Zenyatta - A Heart as Big as Her Stride
 By Wanderin Boy Memorial   •   8th Nov 2010   •   7,744 views   •   18 comments
ZenyattaIt was the day everyone was waiting for, the Breeders' Cup Classic. Everyone wasted to see Zenyatta, the Queen of Racing. It was her day, her day to make history. She danced walking to the paddock, and she danced walking to the gate.....but then everything changed. Zenyatta broke from the gate slower than usual and was squeezed by the other horses, and she fell back. For the next half of a mile, Zenyatta was 20 lengths behind with Mike Smith urging her on.

Then Zenyatta went from 20 lengthes behind, cut through the traffic, and was catching up to Blame. When she was clear of the other horses, all 1200 pounds and 17.2 hands of her came charging at Blame like a freight train, giving all that she had, with the crowd supporting and cheering her on. Then as the finish line got closer and closer, the track announcer kept calling her name, everyone thought that she was going to make it, but then the track annoucer said

"Zen...ya...tta! ... BLAME !" It was so close, a matter of inches, the result had to be resolved by a photo — a picture that broke the hearts of not only Zenyatta’s owners and trainer but millions of fans around the world.

Zenyatta lost the photo finish, but that is all she lost. Walking past the grandstands after the race, the crowds cheered for her, waved their signs and yelled out things such as: “We love you Zenyatta” and “Long live the Queen.” She didn’t lose a single fan, respect, or her place in history.

The Breeders’ Cup Classic was an amazing and heartbreaking race. Waking up the next day, I was still stunned. I couldn’t believe that the mare that I have watched and fallen in love with lost and was no longer undefeated. Zenyatta was going for a perfect 20 for 20. She would have made history.

Many people say that Zenyatta is only a west coast racehorse, that she's hasn't run against great horses, or that she is just a synthetic horse. Yesterday, Zenyatta proved everyone wrong. Zenyatta showed everyone who she truly was: a great racehorse, one who loved what she was doing, and especially one who loved her fans. No horse in the country could have done what she did. She gave everything she had...she ran her heart out. She reached, stretched, and lowered herself, giving all that she had...she faced adversity and fought against the odds. She fought with those huge strides and with an even bigger heart.

Zenyatta overcame a lot during that race: extremely slow start, getting squeezed after the gate, being 20 lengths behind for a half of a mile, going through traffic, running on new track, and having a lot of dirt kicked in her face. She faced the strongest field she had ever faced, and she faced it with her determination and courage.

“We’re so happy with what Zenyatta has done. She ran her heart out today. She ran her race and congratulations to Blame,” Shirreffs said. “I’m just so proud of her. (The fans) were behind her win or lose, and I think she represented them really well. She ran an excellent race.

Her jockey Mike Smith, was visibly shaken after the race. Mike, who was in tears after the race, blamed himself.

“I feel like I let her down I left her too much to do,” he said, “I just know she was the best horse in the race. It was another gallant effort for her.”

He also gave credit to the winner Blame by tweeting “Blame was great but horrible ride by Mike Smith cost Zenyatta her perfection”

During his press conference (which is worth watching), Mike broke down in tears:

Reporter: “Mike will this sting for awhile?”

Mike Smith: “It hurts more than I can explain,” (struggling to hold back tears) “just because it was my fault. She should have won, and it hurts.”

John Shirreffs said Mike “was devastated”

“He loves the mare so much,” Shirreffs said.

It wasn't Mike Smith's fault, but he accepts the blame because of how much he loves Zenyatta, and as he says it, "She's my everything." It wasn't his fault. He didn't do anything wrong, he did what he could... he "played the hand that was dealt to him"

Of course there are always the what ifs. What if she broke better. What if she had more track. What if the horses that were getting tired fanned out differently. What if.

Blame will be remembered as the only horse that ever finished ahead of Zenyatta, and Zenyatta will be remember as the great racehorse who missed perfection by a head.

