Sunday, December 5, 2010

Thank You Zenyatta, for the Ultimate Ride

One chapter in the legendary life of the Queen of Racing is coming to an end tomorrow, as Zenyatta boards a plane for Lexington Kentucky. It’s where she was born, and undoubtedly where she will reside as a broodmare for the rest of her long life.

Turning 7 next month, ( but really not till April 1st), the Big Mare has taken her family, friends and fans on the most awe-inspiring , drama filled, extraordinary ride. For me, it started as I watched her very first race, Thanksgiving 2007. Her breeding caught my eye and when I saw her presence in the paddock, I was even more interested. When she broke from the gate, I immediately thought, “hmm…no speed, well she needs to go long, anyway”, but by the ½ mile pole, I started to see her stride grow longer and stronger, her momentum building, and I thought,” this could turn out better than I thought". At the top of the stretch and in the middle of the racetrack, her big ears flopping, the big filly cruised effortlessly towards the wire, passing all her opponents like it was a walk in the park. I immediately put her in my Virtual Stable, though I knew the cat was out of the bag, for whoever saw this performance would not soon forget it. My ride with Zenyatta had begun.

Then I started to ask myself…Who IS this horse “Zenyatta?" Where has she been all year? How good could she be? When will she run back? All the things that go through your mind when you think you’ve found the next “big horse”. One of the things that is so exciting about the horse business is the anticipation of finding “A Saturday Afternoon Horse.” It’s the hope, the dreams, the optimism that fills you up when you breed one, buy one, claim one, race one, or even bet on one. That day in November 2007, I knew I witnessed something very special. Did I know she was a star in the making? Yes, but I did not know the magnitude of how illuminating that star would be.

And the rest, as they say, is history.What Zenyatta has done for racing is immeasurable. The Zenyatta phenomenon, the excitement and positive energy that has surrounded her has been astonishing. She is a legend and we will never see anything like her again. You can absolutely bet on that.

So this is my heartfelt thanks to her owners, her trainer, her riders, her groom, her hotwalkers and all of her family of caretakers and friends who have allowed us to share this phenomenal journey with the great Zenyatta.

But most of all Thank You, Zenyatta, for taking us on the ultimate ride. It’s been a blessing and a privilege and one we will never, ever forget.


  1. Hey there, racing pro, me an amateur, (who just happens to pick the Kentucky Derby winner every year, ((since I read "Aristides" as a child, which had the list of all Derby winners from him to the date of publication, in the back of the book, and I memorized it)), adding to that list as I picked every Derby winner, every year of my life, each winner, including Affirmed, who I also picked for the Triple Crown, weeks before the first race, and unknown to me, the fellow that I told that to, in general conversation, well, that buddy had a bookie. Weeks after that chat, he called me, telling me to dress up, and he picked me up, took me to dinner at the Top of the Mark, in San Francisco, the day after the last race of the Triple Crown. He handed me, at the table, a dozen roses, a great big card with roses on the front, a $1,000 dollar bill inside), so I made a buck or two on my predictions. But I was never anywhere to bet until the year that Winning Colors came along. Of course she was the favorite, so stood in the sports book in the casino in Reno, and we all cheered her on, whether we made a dime on our ticket or not. Zenyatta was such a favorite, and you and I both know, that one of the reasons she was so phenomenal, your Saturday afternoon horse, was because her team did not rush her, were not greedy for the bucks, but let her get ready the right way. So she retires sound, with only positive memories of her career, that she will tell her baby colts and fillies, so they will get ready to love racing. I wish they could get her and Indy together, flush the zygote, put it in a surrogate, then rebreed her to the same stud and see what those babies would do. Course, I know that the rules are natural cover, natural birth, but they do it in the quarter horse industry, DNA registered, while carried by other than their natural mother. Wouldn't that be fun? Instead of only six or ten babies, six or ten a year with Zenyatta's DNA.Change some rules, make Zenyatta Horse of the Year, and let her produce progeny by the technology available. Just for fun, in mutual admiration for the Queen, Zenyatta, I remain, your friend, Victoria Hammond, MA, LPC

  2. Hi Victoria,
    Thanks so much for sharing your wonderful Derby stories! And yes, you are so right about her connections being patient and always doing the right thing by the horse. It always pays off.
    I will be looking forward to your Derby predictions for 2011.
    Thanks for visiting!

