02/05/2011 3:30PM

Mosses to receive Vox Populi Award after Santa Anita's sixth race


ARCADIA, Calif. - Racing fans turned out in numbers to meet the owners of Secretariat and Zenyatta at Santa Anita on Saturday.

Penny Chenery, who owned Secretariat, and Jerry and Ann Moss, the owners of 2010 Horse of the Year Zenyatta, signed autographs before the races and in between races on Saturday. Later in the afternoon, the Mosses received the Secretariat Vox Populi Award from Chenery in a winner’s circle presentation.

The newly-created award recognizes owners whose horse generates significant interest in Thoroughbred racing.

Between autograph sessions, the Mosses and Chenery talked about the fan reaction to those horses and the interest shown on Saturday. With an hour to post time, a line of approximately 500 people were waiting for autographs in Santa Anita’s paddock gardens.

“It’s amazing to me [the popularity] that Secretariat has retained, and now Zenyatta has come along,” Jerry Moss said. “These are the real fans.”

Jockey Mike Smith, trainer John Shirreffs and his wife, Dottie Ingordo-Shirreffs, who is the Mosses racing manager, also signed autographs.

The Mosses campaigned Zenyatta for four seasons, from her maiden win in November 2007 to November 2010. Zenyatta won her first 19 races before finishing second to Blame in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs in November, her final start.

Last month, Zenyatta was honored as the 2010 Horse of the Year, and as the champion older mare for the third consecutive year. She was sent to Lane’s End Farm in Kentucky in December, and will be bred to Bernardini later this month, Jerry Moss said.

Zenyatta raced primarily in Southern California and her fans turned out in strong numbers last year for her races and for her retirement ceremony at Hollywood Park in early December.

Chenery, 89, said the energy from such people, some of whom turned out for autographs on Saturday, is contagious.

“They give us so much love,” she said. “We are the conduits [to the horses]. I’ve been doing this for how many years and the enthusiasm gives me such energy to keep going. You can’t anticipate the warmth you get from the fans.”