11/02/2010 11:37AM

Zenyatta arrives at Churchill Downs for Breeders' Cup

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Reed Palmer Photography
Zenyatta gets off the plan that brought her from California to Kentucky on Tuesday.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- The way you could tell Zenyatta was getting close to the Churchill Downs backstretch was by the helicopter following her convoy from the airport. Not just a chopper, but a police escort leading the gleaming Creech Horse Transportation semi-trailer as it took the short drive from nearby Standiford Field, where Zenyatta’s plane had landed at 11:35, to Churchill. The Creech truck was from Troy, Mo., but that was no Trojan horse who descended the steps of the trailer just past noon on Tuesday. That was the undefeated favorite for Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup Classic -- The Queen.

Zenyatta, who will be trying for her third Breeders’ Cup win Saturday, and second straight BC Classic victory, flew without incident from California on Tuesday, accompanied by her groom, Mario Espinoza.

“Everything went fine,” trainer John Shirreffs said after Zenyatta had been bedded down inside Barn 41 here.

Before she went into her stall, Zenyatta got a look at her new surroundings. In front of a crowd of perhaps 150 onlookers -- press people and celebrity-watchers alike -- Zenyatta, her awesomely dappled bay coat covered with a light sheen of dust, was walked about a gravel space between barns by Espinoza for a few minutes. Then, she was taken inside the barn for one turn around the shed row before being led out a door on the building’s opposite side for a grazing session. Between periods of munching short grass parched by local drought, Zenyatta walked about, doing her signature high-stepping with her right front leg. The 6-year-old mare looked a picture of health.

Owners Jerry and Ann Moss were present for the arrival. The Mosses and Shirreffs had flown to Louisville on a private plane on about the same timetable as Zenyatta. Having just landed, they spotted Zenyatta’s plane on the ground and were given permission to disembark on the runway in order to watch Zenyatta walk off the plane that had carried her here.

Jockey Mike Smith got in from California on Monday night, but he, too, made his way over to Barn 41 for The Arrival.

“She seems really happy,” Smith said. “She’s getting really good at the right time again.”