms. Hunter in this blog.

14 Nov 2010 8:49 AM

There's probably a bit of truth in what all observers have to say. The only mistake made was not schooling Zen with dirt in the face, big time, several times, prior to the race. Blame finished with  a clean face but look at Zenyatta's! The fact that she finally ran through the dirt is just another tribute to her class.

Yes, what a privilege to see her run, One of the few uplifting really big news events in the past 10 years!

14 Nov 2010 9:29 AM


14 Nov 2010 9:40 AM
Happy now

I agree 100% zen could have been one of the all time greats if only her connections would have allowed it, and for all you that keep saying " i don't see east coast horses coming west, why would they ? There are more than enough grade 1 opportunities here, what's to gain by going west ? And on the same hand I don't think zen had to come out here to prove herself a real deal, she could have entered in many grade 1 handicaps against males, but like the auther wrote, her connections were racing "not to lose" instead of running to win. It's very sad that the Moses and sheriffs ruined what could have actually been an all time legend, very, very, sad.

14 Nov 2010 9:47 AM

I guess if Blame is such a lousy racehorse then Zenyatta is not as good as all think. At the head of the stretch she was only behind him about a length and she could not get by him no matter how hard she tried.

14 Nov 2010 10:05 AM

Thank You, JOHN!!!

14 Nov 2010 10:41 AM
Linda in Texas

Good Sunday Morning to you Turner, i see yet another naysayer on the bandwagon.

I presume that makes 2 writers with votes for a horse other than the most famous of all who has raced for the last 3 years.

I have been selectively advised to not enter the fray as evidently my comments have been objectionable to a Z admirer on a less negative blog. But to not address your 'riding on the coattails of the other negative author' would go against my personal values.

So as not to denigrate your obvious misconceptions in your statements, i will simply say, i agree with Gunbow, Sherpa, Thom in VA,brokentree,Dan,Henrietta,Mike S.,Rowner, Lil Bunny FoFoo,Zen4Zen,

Brigitte, Leanna, YYZGuy, Mike Relva and jayar and many more who have come to the horse and owner's defenses here.

Zenyatta was bred and born in Kentucky and bought at a sale in Kentucky. Other buyers had every opportunity to purchase Zenyatta as a hip number. Only one buyer had the talent to know a potential winner when he saw one. David Ingordo. Had she been with a trainer other than Shirreffs, and raced solely in Kentucky and on the east coast, and won the races there, you would be writing a totally different article. Maybe.

Great horses are foaled on the soil of every state every day. It takes an observant trainer to get the best from each horse he takes to train.

It is time for the bias to stop in this sport or it will die on the vine and writers like your ilk will be out of jobs.

Where are the greats who won and retired the minute they banked their winnings? Where is Rachel, bless her. I miss her.

Goldikova is a superb mare, and rarely races in America, but shows up for the Breeder's Cup. She won her Breeder's cup last year on plastic, just as Zenyatta did, but Zenyatta gets no recognition for her win and Goldikova is revered.

That is pure and simple selective adulation.

Had Zenyatta won the Breeder's Cup this year, she still would not be respected by writers with blinders on. It is truly sad for all of horse racing.

I will say what i said elsewhere, Zenyatta beat all of the same horses Blame did on November 6.

Why didn't they fly to the west coast to challenge Zenyatta to prove their greatness?

Why should she be expected to always fly to the east to prove her greatness?

As for not racing at Saratoga, plans have to be made well ahead of time, i seem to remember articles saying that perhaps Rachel would be honored at Saratoga, maybe, just maybe the Motts had enough respect for Rachel Alexandra that they did not want to take the spotlight away from her. It is just a thought, right or wrong. After all, Rachel Alexandra is still relishing her HOY Award as her year is not yet up, however and where ever she is all be it, all by herself. And that is,i guess, the way the east coast likes their winners to be honored.

Zenyatta would race tomorrow morning if asked and She is Six, Safe,Sound and Shared with her fans, thanks to her owners, trainers and handlers.

Horse Racing fans: Please read 2 articles posted in today's, November 14, 2010, THE PILOT,(the then click sports and scroll down, one article headlined on the left by Gordon White, one on the right by Stephanie Diaz).

They are positive articles and good for all of horse racing, unlike this article that negates effort and tenacity.

14 Nov 2010 10:57 AM

Leon- Goldikova has taken a fairly traditional path that top filly/mare milers take in Europe.  It is what is done.  She is an admirable and brilliant horse, a champion deserving of all her accolades, but she is not running in races that are groundbreaking for a filly/mare miler.  When Darjina was a 4 year old, Goldikova as a 3 yr old beat her twice, once by a neck and once by a nose.  Darjina had been running second to males in top class races all that year beginning in Dubai.  Nobody mentions how brilliant and difficult a schedule that was.  Nobody even mentions her.  She was an amazing miler.  My point is that these races are the races that top class milers run in.  They do not do that here.  You can't compare European campaigns with American.  I would have loved to see them race Zenyatta differently.  But comparing her to a horse who is running a traditional season in Europe is not fair.

14 Nov 2010 11:16 AM
Pedigree Ann

Long winning streaks are sometimes a by-product of great horses racing at top levels, but are in and of themselves not an indicator of greatness. Otherwise, the greatest horse of all time would have been Camarero, who won 56 races in a row in Puerto Rico in the 1950s.

Nobody mentioned winning streaks in describing top racehorses until Cigar came along, and the press noted that no major racehorse in the US had won as many in a row since Citation. Suddenly, unbeaten streaks became the fashion, and we had Hallowed Dreams in Louisiana and Peppers Pride in New Mexico making the news. Thus we have the phenomenon of a world-class racehorse running in less-than-top races to preserve a winning streak. And don't give me that "They were all G1 races!" crap. They were G1 races for females only, so that Zenyatta was not meeting the best horses on the grounds, much less the country. She may have been one of the best of all time, but we will never know now, because of the way she was campaigned.

14 Nov 2010 11:28 AM

As much as I would love to see Zenyatta come here to NY next year to the awsome Saratoga, I truly feel she has more than done her job and deserves the safety of retirement. Since my teens have only seen one other mare bring such attention to the sport her name was Ruffian, we all know what happened there. Sincerely hope she can reproduce one even 1/2 as great as herself. Should they decide to let her have just a little more fun doing what she loves, I so hope it's one time at Saratoga. What a crowd there would be where the fans come to see the horses, don't care where they are from we enjoy all of them.

14 Nov 2010 11:32 AM
Linda in Texas

Jimf, what an innocuous statement.

Last time i was in Newport and San Francisco, the material i was walking on was sand and dirt respectively!

There is not only gold in California, there really is dirt!

And some superb race horses to boot.

Why in the world would Zenyatta have to fly 2,820 miles from Hollywood Park, CA to Saratoga Springs, NY to find dirt?

With her come from behind pattern, and with so many horses in the BCC, i am sure she was experiencing more than usual dirt in her face. From the looks of her after the race, she certainly got her share and then some. She is a trooper. Deal with it.

And keep in mind that safe trips can be thwarted when least expected. i.e. fatal injuries in their stalls, taking a bad step, shunning the starting gate and being injured, parading to the gate, and of course going down with a life ending break. Nothing is safe in life, even for race horses.

Just thankful Zenyatta still is safe and if that is because the Mosses were selective in their choice of races, i am delighted.

14 Nov 2010 11:37 AM

Zenyatta is perfect!  Why does fault need to be found with her????  She will go down in history; her contribution to racing is as great as Secretariat.

She should definitely be Horse of the Year.

14 Nov 2010 11:40 AM
Gary Tasich

Oh please...another biased voice from the east. Thank God you're a writer and not a trainer.

The connections took care of Zenyatta and can never be faulted for that. Unlike Rachel's. They gutted her.

Look what Zenyatta's connections achieved by putting their horse's health and welfare first.

She set consecutive 3-peat records for races she had run previously by running in them again. She beat the boys in the 2009 Classic. What does she have to prove after that?

I guess she dispelled the dirt myth. If the east coast horses can't win on artificial, they are undeserving.

There's an old saying, "If it ain't broke don't fix it." Shireffs wisely chose the path he used in 2009 to bring her to the 2010 Classic.  

She's simply the best and she proved it!

The only way she doesn't get HOY is because the game board is tilted to the east, just like last year.

Let me ask you, "If you were Team Zenyatta, would you attend the Eclipse Awards this year only to be slapped in the face again?"

Team Zenyatta is a class act and will undoubtedly be there no matter the outcome.

