The Game-Changer of Racing: Zenyatta

The Game-Changer of Racing:  Zenyatta's Rock-Star Power Reinvents the Royal Kingdom.

By Jennifer Wirth, The Saturday Post

I have a word in my arsenal that can start conversations about horse racing with people who have never bet a nickel on the nose of a horse.

 It's a great word.


 For those of you who struggle to define the allure of horse racing to non-enthusiasts, Zenyatta is a fun character to parade around in discussions at cocktail parties.

Why?  Zenyatta appeals to pop culture and makes horse racing relatable to non-enthusiasts.

In a perfect world, I would live in a place where all my friends followed horse racing.  

My social calendar would be full of trackside parties in which guests wore their handicapping picks as an icebreaker on their nametag. 

However, I am young and live in Chicago. 

And, until Zenyatta, any mention of horse racing to people in my age group led to blank stares and a quick change in topic.

Then, Zenyatta showed up and did something brand new for the modern era of racing.

Instead of trying to lure non-enthusiasts to the race track, Zenyatta stomped out into mainstream culture and joined the party.

I have to admit - she's a sharp girl at marketing.

Zenyatta joined Facebook and made some new friends. 

This was no small adventure. 

According to Facebook, the average user has 130 friends. 

In contrast, Zenyatta has amassed roughly 15,500 friends on her fan page.  

As for her friends, Zenyatta started hanging out with people in the younger crowd.  The highest age demographic on Facebook currently falls between ages 18 through 44.

Regarding her connections, they embraced Zenyatta's new friends and lifestyle.

Her trainer, John Shirreffs, started a YouTube channel so that her fans could watch Zenyatta's activities from their home computer.

On YouTube, Zenyatta's friends can experience a workout between Zenyatta and her stable mate, Green Cat.   

Since the video was posted by Shirreffs, over 83,000 fans have taken a virtual ride on the back of Zenyatta.

In another YouTube video, Shirreffs gives Zenyatta a Guinness beer while she is relaxing after a workout. 

The clip of Zenyatta drinking a Guinness generated nearly 4,700 views.

Apparently, many of Zenyatta's friends enjoy meeting up with her for a drink.

However, Zenyatta is perhaps best-known for her dancing - which is catalogued in many videos across YouTube.

In the pre-race television broadcast of the 2009 Breeder's Cup, an entire segment was devoted to Zenyatta's dance moves.  The network coverage of her dancing has since been viewed on YouTube by nearly 50,000 fans.

However, dancing appears to come easily to Zenyatta with the musical background provided by her ownership - Jerry Moss, co-founder of A & M Records.

Her name itself speaks volumes in this regard.

 Zenyatta is named after the album, "Zenyatta Mondatta," in recognition of Moss signing the band The Police to A & M Records.

 But, Zenyatta doesn't stop on the dance floor.

 She has learned to paint pictures for auction to help fund Thoroughbred rescue efforts.  

 And, Zenyatta recently started marketing for the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team.

 Near her home base of Hollywood Park, a billboard stands at the corner of 106th and Hawthorne Avenue.

 The billboard features Zenyatta's familiar mug shot, with the caption, "This Is My Town," as a marketing promotion for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

 Take a minute and think about the victory embodied in that billboard.       

 A race horse is doing the marketing for baseball - one of the most popular sports in the United States.

Yet, Zenyatta's crossover endeavors have not detracted from her racing talent.

As Zenyatta approaches the Vanity Handicap, she sets out to become the only race horse to remain undefeated in seventeen unrestricted top-level races in North America. 

If she wins, she'll make racing history for the third time in her career - having already captured two Breeder's Cup records.

However, win or lose, Zenyatta has set a model for the industry to attract newcomers to the sport.

It's simple:  Zenyatta didn't ask non-enthusiasts of racing to come to the track for a visit.

Instead, she waltzed in the world of pop culture and drew public attention to her sport.

Zenyatta embraced the Facebook trend, danced across the television screen, painted pictures for charity and offered a virtual "racehorse ride" on YouTube.

When she finished marketing her profession, she went back to her stable, drank a Guinness Beer and waited for her next start in the Apple Blossom.

And, in the end, people came to visit Zenyatta at the race track.

The hotels in Hot Springs, Arkansas were booked solid.

Fans stood outside the airport as she exited the plane.   

They showed up in droves.        

Official attendance for the 2010 Apple Blossom was recorded at 44,973 people - more than double the 21,782 guests that attended the race in 2009.

 And, among the fan fare, Zenyatta continues her racing campaign. 

As she prepares for her next start at Hollywood Park, people are again heading to the track to see if one single horse can maintain her undefeated record.

It's all because of one word. 

It's a great word.



Leave a Comment:


What a girl !

21 May 2010 1:56 PM

if she's great then why is her owners refusing to take her to new york or even to ky to run her in the stephen foster handicap for? her owners know she can handle the big crowds and she was stables at churchill downs last yr before being scratched from her debut at 5 last yr and she needs t have a race over churchill downs a track that favors horses who has ran and won over it before. like super saver rachel or even street sense whose best races was at churchill downs.

21 May 2010 2:00 PM
Barbara W

Great srticle! Those who have not expereienced her should treat themselves. There will not be another like her for a very, very long time.

I counted myself blessed to be among those at Oaklawn!

21 May 2010 2:00 PM
Mike Relva

Zenyatta adds a new meaning to the term,"Superhorse".

21 May 2010 2:02 PM
kim f

Great story...thank you! I know Zenyatta has really brought me closer to the sport and I would love to meet her someday!

21 May 2010 2:06 PM

Great article - and wonderful observations of how sharp some of the social networking done by her connections has been!

21 May 2010 2:30 PM

I couldn't have said it any better! Im only 24 and until Zenyatta's burst into the mainstream eye I had no one to talk to about horse racing. Now I have all my friends watching the races & learning to bet! It's like the Horse Racing Gods sent her to us during this hard economical time to keep horse racing alive!

21 May 2010 2:48 PM
joe c.

There is much to be learned here.  But simply put, it's all about THE HORSE.  A Zenyatta, a Smarty Jones, a Funny Cide, a Cigar:  It's the horse which puts racing front and center.  Important lesson in a year of bad news, punctuated by a bland Belmont.

21 May 2010 3:12 PM

It's about time horse racing got into the 21st century.

I'm pretty sure that Smarty Jones was the first race horse to have his own website. When the offered Smarty T-shirts at his first public workout (another brilliant idea), they sold out immediately. Now you can get a hat or shirt for almost any horse running plus past champions.

Taking advantage of today's technology is one of the best ways to bring young people to the track and introduce them to racing.

21 May 2010 3:21 PM

Hi Jennifer - I also live in Chicago and will be at Arlington tomorrow (5/22). I am always looking for new people to talk horse racing with. Email me back if you want to keep in touch.

21 May 2010 3:23 PM

She gets all the attention and treatment that a Queen deserves! long live Queen Zenyatta =)

21 May 2010 3:38 PM

fun blog!!! it's true... I'm in love with a racemare... Zenyatta!!

21 May 2010 3:56 PM

Your youthful enthusiam is lovely, but if none of these Facebook fans ever go to a race track and place a bet, I don't see how this is a game changer.  Seabiscuit was the most popular public figure in America, Secretariat was on the cover of Time magazine; and look where racing is now.  I understand it's a new world with social networks but it's also a more distracted and fickle one. Zenyatta is on a billboard advertising Dodgers baseball because she's famous in California and Joe Torre is involved in horse racing.  It's fun for Zenyatta fans but unlikely to change the spending habits of younger consumers who view horse racing as a marginal sport.  I bet they will all love living in the luxury housing on what used to be Santa Anita race track when they are ready for retirement though.    

21 May 2010 4:04 PM
steve from st louis

Of course her talent impersonates  a force of nature, but it's her presence and personality which is other wordly. I'm too old to be facebook relevant but even old goats notice the sun when it shines.

21 May 2010 4:07 PM

Zen's huge personality is such a draw for everyone, whether they are diehard racing fans (like me) or newcomers. We are truly privileged to witness her much-deserved rise to stardom.

21 May 2010 4:14 PM

As a rampant Rachel fan, even I have to swallow my pride an admit, she has class, persona, charisma, and a delightful charm...and the quality to back it up. Her "connections" match her. I have never SEEN such a strong-boned TB mare on TV, and she is always alert. She needs to be out there...spreading the word. And she is the kind of horse we need to be breeding!

21 May 2010 4:36 PM
kathleen o

What a great article, I needed a pick me up today, and that was just the ticket.

Anna, this was an article about her personality and the fact that she's brought in so many new fans to racing.  Her achievements speak for themselves, she doesn't need New York as much as New York needs her.

21 May 2010 5:06 PM

Bravo!  Excellent article with many fine points regarding the appeal of Zenyatta, indeed a magic word. I definitely don't fall into the category of a younger facebook fan, but I can assure you that I enjoy her presence and at least her connections are making the effort to share this great mare.  Thank you!

21 May 2010 5:22 PM

There is not a single thing about Zenyatta you can't help loving.She is fabulous!!!!

21 May 2010 6:00 PM
Gary at Rough Creek


Please use some form of "grammar check"...ouch.

