One girl... against a bunch of guys. Doesn't sound fair, does it? Unless of course that one girl is the 6-year old filly Zenyatta. Not since Ruffian (who won the Triple Tiara - originally called the Filly Triple Crown - in 1975) has there been a filly with such spirit and heart for the race. Zenyatta, like Ruffian before her, is undefeated.
Ruffian won 10 of her 11 races (only losing the last because she broke a leg in a match race against colt Foolish Pleasure). Zenyatta has won all 19 of the races she has raced. But Ruffian was only 3 years old, Zenyatta is six!
This Saturday, November 6th 2010, is her last race, win or lose. CBS’ “60 Minutes” stated, “Next Saturday, she could become the first great American athlete to retire undefeated in more than half a century…” She will be running against all the big boys (in racing terms that is, as Zenyatta towers above them all at 17.2 hands…that’s 4 inches per hand) at the Breeder’s Cup Classic at Churchill Downs.
Zenyatta is all heart and not quite as “high strung and hot blooded” as most Thoroughbred racehorses. She loves to ham it up for the cameras and the public. And she loves to win! They say she simply does not know how to lose.
Like the great racehorse Secretariat, Zenyatta always comes from behind, speeding by all the other horses just when you think there’s no way she could possibly win. She simply doesn’t like to see other horses in front of her. Start her from behind and she will make sure there’s no horse in her view by the time she crosses the finish line.
On a personal note, though I have not personally met Zenyatta, I can understand that spark. My own horse, Kobeejo, has the same mentality: he always has to be in front of other horses. If he had been a thoroughbred racehorse, he would have made history. However, as a Western Pleasure American Paint, that quality can be a bit bothersome. He is supposed to move in a nice slow manner, yet he loves to speed up and pass all the other horses in the ring at shows. Not the biggest winner when the Western horse is passing all the Hunter horses. But. As he gets older, he is starting to slow down a bit, so we’re working on it.
Unlike most race horses, Zenyatta started at a later age. Her trainer, John Shirreffs, says she simply was not ready to race at a younger age.
Personally, I think this can easily contribute to her success. An older horse has had time to mature, legs and bones to set properly, before the pounding action of the track. I feel not only that this will help Zenyatta keep up her stamina against the boys, but she is less likely to break down, as has happened to too many greats in history past.
As for her diet, well, this gal likes a nice Guinness with her hay! For a small treat, Shirreffs gives her a bit of Guinness and he states she loves no other type of beer. This is one filly with high end taste.
But it was not always so. She was bought at auction for only $60,000 by owners Jerry and Ann Moss (Jerry Moss is best known for being the recording executive for A&M records; he signed The Police and the name Zenyatta comes from the 1980 Police song Zenyattà Mondatta) $60,000 is a low price tag for such a nice Thoroughbred. The reason? She had a skin disorder that made her look a little less perfect on the day of auction.
So, will this Bella Donna of the Thoroughbred race world beat the boys this Saturday night? This is one author who will be rooting for her all the way!