Zenyatta should be HOY, if the voters are objective and that's what it all comes down to.

Thanks Zenyatta...noble warrior!

14 Nov 2010 11:51 AM
Zen's Auntie

Shame?  Ms Hunter, as far as I can see there is no shame at all in anything Zenyatta or her connections have done.  The antonym for shame is Pride.  I think you have this one backwards.

A Shame is dropping 25K hurt claimers in 5K races to break down and pawn off on new owners to put down.

Shame is Running top class horses that are known to be "off" in Huge races and not scratching them.

Shame is what happened to Rough Sailing, Brawling Jockeys, and retired TB racehorses going to slaughter instead of having a home for life or at the very least a dignified death.

Shame is not appreciating without criticizing the career of the retiring 17.2 H mare.

I guess we all define things on our own terms.

14 Nov 2010 11:59 AM

The "undefeated" label was way too much of the hype. Run them enough and they'll get beaten. Her loss in the Classic was more impressive than any of her wins this year. That says it all about the value of a perfect record.

Not sure I agree that her conservative campaign was BECAUSE she was undefeated; her people always treated the BC as the goal and the rest of the year as preparation, and probably would have whether she lost her first race or not.

I think in a 20 race career she could have taken on tougher fields including males a couple more times than she did, and whether she won or lost I'm sure it would have shown better how good a horse she is.

14 Nov 2010 12:10 PM

A lot of people are saying that Zenyatta should be given HOTY for all the attention she brought horse racing. However, look at the other media darlings we had of recent: Smarty Jones and Barbaro. Did either of them get HOTY? Nope. Because some other horse had the better campaign. Not because of what those horses did for horse racing. Zenyatta's connections knew that they had to win the BC Classic and I'm pretty sure thought she was going to, so they laid all their cards on the table in one race. Blame went out and did what no other horse could do, and its nothing against Zenyatta. She is/was a fantastic, brilliant racehorse who will go down as one of the best fillies of all time but that doesn't mean that Blame can't get HOTY. They give HOTY off of one season, not a career and Blame had the better season. If she couldn't get HOTY off of the exact same season last year with a WIN in the BC Classic, why should she get it this year with a loss? Especially when last year the argument for Zenyatta's case to be HOTY was: "Zenyatta won the BC Classic, Rachel did not". But this year, the argument "Blame won the BC Classic, Zenyatta did not" doesn't seem to fly for Blame. Don't be hypocrites.

14 Nov 2010 12:34 PM
Rachel O

I'm really glad that Zenyatta is sound, happy and continuing to spread joy around. She knew she passed Blame just after the finish post, and it looks like her front legs were out in front of his at the finish. There are videos that show this clearly. So, as far as I'm concerned, all the arguments against her being given HOY are false, ill-thought, and ridiculous.

Throw out the award. It has been meaningless for the last three years. If it goes to Blame for 2010, bless his poor soul, a lot of us out here will turn our backs on the racetracks because of the idiocy of voters who can't see the differnce between a pearl and a road-apple.

14 Nov 2010 12:42 PM

Unfortunately no matter what Zenyatta did or did not do seems to matter to those who vote for Horse of the Year.  I have watched the criteria and rationale change for three years but one thing is consistent -- they were horses trained and raced in Kentucky. As I suspected, Horse of the Year is a political choice.  Bloodhorse's own Jason Shandler confirmed my suspicions in a short-fused, injudicious response to those who disagreed with his November 8 blog, "Horse of the Year is Simple: Blame." Shandler in anger responded, It's not fair to the Hancocks. They have 100 years in this sport. Zenyatta will be gone in 2011, Claiborne will still be there as it has for a century. Be fair."

Pretty much sums it up -- how unfortunate for all of us who love this sport. And how unfair to most horse owners.

14 Nov 2010 12:46 PM
Arts and Letters

By basically repeating her 2009 year, 2010 really didn't add that much to Zenyatta's rep.  Yes, she got a few more victories, and went to the front of the line with number of wins, and yes, more fans (mostly in California) got to see her, but what else?  She'd already won most of those races twice.  They basically duplicated the campaign that lost her HOY last year.  (that's the definition of madness BTW - doing the same thing and expecting a different result).  So why play it so safe?  Why not try something different?   Can you imagine Zenyatta in Dubai?  Beating the boys in the Pacific Classic?  Trying the turf, just to see what would happen.

And yes, I'm a big Zenyatta fan.  I thought she was the best horse last year, but I also thought Rachel had the better campaign and deserved to win HOTY.  I do think Zen was the best horse this year too, but I just wish she'd had more chance to prove it.

I applaud the owners for taking their time with her and getting such a large horse through a 3 year campaign uninjured.  Kudos!  Minimizing the number of starts per year probably makes a lot of sense for her, especially in this day and age of over medication, poor breeding, and poor training.  But did they have to pick the same 5 races?  If, as the owners stated, they wanted to showcase her, why not take her on the road and try something new.  

14 Nov 2010 12:58 PM
Windy City


You couldn't say it any better. I love Zenyatta and really hoped that she will retire with perfect record, but as you had said, if she would loose somewhere on the way we may have witnessed much better campaign this year. I remember her owners committing to "new approach" after they announced her comeback for 2010....and it was really disappointing to see them put her in exactly the same races....Wish them best and I hope one day we'll have a chance to see one of Zenny's babies climb even higher :-) peace

14 Nov 2010 1:23 PM

What does this article have to do with your Market Watch blog? Just another turf writer trying to get blog hits. Why don't you write about how Blame and Quality Roads stud fees are too high!

14 Nov 2010 1:56 PM

Apophatic headlines draw attention, congratulations.

14 Nov 2010 2:04 PM
Linda in Texas

Buddy's Saint, euthanized on the track at Belmont this morning during a morning workout.

I rest my case. It is not easy to keep these big animals healthy and sound and when they are we need to respect them for all they are worth.

Rest in Peace Buddy's Saint. I was looking forward to your comeback after your surgery. Not to be.

Very sad indeed.

14 Nov 2010 2:07 PM

Oh it's so easy to be a backseat

quarterback...shoulda, woulda, coulda. The connections did what they did for reasons of their own. Like politics, you are either conservative, liberal or the 40% that takes the road down the middle. Zenyatta made her mark regardless of her owners. She was destined to do so because she is unique to the sport. And she just happens to be a pretty darn good racehorse too. Just how much better she may have been will have to be left to the imagination.

14 Nov 2010 2:16 PM
Ian Tapp


Excellent assessment, and I like your football analogy. Your point comes across loud and clear.

After reading some of these comments, I wonder whether Zenyatta's legacy will be defined by her racing accomplishments or by her fanbase.


14 Nov 2010 2:38 PM
Zenyatta World Cup 2011

Ms. Hunter has a right to her opinion - let's build upon it!  Now that the unbeaten record stress is over, I hope that Team Zenyatta heads to the synthetic track in Dubai and let's the Queen Of Racing become the Queen Of The World!  There will still be plenty of time to breed her after racing there, no dreaded Dubai lethargy syndrome because retirement awaits her afterwards.  No Blame to face there either.  On to Dubai!!!!  

