08/03/2010 3:23PM

Zenyatta's Schedule


Perhaps one of the most presumptuous things a racing writer can do is tell owners where to run their horses. But that hasn't stopped me from doing it before, and it won't stop me from doing it again. I might be a horseplayer at heart, but I am also a passionate racing fan with strong beliefs about where name horses should race so that they can clarify where they belong in an historical context. My intent is noble (honestly!), although though my clumsiness might hide that well.

Even though her place in racing history has been secure for a while now, I would dearly love to have last call on Zenyatta's near-term schedule. I just read Steve Andersen's report that a final decision on Zenyatta's scheduled start in Saturday's Clement L. Hirsch at Del Mar will be made after the mare trains over the Del Mar surface Thursday and Friday. With this tiny bit of wiggle room, I think the door is still slightly open for a great opportunity:

Why doesn't Zenyatta pass on her attempt at winning the Hirsch for a third straight year on a surface her people say she isn't especially fond of anyway, and come to Saratoga and meet Rachel Alexandra on Aug. 29 in the 1 1/4 mile Personal Ensign?

I understand that Zenyatta might not be the greatest shipper ever, but the detention barns at NYRA are gone now, and there has been talk of Zenyatta coming to New York anyway, just later in the Oct. 2 Beldame, so a road trip doesn't seem out of the question. I also understand that if Zenyatta were to run in the Personal Ensign, it would leave her only four weeks until what would likely be her final Breeders' Cup prep in either the Beldame or the Zenyatta Breeders' Cup (formerly the Lady's Secret).

But what Zenyatta has to gain by going to Saratoga seem to far outweigh any disadvantages there might be. For one, she would finally get to race against Personal Ensign-bound Rachel Alexandra, and this seems like an excellent time to do that. Even though Rachel Alexandra has won her last two starts, her performances were only good, not great. Zenyatta has a golden opportunity here, right now, to extract a not-so-small measure of revenge for losing that much discussed Horse of the Year vote last year to Rachel Alexandra. And if Zenyatta coming for the Personal Ensign makes Rachel Alexandra suddenly change her schedule, well, that would be a big public relations win for Zenyatta. Moreover, Zenyatta would get to peform not just for a New York audience, but for a Saratoga audience. That would be a meaningful addition to her imposing legacy.

So why not?