“I believe she ranks up there with the greatest of all times and if I’d of won this, you could arguably say she was. And to come up a nose short is just too hard. It’s just hard.” said Mike Smith about her legacy.

“What I felt badly about is that it was a fairy tale and it didn’t end the way everybody wanted,” said John Shirreffs about her attempt to win her 20th consectuive race undefeated. “However, Zenyatta is pretty happy out there and she will be happy. It’s a feeling of disappointment but you get over that and you remember all the fun times.”

"Oh yes, she deserves Horse of the Year,” said John Shirreffs, “She’s done so much for the business. That would be an appropriate reward.”

Just remember that Zenyatta lost one race but over 135 horses have run against her and she has only lost to one horse, and it just happened to be at the one horse's home track.

Zenyatta has accomplished a lot in her career and one horse beating her shouldn't diminish that. Zenyatta has earned $7,304,580 out of 20 starts. That makes her the richest female racehorse, and she holds the modern day record of being undefeated in 19 starts. What is also amazing about Zenyatta is that the average thoroughbred is 16 hands tall, and she is 17.2 hands tall. Also, the average throughbred's stride lengh is 23.5 feet....Zenyatta's, 26.3 feet. That means she can run across a football field in 11 strides. Compared to Secretariat's stride, Zenyatta's is a foot longer. Her heart is also the size of a volleyball.

Zenyatta was also the first female to win the Breeders' Cup Classic. She has won the American Champion Older Female Horse two years in a row (2008 and 2009) and most likely she will probably win it again this year. She has also won the NTRA "Moment of the Year" twice (2008,2009). Zenyatta has won 17 Graded stakes races including 13 Grade I events and has defeated 5 Champions of 8 different awards. She has also defeated multiple grade 1 winners....I'd name some but there are too many, but they have included Derby winners, Stakes winners, Handicap winners, and Classic winners. Having one horse beat her out of 135 horses that have ever faced her doesn't take away from her greatness or legacy. She's a once in a lifetime horse, and there won't be another horse like her, and as Regal Ransom's trainer, Saeed bin Suroor said, "She's a differant far, by millions."

“She’s still my champion,” said her groom, Mario Espinoza. “To me, she never lost.”

Though it is not final, Zenyatta is scheduled to fly back to Hollywood Park on Sunday night, November 7th and would remain there for about a month. That will enable those at Shirreffs’s barn to have a long, slow good-bye. Zenyatta then will return to Kentucky to begin a new career as a broodmare.

Zenyatta proved perfection to be possible after winning last year’s Breeder’s Cup Classic, and when she lost this year’s Classic she showed that perfection was being overrated. You can no longer say the undefeated Zenyatta, but imperfection can be a beautiful thing, because brilliance in loss under the toughest of circumstances is much more impressive.

People wondered "How much better can she get?" and even Mike Smith said that she never hits all gears. Well, during the 2010 Breeders' Cup Classic, I believe the Zenyatta showed everyone how good she really is. I'm not saying that she's great because she lost. I'm saying she's great because she tried. She had a lot to overcome in that race, and she faced a loaded field. She gave it her all and ran her heart out. I believe that she was a gift from God, and there won't be another one like her.

Zenyatta has danced, strutted, and raced her way into people's hearts and minds. When Zenyatta retires from racing there will be a big void in racing, just as big as her herself.

Love live Queen Zenyatta

A great champion and racehorse who captured people's hearts, and is loved by all

Please watch the video below. It was made by Ponyboxer, Pink Fox Equestrian from Morgan. It's an amazing video.

Horse News More In This Category:  Horse Stories      Horse News More From This Author:  Wanderin Boy Memorial
Wanderin Boy Memorial  
*bangs head* I re read this thing so many times. Sorry for the spelling mistake:
*wanted* not wasted
  18 days ago  •  5,035 views
Rein or Shine  
Wow, that's a lot of horses to run against and win. :) I have only watched one real horse race in my life, so I don't know anything about any of these horses. But long live Zenyatta. :)
  18 days ago  •  5,044 views
Chris Antley Memorial  MOD 
Oh my...