14 Nov 2010 2:39 PM
Dominic Campisi

Wow I can't believe how much Zenyatta's loss has generated.  I was thinking the whole time what it was going to be like for her after she won.  I respect what you and your magazine does and was so honored that you were going to print my letter before the race.  I think the sport has a major problem.  Almost reminds me of the Civil War north Vs south.  I could only think that the people on your staff really know racing and horses.  We all know Zenyatta especially has created so much interest it's helped rejuvenate the sport a little bit.  I just can't see after that race and the attention and excitement she brought to the sport how anybody could put her down.  Going back in history I don't know of any horse who could have made up that much ground in that stretch drive like she did.  I had told my relatives friends that what happened Saturday might happen to her if she gets caught behind the horses and can't make her move at the right time.  There was more speed out there and things need to go right.  Well, we all know now everything went totally wrong from the opening of the gate.  What gets me is that I consider myself a sports fan not so much as a horse racing fan and when I see all these comments from these horse racing fans I just shake my head.  First I would think it would be just a great pleasure to have seen her run.  We all know if we know anything about sports to win nineteen straight races is amazing let alone the things you must know could go wrong on any given day out on the track.  We also know Zenyatta's style makes it even more amazing she did what she did.  But heres the point I would like to make that I don't understand.  If you watched the race and saw exactly what happened how could you not just be amazed by this mare.  I have watched the race over fifty times now in slow motion and regular speed.  What are all your people and the other people across America not seeing if they watch the race?  Blame has a perfect trip goes between two horses and is going down the stretch drive has fast has he can go.  Zenyatta is caught on the turn looses time to go outside then has to make a sideways move to the outside that looses more time so she can run.  At the same time Blame is blazing as fast as he can go down the stretch and Zenyatta still catches up to him but looses by one more stride that she needed.  What am I not seeing that all these fans are.  What race did they see?  It's on film.  It can't change.  She started to late because of what she was dealing with.  Blame had the perfect trip.  Racing fans that have been around the sport and your people can't remember what they saw.  Blame's owner in complete denial.  He needs to ask his jockey what the out come would have been.  His jockey saved the race for him but not if they had a little more room.  It wouldn't have mattered.  The bias courier says today in editorial maybe she would have passed blame we don't know.  WATCH THE RACE A COUPLE OF TIMES THEN YOU'LL KNOW.  How can they knock Zenyatta after the way she came back in that race?  Blame won but Zenyatta's race was priceless.  She ran down Blame why doesn't anybody see this?  Are the people back there so against the West no matter what race they saw?  Does horse of the year mean that much to your readers and staff.  Blame lost a race badly before this one.  He beat Zenyatta in this one but he had a perfect trip and Zenyatta still ran him down from way back against all odds and made the race great and historic.  That counts for nothing.  It's point blank she lost.  It's not how she lost or how exciting she made the race none of this matters.  What really cracks me up is everybody forgets Zenyatta is a filly she's not supposed to be able to track down a male who has speed but she did.  I wish Garret Gomez could really say what was happening and put this all to rest.  This is so hard for me when all you have to do is watch the race.  Give the mare credit for an all out effort.  It's not always about winning.  It's about seeing that crowd again excited and her dancing for them and the anticipation to see if she could do it.  That stretch drive after what seemed like no chance at all to almost win means nothing.  If Blame turned it on like he did and blew her away I wouldn't be wasting my time writing this.  But she gave horse racing something memorable along with a shot in the arm it needed.  Even Andrew Beyers can't even give her the credit she's due because she has made him look so bad the last two years.  He was praying to God she wouldn't make it.  He probably be out of a job right now.  But all these horse racing lively hood people giving up on her.  Jumping on the band wagon.  This is there living and I say to myself what race did you watch.  What did you see?  Film can't lie.  Hancock should be kissing Churchill Downs dirt track for the gift God gave him that day.  We all have different opinions but film always has the same results.  The Magruder film still shows JFK getting shot.  The 911 film shows the planes hitting the towers.  The Belmont shows Secretariat running away.  Why does the horse industry bite the hand that feeds them?  PLEASE TELL EVERYBODY TO WATCH THE RACE ON FILM it could be something they will never forget.  Zenyatta's not horse of the year.  She's a horse to be historically remembered forever.

14 Nov 2010 2:40 PM
Mike Relva


I totally agree,you are on point. Tht's a huge reason why I have ZERO regard for RA's connections for the manner in which they ran her into the ground.

14 Nov 2010 3:05 PM
Mike S

See my prior comment regarding clarification about competition and BLAME having a tougher campaign. It's just not the truth. Anyway...on to the new subject at hand.

How funny and absurd it is to read the comment by "Ian," who says, "I wonder whether Zenyatta's legacy will be defined by her racing accomplishments or by her fanbase." It's as if he's suggesting that the fan base exists for no reason, because the accomplishments aren't very strong.

She won 19 of 20, and lost once by a few inches. It's ridiculous to criticize such a horse. She has a record similar to that of MAN O' WAR and NATIVE DANCER! She is one of the greatest racehorses of all time. If a token few people refuse to recognize that, that's just too bad for them. I'm sure that there were some people sitting around, looking miserable, with their arms crossed, who were unimpressed by SECRETARIAT, SPECTACULAR BID, CITATION, MAN O' WAR and DR. FAGER when they were running. That's just the nature of some human beings, they're not impressed by anything. However, when a great horse comes along, like ZENYATTA, it's great to see that 95% of racing fans "get it," or in ZENYATTA's case, even the general public "gets it," and that the peanut gallery is thinly populated. How sad it is that one of racing's all-time greats is about to retire, but she has been racing for over 3 years, and a few people missed it. But I'm just happy, like I said, that the other 95% chose to love her instead.

I just got back from John Shirreffs' barn at Hollywood Park and I was present to see a large group of people, all of whom were talking about ZENYATTA's status as one of the greatest horses of all time. I had another wonderful experience, photographing her, petting her, feeding her some goodies, and just enjoying being in the presence of this astounding and beautiful creature. It feels like being a small part of history. And I'm happy for all the times that I've gotten to go see her, each time is more wonderful than the time before.

14 Nov 2010 4:21 PM
Soldier Course

Ms. Hunter:

Your article is warmed-over opinion, already expressed by some of the Blog Stable posters elsewhere.

I think it's time for everyone to retire to their respective corners and wait to see what happens in January.

Absent a news flash, it's all been said.

14 Nov 2010 4:31 PM

et tu, Ian?

14 Nov 2010 4:44 PM
Soldier Course

If you want to read a refreshing perspective, take a look at Maureen Dowd's latest in The New York Times. She likens Zenyatta to Cleopatra.

14 Nov 2010 4:44 PM


14 Nov 2010 4:57 PM

Zenyatta World Cup 2011:

I sincerely hope you don't get your wish.  Racing on Tapeta would just encourage the dirt people to disparage her more.

Jerry & Ann Moss, John Shirreffs and Zenyatta don't have anything to prove.  They don't "owe" anybody a darned thing and never did.  They shared their Gift with the world but the "insiders" and "experts" refused to be satisfied. And that is their loss for sure.

14 Nov 2010 5:03 PM
Zen's Auntie

@ ZWC 2011 - I hear the cry, and by the looks of her she could easily continue to train at the top of her form. A true testament of What an amazing Job John S has done with her.  

But (even though my daughter just reminded me I once felt the same way) with everything considered I hope she never races again -

Z has given us enough, More than enough - a whole bonus year of perfection - minus 6 inches.  If that ain't enough what is?

If some feel its not enough, well all I know is some folks are never happy anyway.

With the loss today of Buddys Saint and remembering back to Tuscan Evenings recent n unexplainable an heartbreaking demise, I can't help but be thankful for all she has done and pray for Her continued safety.

I hope she goes to KY and comes back in foal to a good one and they find her a permanant Home in CA Where Her foals can be adored and she is most loved - or keep her home and breed her to In Excess - laugh if you want to he is a fine choice.  

Lets just let her be a horse.

14 Nov 2010 5:37 PM

Two comments really got to me, early on this blogs:

1) "We will never know how good she was."

If you didn't see it while it was happening, I don't know what to tell you. If this year's BCC did not convince you, nothing will.

2) "I feel sorry for Zenyatta."

This is an astonishing statement. If you want to feel sorry for a horse, pick one of the thousands of neglected, mistreated horses whose sorry lives end in a slaughter house. Zenyatta is beloved and treated with the greatest kindness. Your pity is grossly misplaced, to say the least. Nothing burns my a$$ more than a person who degrades the accomplishments of a mare like Zenyatta and covers it up with phony concern. What a hypocritical joke!

I am disgusted to the max by those who refuse to acknowledge the gift to horse racing (and its fans) that Zenyatta IS and the expert handling that made it possible. Shame on you! You certainly don't deserve her. You like Blame better, good for you! Celebrate HIM and leave Zenyatta and her connections alone. I'm sick of all of you!  

14 Nov 2010 5:49 PM

As with everyone, you are entitled to your opinion, but pleaseeeee, don't even go there.You know not what you are even talking/writing about!

14 Nov 2010 6:24 PM

Thank you zookeeper and all the other positive bloggers out there.  Zenyatta might have done more in a single year under other management, then what?  Had she been in the barn of someone else, she probably would not have been allowed to mature into the Queen that she is. This mare has been a gift to all of us and it is fortunate that she landed in the hands that she did.  Say what you want, she is great. She retires sound and HAPPY.  Did Rachel?  

14 Nov 2010 6:27 PM

Could not agree more!!!  Every word was dead on!!


14 Nov 2010 6:30 PM
Mike Relva


Bravo,Tour De Force!

14 Nov 2010 7:21 PM

Do you know what we who live in SoCal see? We see what happened to Rachel Alexandra with that kind of thinking! That beautiful filly was run into the ground. For what?! Team Zenyatta would never do that to Z. Sports writers can continue to whine all they want,it doesn't matter. GET OVER IT.