  3. Well written piece Susan! As I will be awaiting the"Queens" presence today in beautiful but freezing cold Keeneland Racetrack,I will wonder how this magnificent mare will enjoy this new life that lies ahead. Truly her joys were her fans who were from all walks of life! Never denying anyone the pleasure of just witnessing her in person! Gone will be that center stage for this true "Hollywood"legend. Instead the star will now leave the love of her Team Z and adoring fans to an extremely cold and lackluster life of motherhood! One wonders though,is this truly what she wants? I guess we have all viewed her differently than other track stars. Her humanistic approach makes us think she will be saying,"Wait! I want to go back with my family! This is not the place for me! This is NOT my stall or MY barn or my caregivers I have grown to love over the years! Please take me home!" Something like a Kindergartener's first day at school! I hope I am wrong. But I believe her eyes will tell us all a new story today. I hope it is one of relief but I feel it will be more of sadness. Maybe it is just because I haven't recovered from the fact her new home is Lanes End. Guess only time will tell! Good luck, Z! I hope they are bringing a lot of blankets for you! You will need as many blankets as I will need boxes of kleenexes! (Sp)

  4. Anne,
    I'm betting on the fact that the Queen is very smart and will figure this whole transition thing out, like she has figured eveything else out up till now. She's a pro in every sense of the word. She has amazed us every step of the way.Then why not now, during this next phase of her life? I am hopeful that with her unusual circumstances, and unique situation Lane's End has a very good plan for what she needs. Thanks for visiting. I am green with envy that I can't be there today. Or maybe the better color would be "Blue?" Stay warm, I am banking on some good pictures from you, of the day's festivities!

  5. Admittedly I grew fond of Zenyatta a bit,
    but only after Rachel retired. ;-)

    She has a great demeanor with people and that dance she does with her feet will forever remain in racing lore.

    Her final ceremony in the winners circle from yesterday:


    The last day at Hollywood.
    The speed they never learn.
    And it's many a day since Zenyatta
    Has looped the upper turn.

    The grooms stopped their rubbing,
    The rider’s dropped their tack
    When word went round that Zenyatta
    Was coming on the track.

    The crowd was hoarse with cheering
    At old Santa Anita Park
    The day she won the Cup
    When she set the mark.

    The scar is deep at Churchill,
    The good old days are gone.
    And many a horse is forgotten,
    But they still remember one.

    For she was a fiery phantom
    To that multitudinous throng-
    Would you wait for another one like her?
    Be patient: years are long.

    For here was a horse among horses,
    Cast in a Titan's mold,
    And the slant November sunlight
    Gilded the living gold.

    She was marked with God's own giving
    And winged in every part;
    The look of eagles was in her eye
    And Hastings' wrath in her heart.

    Young Citation had power
    To rouse the crowded stand,
    And there was magic in the name
    Of Greentree's Twenty Grand.

    And Dr. Fager has sprinted,
    And Gallant Fox has stayed,
    And Secretariat has glittered
    In the wake others have made.

    We watch the Mare parading,
    We wait, our eyes a blur,
    But we never discover another
    One quite the likes of her.

  7. First of all, to Norm,
    I'm glad you "grew fond" of Zenyatta, I would be worried if you didn't. Thanks for visiting.

    And to "Anonymous"
    You might have no name, but you certainly are an amazing poet! Thank you for visiting my blog and posting the most incredible poem! Reading it, just gave me the chills. I may just have to post it in a seperate post...if that is OK with you? if not,I understand...but if you would like me to, just say the word. People need to read this; this is absolutely beautiful! OK, now I just read it a third time and it gets better each and every time.
    You are incredibly gifted and generous to share this...thank you so much!

  8. enough already.
    if all of you idiots are correct, then the end of zenyatta means the end of racing.
    she was a nice mare who had the perfect trip in 09 and couldn't beat blame.
    blame was a good horse in an ave. year.
    finally 2010 produced a GOOD crop of 2y.o.'s.
    it's been a long time coming.
    let's concentrate on that and put zenyatta to bed, until her first foal hits the ground.

  9. Hi Susan,

    I can’t take all the credit. This poem was written for Man o’ War by Joseph Alvie Estes, editor of The Blood Horse in October 1937. I just shortened it up a little and changed a few verses. I sent one to the Moss’s and yes you have my permission to post it anywhere you want. I posted it on the Zenyatta Web Site too.

    Also thank you for your kind words.

  10. Obviously, the first "anonymous" is not related to the second "anonymous"

    ANON# 2... I do not appreciate rudeness on my blog. You are welcome to your opinion, but you need to keep it respectful.

  11. Thanks for the link, anon #1, it's a great poem, and very well done ! I'm sure Big Red wouldn't mind a bit.

  12. Excellent topics. After long searching I found this online that, 10 Barn plans – Download Immediately – Blueprints Complete Construction Documents Only $29.97 . Each of these plans were custom plans that averaged in price of around $250 per plan. his is a limited internet only deal.