Zenyatta is one of the best race horses ever in my opinion.  I want to thank the Mosses for bringing her back for another year.

GreyK...I understand your point about fans wagering on racing, but consider this.  We used to be a more equine culture (travel, farming, logging, etc.)  Is it any wonder that since almost all of us drive cars now, that NASCAR is so popular?  It's called "technological determinism".  But don't worry.  As one who still uses draft horses in the woods for part of my living, and as one who breeds and races Thoroughbreds, the horse will never be totally replaced.  In fact, we should see a resurgence in the near future!

Long live the horse, and long live the truly great race horses like Zenyatta.

21 May 2010 6:30 PM

But to put things in perspective, earlier this year I found myself having to "educate" a television sportscaster on exactly WHO Zenyatta was and why she is important to the sport of horse racing.

To my knowledge, he is yet to run one frame of video of any of her races this year on the local tube.

Moreover, I have yet to see any mention of this horse on the sports pages of my local newspaper.

As far as her Facebook fan base goes, I believe that if you look into the background of the majority of them, you'll find that they are former fans of Rachel who are simply embracing the new flavor of the month. The negative tone of most of the comments makes it pretty clear that these are not "new" fans.

I daresay that, for good of ill,  more people would recognize the name of the gutsy little Mine That Bird or Eight Belles than Zenyatta.

Not to be a wet blanket here, but I think anyone who looks to this great horse as the savoir of the sport will find themselves sorely disappointed (as far as the general public goes).

21 May 2010 6:46 PM

Zenyetta is a wonderful horse to watch race. She could of made this year in racing one to remember. Last year she ran the race of the year at her home track. It got everyone to notice her as a possible superstar of all superstars. Like a horse that us fans would talk about for the next 50 years. Her owners got everyones admiration saying she would run again in 2010 and show the world how great she was. The entire public bought what the owners were selling and now we have the same old stay in California to face nobodys for the year. It is sad to say but they should of just retired this great mare. The world would of known she was great but now she is just another good horse staying home and proving nothing. She deserved the chance to prove she was the greatest horse in American horse racing history and possible the world. It is always us humans that mess things up and I just feel bad for the great mare. When we all talk about the greatest horses of all time they all proved their abilities by doing the impossible. Traveling to the best competition and still beating them with a smile. Zenyetta could of done this without running her into the ground. All the great horses in history had great owners that took the chance. Its that risk it all and still win that makes you great. I wouldnt be surprised if the owners duck the Classic this year to cap a very uneventful campaign. Please dont tell me about HOY stuff,,,, The greatest horse of all time will run through her career and never take the chances to win HOY once. Thats not the horses fault. She actually deserved it in 2008 but thats another story. Once again if she would of run in the 2008 classic she would of got HOY. In 2009 it was a one race wonder and that doesnt make HOY. Zenyetta was the better horse for both years and still the owners didnt have the confidence to take but one risk in the classic last year. She came to Churchill and didnt run because it rained. The greatest horse of all time with no imagination except for one chance a year. The horse deserves better. I know people will say that Rachael took chances last year and won HOY, this year she paid the price. Well I agree and it proves that she isnt in the same breath as the great ones. Thats why if you dont take the agressive chances you cant be mentioned along with the greats. You cant take a good horse like Lava Man and make him great because he couldnt pass the stress test that all the greats pass. At least most owners give there horses a chance to pass this test. With no stress test for the great Zenyetta, outside of California she will be remembered as just another good horse. The horse deserves better.

21 May 2010 7:28 PM

Simply Amazing

21 May 2010 7:31 PM
Big Brown's Buddy

Terrific article! You're correct, it's a GREAT word. Zenyatta. Stumbled upon her in a race by accident and was immediately captivated. She is the epitome of a nail-biter, with her come-from-behind-at-the-last-possible-second-to-win-it style. She puts some excitement back into racing. "Ohmygod,she's 12 lengths behind and they're almost to the last quarter pole! She'll never make it! Wait...OHMYGOD,it's unbelieveable!!  She's ahead by 3,and is about to cross the finish! That was AMAZING!!"   It's like, you KNOW she's going to win, but there's that one millisecond where you're actually afraid that she won't make it.

I think she has what is missing from racing today - stamina.  She looks and acts like she could go around the track a couple more times before tiring after every race. Most,if not all,racers are bred for speed.  That's why the TC run is so difficult for most horses - they have the speed, but not the stamina for the grueling schedule.  I'm not knocking "breed for speed", speed wins races.  But look at the racing greats like Seabiscuit, Secretariat, Man'o'War - stamina horses all (good grief, Secretariat won the Preakness by 31 lengths, for Heaven's sake!).  Incidentally, Zenyatta's pedigree can be traced back several generations to the great Man'O'War.

I'm the only ZenFan at work, and I get the "talking down to" about her abilities all the time, especially about how she's treated with kid gloves.  Well, heck! She's Sweet 16 for 16!  Obviously SOMETHING'S working for her!  "She's a poly horse" - her best race was run on DIRT, folks, EAST of Cali. Time and time again my coworkers bet against her, and time and time again, I make them eat their words.  Oh, the sweet victory dance when RA lost, and an hour later, Zenyatta won.  I'm still holding that over everyone's heads!

I've done fairly well handicapping this year's TC races, but it's been hard, with all the "major" players not racing in the Belmont. As I told my coworkers, Zenyatta's not running, so I'll have to actually WORK to make a pick for winners....

ROCK ON, QUEEN ZENYATTA!!  Don't let 'em get ya' down, girl!  Just keep on kicking their butts! Let 'em get a taste of dirt in their faces when you soar past them like a speeding locomotive.... serves 'em right for underestimating you!

21 May 2010 7:57 PM
Ida Lee

What can you say about a Treasure like Zenyatta? Her name alone brings a smile to my face.

21 May 2010 8:05 PM

Wow, what a great article and I love the enthusiam oozing from the descriptions of Zenyatta's escapedes. Your article was a joy to read. Of course, it doesn't hurt that I ride the "Z" wagon with utter devotion and race gods willing, I will be in L.A. for her next race. This will be the third trip I've made just to see Zenyatta and I for one, hope she runs again at Hollywood Park before going back East. Long live our Queen! Better yet, long live "our dancing Queen".

21 May 2010 8:22 PM

About time someone writes a blog about Zenyatta that is good and perfect like she is, instead of putting her down when there is no other horse like her running today.

Way to go, Jennifer.

Zenyatta is a phenominal legend in horseracing history....She is right up there with the best of the breed......

21 May 2010 8:28 PM
Matthew W

Every time she runs, it's like "oh oh, this is the time she doesn't get up..."....yet she does, and does, and does....unbeatable! And that's after spotting them several lengths right out of the starting gate! I do not think she will ever lose! And she takes on all comers--no one can say they didn't get their chance to beat Zenyatta.....

21 May 2010 8:51 PM
Matthew W

If Zenyatta can remain unbeaten up to The Classic, it will be the most anticipated race in decades--one of the most anticipated races ever! Zenyatta, who has never (never!) had the pleasure of a fast pace to run at, will likely get that fast pace, and if she does, she will leave them all something to etch into their minds forever: Zenyatta, The Unbeatable Mare, toe tapping/slow stepping/then crushing, leaving no doubt she was all that and a bag of tostitos....

21 May 2010 9:15 PM
Paula Higgins

Gary at Rough Creek, grammar check can't help Anna. Anna has bigger issues.

Wonderful blog/article and I agree with every word. For those of you that still want more, she will race again out east and against the boys and hopefully one more at the BCC. The year isn't over yet. She is one of the greatest race horses of all time and that is just a fact.

21 May 2010 9:17 PM
John T

The greatest steeplechaser of all

time Arkle,who won the Cheltenham Gold Cup 3 years in a row and used to give huge amount of weight away

to his competitors in handicaps during the 1960,s drank 2 bottles of Guinness everyday,and now that we know Zenyatta drinks it too it really lives up to it,s motto ''Guinness Is Good For You''.

May Zenyatta keep on winning and keep on enjoying her Guinness.

21 May 2010 9:38 PM

Hope we get to see her at Saratoga this year. The Spa and Big Z would be amazing.

21 May 2010 9:45 PM

Zenyatta... unbeatable, unbelievable, the Champion of the Ages... one of the best racehorses in a long, long time. She's a diva, and she knows it. She gets out there and shows off, gives people heart attacks while she's doing it with that come-from-behind surge, but I know she'll always be at the wire first.

She's simply the best.

Rock on, Queen Z!

21 May 2010 10:07 PM
Gary Lynn

You are a wet blanket, news badge. Glad to see you know French, but clearly got it wrong. She is indeed one savoir; and "to know" her is to love her!

21 May 2010 10:12 PM

I love some of the responses to the blog. I can totally relate to the one who's co-workers would like to take down the mighty Queen.

I guess I just don't understand the anger that some people feel when Zenyatta's name comes up. If you are a true racing fan how can you not love a horse with such a great personality with a late closing style that always gets up on time. She's amazing to still be undefeated. I know what the other blogger means when she says she is in love with Zenny. Long live the Queen!!!