14 Nov 2010 7:23 PM
Jonni mae

If the Moss's had put her in the Ladies Classic she would be 20 and O     and still undefeted

14 Nov 2010 7:32 PM

What a load of horse pucky!!! There are thousands of horses without even a 2 race streak,give me a break Zenyatta is 19-1 who wouldn't give their right arm for a mare like this?  She is sound mentally and physically thanks to the management of team Zenyatta. My guess is Zenyatta's dance card will be filled by offers of FREE BREEDINGS from the top European Stallions.

On a different note Blame the winner of the Classic will stand for $30,000 while Quality Road who came in last place will stand for $35,000.

14 Nov 2010 7:34 PM

You are so right on!! I hope the next wonderful horse goes to Jerry Hollendorfer who has brilliantly managed Blind Luck.  Everyone has seen her gameness and quality because the connections have ducked nothing.  This is how a top, top horse should be managed and raced.  I would vote for him for Trainer of the Year for the handing of Blind Luck.  No woulda, coulda shoulda here.

14 Nov 2010 7:44 PM

You tell 'em, Zoo!  Me, too!

14 Nov 2010 7:48 PM

Has Zenyatta been officially retired yet?  Maybe she could come back next yr. and beat them all again (except Blame, who's been retired).........

It doesn't seem to me that any of the other horses she beat this yr. had more Grade 1 wins.  I don't get the doubt factor.

14 Nov 2010 7:54 PM
Piu Forte

Make no mistake, Zenyatta will be remembered for her greatness as long as racing still exists.  The majority of horsemen on the backside that work with these animals everyday recognize her for the amazing animal that she is and will forever always be.  She did more than enough to make her a racing legend and I commend her connections for an absolutely brilliant campaign.  The few turf writers and others who can't recognize this are in the meager minority.    

14 Nov 2010 8:08 PM

I accept that Zenyatta should have traveled more.  However, it is a long haul from her trainer's home base to the east coast and unrealistic to expect him to drop everything to bring his entire stable east.  I personally congratulate her connections for keeping her sound and enjoying racing, at the level she performed, for a little over 3 years.  In this day and time that is virtually unheard of.  The only other horse that comes to mind is Goldikova.  Blame raced for just a little over a year.  He did a fair amount in that time, but last year Zenyatta was bashed for winning on "her home track".  Many horses dislike the surface at Churchill Downs, Personal Ensign, Easy Goer, Point Given are just a few of the top horses that disliked the surface and that was the only track that each horse ran poorly on.  Belmont is another such track.  Much is made or horses either liking or disliking the track.  Churchill Downs is Blame's home track and he is heralded for winning either 2 or 3 of his graded races on THE SAME TRACK.  Not just the same part of the country, but the exact same track.  At that, with  exceptional racing luck, he was barely able to hold off the traveling mare on a difficult track, after she had to overcome many things that were totally foreign to her.  She had traffic trouble, both at the start and while starting her run.  I am not arguing HOY for her or not, just that she had a more exceptional race than any other horse in the field and will forever be the victim of a double standard that I do not think that she deserves.  Last year the Classic should not have bearing on HOY, this year it is the defining reason that a horse should earn it.  I do not care, I would just like to see consistency being applied year after year.

14 Nov 2010 8:26 PM
Horse Artist

PRECISELY what I've been saying all year. She's great -- and I love her, but they kept sending her back to first grade -- year after year. I had so hoped to see her in the east -- and I'm sure many others did as well. At least, I expected her to take on boys regularly this year. She could have easily won the big California races. They said she had more worlds to conquer, but she stayed right where she'd always been -- in the exact same races. She seemed to love distance, but kept being sent into mile and a sixteenth contests.

Obviously, nothing that anyone does with their horse -- any horse -- is anyone's business. Maybe it should be illegal to have a different opinion regarding this superb this mare's campaign, as many people seem to feel. All I know is that her 2010 season confused me.I know her connections love her and wanted to be careful with their star. I still think they played it much too safe -- not with her health, but with her place in history. The safest thing to do would have been retiring her after last years BC win.

As someone who has loved horses, of all kinds, for my whole life, I just wish this champion had been allowed to REALLY leave her mark --and she would have.  

14 Nov 2010 8:38 PM

They should pull a Seabiscuit and win the Santa Anita Handicap at the age of 7. Dubai would be asking too much, but the Big Cap would be a great finale!

14 Nov 2010 8:43 PM
Nick G

She probably wouldn't have been racing for 3 years either if they had been shipping her all over the country racing against top males.  Her connections did the right thing by the horse, maybe other's (Rachel Alexandra) should have come out here last year to face her.

14 Nov 2010 9:06 PM

Ditto on Sherpa's comment re Ian.

14 Nov 2010 9:30 PM

Dottie and David Ingordo--What Zen's Auntie said:  Keep her in California and Breed her to In Excess, and then to Unusual Heat.

I'd really like to see her race one more time.  What does Zenyatta want to do?

14 Nov 2010 9:33 PM

If we want to leave emotion out of this discussion, Mr. Hunter is right.  She is a magnificent mare,

but I admired the great Rachel A.

more.  And Goldie is the best I've seen in years.  And my dog Charlie is the best darn corgi in the whole world, according to me!!!!

14 Nov 2010 10:04 PM

i couldnt agree more

14 Nov 2010 10:44 PM

Fortunately, there are plenty of us who truly admire and appreciate the greatness AND accomplishments of the Mare.  It makes it easier to ignore those of you East Coast racing snobs who must continually denigrate her and her connections this way.  It really does get tiring though.  You know, it takes what some would call heart to recognize greatness in both Horse and Connections.  You obviously don't have it.

14 Nov 2010 11:17 PM

it seems like the point of the article is in fact that zenyatta is one of the finest American racehorses fans have ever had the pleasure of seeing. it is just a shame that she only got a couple chances to show everyone her greatness due to her connections' careful handling of her perfect record. i think the numbers would be close to the same if she had run against the boys more, travelled and maybe even gave the turf a try. she is that good. it is her connections that fuel her naysayers because even with the best of intentions, they held back America's sweetheart from really showing what a phenom she is. yes, more challengers could/should have met her out west. but the mosses could also have sent her east and really made them eat crow. however, for some of her supporters to say that her mediocre at times campaign is the right/only way to go for longevity, how do you explain the success of goldikova, who is slated to run at 6 as well? or some of the american greats such as shuvee, busher, gallorette, etc. who regularly raced males and did not end up gutted? do goldikova's connections not care for her well being and longterm health because they give her the chance to show off her talent and let fans all over the world see her run? a good horse is a good horse, regardless of gender and so it shouldn't such a big deal for girls to run agains the boys if they are good enough. many non-americans believe that. which is why rachel won people over last year, it is just unfortunate that she couldn't do it again this year. give blame a break too, if he was really such a pedestrian horse, she should have flown by him like every other one she flew by on that amazing stretch drive. he won when he could have folded and let zen go by him like so many others before him. it was a courageous run by both horses, he just happened to be a little bit better that day. it doesn't mean zen still isn't the queen, she's fallible like anyone else and it's that imperfection that should/does make her endearing to all. thanks for all the memories zenyatta!

15 Nov 2010 2:41 AM
Arts and Letters

To Zenyatta's fans (and yes, I am one):  Are you truly, absolutely satisfied with the races she was entered in?  Isn't there some small part of you, deep down, that wishes she had maybe gone east, just once, and beat up on some Eastern fillies?  Maybe taken on Blind Luck or Devil May Care?  Ran in just one of the races open to males in California?  Maybe even tried the turf?  I bet if she had done just one of those things, just once, she A) would have won easily and B) there would be absolutely no doubt as to who should be HOTY.  But she didn't. So now there will always be the lingering question of how good she really was.  We know she was good enough to beat females 18 times, to win one Breeder's Classic and come in a close 2nd in another.  That's pretty darned good.  In fact, I would call it great (and I don't call many horses great).  But I think she was even better than that.  I just wish she could have had the chance to prove it, for once and for all.

15 Nov 2010 3:33 AM
Ian Tapp

Mike S/sherpa,

Zenyatta's racing accomplishments speak for themselves--they are tremendous. I hope, for her sake, that her legacy is defined by these accomplishments.

