Zenyatta's Best Career Races

February 22nd, 2016

It's a given that Zenyatta will enter the National Museum Racing Hall of Fame this year. Why wouldn't she be? In case you've forgotten, Zenyatta finished with a career record of 19 and 1 out of 20 races. Her only second place finish was to Blame in the 2010 Breeders Cup Classic at Churchill Downs. Some consider Zenyatta to be the greatest race horse to ever live.

It's hard to disagree with that statement. From my perspective, Zenyatta and jockey Mike Smith are one and the same. Mike Smith had as much to do with Zenyatta's brilliance as the horse herself. Because of her style, it took Smith's brilliant understanding of his horse to push the button at the exact right moment.

Since this is the year that Zenyatta gets into the Hall, it makes sense to revisit some of her more brilliant victories. This is my personal Top 5. Share yours if they differ.

My 5 Favorite Zenyatta Races
1. 2009 Breeders Cup Classic - Could there be any other?  In her first race against the boys, the brilliant Zenyatta ran down 2009 Turf Horse of the Year Gio Ponti and took home the Breeders Cup Classic. As great as the win was, she lost American Horse of the Year Honors to the equally deserving Rachel Alexandra in 2009. Zenyatta had to go extremely wide in order to get to Gio Ponti in this race.
2. 2008 Apple Blossom Handicap - This was the race that proved how special Zenyatta could be. She went into the 2008 Apple Blossom with a 3 and 0 record. She had won the Grade 2 El Encino but she hadn't really beaten any horse of note in that race. 2007 American Champion Female Older Horse Ginger Punch was the 2 to 5 favorite while Zenyatta went off at $1.80 to 1. Ginger Punch got away with an easy 47.30 half-mile. It just didn't matter. Zenyatta was that good.
3. 2008 Breeders Cup Ladies Classic - She went off at 50 cents on the dollar to beat horses like Hystericalady, Carraige Trail, Music Note, Cocoa Beach and Ginger Now. Like most of her wins, the 2008 BC Ladies Classic is the perfect example of how Zenyatta's turn of foot can make all of the other horses in the race look like they're standing still.
4. 2010 Breeders Cup Classic - Sure, she lost. But to me the race that Zenyatta ran in the 2010 BC Classic was almost as brilliant as anything that I've ever seen. She had a terrible, horrible, trip. She almost caught one of the top male race horses in the past 10 years in Blame with one of the best jockeys in the past 20 years on his back in Garrett Gomez. She finished ahead of  Lookin at Lucky, Paddy O' Prado and Quality Road in one of the most exciting Breeders Cup Classics of all time. Everybody loses once in a while. To me, Zenyatta has the most stylish loss in the history of thoroughbred racing.

5. Maiden Win at Hollywood Park, Nov. 22, 2007 - There are so many reasons to love Zenyatta's maiden win. For starters, it shows you exactly how good jockey David Flores could be when he's on his game. Second, it shows that the word is out on Zenyatta before she mowed them down in the stretch. Listen to the race analysts talk about how good she's going to be in the future. Finally, Zenyatta paid over 5 to 1 to win this maiden race. Yep. That was the last time we horseplayers ever got those odds on Zenyatta.


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