09/29/2010 7:46PM

Home Girl Zenyatta


What do the names on the following list have in common, other than each and every one being a whole lot better than an empty stall ... ?

Tom Fool, Native Dancer, Nashua, Bold Ruler, Sword Dancer, Carry Back, Cicada, Northern Dancer, Shuvee, Numbered Account, Key to the Mint, Forego, Desert Vixen, Alydar, Easy Goer, Safely Kept, Inside Information, Housebuster, Xtra Heat and Mineshaft.

a) They represent a list of potential movie deals now that the Hollywood version of "Secretariat" is such a giant hit, even before it has been released.

b) They make up the menu of discontinued "novelty cocktails" featured through the years at Siro's during the Saratoga meet.

c) They are the key players in Mike Watchmaker's ultimate fantasy stable ... in his dreams.

Okay, so the answer is "none of the above," which is always the safe way to go. In fact, add Big Red of Meadow Stud to the list, because Secretariat and the others were birds of a feather when it came to geography, since they all managed to craft remarkable careers without once wandering west of the Mississippi River.

Somehow, California racing fans of a certain age survived, their enthusiasm intact, without ever brushing close to such flesh and blood heroes. As far as us cowboys and surf bums were concerned, such horses did not need to prove themselves against the best in the West, even though the best could be pretty good.

In fact, it is my vivid recollection that when monsters of the East did show up out West, they were greeted with respect, sometimes even awe. And with good reason. Dr. Fager grabbed a Californian Stakes and shook it silly. Buckpasser and Damascus both hit their marks at Santa Anita. Riva Ridge was nothing less than heroic in his Hollywood Derby. And even when they lost, nothing was held against them. Kelso, Seattle Slew, Foolish Pleasure, Temperence Hill, Summer Squall -- they all failed to fire their best shots in California, but lost nothing in translation.

The issue is brought to mind with Zenyatta's 17th appearance in California on Saturday in the Lady's Secret Stakes at Hollywood Park, since in some stubborn quarters her people continue to be criticized for failing to embark on a multi-city tour of the East Coast at some point in her illustrious run. (For the purposes of this item, Zenyatta's two trips to Oaklawn Park to win a pair of Apple Blossoms will be completely ignored, as has been the case for the past three seasons. Apparently, what happens in Hot Springs stays in Hot Springs.)

Fair is fair, but that never stopped anyone. In the 39-year history of the Eclipse Awards, only two champions have been granted Horse of the Year honors without ever leaving California: Ack Ack, in 1971, and Ferdinand, in 1987. Of the other 37 Horse of the Year campaigns, 16 of them were of the pure East Coast/Midwest variety, including those recently of Ghostzapper, Saint Liam, Invasor, Curlin in 2007 and Rachel Alexandra just last year. Okay, so Invasor also ran in the Middle East, but that gives you an idea of how far some people will go not to race in California.

For the record, I wish Zenyatta was running at Belmont Park on Saturday in the Beldame Stakes. That is where she belongs, playing at least once in her lifetime on New York's grandest stage -- Big Mama meets the Big Apple. The idea of Z reaching out with that powerhouse left lead around the fat Belmont final turn, going 9 comfortable furlongs, was singularly appealing. Too bad nothing happened to make it so.

Instead, it will be business as usual at Hollywood Park, where Zenyatta has already had two farewell races and a farewell ceremony. Maybe this time, just to shake things up, Mike Smith will jump off halfway around to bust a move, or pause to floss. Other than that we know for sure that Zenyatta will be last early and first late, and any talk about her next race in the Breeders' Cup Classic is premature until this one is in the books.