15 Nov 2010 7:25 AM

Arts and Letters,

Blind Luck was entered in the Lady's Secret on Oct. 2nd.  Her connections decided to ship her across country and give weight to Harve De Grace INSTEAD of facing Zenyatta.   Whether or not you believe Zen should be Horse of the Year,  she is the reining 2 time Eclipse award winning mare.  Anyone who hoped to dethrone her could have taken her on in the Apple Blossom on dirt or come west to meet her or in the case of Blind Luck stayed west and took her on. I don't have her race record handy, but I believe that  Devil May Care ran only in her age group before taking ill. So even if Zen had gone east, she couldn't have raced her.

But yes, I would have loved to have seen her race at a mile and a half on the turf.

15 Nov 2010 11:01 AM

Zenyatta went to the Apple Blossom this year and nobody showed up.  Why is that? No Rachel Alexandra, Life at Ten,  Unrivaled Belle, Devil May Care etc.  It's hard to find competition when everyone is dodging.  As far as racing males in California - that would be disrespected also because of the synthetic surfaces.  To say that Zenyatta had an advantage in the BC Classic in 2009 is just wrong.  Most people agree that turf to synthetic works - Turf horses - Gio Ponti, Rip Van Winkle and Twice Over Z beat them; Colonel John and Einstein good on all surfaces Z beat them; Richard's Kid Cali horse Z beat him; I will give you Summer Bird and Girolamo they are clearly dirt horses; shall I continue.  Think about it.  

15 Nov 2010 11:02 AM
Zen's Auntie

Now we’re talking Aluminaut I say give the old boy a shot hes a been there gone that kinda stallion with lots of old blood and no inbreeding to her in 5 generations.

Just as an observation, showing up somewhere does not guarantee the best girls are going to race against you.  Z did travel over 7500 this year - (its easy to map it in order).

The point I contend is NONE OF IT MATTERS she is the best because she is - not to be defined by anything other than her obvious awesome talent.

She has handicapped herself in every race.  No other horse I have ever seen consistently overcomes the kind of start she always gets.  It actually looks like she is TRYING to make the races fair.  It is her style but it has obviously gone farther than that. It has been fun for her and she has NEVER not once failed to show up with the A+ game - its undeniable.

I have been saying that some horses just get it more than others – Zenyatta GETS IT (and has the raw telent to back it up) - As she learned the game it became more of that – A GAME to her. She misjudged it by 7 inches last time as she never had to rate against this kind of field with dewey real dirt hitting her and 13 others – some backing up BADLY into her.  So she MISJUDGED It.

It’s an on the track learning curve but she only got it wrong by 7 inches (out of the 79200 inches it was).  The only time she ever got it wrong I might add.  What more screams it’s a game for her?

She hosted guests all morning and afternoon danced and posed to the showdown and thrilled the world in the evening – Only a Lady can pull off stuff like that.

Ian, since your here can you tell us who you would like to see as a genetic match best suited for Z? and why. I’m a phenotype oriented person – balance and conformation are what I understand best. What can you tell me about the genes?

15 Nov 2010 11:13 AM

Sorry to bust your little bubble.

The greatest filly/mare ever is the hungarian mare Kincsem.

Zenyatta has only run in 3 true grade 1 races. All the rest are by the standards set by the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities at the best grade 3, if even that.

Zenyatta is by todays standard a outstanding race horse, but she will only go down in racing history as a footnote.

She did not win a single race against any of the top 50 horses in 2010. And wins is what counts, not who you beat when you got beat.

Racing is about winning and that is how you prove your the best.

You want to be best then you try and beat the best, you don't sit at home and expect the others to come to you.

What she could have done is irrelevant, what she did is relevant, and she got beat in her last race. Why and how does not matter, the winner ran his race and won, she ran her race and lost. END

15 Nov 2010 11:23 AM
B. E.


pepper's pride was retired 19-0, I hope you voted for her for HOY. Being the best of the world is not about number. pepper's pride faced the same weak field all her career and stayed at the same place all her career too. With the exception of her Breeders' Cups, Zenyatta have more or less the same campain than Pepper's pride: running the same races over and over and over against the same fillies and mare.

Sure, zenyatta IS an incredible horse. But, if you want to give HOY title to a horse who run almost all year against the same female for the argument that ''a w in is a win'' why didn't you voted for Pepper's pride?

15 Nov 2010 11:44 AM

Don't listen to these people.

They want to silence anyone who writes the facts. It doesn't matter how nicely you word it, how much praise you give the horse...

If you don't call her the greatest ever and fall to your knees, they deem you an idiot who knows nothing.

Only problem for DO know the history of the sport and the difficulty of the campaigns of past champions, and you know that historically, Zenyatta's campaign doesn't stack up to those of Secretariat, the Bid, Citation, Slew, Affirmed, Cigar, and many other of the Thoroughbred Top 100.

These people are going to have to face facts. Just because Zenyatta a great horse it doesn't she is THE greatest. Their OPINION doens't trump history's FACTS.

15 Nov 2010 11:57 AM


I read comments like yours all the time and they drive me crazy!

It isn't that the Classic matters one year and not the next! It's not some unfair application of a win in that race.

If a horse CLEARLY has the best campaign by far ALL YEAR and then either loses the Classic or doesn't run in it, then the Classic is NOT THE DETERMINING FACTOR.

If multiple horses have reasonable claims to the HOY title in a given year, and then one of those horses wins the Classic, THEN THE CLASSIC IS A DETERMINING FACTOR.

IT's simple....supporting campaign....overall campaign. NO single race defines HOY and never has. This year going in, everyone knew and most agreed that if either Zenyatta, QR, LAL, or Blame won, they would be HOY.

Now that Blame won, he has earned HOY, by virtue of beating the top males all year as well as in the Classic, as well as beating Zenyatta in the Classic.

There is nothing unfair about this at all.

15 Nov 2010 12:11 PM

Why dont they keep BLAME running, may be he will win 19 in a row ???

All the comments about Z not being one of the greatest of alltime is just backwrd thinking by the  "American Turf Popes"

Blame`s ownership thinks MONEY

Z owners think gratness

15 Nov 2010 12:47 PM

I feel that Zen was managed very well in her racing life. She stayed sound and left sound and happy.  She appeared to love her job and was great with the public.

I wish other horses were as well treated as Z.

Racing would be so enjoyable then.

15 Nov 2010 1:26 PM
Zen's Auntie

Kinscem from all I have read and even heard in the70's  from my Great Great grandfather a cosack whos father told him he saw her race. My great great great GF bred russain light war and local race horses near Minsk. So my GGF told me, (we were both crushed by ruffian and discussing other great fillys by the way), his dad said she Was FREAK of nature and arguably the best race horse ever.  We are talking mid 1880's my GGF was born in 1886.

So I totally agree with you. Gunfighter she probably was the best ever but I guess what Im saying is having seen the recent greats live at the time (on tv mostly) and now in videos I can say that I have never seen anything quite like Zenyatta.  

Turn off the sound THAT IS KEY - and just watch every race she ever ran in order and it is pretty freaking impressive at least it is for me as a fan an TB enthusiast.

No on else has to call her the best - Far be it from me to force my standards on anyone. She is Physically huge and has a genuine flare for it and that ALONE is unique and impressive.

15 Nov 2010 1:43 PM


Kincsem was a truly amazing mare and quite a nice broodmare as well. It is tough though, to compare horses from different eras due to different training methods, different surfaces, distances etc.  It def. seems like we are losing some of the durability over the years but perhaps that is a misconception.

What was the foal crop in Hungary when Kincsem was born and raced?   A horse, of course can be the best ever out of foal crop of 1000 but it MAY be harder to be the best ever out of a foal crop of 35,000.

I find if very difficult to compare horses from now to say horses in the 70's even.  This is an example, not a knock against Rachel, but take last years Woodward.  True it was a win, which according to your post is the only thing that matters.  But compare that win to Alysheba's Woodward win in 1988.  The race was at a mile and a quarter and he ran it in under 2:00.  To me, his win in the Woodward and Forty Niner's runner up effort is more impressive than Rachel's win even though she ran a heck of a race.  Again, I like Rachel and I know that's going to tick off a lot of people, but because the races are being shortened it does make it harder to compare.  

You say "Racing is about winning and that is how you prove your the best."  Well, then Zenyatta has done quite well.  In 20 starts only 1 horse that entered the gate with her beat her. And that happened in 3 states on dirt and on 3 different synthetic surfaces.  Kudos to Blame for that.  But that may be the only thing he is remembered for.  Zenyatta will be a shoe in for the Hall of Fame and rightly so.

And for all of you who knock her competition, it doesn't seem like anyone on this blog (including me) has a horse even good enough to enter the gate with her.  