21 May 2010 10:18 PM
Jim C.

Great post, Jennifer.  I am from Chicago myself, now living in SoCal.  My wife and I have seen Zenyatta up close in the paddock the last three times she has run at Santa Anita, including before the Breeders' Cup Classic.  Everyone gets absolute goosebumps when we see her.  She is the biggest star in professional sports.  Period.

What her cavemen critics on the East Coast (e.g., Andy Serling) who always whine about her Beyer speed figures, do not understand is that Beyers do not take into account slow pace and lost ground, which compromise her final times.  Regardless, she does what she has to do to win, and absolutely INHALED the best field of males to run last year (in the BC Classic), with plenty left in the tank after her strong gallop out.  By the way, it is my understanding that her 112 Beyer in the BC Classic was the highest ever recorded in a synthetic route race.  

22 May 2010 12:27 AM

LOVED this article. It made me giggle while I was reading it out loud. That great word, Zenyatta, is making history before our very eyes! I'm loving the journey...

22 May 2010 12:27 AM


Thank you for such a cheerful article.  I don't facebook so I can't follow her there, but since I live in Las Vegas, I have been able to make multiple trips to see her race.  I am glad you mentioned her artwork.  I have a goal to purchase one of hers someday.  I discovered these little jewels at Del Mar a few years ago and have a small collection.  I have  Castledale, Imperialism, Pleasantly Perfect, Lava Man, The Tin Man and John Henry.  I am hoping they continue allowing her to do them because it is for such a good cause and I would love to be able to give my mother one as a gift.  My mom's first live horse race was at the age of 82 and we were there to see Zenyatta.


Santa Anita is not Zenyatta's home base, Hollywood Park is.  I swear, if I had a dollar for every time I've read or heard that, I could retire.  And even though they are both synthetic tracks, they are no more alike than Belmont, Aqueduct and Saratogo are, or Churchill, Keeneland and Turfway (prior to synthetic) were. Your comments make it sound like her connections have done nothing but a disservice to her.  You say all great owners take chances to "risk it all" with their horses.  Taking chances does not always make you a great owner, sometimes it makes you a fool.  I truly do not understand how you can say Zenyatta deserves better when she has a family (yes family) that loves her and has always done what is right for her and her alone.  The public may think they owe us more, but they only owe the horse.  I do hope she travels east so her fans on the east coast get to see her in the flesh because it truly is a treat. And if she doesn't win, so be it.  But I hope she does so they can enjoy the entire experience that makes Zenyatta, Zenyatta.

22 May 2010 12:38 AM

Why should Zenyatta have to go east to prove herself?

Done that twice already... Nobody showed up.

Whats stopping the others from meeting her in Sunny California? Could be their a little scared...  You know home truf and all  Maybe its time for them step up... Long live racing in the west

22 May 2010 1:11 AM

Zenyatta and her connections bring class and personality to an industry that at times sorely needs it.  Simply put, most people love Zenyatta and she creates more interest than any horse currently racing at this time.  It's always amazing when a blog is about her how many people respond.  Thanks for a well written article.

22 May 2010 2:08 AM
Laura B

Thanks for your great article about the most captivating thoroughbred  I've ever seen, and certainly one of the best ever.

22 May 2010 6:06 AM

I love her I just don't like how the owners keep putting her in bubble wrap i.e. racing against fillies only...again and only in California and Arkansas...again

22 May 2010 7:07 AM
Richard Gross

Dear don't-know-a-thing-about-sports Anna: the challengers go to the champion for a shot at the title, not the reverse. Another Rachel fan exposed. Rachel's a great horse - last year. Zenyatta has earned the right to race wherever her connections deem it best. Hollywood!

22 May 2010 7:16 AM
Richard Gross

GreyK: So true about wagering, but that is because a sport that relies on wagering has a broken business model. I live in Dubai, which just had its first season (and a terrific World Cup) at a new $2 BILLION facility, Meydan. There is no betting in Dubai. Moreover, ordinary entrance is free. How does it work? Well, it's being primed as a multi-use, year-round facility with concerts, fine restaurants, a five-star hotel, an IMAX theater and more. Until then, the track investors are footing the bill, including the purses ($10 million to Gloria de Campeao on World Cup Day). Oh, and China just signed on with Meydan to have a $4 BILLION track and training facility built in Tianjin (Horse City). Baseball does not "require" betting; nor do football, hockey and basketball.

As long a American racing has a business model appropriate to "Guys and Dolls" and Damon Runyon - instead of rockstar horses like Zenyatta - its future is in doubt. Investors need to bet on the future of racing, then back it up with innovative marketing - and great horses!

22 May 2010 7:28 AM
Stephi S.

I just have one quibble with the blog entry...Zenyatta does NOT stomp..she dances. Other than that, I agree with every word. She is a great horse, no matter where she runs. And good for racing, too. Racing needs it's charismatic superstars, they are what gets people to the race track. Zenyatta is better at that than any horse I have seen since Secretariat. She is a superstar.

22 May 2010 8:20 AM
LouAnn Cingel of Union, Missouri

Ah Zenyatta! What a super wonderful magnificient horse.  She is definitely a horse for the ages!  She has brought so much excitement, entertainment and love to the world in which she lives.  She has given people hope when they felt that all hope is gone.  She has brought smiles and laughter to people when they have been down and out.

For me, Zenyatta has fueled a new interest in life.  With Zenyatta, I want to absorb the special moments that I know are fleeting, passing too quickly, day by day.  But for now, and for ever in my book, it's ZENYATTA, THE QUEEN!

Thank you God for such a gift.

22 May 2010 8:25 AM
Shelby's Best Pal

Well said. See you at Hollywood Park on June 13.  Zenyatta Bobble Horse Giveaway!

22 May 2010 9:10 AM

I don't  know..I'm not a facebook fan and I am in NY...and if you are a great US horse, you RACE in NY, at least once, or you are just an after thought,  no matter how 'great' you are....I hardly ever hear Zenyatta mentioned in everyday racing talk here.....her undefeated record, while, who did she beat?? Claiming mares parading as Gr 1 runners in cali poly powder puff races and a very suspect BC classic field of turf horses and pro ride hating dirt horses.......not one horse behind her has come back to win a graded race....imho, the best field she beat was her first Apple Blossum...this last field?? gr 1 winners and what, 2 graded wins amongst the other entries?? Its' not her fault who shows up...but that race was just too early in a long racing year for a bunch of top fillies and mares to get together off long layoffs...and I take nothing away from what she has done....I would just prefer to see her run against mares not so inferior....SHIP HER TO NY!!! :)

22 May 2010 10:31 AM

Why should Zenyatta have to go east to prove herself?

Done that twice already... Nobody showed up.

east???where?? arkansas in NOT in the east....

22 May 2010 10:34 AM

wonderful article  we do need more like her and her connections  even a non racing fan has to admire a beautiful animal that has the character to go with it

22 May 2010 10:39 AM

I also find it interesting that a large percentage of the Zenyatta 'fans'  didn't even know who she was if they were not in calif before the '09 BCup.....she wins, they jump on the bandwagon.....she was the  most 'unknown' undefeated horse I have ever seen.....had she have won the BC ladies in '09 instead, she'd still be that 'undefeated'  cali poly horse who races against claimer mares parading as gr 1 runners out west so thank god for national tv coverage of the bcup! alot of these new 'fans' remind me of the 'fans' who love whatever team wins wins the world series and super bowl any given yr - right after it's over.........jmho

22 May 2010 10:43 AM


That "bubble wrap" is pretty heavy, huh? (...about 130 lbs heavy).


22 May 2010 11:14 AM

Where were the best east coast fillies and mares in the 2010 Apple Blossom?

The race was ran on "dirt". Where were you guys?

Your like cockroaches. You ran and hid behind something.

22 May 2010 11:20 AM

I still firmly believe the Eclipse committee made a drastic mistake when they gave the HOY to Rachel.    There is no question that Rachel is a great racehorse, but Rachel has lost her last 2 races - easy races by the by that she should have won handily.  Zenyatta is still undefeated and, hopefully, will remain so.   What she has accomplished for the dwindling sport of horseracing is unmistakable.  If she were to be retired today, she should still be appointed HOY.

22 May 2010 12:14 PM

Zenyatta is what her owners & trainer are not. Zenyatta runs as hard as she needs, carries top weight, and handles dirt & synth very well. She's a model of perfection.

Sometimes it seems as if her owners and trainer have no idea the kind of horse they have, wasting her talents by running her against the same competition over & over, managing to lose not one, but TWO horse of the year awards because of that.

It is unbelievable that a champion like Zenyatta has to settle for running in two states in 3 years....Running her in the Vanity, when she could have run in the Hollywood Gold Cup or the Stephen Foster, is a joke.

22 May 2010 12:51 PM

To Cfinney & Richard Gross;

Zenyatta has proven she can beat her own sex more than enough times. One victory over males in 3 years does not do her justice; her connections keep entering her in these races vs 4 outmatched opponents, at 1-9 odds. Where's the challenge on that?

Don't get me wrong. I think she is better than males, and most likely the best horse in training now. It is extremely dissapointing to see her running in the Vanity (been there, donde that) when she could be following the steps of Ouija Board & Vodka, facing boys or running on grass. What a waste!!!

