Although it’s been nearly 10 years since Jerry and Ann Moss’s Zenyatta made worldwide news with her dramatic last to first win in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 7, 2009 at Santa Anita, the magnitude of her achievement hasn’t diminished.
Unbeaten in 13 starts leading into the 2009 Classic, the John Shirreffs-conditioned Zenyatta, who was facing males and trying a mile and a quarter for the first time, was made the 5-2 favorite in a field of 12. The result is well documented–after breaking slow and being shuffled back to last heading into the Club House turn, she began to knife her way through traffic around the far turn under Mike Smith and in a call for the ages, Trevor Denman declared, “This-Is-UN-BUH-LEEVABLE!”
With entries being taken on Thursday for Sunday’s Grade II, $200,000 Zenyatta Stakes, memories of the legendary distaffer are indeed rekindled. Formerly run as the Lady’s Secret, the race was won by Zenyatta a record three times in a row–in 2008, 2009 and in 2010.
With 10 years gone, it’s worth revisiting her win in the 2009 Lady’s Secret, a race which attracted seven fillies and mares at a mile and one sixteenth. Run on Oct. 9, Zenyatta, who was the 2-5 favorite, broke from post position five and was next to last heading into the first turn. Her trip was described thusly in the Equibase chart:
“Zenyatta settled outside a rival then off the rail, moved up toward the inside on the second turn, waited momentarily off heels then came out leaving that turn and four-wide into the stretch, swept to the front five-wide past the eighth pole, inched away and proved best under a steady hand ride.”
Winning the 2009 Lady’s Secret by 1 ¼ lengths, Zenyatta paid $2.80 to win and was thus set for her historic last-to-first triumph in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, run on Nov. 7.
Foaled in Kentucky on April 1, 2004, Zenyatta, a massive daughter of Street Cry who stands 16.2 hands, would go on to win her next five starts, the fifth being the 2010 Ladies Secret, run at Santa Anita on Oct. 2. From there, she made her final start in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic run at Churchill Downs on Nov. 6.
Customarily last early, she mounted a furious stretch rally but came up a head short to Claiborne Farm’s Blame in yet another spellbinding Breeders’ Cup moment. Although defeated for the first time in her 20th career start, Zenyatta, who earned $7,304,580, was voted 2010 Eclipse Award Horse of the Year, as well as 2010 Champion Older Filly or Mare. Along with Eclipse Awards as Champion Older Female in 2008 and 2009, she retired with four lifetime Eclipse trophies.
Currently in foal to Candy Ride, Zenyatta resides at Lane’s End Farm in Lexington, Kentucky.