Wandie, this is outstanding. Everything you wrote in this article is 100% correct. No one is to blame. I feel so bad for Mike. He is so hard on himself.

I just don't know what else to say. You said it all so elegantly and truthfully. There is one thing I can say: There aren't enough words to describe Zenyatta. And when she lost the Classic, the entire grandstand was silent, like when Smarty Jones was defeated in the Belmont.
  18 days ago  •  5,074 views
I love this mare, I can't wait to see her foals, and as for Mike he's my favorite jockey next to Kent and I KNOW it wasn't his fault and when I watched the video of him I cried too!
  18 days ago  •  5,027 views
Reminds me of Upset and Man O' War... Upset shocked the world when he beat Big Red but Red didn't lose a single fan in the defeat.

I was shocked by this too! And poor Mike! It really wasn't his fault but I love how in sync to his horse he is!
  18 days ago  •  5,023 views
This is an amazing article, I love the way you phrased everything, don't worry about the spelling mistake. Everyone knows what you meant:)
  18 days ago  •  5,041 views
Cloudy Cat  
"I believe that she was a gift from God, and there won't be another one like her." I think he hit the nail on the head there. She's the best racehorse of all time in my book.
  18 days ago  •  5,090 views
Fantasy Farms  
She was the best race horse ever! Period.
  18 days ago  •  5,042 views
Prarie Rose  
She is an awesome horse. She's always been my favorite. I was devastated when I found out she lost. I wasn't able to watch the Breeder's Cup live. I'm sure she'll have some great foals for the future. :D
  18 days ago  •  5,020 views
Valkyrie   MOD 
She's a great horse, but I wanted to see her beat. I greatly enjoy picking racehorses. I am from New Zealand, but when my friend told me the Breeder's Cup was on I switched my TV to the only ESPN channel we have and it was on. I picked Blame to win, simply because of the lucky fives rule I have. He was number five and his name has five letters in it. Zenyatta however was number eight with eight letters in her name, and eight is a multiple of four which is similar to the Chinese word for "death" and considered highly unlucky.
  17 days ago  •  5,024 views
Finally There  
I would die to be her jockey. To feel the thrill of the crowd cheering as we crossed the finish line and parted the way to victory. I seriously would give anything just to see her in person. To shake her jockey's hand. I have always wanted to be a jockey and have only had the thrill of racing my horse on a track, just me and him.
Long live Zenyatta!
  17 days ago  •  5,030 views
I feel so bad for all thouse racehorses. DId you see how they walked? Thats just sad.
  17 days ago  •  5,024 views
I was truly impressed by this mare even though I've only seen her race twice. She truly has nothing to be ashamed of in that loss to come from that far back and only lose by that much. Seriously.
  17 days ago  •  5,078 views
Painted Destiny  
I love Zenyatta! Great article!
  17 days ago  •  5,019 views
T E M P E S T  
Great article Wandie! Zenyatta is one of the greatest mares of all time, and the greatest modern racemare, hands down
  17 days ago  •  5,078 views
Dark Star  
She was the most amazing horse to ever live. Blame got lucky, he was on his home track. One he raced on alot. Zenyatta had never raced there, and if there was another 100 yards, she would've beast him. She passed him right after the finish line.
  16 days ago  •  5,020 views
Hypnotic Equus  
She was amazing. There is this horse at the barn I ride at that looks exactly like her. Markings and everything. I think she is a hand shorter though. Her name starts with a Z too.
  14 days ago  •  5,197 views
No Walkin Farms9  
Great article. I love Zenyatta. I was so sad when she lost. It was the same day my best friends father-in-law died. It was a sad day.
  Feb 2, 2011  •  5,029 views
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