If they wanna keep her in SoCal, that's fine with me; but I wanna see her in the Hollywood Gold Cup & the Pacific Classic vs Rail Trip and Misremembered, not vs the Anabaa's Creations of the world.

That's what a true champion like she is deserves.

22 May 2010 1:04 PM

Zenyatta is a completely unique, magnificant horse. I don't know why some people simply can't enjoy her with out crabbing about what she ought to be doing. You cannot put this horse in a box made for other horses. She won't fit. She has made a dramatic impact on horse racing already. Look at her historic achievements. Has everbody forgotten how rare it is to have a female race horse with these abilities?

If she does bring new fans to racing, which she surely is, then she IS having a favorable impact on the industry; but she is doing it "her way". Finally those who say her fans are former Rachel Alexandra fans who want a new flavor? Total horse poo!!! RA revived racing and brought new fans and many also are now Zenyatta fans because she is a great horse and having a great year, not because they don't still appreciate RA and want her to succeed also. Plus there are new Zenyatta fans who did not see RA last year. They are completely new to the sport and were drawn in by Zenyatta's magic and that's a good thing too. Just enjoy her while we can and quitcherbitchin.

22 May 2010 1:19 PM
Fuzzy Corgi

Until Zenyatta cures cancer, creates peace in the Middle East, saves the whales, balances the world economy, finds Osama Bin Laden, and stops global warming she will get no recognition from racing fans outside of California. Zenyatta has dominated two surfaces, synthetic and dirt, but she still gets little respect outside of CA. Curlin was spectacular on dirt and threw in a major clunker on turf and came up a little short on synthetic. Does that diminish his brilliance? Absolutely not! If Zenyatta was purely a turf horse would she be any less of a race horse? Not at all.

I constany hear how weak the fillies and mares are in the west, yet in this years KY Oaks CA based horses ran first and second.

Bring your fillies and mares to CA. After Zenyatta beats them to the winners circle she can entertain them at Disneyland.

22 May 2010 1:22 PM
Gary Carter

I agree the people who say Zennatta must come to NY to prove herself but should turn the words around and say the competition must come to California first God help them if she does come east.Rachael is a great horse but did her owners come west.  There is your answer.All the things you say against Queen Z and the Mosses doublely apply to Rachael  She missed the race she should have been in at the BC cup and still was horse of the year because of the voting weighted to EASTERN. voters Dream on if you think the Mosses should do something Rachaels owners would not do  

22 May 2010 1:58 PM
Pam S.

Very nice piece, Jennifer.  You are exactly right:  Zenyatta, with the help of her human caretakers, has refused to accept that horse racing is a dying sport.  She has made it her business to breathe new life into an old game, and running and winning EVERY time is only part of it.  The rest is just Zenyatta, the horse that loves to play to the crowd and has "won over" so many individuals that, unlike her race wins, they can't be counted.

I'm no techie, much more of an old goat, but I think using the new media to get Zenyatta "out there" to the younger non-racing fan is a positive move for the sport no matter how you look at it.  SOME of these people are bound to become real fans, not just "Zenites."

I'm lucky enough to have seen Zenyatta in the flesh four times, and those of you who are too far away, relax, I have a feeling she's coming.  She just has to get that historic 17th consecutive win out of the way.  Can't wait until June 13.

22 May 2010 2:33 PM

if she's great then why is her owners refusing to take her to new york or even to ky to run her in the stephen foster handicap for? her owners know she can handle the big crowds and she was stables at churchill downs last yr before being scratched from her debut at 5 last yr and she needs t have a race over churchill downs a track that favors horses who has ran and won over it before. like super saver rachel or even street sense whose best races was at churchill downs.     anna

Re:  Being at Churchill sure didnt help Rachel in the La'Troinne, Did it????

22 May 2010 3:16 PM
Jennifer Wirth

Thank you for all of the wonderful comments!  

22 May 2010 3:32 PM
Jim C.

To Elusive Quality:

So Zenyatta is an "after thought" if she does not run in NY?  Get a life.

Didn't know if you were aware of this, but the world does not revolve around NY.   I find it fascinating that you are still whining about Zenyatta not running in NY, when Zenyatta's stablemate, Zardana, dispatched Rachel (the best East Coast horse) at the Fair Grounds in March.  And then Zenyatta shows up at Oaklawn in April -- where was Rachel?  $5 million was available.  Money talks, nonsense walks.

Zenyatta will be at Hollywood Park on June 13, and at the Breeders' Cup Classic at Churchill in the Fall.  NY horses are welcome.

Anyway, I hope for your sake the State of NY bails out the NYRA so you can see racing this summer.

22 May 2010 4:52 PM

I watched the great Secretariat race as a young man. He ran some great races in record breaking times. With all that being said the great horse did lose his share of races. Few people realize that he only won 4 grade one races and three of them were the triple crown races. He lost the other two grade one races he raced in. I know it was a different era and there weren`t as many grade one races. Secretariat also raced 6 times after his triple crown and lost 2 of them. My point is that after he retired the public remembered his great victories and not his defeats.


After watching horses for 40 plus years I do believe that Zenyetta is the greatest of them all. My frustration lies in people will never view her as such. She probably has either 3 or 4 races left in her career. If she will run 2 of them on dirt and 1 of those 2 needs to be Breeders Cup Classic. She would then be remembered as the greatest of all time at all surfaces. I also agree with you that taking chances doesnt always work out for the horse. My only argument is that controled chances do work out for the great horses and always has. Zenyetta can handle controled chances to seperate her from all the horses that werent great.

22 May 2010 5:49 PM
Big Brown's Buddy

You're extremely welcome, Jennifer! Feel free to write about the Amazing Zenyatta any ol' time you want!  It was a great article.  Just wish that more of the mainstream were able to read it.  It's pieces like yours that could open up the doors for the general public to the wonderful world of racing.

As someone else mentioned, my local newspaper rarely has any horse racing coverage. The last time racing got the front page of the sports section was when my bud, Big Brown, won the Derby and Preakness.  Ever since, even the day after the Derby, if we get a whole paragraph in the "miscellaneous" box, we're doing well.  I'm not looking for an entire column or anything - an actual article would be nice once in a while.  With a picture of the winning horse as he/she crosses the finish.  

Yep, racing doesn't get the respect it deserves.  Zenyatta, thru stories like yours,Jennifer, could be the horse to change all that.

The greatest word.  ZENYATTA.

22 May 2010 7:13 PM
Mike S

California's quality of racing is definitely on par with that of New York, and has been for years and years. So ZENYATTA doesn't have to go anywhere to prove her greatness, it's already been proven. If ZENYATTA had ran 16 races in New York you would not hear the east coast crowd talking about how she has to take her act to Santa Anita and win the Santa Margarita, would you? Of course not. But they seem to have this double standard, that is equally pointless and silly, that says that a west coast horse must "come to New York" to prove that he or she is great. And that's a load of nonsense. PERSONAL ENSIGN never came out west, she's still great. ZENYATTA went to the Apple Blossom only to find that the "Horse of the Year" didn't show up, not even for the biggest purse in the history of horse racing (for fillies and mares). So there's really no more history that ZENYATTA needs to write, she has written it already, and it's horse racing's version of Shakespeare, it's pure art.

22 May 2010 7:23 PM


Rachel's two losses in 2010 have absolutely NO bearing on a 2009 award. If you want to blame someone, blame Zen's connections, who keep entering her in races restricted to her own sex, instead of facing the boys.

Zenyatta has nothing to prove vs her own sex.

22 May 2010 7:54 PM
Paula Higgins

jimthepimp, interesting comments. But Secretariat separated himself with his records/fast times (The Belmont for example, which was otherworldly), besides his wins. It wasn't just about wins with him. While I would love to put Zenyatta up there with him and Man O' War (and still may), we will be comparing 3 great horses with different achievements. Zenaytta won't have as many wins and records as Man O' War, or set as many records as Secretariat, when all is said and done. Having said that, I do totally get your point why you think she is the greatest of them all. I think after her 17th win in June they will ship her east.

22 May 2010 9:25 PM

I don't care if Zenyatta races goats, donkeys or zebras in her next race. I just want to see her race again! Horses, mares, who cares.

22 May 2010 9:32 PM
Golden Gate

The young people are showing up to watch Zenyatta. I was enfolded by a group of college freshman who went wild over Zenyatta at the Apple Blossom. A large percentage of the crowd at Oaklawn were under 25 yrs old.

22 May 2010 9:59 PM

To Jim C......yes, racing especially in the summer revolves around NEW YORK..Saratoga to be exact..where some of the top CALI trainers ship their best 2 yr olds to hopefully break their maidens....and Zenyatta is not what keeps the east coast horses from going to's the POLY TRACK and PRO -RIDE 'fake' surfaces they run on.....NY horses shipped west many many times before the crap was installed....alot don't run at Keeneland anymore for the same reason...adn like I said before....5 mil is early April is not going to draw all the top horses that have been laid off for months....too early in the year...RA and then Careless Jewel didn't get back to any serious training til late feb......Zen NEVER left it...I like both RA and Zen and admire what both have done....there should be NO comparison of a then 3 yr old FILLY and a 5 yr old MARE...the right female was voted HOTY...because she had the better YEAR LONG campaign, not just one good race that IS the HOT YEAR award, not the HOT Breeders' Cup Classic award....

