2009 Breeders’ Cup Classic (Girl Power)
I’m pretty sure that Zenyatta is my favorite athlete of all time. That was probably the best horse race I will ever see. When Zenyatta’s owners decided to race her against the boys in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, the consensus was basically “That’s admirable, but she doesn’t stand a chance. Just because she beats up on all the other mares and fillies doesn’t mean she can run with the boys.” Two weeks later, she is the only mare to have ever won this prestigious race. They could have easily entered her into the Ladies’ Classic, and no one would have faulted them for it. Putting Zenyatta in the Breeders’ Cup Classic was unexpected, even given her perfect record. Admirable indeed.
A few things that make this special:
- Zenyatta was purchased for only $60,000. Her winnings now total over $5.4million
- She is five years old, which is considered just slightly over-the-hill. Most winners of this race are 3 or 4 years old, and it has never been won by a 6 year old
- She started the race in dead last, and after ½ of a mile, she was still nearly 11 lengths off the lead
- She had never before run a 1¼ mile race
- The Breeders’ Cup Classic draws the cream of the crop. There are fewer age restrictions than most other races (horses must be exactly 3 to race in the Kentucky Derby, for instance), and horses from any country are allowed to race
- She didn’t ride the rail or split any horses in her final charge; Mike Smith instead chose to race her around the outside of a large pack of front-runners
- She is an American horse that took back the crown from the Europeans
- She is now 14-0, which is incredible when you are in a field of 8-12 horses for every race
All of these factors led to me screaming so loud in my living room that my child erupted in a terrified sob-fest. Most exciting finish ever. Zenyatta is known as a slow starter and a strong finisher, and tonight she lived up to the hype and more.