15 Nov 2010 1:46 PM
needler in Virginia

I can't really respond to those who "claim" to know how HOY is determined and thus give the award to the Hancock horse; it appears that Chris already knows everything and who can argue with THAT? There are loads of us who can see the writing on the wall and know how this will play out. I'm already so PO'd I can barely talk, and that's saying a LOT. So I'll sit back and watch with a great deal of sadness as racing once again shoots itself in all four feet at once! Not recognizing greatness right in front of your eyes is a flaw that cannot be cured with bifocals; the eyes AND mind have to be open to do that.

To Dominic Campisi in his 14 Nov 2:40 post, I can only say if you are trying to make a point, AT LEAST get your facts right. It is the ZAPRUDER film, NOT the "Magruder" film........

So cheers and safe trips.

15 Nov 2010 2:05 PM
dumfounded in dallas

... and who the h-dash-double ell are you?  You have an opinion and so do many people on these blogs.  If Zenyatta ran against such inferior competition, it should be easy for any claimer to rack up a 19-0 win streak.  Her connections ran her and she won every time, that's it.  Not an easy thing to do, she could lose or break down every time she went out on the track.  If you know so much about managing the career of a winning equine, get youself one and prove it.  All this trash talk makes a lot of us sick.

And Zenyatta will leave the track a happy and healthy horse.  That is the truest measure of her success.

15 Nov 2010 2:05 PM

HOTY is a joke.  Check out the publications the voters work for and see how many stud ads there are in there for Claiborne Farms, Adena Springs, and the others that perennially capture the Eclipse.  They're not biased?

15 Nov 2010 2:07 PM





15 Nov 2010 2:14 PM

It's utter foolishness to compare Zenyatta's 19 race win streak with that of Pepper's Pride, and doing so reflects so deep an ignorance as to be beyond all hope of rational conversation.    

15 Nov 2010 3:28 PM

For all those that seem to feel they are being unfairly criticized for not proclaiming Zenyatta the greatest ever, go and read my comments.  I've never claimed Zenyatta to be the equal of Secretariat, Citation, Kelso and other males in the top 10 or even 20.  And on Jason's blog I even picked Zenyatta to run 2nd to Blame in the Classic.  And guess what?  I've never been attacked or even critiqued by the so called Zenyatta "zealots".

Why haven't I been attacked, well it's simply because I haven't been totally negative towards Zenyatta, because I pointed out positives while discussing some of the more gray areas.  People try to act like they are being unbiased, but all they ever do is point out faults in Zenyatta.  The fact that some of these points are true, and have been made by me as well, isn't the reason why you have been "attacked" by the "zealots".  It's that some of you just focus ONLY on the negatives, and fail to point out the obvious, and the stark truth, that Zenyatta has accomplished some amazing things, proved to be an amazing talent(and the fact she ran 2nd and only by a head is alot better than most of you detractors thought she would do), and possessed one of the most unique and distinctive personalities.  

When you come on to these blogs and are only negative in your approach to one of the most popular horses of the last quarter century, and fail to give Zenyatta her due, don't be surprised if you're called out for it.  The "zealots" aren't looking for slavish devotion to Zenyatta, they are simply looking for balance and respect.  And that's proven by the fact that I haven't been "attacked", even though I have made some of the same critiques.

15 Nov 2010 3:42 PM

B.E. do your homework... Pepper's Pride never won outside of NM. Stop the east coast bias, Z ran at several different tracks in Cali and we're talking 17 graded stakes wins and 1 G1 loss. Argue the open race vs filly/mares but not state restricted...and not California doesn't count...that's just silly!

15 Nov 2010 3:43 PM
Mike S

Let's play a little game I like to call "reality." Zenyatta is obviously, quite clearly, cemented in History as being the greatest filly or mare of all time. Additionally, she is in the Top 10 of all time when including colts and geldings. For anyone to say otherwise - especially when it comes to her being the best female racehorse of all time - is perfectly erroneous.

Why do some of you keep harping on this "hard" and "wonderful" campaign that Blame had? What was  so great about it? Quality Road and Haynesfield were defeated in the Breeders Cup Classic buy almost 30 lengths! Make a note of that! It's important!

I can't believe it when people bring up Kincsem. Kincsem was probably a wonderful horse and all, but she was the best at a time in racing's history when there were how many foals? Was she the best of 500 horses who were running at the time? 1,000 maybe? That's great, but times have changed. I don't know how many horses ran in North America this year, last year, or the year before but I'm going to guess it's closer to 50,000 than it is 1,000, so I will give Zenyatta full credit for being a much finer horse than Kincsem.

It's absolutely unreal and astonishing to see so many people who are so ignorant and who do not appreciate just having witnessed one of racing's all time greats.

If I had the same leve of disdain I would quit watching racing and go watch rock-climbing, or something.

15 Nov 2010 4:02 PM

I agree...she could have been 3x HOY, should have been...instead she's been embroiled in battles each year because each individual year (not overall career) she needed to be just a little more aggressive to beat another well qualified contender who's campaign year was tougher...

2008...just once against the boys and she would have beat Curlin.

2009...just once on dirt would have won over skeptics.

2010...just one win from one of the big Cali races against the colts would have ensured no contest between her and Blame...instead, once again, true soul searchers are faced with the dilemma of sportsmanship.

Of course, I think Blind Luck had the best 2010 campaign....♥

15 Nov 2010 4:27 PM

I disagree with the "playing not to lose" idea overall, but can certainly find merit with the "wish she had lost earlier" argument.  Not because the streak was the be-all and end-all with her connections, because if that were true, she'd not have run in either BC Classic, or come back as a 6 year old at all.  I kind of wish she had because the streak is not what makes Zenyatta so special, to my mind.  

15 Nov 2010 5:12 PM

Chris, I read comments like yours all the time.  Not because what you say does not frequently happen in the HOTY voting process, but because you pretend that there is some hard and fast rule that makes this view The Law.  It is not.  There is far more leeway in voting than you are suggesting.  HOTY voting, according to the rules, need not adhere to these laws you seem to be laying down.  There is nothing inherently fair or unfair about the scenario you paint as a way of determining the award.  And there is nothing inherently fair or unfair about approaching the decision in other ways being suggested either.  

15 Nov 2010 5:17 PM

A silly concept. Zenyatta was not managed to keep her unbeaten.

With slightly a better trip, or maybe a work over the CD surface, or if the Classic was 1 1/4 miles and two jumps - she'd be 20/20. Period. end of story.

If she lost her first race - her campaign would have been exactly the same.

15 Nov 2010 5:32 PM
Mike Relva


If you remove your blinkers for a second maybe you will admit the fact that Blame BEAT A SIX YR OLD MARE NARROWLY ON HIS TRACK. Do you think if Blame had half as bad a trip as her he would've still won? He nearly got beat with the perfect trip. Like Jack Van Berg said"I don't see anyone coming to see Blame". He's on point!

15 Nov 2010 6:42 PM
Mike Relva


You're kidding yourself if you REALLY think Zenyatta will go down in history as a "footnote". Blame will be a footnote. Bet on it!

15 Nov 2010 6:44 PM

If she had won over a dirt track in California time and time out it would have been the same east coast bias.  The surface meant nothing because she was a proven winner on dirt.  Do different tracks have different dirt so Oaklawn doesn't really count as a dirt track?  That seems to be the logic of many.  Just listen to the interview of Andy Byer on NPR.

The east coast contingent still think Easy Goer was better than Sunday Silence even though SS beat Easy Goer three out of four times.

Even if there was dirt out here, nobody would have come west to run against her and neither would have Rachel Alexandra.  Does anybody remember Mineshaft?   The west coast has always been a place where the east coast horsemen try to avoid.  Cigar, St. Liam, and many others have come west and gone home losers.  Then their trainers blame the speed favoring tracks out here.

Zenyatta was campaigned carefully.  But she ran for three straight years.  She had to be.  

I am still not convinced she will not run again.  One race next year to see where she is at physically would not be looked down upon if she lost.  The Moss's could say they wanted to know if she had any more run left in her.  This horse is a freak of nature so you never know.

15 Nov 2010 8:04 PM
Sally F

Ms. Hunter:  WHY?  WHY do you have to be so negative and focus on the "what if's", the "would-a, should-a, could-a's?  What is your Agenda?  "Z" is flat-out the best horse on the planet - she has done nothing more than run her race everytime and inspire us all, evidently more than you can ever imagine.

15 Nov 2010 8:27 PM

Please Stop Already!