22 May 2010 10:17 PM
Pedigree Shelly

         Zenyatta is truly the greatest race mare of the 21st century and if she remains undefeated one of the greatest of all time !! I think her first foal should be named " Mondatta " I'm sure all fans of The Police feel the same way :)

22 May 2010 10:33 PM

What so many people love about Zenyatta is the fact that for three years she has came back doing what was totally unbelievabe, and that is to win every race for the past 16 races.  That is not a easy job to do, especially when you look at the BCC field and all the grade 1's she has won against.

Zenyatta is no 'One Year Wonder'.

Anna,  Churchill Downs track didnt' help Rachel one bit did it, on April 30th.  Maybe the track at Churchill let her down and thats why she couldn't beat Unrivaled Belle,  a grade 3 stringer.

Anna, Its the horse of course.

22 May 2010 10:36 PM

There is NO WAY Zen, or ANY horse is on the same plane as Secretariat...until Zen or any others DO WHAT HE DID, there never will be... Secretariat, well....hmmm.....until another horse runs on dirt and grass and sets records on both surfaces like he did, THE WAY HE DID IT, at the same distances , he has no equal...HE is the horse by which all others are measured......and will be for many many years to come.......and I agree with the poster who said his local sportscaster had to be told who Zenyatta was...while ours here know who she is, she is far from a household name....on our Sat morn racing show, they talk everything racing.....RA got a 3 minute blip about where her next race will be, how she has a new rider in the mornings, will she come back to her 3 yr old form, etc...Lookin at Lucky got a 3 min blip and Preakness replay, First Dude got a 1 minute blip about how big he is and how his trainer has turned him around and Zenyatta got a 15 sec blip about how she had another work in preparation for her start in the 'ultra competitive' (faux) grade 1 Vanity again...I find it strange that an undefeated , gorgeous horse such as Zen is not more talked about, even here in the east... Cigar was a household name country wide while on his win streak... I know  a few people who went to Arkansas for the AB...and not to see the "greatest horse ever"...they went so they could say 'they were there' when she won her 16th start..she is the most un talked about undefeated horse I have ever seen...even last yr,the country's top 3 yr old pacer 'Somebeachsomewhere" and top 3 yr old trotter "Dewycheatemanhow" got more mention than Zenyatta....and they were both on undefeated streaks as well..its' just weird..and I blame her connections for keeping her out west(except for two forays to Oaklawn) under bubble wrap and having her amass a record that will always have an asterisk next to it...jmho

22 May 2010 10:45 PM

jimthepimp says

"I watched the great Secretariat race as a young man. He ran some great races in record breaking times. "

That is not why Secretariat is the greatest of them all.

He is the greatest because he ran three great races and SET RECORDS in those three great races all within an span of five weeks.

Not only that, but in the Belmont on June 9th, 1973, no horse ever made could beaten him.

Taking nothing away from Zenyatta, but she has done nothing that even comes close to matching that accomplishment nor has she ever shown anything in any of her races that would indicate she could come close to matching that accomplishment.

The fact that Secretariat lost races is not relevant. There's much more to greatness than merely a "perfect" record.

If that was the case, than the gallant little Peppers Pride would trump them all.

That's not to say that Zenyatta in her own right is not one of the greatest horses of our era, but for the sake of the sport, it's tradition and it's future, we should always keep a sense of proportion and especially perspective and always give the great champions, or whatever era, their full measure of respect.

22 May 2010 10:53 PM

The best part is Zenyatta does not even care about all this talk negative or positive,she knows who she is and how to play it to her advantage maybe a lesson to us all be happy with what your born with and use it to bring smiles to all you can.Love you Queen Z!!!!

23 May 2010 12:47 AM

Some people just don't get it.

Zenyatta has faced and destroyed the greatest competition ever thrown at a racehorse.

For example, please consider the following racehorse that Zenyatta has beaten BEFORE her Breeders' Cup Classic:

Tough Tiz's Sis was a winner of the Grade 1 Ruffian and Grade 1 Lady's Secret

Romance Is Diane was a winner of the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet

Ginger Punch was a winner of the Grade 1 Personal Ensign, Grade 1 Go For Wand, Grade 1 Ogden Phipps, Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic, Grade 1 Ruffian

Santa Teresita was a winner of the Grade 1 Santa Maria

Hystericalady was a winner of the Grade 1 Humana

Music Note was a winner of the Grade 1 Gazelle Stakes, Grade 1 Coaching Club American Stakes, Grade 1 Mother Goose, Grade 1 Ballerina Stakes, Grade 1 Beldame

Cocoa Beach was a winner of the Grade 1 Matriarch Stakes, and the Grade 1 Beldame

Life Is Sweet was a winner of the Grade 1 Santa Margarita, and the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic

Carriage Trail was a winner of the Grade 1 Spinster

Sealy Hill was a winner of the Grade 1 Wonder Where Stakes, Grade 1 Bison City Stakes, and Grade 1 Woodbine Oaks

Total is 23 winners of Grade 1 races.

Then came Zenyatta's legendary BCC.

In that race Zenyatta beat the Grade 1 winners of the Kentucky Derby, Belmont Stakes, Santa Anita Handicap, Champion Stakes (England), Travers Stakes, Pacific Classic, Arlington Million, Jockey Club Gold Cup, Man o'War, Santa Anita Derby, Queen Elizabeth Stakes (England), Manhattan Handicap, Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap, Wicker Stakes, Clark Handicap, Sussex Stakes (England), Frank E. Kilroe Stakes, Sham Stakes, and the Turf Classic.

This totals an ADDITIONAL 22 Grade 1 winners from the greatest races in America and England.

Zenyatta has crushed and destroyed the winners of an incredible 45 Grade 1 races.

There is NO racehorse in history that has faced such an onslaught of intense high caliber, first class competition.

No other horse in racehorse history comes close.

And she is still undefeated.

With Zenyatta's next victory, she will have won her 17th victory in a row in major stakes/races and also will be her 7th victory in a row in a Grade 1 race.

Both records may never be broken.

23 May 2010 2:06 AM

Beautiful article.......stop the nonsense, the same tired people complaining that Zenyatta doesn't go east. Personal Ensign never came west to my knowledge, in fact she ran 11 of her 14 races at Belmont Park. Ruffian who is considered by many as the greatest filly/mare of all time never raced out west. Lady's Secret raced and won everywhere and she still doesn't get her just due. People are fickled, nothing makes them happy. Just enjoy this beautiful horse while you still can regardless of where she runs. Zenyatta is truly a once in a lifetime experience.

23 May 2010 3:49 AM
Big Brown's Buddy

BRAVO, Mike S.!  

And Anna, yes, Rachel ran 8 in a row in 6 different states at 7 different racetracks..... where is she NOW?  New year,2 races, 2 states, 2 different tracks, 2 losses.  All that traveling last year took it's toll on her. She may never return to her 3 y.o. greatness because of her greedy, egotistical owners.  I'll bet that Rachel retires before Zenyatta does!!  If Rachel isn't winning and making Jackson money, he'll send her to the breeding shed - he's said all along that that was his primary goal.  By the way, Anna - from what was the HOY award "converted"?  ;>

23 May 2010 8:55 AM

The whiners still dont get it...

It is VERY rare for a horse to win EVERY single time they leave the gates.  Undefeated in 16 outs, Grade I no less says a lot.  There's not another one out there today that has that kind of record!  

You people keep harping "wait till she meets Quality Road, Rail Trip, Summer Bird, MTB" etc.  Hasn't she already beaten 2 of them that actually made it in the gate?  

Additionally, you keep hollering "take her to NY."  Once upon a time, long, long ago, NY was THE place to run.  Unfortunately, the peple of NY have allowed their legislature to ruin racing in NY.  Personally, I wouldn't take a goat up there to run, much less Zenyatta!

Please, just go ahead and admit it, you're fans of the "other" filly (the one that had her wheels run off) and can't stand to see Zenyatta keep on going.

Zenyatta and her record are truly amazing and should be revered rather than slammed.  She is a shining example of what every owner and trainer hopes and prays for!

23 May 2010 8:59 AM

Check out how the Europeans have been hit with "Zenyatta-Mania"

23 May 2010 12:55 PM

Zenyatta can talk the walk and walk the talk!!

23 May 2010 3:06 PM

Here is a link to a tribute to the Queen!

