|Photo: Terri Cage|
The dark bay/brown filly grew to be a monstrous size. John Shirreffs, Zenyatta’s trainer, slowed down the young horse’s training, not wanting to cause any permanent damage to her bones, muscles, or joints.
It paid off.
On Thanksgiving Day 2007, the gigantic filly made her racing debut as a near 4-year-old, a very late start for a racehorse. In the race for non-winners, Zenyatta effortlessly swept across the finish line at
After that, she took the racing world by storm, defeating champion fillies and mares such as Ginger Punch with ease. She’d run her undefeated streak to 8-for-8 coming into the 2008 Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic, the most prestigious race for female racehorses.
After the race, all the headlines said she’d made the championship win look too easy.
The popular mare took home the Eclipse Award for Older Female of the Year and was just beat out for Horse of the Year, though many believe she should have won that award as well.
The mare, who was 17.2 hands high – nearly 6 feet tall at the top of the shoulder – was known for running behind all the other horses for the whole race, until the homestretch, when she struck to the lead with style. With each and every spectacular race, Zenyatta gained more and more fans.
Throughout 2009, Zenyatta continued to wow fans by winning each of her races in a thrilling fashion. As the 2009 Breeders’ Cup approached, fans wondered if the wildly popular mare would race in the Ladies’ Classic, for females only, or the Classic, open to males and females.
The remarkable mare chose the Classic. She was the only female in the race. She would race against the most accomplished 11 male racehorses in the world – including the Kentucky Derby winner – putting her perfect 13-for-13 record on the line.
The grandstand shook with screaming fans as the incomparable mare soared to victory, becoming the only female in history to win the Classic.
Zenyatta now stood at the pinnacle of racing, but again, she was narrowly beat out for Horse of the Year by another outstanding female, Rachel Alexandra. Again, many people believed she should have won the prestigious award.
The Moss’s announced that the mare was retired, but Zenyatta acted like she didn’t want to quit. She continued to train and it was soon announced that she would continue to race.
Zenyatta easily won her comeback race, now with a perfect record of 15-for-15.
People began pitting her against Rachel Alexandra and a huge offer of $5 million for a race in Arkansas, the Apple Blossom, was made for the two to race together. After Rachel Alexandra lost her comeback race, Zenyatta and just four other horses entered the race.
Zenyatta had won the race before, back in 2008. It was on a dirt surface, which was different from the synthetic surfaces she normally raced on. Plus, it was in
Zenyatta continued to thrill fans as she won more races as she pointed toward the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic, held at the prestigious Churchill Downs in
|Photo: Terri Cage|
Despite her loss, she’d proven doubters wrong in arguably the most spectacular race ever run by a horse that didn’t win. No other horse could have done as well as she had with the horrible trip she’d had throughout the race. And in hearts and minds of racing fans everywhere, she was 20-for-20.
Facebook pages were created by fans petitioning for her to win Horse of the Year.
She did. She beat out the only horse to ever beat her on the track to win the most prestigious award in all of horse racing.
Then she was retired. For real this time. She was seven-years-old, which is old for a horse to compete in a race.
She moved from
And Zenyatta will be known as one of the greatest racehorses of all time and will forever be a legend.
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