Yesterday, once again, as she has done for sixteen consecutive races; Zenyatta galloped to victory in the 250,000 Grade I Vanity Stakes. A record crowd at Hollywood Park went ridiculously wild and totally out of control, when Zenyatta made her winning move through the stretch to cross the wire in front of St Trinians, who gave her all to try to beat her.
This TOTALLY AMAZING six year old mare has given something so special back to the Horse Racing Industry, racing fans and the world in general. She has captured the hearts of everyone. Her owners, her trainer, her jockey, her groom and hotwalker, (whom I understand are husband and wife), her exercise rider, and her devoted fans world wide.
She mesmerizes you with her presence; just watching her literally takes your breath away.
She not only has the Heart of a Champion; her perfect conformation, her competitive spirit, and her strong mind keep her on her journey to greatness. She also has a winning and somewhat playful personality. She exudes royalty, and she has her own style of arrogance. That clearly shows when she performs her special dance and flirts with the crowds
When she comes out of the gates, she is all business. I don’t think she is ever worried. If you have watched all her races, you know there have been times when Zenyatta has walked out of the gate and settled calmly into her position well behind the field. I have watched her head move ever so slightly, and I believe she is watching the other horses and analyzing the race. She has a perfect clock in her head. She knows the exact time to start making her move upon the field; and you can be sure, she knows where the finish wire is.
I think the best example of this analogy was in the Breeders Cup Classic, when Zenyatta won against some of the best colts in the world. She came out of the starting gate the same way she always does; and settled well behind the field. Now this was no ordinary field, and Mike Smith knew that she would not be able to circle this huge field. When she started to move, Mike had to come up through the inside. She was shut off a couple times; but what amazed me most, was watching her head move from side to side. Her eyes were constantly searching for her hole to get through. When she found it; nothing was going to keep her from getting through; and nothing did. She came bounding down the stretch to win against the colts and stamp her place in history.
Having worked with race horses for many years of my life, I can appreciate the relationship between Zenyatta and her groom. I watched them yesterday when he was holding her in the paddock before the race. She stood there, her head so stately with both ears pricked forward, looking out into the crowd, then she leaned down and nuzzled her head into her groom’s arms. He just stood there caressing her face. That was a sight to behold; and it brought tears to my eyes. The Love, Trust and Respect between them was so evident. I can totally relate to this, because that was the kind of relationship I had with every horse I worked with. My horses were the center of my life. I loved them and they knew it. They trusted me completely and responded to my love.
I want to personally thank Zenyatta for restoring my love for horse racing back to it’s fullest capacity. When the world lost Barbaro, I was so devastated, and there was a big empty hole in my heart. I didn’t want to have anything to do with horse racing anymore. I will never, never forget Barbaro. He has a permanent place in my heart; however Zenyatta has helped to fill that hole with Love once again.
I want to thank the Moss’s, John Shirreffs, and Mike Smith for allowing me to ride along on this unbelievable journey. I also owe a “thank you” to my friend Lynn for suggesting that I write this article.