23 May 2010 3:19 PM


Great recap of the great Mare's accomplishments.  (Just a side-note.....the Woodbine Oaks is restricted to 3 y-o Canadian bred fillies and isn't a G-1 and the Wonder Where and the Bison City are Canadian G-1's.  Their quality is proven though by Sealy Hill who was 2nd in the G-1 2008 BC Filly Turf.  I thought I would mention it before one of Zen's detractors did.).....Zen's BCC of course tops it all, but the naysayers always have an excuse.....Zenyatta was at her best and the others threw in a clunker.....Zenyatta is a poly specialist and the others aren' goes on and on and on.  My feeling is Zenyatta transcends greatness.  She combines her perfect record and workmanlike performance on the track with a LOVE OF FANS performance before and after her race.  SHE DRAWS FANS TO THE RACES!  Rachel had a great season and at least until the awards are handed out for the 2010 season she will be remembered as 2009 HOY.....simply put, who cares.  Zenyatta is an ICON.  She will be remembered forever.  LOL

23 May 2010 3:27 PM
kathleen o

Interesting how an article about how Zen has created new race fans has once again turned into and argument between the Zen fans and the Zen detractors.  This was about just how delightful this mare is to watch.  It's about that giant personality and how she draws people to her.  Those that think she isn't a great race mare will NEVER think she's a great race mare, no matter what she does.  Those that can't put that aside and just enjoy the moment.......too bad for you.  Personally, I let whatever joy I can into my life.

23 May 2010 5:23 PM

Johnny 23 says

"There is NO racehorse in history that has faced such an onslaught of intense high caliber, first class competition.

No other horse in racehorse history comes close."

As someone who has a great deal of respect for Zenyatta and other horses) I don't believe that I would be doing the horse any favors if I were to resort to excessive hyperbole when discussing his or her merits.

To pad accomplishments demeans not only the favored horse but the sport of horse racing as a whole.

Moreover, it's been my experience that fans who bring an excess of misplaced passion to the table are the first to abandon their champion when he or she falters whereas those of us who keep things in perspective will appreciate the horse long after he or she has left the game.

23 May 2010 5:36 PM

The queen arrives at Oaklawn:

23 May 2010 6:18 PM
New York Vinnie


Beautifully said!

Zenyatta has indeed faced and beat the most accomplished and greatest class of thoroughbreds ever assembled against a racehorse.

You stated that Zenyatta has destroyed the winners of 23 Grade 1 races BEFORE she won the Breeders' Cup Classic.

That is absolutely true.

But, in these races leading up to the BCC Zenyatta ALSO beat the winners of another 14 stakes races that include the Louisville Stakes, the Ouija Board Distaff, Hollywood Breeders' Cup Oaks, Hawthorne Handicap, The First Flight, the Fleur De Lis, the Delaware Handicap, the Molly Pitcher, Hollywood Oaks, the Azeri, the La Canada, the El Encino, the Glorious Song Stakes, and the Bourbonette Breeders' Cup Stakes.

Therefore, the great and mighty Zenyatta has beaten the winners of 37 stakes races BEFORE the Breeders' Cup Classic!

Also, speaking of the BCC, you mentioned that Zenyatta destroyed the winners of 22 Grade 1 races.

Correct again, but those horses that Zenyatta beat should be credited with another 12 stakes victories.

Final result - Zenyatta has beaten the winners of over 70 stakes races through out her career without tasting defeat!

Incredible, simply incredible!

23 May 2010 6:53 PM

Seatariat,  That was a beautiful link ,  I will go on my youtube page and download it to my favorites,  Simply beautiful , like Zenyatta is.............

23 May 2010 7:03 PM

Great list Johnny!

Compare the 45 Grade 1 winners that Zenyatta beat with Ruffian's recond of zero.

Zilch, nada.

Ruffian never beat a winner of a Grade 1 race in her entire career.

And she is considered the greatest American female racehorse of all time.


23 May 2010 7:11 PM

Can someone please tell Elusive Quality that if the state of New York doesn't hand over $8 million to the NYRA - his beloved NY tracks will be no more.

23 May 2010 7:26 PM
Zenyatta (HOF)

Santa Anita: "The best are here- Zenyatta they fear"

23 May 2010 7:28 PM


I'm a total fan of Zenyatta. However, in reading your post about Ruffian's G-1 winning foes it is not entirely correct.  Aunt Jin, defeated by Ruffian in the Comely was a two time G-1 winner (Selima and Monmouth Oaks) and Let Me Linger, 3rd to Ruffian in the CCA won the G-1 Deleware Oaks.  LOL

23 May 2010 8:02 PM
Paula Higgins

Thanks for the links everyone! After reading some of these posts, it is pretty clear to me that some people do not understand the significance of what Zenyatta has accomplished. Kind of mind boggling actually. Where she ranks with the 5 top horses of all time (American) can be debated, but she is in that group, no discussion, no argument. Secretariat and Man O' War may have the top two spots, but after that she enters the conversation. If her future races end up the way we all hope they end up, we may have a chat about the top two spots as well. True, no one was going to beat Secretariat at the Belmont, but on another day, you can be sure Zenyatta would have dusted him.

23 May 2010 8:15 PM
Kevin A Burke


Great article on a Great Horse, written by a person who shows through her words she must be pretty great herself.

I hope Zenyatta does race on the East Coast sometime in the near future. Not for the horse or her connections to prove anything, (not necessary), just for the selfish reason that I might see her race in person.

(Selfish for myself and the 100,000 plus who show up for the privilege).

Keep writing, and always love the Horse.


23 May 2010 8:18 PM

I think that we need to take a step back and look at our sport and realize that any horse that races only 5 time a year is not going to help us in any way. The last race that she ran in was not cover by a local channel. This is why we are losing race dates at our tracks. As for those who believe that slots will fix everything, sorry it is just not going to happen because to many tracks are getting them and now the money is spread to thin now to help anyone. Question:  How many of us can quick name the horse who holds the record for the most wins in a row? Peppers Pride, and why is she not talked about like Cigar because she never left the state of New Mexico. If the Mosses want to play the game it's time to play with the "big horse" and stable her in the east. I have worked on horse farms all of my life and have seen horses that shipped all over the world and it takes a truly great horse to be able to be shipped and then race. Any horse can stay in one place and win races, look at Lava Man, a lot of talk but just a good horse. As for you all who want to say that she is better than Ruffian it just shows that you have never truly handled a racehorse. Greatness is not about winning a race that you have been placed in against horses who have been running all year and your horse is fresh. It's about winning all of the same races as them. It's about loving to run so much that when she came out of anesthesia she was still running. A true race fan will never disrespect a racehorse from a claimer to a grade 1 winner, they all are just doing what they love to do RUN! If you look at a horse and they are tried and done running than you retire them, it's NOT a betting game as to who is going to retire first!      

23 May 2010 10:12 PM
Karen in Indiana

tvnewsbadge, Zenyatta's appeal is so much more than just her record, as impressive as that is. It's also that unique personality. I hope she never has to learn what getting beat by another horse is, but even if she does loose a race, that won't diminish who she is and how she connects with her fans. And that connection is what sets her apart. The only other horses I can think of that had that were Seabiscuit and John Henry, both of whom lost races in their careers. But even then - I don't recall that they played to the crowd like Zenyatta does. Watching her in the videos John Shirrefs puts up on youtube, she could be just any old horse. But when she steps into the spotlight, she's like no horse I've ever seen before.

23 May 2010 10:43 PM

I'm neither a Zenyatta detractor nor a Rachel Alexandra fan.

I am, however, a Zenyatta skeptic.

Like most, I tended to believe that Zenyatta had an easy campaign that beat mostly overmatched horses.

After some people (thanks Johnny/Vinnie) actually lists the horses that she beat I had to check it out.

Yes, the list is accurate. Those horses actually won those Grade 1 races, with the exception of the race in Canada, and, yes, Zenyatta did beat those horses.

No padding of accomplishments either.

Simple as that.

And, boy, did it open my eyes.

I don't know where the total of 45 or 44 Grade 1 beatings or 70 stakes race beatings rank, but it sure sounds like a lot.

A whole lot.

Zenyatta, from this skeptic, I tip my hat to you.

23 May 2010 11:17 PM

to Nancy: back when Ruffian ran, there were FAR LESS Grade 1's available and the ones that were, were REAL, not just in name only and not run on a fake, they upgrade a race to a grade 1 status because last yr's winner when it was a grade 3 goes on to win a big Grade 1 .....doesn't work for me...many of today's 'grade 1's' NAME only.....but they are comprised of grade 3 horses or less.....MTB won last yrs' Sunland Derby then the Ky Derby - his claim to this yr it goes from UNGRADED to graded....and the winner gets injured and the 2nd place finisher is buried in the Ky derby ...the other no names are still 'non winners of two other thans'....yep....keep making more 'faux' graded races....

24 May 2010 12:36 AM
NY Fan

Kevin A. Burke,

Great post!

24 May 2010 8:50 AM


"Zenyatta has faced and destroyed the greatest competition ever thrown at a racehorse."

You cant be serious!

Affirmed/Alydar....just their campaigns against each other disputes your statement.

24 May 2010 8:53 AM


Are you all about the 3yr olds?

Your probably too young to remember when the 3yr olds took a backseat to the older horses.

24 May 2010 9:55 AM

I wish the Fatheadz people, or whatever the name of the company that makes those big football helmets would start making some racehorse images! Who wouldn't want to have a Zen, Rachel, Curlin, Sec,Slew, et al gracing their car, their wall or whatever? Can I get an amen?