Last year Zenyatta was ranked above the eventual HOTY Rachel in the World Thoroughbred Rankings.  They're reasoning was that it was easier to evaluate the quality of Zenyatta's opposition than it was Rachel's.  Obv. the World Thoroughbred rankings didn't have much of an impact last year and prob. won't this year.  But arguing one way or the other won't change the voters minds so we might as well stop.

15 Nov 2010 9:02 PM

Avalyn articulated what I've been saying all year long.  

Right on.

15 Nov 2010 10:34 PM

I used to admire you Ms. Hunter, but after reading the drivel spewed above you are off my list. It's amazing to me how "the good old boy" Seth thinks Blame deserves HOY because he won the BC Classic. Zenyatta won it last year and didn't get HOY. Zenyatta's body of work this year is better that Blame's even with her "loss".

15 Nov 2010 10:36 PM

I wonder whether people who don't know the difference between "loose" and "lose" are worth listening to?

15 Nov 2010 11:00 PM

There is no way anyone can be intellectually honest by arguing that even though Zenyatta lost to Blame, she should get HOTY. While she did wonders in raising racing's profile, performance on the track and the quality of the competition should be the main criteria. Many have correctly pointed out that she will be remembered far longer than Blame. That is true. But let's remember that while Blame was a very good handicap horse he was not up there as one of the great males. So, then, why should Zenyatta get HOTY?

The comparisons to 2009 are also way off base. Rachel Alexandra had won all eight races, three against males, and won by historic proportions in the Ky Oaks and Mother Goose. She already clinched the award before the Breeders Cup. What Zenyatta's connections should have done this year is try her in either the Hollywood Gold Cup or Pacific Classic on her home turf or gone to Saratoga for the Personal Ensign. But they seemed more focused on continuing the winning streak then being more aggressive.

16 Nov 2010 1:30 AM

Getagrip posted the World Thouroughbred rankings and I didn't see many comments about it.  I guess everyone thought the Word Thoroughbred rankings represent that East Coast bias many allude to so often.  I could have sworn those rankings were from somewhere other than an East Coast voter.  Suffice it to say the rest of the world seems to agree Zenyatta's campaign just didn't match up to others.

16 Nov 2010 9:10 AM

Secretariat had to loose some races somewhere along the way. It only stands to reason. They say Zen runs her own races. She let herself get to far behind the pack. She miss judged the speed of Blame. I feel she lost on her own misjudgement. Besides she really didn't seem like the own Zen when she did her dance. If you watch the video Zen just seemed to be missing that zest she usually has. Horses like people have off days. This unfortunately was one of them. Let us remember in the end Blame WON and lets let HIM stand in his day of GLORY.Look at it this way. If you did all the work and someone else in your office got your bonus, how would you feel. Would you say, "Just give my bonus to him".

16 Nov 2010 9:22 AM

This is stupid, Zenyatta didn't lose her place in history, her run was amazing.  Blame only got lucky because he had a good run with very few obstacles. Zenyatta was there with a huge amount of obstacles.  She was not beaten by him with nothing left, distance just ran out. If you want to call it a loss, then so be it, it was but that is all that was lost.  

Furthermore, her owners did not need to take more chances with her.  Why didn't more people go to her if you think she did not beat enough horses.  They have the same abilities to travel that she does.  I'm really sick of stupid comments knocking zenyatta after all she has done for racing.  That crowd wasn't there to see Blame, they were there for Zen.  

16 Nov 2010 9:29 AM

Perhaps more great prospects should have their careers managed the way Zenyatta was managed. When you look at Zenyatta you see a happy horse that loves what she does, she is healthy and sound. Remember that the majority of these animals are pushed hard when they are babies and I will always be a firm believer that is why they breakdown so often later in careers. Zenyatta was given the time she needed to develop physically and mentally, which is absolute brilliance in our current era of horse racing. By placing her in races that some may consider easier is it not putting the horse before ego, awards and money? Perhaps in order to become great we should allow more horses to develop appropriately. Imagine an industry with less breakdowns and happier animals. THAT is what will save racing from this eminent end that we all feel. I loved Rachel and supported her for HOT. I loved everything she did with her 3 year old career. When she returned it saddened me because you could see that previous year took greatness out of her. In the end I would have preferred that her 3 year old career had been more like Zenyattas. The public image for Rachel is sad. She shouldn't race anymore and she had potential to be a legend. While Zenyatta's career may be 'less thrilling' for hardcore racing fans it was exactly what she needed to become a legend. I would be willing to say that if she came back next year she would Excel beyond imagination. Anyone who believes putting anything else before the horse in the decisions of career management is looking for entertainment. In the end THAT will be the end of what we all love. Had Zenyatta been pushed who is to say she wouldn't have ended up like Rachel. The 'make them or break them' mentality of racing needs to end. Kudos to Zenyatta's team for loving her enough to resist public pressure to allow her to develop into the legend she has now proven herself to be.

16 Nov 2010 10:08 AM

So females are less than males.  That's the message I'm getting.  She raced against females, which because they are not males are not good enough.  I don't get it, being a female and having to put up with that crap in my 60 years of life, I'm sick of it.  Who's to say the females zenyatta raced against were any less than any male she raced against AND BEAT.  zenyatta IS a great horse.  In her 'DEFEAT' she showed how great she really is by covering a tremendous distance in a short time and came up INCHES short in passing Blame and winning the Breeder's Cup Classic.  THAT is a GREAT HORSE.  She deserves HORSE OF THE YEAR.

16 Nov 2010 11:35 AM
Mike Relva


Do you think Blame has even a remote chance of being in the HOY? lol

16 Nov 2010 11:56 AM
Mike Loser

I think that people who nitpick about spelling are not worth listening to.

Here is some more useless drivel for the likes of mike . . . I have read that "zenyatta" means "top of the world" in some other language (or at the very least the title of a Police album).  Blame means "harass with constant criticism".  It's settled.  Zenyatta has a better name than Blame.  I feel like such a genius of the message board forums, surely not a looooser . . .  I'll wait for a stinging comment or insult to bring me back to earth.  Bring it on!!!!!

16 Nov 2010 4:02 PM

Six years old and retired sound, both mentally and physically. I think that says something pretty positive for the connections!

16 Nov 2010 4:11 PM


Your point is well made and well taken by those of us who wanted to see more of what this amazing racehorse could have done.  The race fans who are purists of the game know that we were short-changed even though we are still grateful for the rare moments that we got at the highest level.  Bravo!

16 Nov 2010 5:04 PM
Barbara W


Right on, racing fan sister! You said what I wanted to say and beat me to it!

Feeling "sorry" for Zenyatta is the most outrageous statement I've ever heard. No one who would make a statement like that should even be involved with horses. I lament that all horses are not so loved by their trainers/owners/jockeys. Just another worn-out excuse to promote anybody-but-Zenyatta.

You should take a look at the photos I get regularly in the mail concerning rescuing horses from the slaughterhouse--they are heartbreaking. I wish I could save them all. And you pick Zenyatta to feel sorry for. Shame on you.

16 Nov 2010 5:23 PM

Excellent job Avalyn! You kept the emotion out and succinctly wrote only the truth. If she loses HOY this year, it is solely the fault of her connections.

16 Nov 2010 5:37 PM

If I recap, Blame is a really really weak horse cause he lose to Haynefield in the Jockey Club gold cup and Zenyatta is the best in the world cause she beat haynefield in the Classic? Last time I checked Blame beat him too in the Classic. Horses aren't machine, they can have a bad day. if you're saying that Zenyatta is the best only cause she beat Haynefield in the classic....well..she wasn't the only one

16 Nov 2010 7:28 PM


Goldikova's latest victory in the Breeders' Cup Mile was her eighth Grade/Group 1 win against males.

That surpasses the great Miesque, who defeated males seven times in Grade/Group 1 races.

Consider that  All Along (Horse of the Year 1983) won only four Grade/Group 1 races against males ('83 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, '83 Rothmans International, '83 Turf Classic, '83 D.C. International), and that Ouija Board, one of the top filly and mare turf runners in the last 20 years, only defeated males in Group 1 company twice ('05 Hong Kong Vase, '06 Prince of Wales's).  That makes Goldikova's accomplishments look even better.

Imagine, between Miesque & Goldikova they have 15 victories over the boys...Hardly a "typical" campaign for a filly or mare, and proof that owners can actually follow an ambitious campaign without "gutting" their horses; Miesque even went on to produce a great horse & sire such as Kingmambo.

While Zen's connections deserve praise for keeping her sound & healthy all this time, as great as Zen is, it is still difficult for a lot of people to get overly excited about the connections of an ex-undefeated mare who is 1 for 2 vs males in a 20-race career expanding 3 years, when you have very recent precedents such as Miesque's & Goldi's campaigns.