monty More than 1 year ago
For the "record" on the above article Zenyatta has left California and run in Arkansas (DIRT) in the Apple Blossom and won it twice. She is not Ack Ack or Ferdinand, she is much better, and "UNDEFEATED" 19-0, hello out there ? Do not confuse any horse with Zenyatta, she is on her own pedistile ! Knock her off if you can,but I doubt any can. Like it or not, she has brought back the sport of kings, at least on the west coast, and that's really saying something ! This sport will not be the same for quite a while, after she retires Nov. 7th, there will be a huge "void", so you better appreciate her while you can, as she is one in a million !!!
monty More than 1 year ago
I think Mr. Beyer is in complete "denial", and needs a "reality" check ! He must have lost a lot of $ on another horse vs. Zenyatta, or he just loves to alienate horseracing fans and create controversy, or perhaps more senseless "east coast bias" ? Either way, he is losing what little respect anyone still may have for him !
kimberlee bloom More than 1 year ago
I am really wanting to purchase (not on ebay) a Zenyatta Girl Power sign that you see fans holding at the races. Does anyone know if you can purchase these? I know that racetracks hand them out free to the first XXX fans but I want to get one for my own. HELP!!!!
monty More than 1 year ago
Well now, despite all the east coast naysayers about the queen will finally end soon, Nov. 6th ! The only thing that can stop Zenyatta is lighting/weather and a sloppy muddy track, and even then we're not totally sure ? If she is healthy, no male horse can rival her last "sixteenth" of a mile kick, when she moves out 8/10 wide in that long C.D. stretch ! So, Hollywood get ready to make another "movie", will title it " Z 20-0 ". Finally, the big "Z" will get the respect she deserves, and "Horse of the Century", forget year !
Mickey Burleson More than 1 year ago
TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: How many National Football League Teams have gone unbeaten in a season?.......How many RACEHORSES have gone unbeaten in a career spanning three years and 19-0?......Same answer.............ONE!!!.............Do you know who they are?.......Racing times in HORSERACING mean something but they don't mean everything......Every HORSERACE is run by a different group of HORSES, on a different surface, on a different track, in a different State, in a different country, in different weather conditions, with different decisions by different Owners, different Trainers, different Jockeys and different Grooms and sometimes different weights and weight allowances and I know for a fact that some Track Records and Stakes Records have been set, electronically, to boost Ratings, Attendance and Handle, along with boosting the Breeding Quality, that comes along later.............BUT.............The NFL Team that went unbeaten in the season and the RACEHORSE who has won the most Races in a row, did what they had to do.............THEY WON.............One of the Greatest Racemares of all time held the World's Record, at 440 Yards, in .22 Flat for over 20 years and in one of her Races, at 440 Yards, she fell to her knees, coming out of the gates, in Tucson, Arizona, and got up and won the Race, by a nose, equaling her World's Record of .22 Flat.............She only ran as fast as she had to.......And, I believe that is exactly what Zenyatta has been doing and hopefully, for her sake, her connections' sake, her FANS' sake and for the sake of HORSERACING, which used to be known as the "Sport of Kings", I hope she does it one more time.............Thanks for reading.............Mickey Burleson, World's Champion Horseracing FAN.............
monty More than 1 year ago
Mickey, very well said ! I am a little concerned about what the weather & track conditions may be ? What do you think of Zenyattas chances coming from last, way back in the "mud" if it rains ? Any thoughts out there handicappers ? GO ZENYATTA
cleigh More than 1 year ago
I would have no problem enjoying Zenyatta and recognizing her accomplishments (geographically, surface, and gender limited as they may be), EXCEPT for her always frothing-at-the-mouth fans. They are a real turnoff to a lifelong horse racing fan. I hope to God I don't have to sit next to any frothers at the BC in November...or morons carrying Zenyatta signs to spook the competition into injuring itself...
BOB More than 1 year ago
cleigh True horse racing fans understand,appreciate and welcome the Zenyatta phenomenon. Comments such as "...carrying Zenyatta signs to spook the competition..." only come from individuals charitably described as clueless. Bob
Stanley Schweiger More than 1 year ago
Just for the hell of it, I you-tubed Zenyatta's maiden race -- huge field, all kinds of potential problems. I suggest that all Zenyatta-bashers watch this. Then, think about a running style that is fraught with all kinds of potential roadblocks -- horses making their move, horses slowing up, the possibility of getting pinched between two horses -- and now consider that this horse has been absolutely perfect in her 18 subsequent races! If it's going to take the BC Classic to convince the nay-sayers, then so be it! Lotsa luck to the rest of the field on Nov. 6!
Qev More than 1 year ago
I, for one, have no problem with the way the Moss’ have handled their horse. They’ve consistently stuck to the softest routes to some very nice purses and, in doing so; have kept their very nice horse healthy, sound and happy through an extended (by today’s standards) racing career. No problem there. Where they run ‘afoul of the law’ is when they start laying claims to ‘greatness’ If you honestly believe you’ve got a truly ‘Great’ horse in your barn, you don’t demonstrate—or, feel the need to protect that greatness—by limiting its engagements to races that are ‘restricted’ to only one-half of the possible competition—the ‘gentler’ half. Side Note: If the male horses that Rachel A. beat in 2009 were so inferior to the female competition that Zenyatta was facing, why, then, weren’t those same filly’s and mares facing and beating up on those weak males too?, you know, just like Rachel did…but I digress. “Great” horses define themselves by engaging (and defeating) top, ‘open’ class competition on a consistent basis; regardless of the sex of that competition. They compete against and beat the best dirt horses in the land—male or female—on dirt, or, the best turf horses in the land, again, male or female, on turf; preferably on more than one occasion. Until Zenyatta does either one of these (or both) she has ‘PROVED’ herself ‘Queen of Distaffers’—at best.
morton More than 1 year ago
Patricks comment that Ferdinand never left california either...... He won the derby.
jhovdey More than 1 year ago
Morton - You are correct, of course. But Patrick was correcting MY original mistake forgetting that Ferdinand did not leave California during 1987, the season he earned Horse of the Year. I made that correction in the text of the article.
Craig Cantrell More than 1 year ago
Who cares what Andrew Beyer think's when it comes to Zenyatta...All I know is the horse is a freak and wins on anything and for a filly/mare to stay at the top of her game for so long it's 2nd to none. I will be watching the greatest horse in my lifetime again this Saturday do what she does best which is WIN! When the BC Classic is run at Churchill Downs next month i will again be watching the grestest horse who has ever raced cross the finish line on TOP like she always has and on DIRT. How can a horse WIN the BC Classic twice against the opposite sex and never lose in 20 starts not be the greastest. Everyone knew what races she was going to run in this year and they all didn't want a piece of the beast! Forget Horse of Year soon enough like Nov.7th 2010 she will be known as Horse Of A Lifetime! Enjoy that all you east coast bias writers...As for Andrew Beyer he can make up all the Beyer Figs he wants but the one that matter's most is the 1 running line that reads 1st 20 for 20!!!