24 May 2010 10:21 AM
m burry

I m so sick of these people who can't enjoy this great horse instead of moaning about her running all over the country and running only against males ... she's been thar, done dat ... the biggest male race the Breeders Cup Classic

24 May 2010 10:53 AM


She is simply the best of her age and definitely one of the best all time.  She still has something to prove, but only because she hasn’t been put into certain situations.  This bit about synthetic only champion is pure bull.  She was never purchased because she was a synthetic horse.  That just happens to be the surface that she races on.  People forget that when she took on the reigning filly champ, Ginger Punch, in the Apple Blossom (her first race on dirt), it wasn’t an experiment to see how she could handle the surface.  They knew she could handle dirt.  And when she lagged behind and it looked like GP was going to destroy the field, what we saw in turn was a devastating stretch run that at times defies the imagination.  She absolutely destroyed possibly the top filly mare field (outside that year’s BC Filly race) that year and in only her fourth lifetime start.  For anyone who doubts her quality, you must have been feeling pretty confident at the quarter pole in the BCC when she looked like the only horse she would beat would be MTB.  How did the doubters feel during the final quarter of the race when she not only destroyed the top field in N/A last year, she actually waited in mid-stretch for the third place finisher to pass her then took off and won without really much of a drive……The list of G-1 winning and Classic winning horses she has defeated is deeper than any horse currently racing in N/A.  People also forget that during her career (so far) she has defeated the winners of 5 divisional categories.  She is definitely one of my all time favorites.  I only hope that she will continue on this year and make it to the BCC and face the top males.


How anyone can knock which is possibly the greatest female horse ever is beyond me.  Ruffian, like Zenyatta and maybe even like Rachel (for a brief period last year), transcended greatness.  It is difficult to compare what she did back then to what horses do today, but I do know that in a time when N/A horse racing was peaking (three Triple Crown winners in six years), Ruffian was revered.  It took until the match race before she tackled a male, but people don’t realize that she only raced until June of her three year-old year.  I’m sure that races like the Travers would have definitely been on her agenda if fate hadn’t intervened.  Even Lucien Lauren who trained Secretariat, said that she might have actually been better than him.  Ruffian, like many great horses, could only race against the competition that was available.  She did that and what she did was absolutely destroy her competition.

Some of her facts leading up to her ill-fated match race:

• Was 10 for 10 in a 14-month period

• Won at the following distances…..5 ½-F, 6-F, 7-F, 1-M, 1-1/8M, 1-1/4M & 1-1/2M

• Was never headed at any call in any race

• At the 3rd last call led by an average of 2 1/2-L

• At the 2nd last call led by an average of 5  1/2-L

• At the finish, led by an average of 8  1/2-L

• From 1963 to 1967 the Belmont Stakes was run at Aqueduct.  Ruffian’s CCA also at Aqueduct in 1975 at 1 1/2M was run faster than every one of them including Damascus’ 1968 win.

• In only one race, the Sorority did the finish caption say….driving.  the other captions indicated that her wins were without anything close to maximum effort.

• She set a new stakes record in each of the 8 stakes she won and yet she won these races by an average of 7 1/2L.  How fast would she have run if she would have been pushed?

Zen and Ruffian are both great horses representing different times in our great sport.  To knock one and say the other is better is absolutely wrong.  There will never be another Ruffian just like there will never be another Zenyatta.

24 May 2010 11:46 AM

Anyone who questions the competition Zenyatta is facing needs to get a reality check. First of all unless I dreamed something she travelled to Oaklawn, threw down the challenge, and who showed up? They were all scared to face her and she was only 80% at best!!

Why not question why the East Coast Horses don't go face her wherever she runs? Oh yeah, the best in the world did and FAILED last November!! This is the only Mare to ever have won a Br. Cup Classic. It's a juvenile argument to question her competition when it's their fault for not showing up to face her but when they do she whips them anyway.

24 May 2010 11:48 AM

I have to agree that Zenyatta is a GOOD horse. But, I just can't call her GREAT ... at least not at the moment. After deciding not to retire Zenyatta, John Sheriffs and the Mosses promised us that this year she would run a different campaign compared to the last two years. I am still waiting. Zenyatta only runs 5 or 6 races a year and so far this year, she has ran in the exact same races as the previous years. When asked about shipping Zenyatta east to either KY or NY, John Sheriffs said that shipping her is a huge handicap. Does that mean that come November they will not ship her to Churchill?

Deacon, I agree with you about Lady's Secret. She ran everywhere and was very deserving of Horse of the Year. It is a shame that Santa Anita renamed the Lady's Secret B.C. Handicap. Most tracks would have made another race in honor of a horse that is deserving. I thought that Santa Anita's actions were disrespectful, especially since Lady's Secret was Horse of the Year in 1986.

I would like to see john Sheriffs and the Mosses make good on their promises. I don't care if she stays in California. There are several other Grade 1 races in CA ... run her against the boys.

Why does John Sheriffs have no problem shipping Zardana but, will not ship Zenyatta?  If she is so GREAT then a little airplane flight is not going to affect her.

24 May 2010 12:04 PM

Elusive Quality,

I've been saying for years that races need to be evaluated AFTER the season ends before receiving any Graded status. Example, If you have a lineup of maidens or NW2 eligible horses running in the Belmont like we did 2 years ago that race should never be considered a G1 that year. The horse with the best resume ended up getting whipped by a bunch of nobody's who did not go on to do anything great the rest of the year. Example #2, RA's biggest win in the eyes of most came against "older males.' Looking at that race and the runners who she beat is a joke. Since then none of them has won a graded race!! It's been 9 months and none of them have done a thing INCLUDING RA but lose since!! That race should lose it's graded status for the year based on those facts alone. 2 or 3 yr old races of Graded status need to be seperated and qualified by noting they were for 2 or 3 yr olds only. Nine times out of ten especially early in the 3 yr old year most of these races do not have true graded quality on the same scale as for older. A G1 race at 2 should be recorded as G1(2), at 3 it should be recorded as G1(3) when only 3 yr olds run. There is a huge difference in the quality in those races from the quality in older company. I agree that Graded status is tossed about way to frequently no matter who runs in a particular year.        

24 May 2010 12:05 PM

Comments about "fake surfaces" by ElusiveQuality and others like him betray what their real beef with Zenyatta is about...their intense hatred of synthetic racing surfaces and California racing in general. They hate synthetic tracks...and the horses who run on them...even though synthetic tracks can consist of up to 70% sand.

They hate them even though dirt tracks weren't put there by God and are carefully blended surfaces themselves.

Zenyatta can't do anything to overcome this hatred. She is just drawn into it because her home base is California.

As to the oft-repeated "Peppers Pride" comparison, Peppers Pride ran ONLY in New Mexico races RESTRICTED TO NEW MEXICO BRED HORSES. She never ran over a mile, either.

The anti-Zenyatta crowd likes to gloss over and ignore those facts.

Finally, the great Ruffian ran all but one race in New York. Yes, that's right. She ran almost exclusively in New York, yet you'll never hear ElusiveQuality and his friends question Ruffian's greatness because she wasn't shipped around the country. That fact exposes anti-California, anti-synthetic track bias for what it is.

24 May 2010 12:34 PM

Truth is to be told,  Zenyatta is the BEST thoroughbred running today.  No other horse is 16-0 and still racing,  Yes, we have had some of the other greats in history that have ran more(PP) or the same amount of races and won(Cigar, Citation), but not in todays world,  there is no other race horse that is running today that hasn't been defeated and can say they are 16-0 , but Zenyatta...........Whether you like her or not, you still have to respect her greatness, and her accomplishments..........It's not Zenyatta's fault that the others havent' been able to succeed the way she has........I am so happy the Mosses gave her body the time to mature before racing her.........It made a world of difference.....

24 May 2010 2:46 PM
Horse racing fan

I congratulate the writer of the Article, but unfortunately a horse that is unknown to the general public is nothing close to a game changer.  How many people showed up to attend the Second day of the Breeders Cup.  55,000. If walking down the street, and mentioning her name people will ask Zen-What, they know who Rachel Alexandra is, and even Mine that Bird, Zenyatta unfortunately not so much.  Probably because her connections have spent the majority of their time running in very low quality races in Southern Cal.  I find it amazing that the editors would even allow such an article to be published on their website, but more power to you and them for allowing such things.

I wonder if this is another ploy by the Moss’s to garner HOY votes or maybe they will retired her mid season or right before the B.C. to pull on the heart strings of the voters.  “We Shall See, Stay Tuned”

24 May 2010 3:50 PM

m burry said

"I'm so sick of these people who can't enjoy this great horse instead of moaning about her running all over the country and running only against males ... she's been thar, done dat ... the biggest male race the Breeders Cup Classic"

Actually, the BC Classic isn't the  "biggest male race", but that's neither here nor there.

I think what gets up some folks nose is the lack of perspective and  the habit many Zenyatta fans have of trashing other equine champions in order to promote their favorite.

24 May 2010 9:18 PM

Wellarmed - sorry to break it to you. But Zenyatta is a completely superior horse to Ruffian.

Please, folks, judge Ruffian on what she gave us - not what you think she might have done.

Look what happened to Rachel Alexandra this year after she looked like Ruffian last year in the Mother Goose and the Oaks.

Ruffian was perhaps the most overrated racehorse of all time.

This was not her doing - we can thank the East Coast biased media for that.

I don't remember hearing the same accolades going to Landuluce, that died tragically after dominating her opponents much like Ruffian, only because she was a California filly.