16 Nov 2010 8:15 PM

There you have connections who actually know what it takes to win the HOTY award.

16 Nov 2010 8:30 PM
Bill Daly

Stevebiscuit, you think Goldikova stayed within her comfort zone?? That's some comfort zone. Kinda like the DMZ I'd say.  You're referring to a mare who has beaten the best milers in Europe and the U.S. a number of times while travelling all over the place. Some comfort zone.

17 Nov 2010 9:19 AM

I guess from what I've read you ( and some of your readers) would have prefered Zenyatta to have a more ambitious campaign, no matter what the cost. Like Rachel's perhaps, or the tons of other horse we see ruined because they are raced too much and often where they don't belong. As a horse owner, I like to keep a horse sound and happy for as long as possible. So there is really no such thing as "overly conservative management" There is management that preserves the horse, no matter what. The other end of the spectrum is to go all out and keep your fingers crossed that nothing happens. Again, I know which one I would choose.

17 Nov 2010 9:58 AM
Zen's Auntie

Well so much for World TB rankings!

So much for its gotta be a male.

Lets all give a cheer for the little bay monster GOLDIKOVA Catier horse of the year.

Hip Hip HORAY!! for the little fireball with the surly attitude that ALWAYS brings her A game.

I cant wait to see her again next year!!

17 Nov 2010 10:12 AM

I think alot of people have gotten caught up in the media and what people have to "say". Z is a wonderful animal who puts forth honest effort and does it because she loves to run. Just watching her run proves that. Irregardless of "managment" of her career, she is still a spectacular horse. It doesn't matter what type of "track" you run her on, she still loves to run and does it better than most. She may run mostly synthetic, but horses in the east run mostly on dirt. It's the horse that can run on any type of ground that excels. And she has run on both synthetic and dirt. She runs the same everytime. Consistency is what matters. And her loss to Blame...well, his nose may have been in front, but it was something I would be willing to say he might not repeat if the race were between he and Zenyatta alone. Sheer greatness and speed would win that race.

17 Nov 2010 10:16 AM

Whether Zenyatta wins HOY or not, it is her legacy that is most important. And no one can dispute what she did for an ailing sport. It is unmatched and, judging by the thousands of new fans, the adoration and respect, the extensive TV, newspaper and magazine coverage, plus her stunning record of wins with a finale that showed just how courageous and talented she is - that she is a true superstar in the world of sports. Her name will stand above many others when people discuss the top athletes of this decade, not to mention that of horses.

I think she deserves HOY. But regardless what side of the argument you are on, you cannot deny that she is a horse like no other. And it is because she has accomplished an astonishing body of work and has been the most remarkable ambassador to the sport of racing that she can only be considered as one of the greatest of the greats that racing has ever witnessed.

17 Nov 2010 1:49 PM

That's been my thought all along. No, I'm not a Zen-hater, altho plenty of people will probably say I am. I want to believe in her greatness. I really do. I just feel her connections, by playing for an unbeaten record instead of taking on the world, deprived both the horse of her probably well-deserved place in history and fans of racing overall of a truly proven queen. I feel HOY belongs to the horse who took on all comers and beat 'em. If she and Blame met on another day, the outcome could well have been reversed. Now no one will ever know. I can understand the hunger to take down such an esteemed and worthy record. I just would feel better about it if it had been done in open competition, against all opposition, so that racing luck or strategies or whatever could not ever be offered as reasons for a defeat. Truthfully, I do feel a little robbed. I want a superhorse to hold in highest regard too. Cigar and Mr. Frisky and those others with the former record earned their places taking on anyone and everyone. This super mare might well have done likewise instead of remaining forever the center of a controversy that goads people to fight each other when our energies should be as focused on the survival of this sport we all love so much. Sorry to Zen's connections. Sorry FOR anyone who thinks this makes me a Zen-hater. Criticism of a battle plan doesn't mean condemnation of its center. It just means regret for something unique and wonderful and an opportunity incompletely fulfilled.

17 Nov 2010 1:50 PM
Mike Relva


You don't get it by now what a Superhorse Zenyatta is then its your loss!

19 Nov 2010 7:20 PM


21 Nov 2010 8:15 AM


21 Nov 2010 8:34 AM

OK, don't want to get involved in this again (though I agree with the premise of the article) but must correct some points about Goldikova.

First of all, she's only ever run on grass not 'plastic' as some claimed. Second, she receives far less recognition than Zenyatta and far less media coverage. Thirdly, when she faced Darjina, she defeated her twice by half lengths, not a neck and a nose as Footlick stated. And whilst it's true that European mares do face males more often than their American counterparts, she is unusual in how often she faces and defeats males. Zarkava, Ouija Board, Sariska etc races males far less frequently, and Midday has never raced in Group 1 open company.

21 Nov 2010 6:29 PM

As far as Zenyatta's campaigns go, they weren't exactly inspiring, but they weren't terrible.  It's just with slightly more ambition, it wouldn't have taken that much, she potentially could have brought home two HOY awards and been going for a third one now.

2008 - Zenyatta would have won HOY had she beaten males in one race such as the Goodwood.  To be fair, they really weren't thinking about her as an HOY candidate, figuring Curlin had the award wrapped up.  But that lack of ambition of her connections would turn out to be a recurring theme in her career. Meanwhile Jess Jackson did the opposite, sending Curlin halfway around the world to win the DWC, or sending Rachel Alexandra out to beat males three times.  True neither of those horses enjoyed Zenyatta's longevity, there was a price to be paid.

2009 - Because they started Zenyatta so late in the year, they were behind the eight-ball as far as contending for end-of-the-year honors.  No idea if she had some minor injuries or if they made a strategic decision to only run her in a handful of races.  If that was the case, it wasn't a good choice.  Because Rachel had done so much compared to Zenyatta before the Classic, the only way they were going to top her was to beat her on the square.  And when Jackson reluctantly said that he would point Rachel to the Beldame if Zenyatta went there and the Zenyatta camp waffled before finally saying "we'll go if they will", and even took the additional step of nominating her Jackson had already moved on (probably saying to himself, "Whew, that was close") and their opportunity was lost.

2010 - The problem isn't that she didn't ship as some are claiming - that was last year's problem.  She shipped twice, that was enough.  The problem, like in the other years was that she only faced the very best in the country once - and this time came up second best. One of the closest and most outstanding seconds in BC history, but still second.  And if they had just run her ONCE against males in her own backyard, SA Handicap, Hollywood Gold Cup, Pacific Classic, Goodwood.  Not all of them, pick ONE, and combined with her BC performance she would have HOY in the bag right now, it wouldn't even be close.  Heck, they gave it to Curlin the second time when he crashed and burned in the Classic.

But this year, her campaign still may be enough anyway.  Blame ran a solid campaign and beat tougher horses, but it wasn't exactly historic.  Like Zenyatta last year, his connections also made the choice to only run him five times, and all within an 800 mile radius - he shipped a lot less than Zenyatta.  One more G1 win for him, like the Woodward which he skipped or the JCGC where he got clobbered and he probably locks up the award.  But he didn't get it.

I'm rooting for Zenyatta because I think she deserves it, and because she's not responsible for her connections' choices.

22 Nov 2010 1:11 AM

How often has Goldikova face Grade One Females or Males at Classic Distances? You know, those races where the best horses run.

26 Nov 2010 11:37 AM

You know, I've been working with sports horses (showjumping, dressage, eventing) all my life and I know a good horse when I see one.

I also know the racing industry and its dirty underbelly for I have handled and trained quite a few ex-racehorses that had been treated worse that just "badly".

Yeah, Zenyatta's owners etc. could have had HOY in the bag if they had done this or that differently but what I see is a healthy, well-cared for and carefully managed, very impressive racehorse that was retired 100% sound and will make an outstanding broodmare.

What Zenyatta could have or should have archieved is BS. Her track record is more than just impressive and no one who has ever had the honor of watching her run will ever forget her.

HOY is one thing, but outside of the racing world no one knows or cares about that "honor".

When horses like "Blame", "Goldikova" and "Rachel Alexandra" are long-since forgotten there will be novels and movies about Zenyatta's story.

Anyway, I just hope once all those stars of the racetrack fade out they will be trated better than the poor ex-racehorses I have met.

I am very glad Zenyatta's owners are taking good care of her and that she will live a good life as a broodmare and retiree.

That's all a horse cares about anyway.

11 Jan 2011 1:25 PM

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