Lazmannick - can we move away from the silliest quote around - that from Lucien Lauren, whom trained the great Secretariat.

Please, how in the world did this magnificent physical speciman ever lose a race, let alone four (not counting the DQ) especially to such sub par racehorses (Onion, Prove Out) and his stablemate in the Wood? Secretariat's heart was over three times the size of a normal thoroughgred's heart.

The answer, Lucien Lauren was not a top notch trainer. The reason his got his gig was through his son, Roger.

If you think Steve Asmussen has been hammered for his handling of Rachel Alexandra, can you imagine the pounding Mr. Lauren what have received if Secretariat and Lauren were around today.

Allen Jerkens completely out-trained him twice.

And to quote this guy. Not.

Ruffian's Sorority that you mention - was driving.

The story was that Hot N Tasty, a California speedball, got tired of waiting for Ruffian to leave New York. She decided to take her on in her own backyard (NJ). For most of the race she battled Ruffian, coming up to a head of her only to lose by two lengths.

Again, this is no knock on Ruffian. She gave us what she gave us. It's a knock on the people that seem to overrate her accomplishments.

She was a fast horse that ran exclusively in New York against extremely overmatched horses in very fast times on very hard racing surfaces.

Nothing more. Nothing less.

24 May 2010 9:22 PM

horse racing fan-

"low quality races in Southern Cal..."

Please read the blogs by Johnny and Vinnie, then come back and tell us what you really think.

Forget that thought, it might be too dangerous.

24 May 2010 10:32 PM
Mr. Jones

Mr. TVnewsbadge,

I think what gets up people's noses is the foul stench of plain b.s. from all of the Zenyatta detractors and their dribble about the level of competition that Zenyatta has faced.

After what seeing what Vinnie and John wrote we're just tired of smelling this bad odor.

24 May 2010 10:51 PM


Your opinion that Ruffian was over-rated can be argued until the cows come home.  All I can say is that when knowledgeable horse-people put together a list of the top 100 race horses, she was the highest rated filly or mare and was rated ahead of many HOY’s and Triple Crown race winners and 2 Triple Crown winners.

Yeah, I forgot, Ruffian’s connections were scared skinny of Hot ‘n Tasty, the fantastic filly that had 9 lifetime wins from 26 lifetime starts and never won a G-1.   And they must have been waiting a long time for Ruffian to go looking for them seeing that when they did meet it was July 27th of their 2 year-old year and Ruffian never ran her first race until May 22 and her 3rd until July 10th.

As for taking her on in her own back yard, whose backyard are you talking about?  Ruffian travelled to NJ for this race and as far as I know the Sorority was Hot ‘n Tasty’s only stakes race in NJ.  Maybe they both travelled to get at each other.  Tasty's connections didn't seem to want any part of Ruffian after that.

Regarding your comment……judge Ruffian on what she gave us, not on what she might have done…..I think it is only logical to assume that she was capable of much more, in fact, she was 2-5 in the match race against the Derby winner, which indicates a lot of other people felt the same way.

Her record speaks for itself.  Every stakes win was a record and they were won with consummate ease.  It is quite conceivable that she would have continued to be dominant simply because she led at every pole in every race.  In only three races did she lose ground from the 1st call to the 2nd call.  In every race she gained from the 2nd call to the 3rd call, and only in the CCA did she lose ground on the last call (3-L to 2-3/4-L) and this in a 1-1/2-M race in which she ran the distance, not really pushed, a full second faster than Damascus did in his Belmont on the same track.

Regarding Landaluce…..I agree that she never gained the respect that was due her, perhaps because she only raced 5 times.  Who knows what might have been.  But if you want to start bringing other fillies into the picture, then why not mention Melair who also went 5 for 5, also ran fast, and who dominated the colts in the G-2 Silver Screen, a race that included Snow Chief and Southern Halo among others.  But like Ruffian stuck to New York, Landaluce stuck to California and Melair raced exclusively at Hollywood Park and I don’t see where either one of them was included in the top 100.

As for Lucien Lauren, he got the job of training Secretariat and Riva Ridge when he came out of retirement (not as a handout, but at his son’s suggestion when he didn’t want the job himself).  He won 40 major stakes from the late fifties to the late seventies, many of which would be considered G-1 and G-2 today and was inducted into Racing Hall of Fame.  Roger wasn’t quite the trainer he was…..SORRY.

Regarding Lucien’s comparison of Ruffian to Secretariat I take it as face value by a very knowledgeable horseman.  Considering Secretariat’s loses……the first was his maiden race when he was interfered with; the second was the DQ; the 3rd was the Wood Memorial (abscessed tooth); and I believe in the Woodward he was coming off a fever and it was his second tough race in two weeks (not to be used as excuses but perhaps to add some logic).

Regarding Zenyatta……all I can say is that I am probably her staunchest supporter.  Go back over these blogs over the past year if you don’t believe me.  I think she’s fantastic.  However, I also think that Ruffian is fantastic too……nothing more……nothing less.  LOL

25 May 2010 12:19 AM


Ruffian set or equalled stakes/track records in all ten of her races while being handridden in most. Now I can't recall correctly, but wasn't Ruffian found with some sort of injury after the Sorority? If so, then it's a testimate to how great she was, to win while running injured.

You also forget she was drawing away from a Kentucky Derby winner in Foolish Pleasure before she broke down.

25 May 2010 6:37 AM

For Horse racing fan- great post! That's what I have been trying to say....Zenyatta is NOT a household matter how many races she wins....I post on another TB forum and a member there made this statement "It's the IT factor.....that thing that certain stars have that causes the public to talk about them, good or bad, and wonder what they are doing next and mention their name and everyone knows who 'they' are....Rachel has IT, Curlin had IT, Secretariat, Cigar, Ruffian sooo many others were household names coast to coast......Zen does not...and never will...." it's kinda sad actually, that this beautiful 16-0 horse is the most "unknown" undefeated horse ever....well next to Pepper's least outside of California...and even if she wins 25 in a row before she retires, she will never be revered 10 yrs from now like others in the's just how IT game changer?? not even close....but she has garnered a bunch of new fans since the 09 BC classic....but in all honesty how many of these new fans can TRULY say they knew who Zenyatta was BEFORE that race?? (and before the media trumped up 5mil AB 'match race' that RA's connections were NEVER pointed to?) Had Zen won the '09 Ladies instead...these 'new' fans would be saying Zenyatta WHO? (the new fans remind me of the 'fans' who embrace the winner of the world series or super bowl as THEIR team...after the fact.....jmho.....I like and respect Zenyatta and 16-0 is amazing for a one run closer, but she could retire tomorrow and it wouldn't bother for RA, so could she, maybe she should as she has yet to regain her 3 yr old form - but, were they both to retire today -the IT girl, RA, would be talked about for a long time after Zenyatta was's just how IT works.....

25 May 2010 7:54 AM

"She was a fast horse that ran exclusively in New York against extremely overmatched horses in very fast times on very hard racing surfaces."

Okie dokie we can say Zenyatta is a slow horse that ran almost exclusively in California against extremely overmatched horses in very average times on pro ride and poly tracks...

sounds like a very fair comparison to me....;)

25 May 2010 7:59 AM
Frank L.

Quote from Elusive Quality,

"Okie dokie we can say Zenyatta is a slow horse that ran almost exclusively in California against extremely overmatched horses in very average times on pro ride and poly tracks..."

Elusive Quality,

I want to see Quality Road come out to Del Mar and try to break Zenyatta's track record.

25 May 2010 10:00 AM
Matthew W

So there are legions of New York horses that were "household names, coast to coast"?? And yet Zenyatta is merely an afterthought back there? That is simply untrue on it's face! I heard veteran horsemen back in Oaklawn were scampering to see her get a bath! They were asking to have their pictures taken alongside the unbeatable mare! I'll admit I was in awe of Curlin when he came out here, but Zenyatta is on another level altogether! Guys like Ken McPeek and D Wayne Lukas are like kids in a candy store when Zenyatta arrives--that is the truth about Zenyatta, and what she carries with her! I'll say it again: if she stays unbeaten going into the Classic, where she will face off with Quality Road and Rail Trip for more than just a race--an unbeaten career--it will be the most anticipated race in decades, one of the biggest races ever...

25 May 2010 1:33 PM

To whoever says Zenyatta's not a popular horse, have you ever been to the track when she runs? She gets more applause, more signs held up, more pictures taken of her, and generates more overall excitement than any other horse I've ever seen run.

25 May 2010 2:46 PM
Blood-Horse Staff

Unfortunately, the comments have once again gotten out of hand and several of you have been unable to play nice. Due to this, we will no longer be publishing new comments for this particular blog post.

25 May 2010 2:51 PM

Why must Zenyatta race in New York?  To please the NY fans?  I got news for you people, YOU ARE NOT MORE IMPORTANT THAN ZENYATTA.  If you want to see her run, come to Calif, why does she have to come to you?  There's this big race in November called the Breeders Cup Classic and she is preparing for it. A trip east right now would take too much out of her.  Her connections are trying to make her peak in November, not August.  Why do you care so much about yourselves and not the horse?

30 Jun 2010 11:01 AM

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