by Fran Jurga | 9 November 2009 | The Jurga Report at Equisearch.com
Horse racing may be in a slump but you would never have known it on Saturday when the world gave a rousing unanimous roar for supermare Zenyatta as she barreled home ahead of the colts in the world's most prestigious stakes race, the 2009 Breeders Cup Classic.
It was her first time against colts. Her first time going the classic distance of a mile-and-a-quarter. But her undefeated race record stands now at fourteen. The grand girl has never been beaten.
Will she be horse of the year? Did Saturday's performance obscure the memory of Rachel Alexandra's stellar races on the east coast this year? Rachel's owners opted to skip the Breeders Cup. Did that leave the door open for Zenyatta to capture the title? She beat the same horses Rachel beat...plus some of the best in Europe and the top male turf horse in the US, Gio Ponti, in one fell swoop.
Many people are late to the Zenyatta party and may not know about some of this horse's quirky behaviors. One delightful one is her habit of pricking her ears forward as she crosses the finish line, as if to make sure she looks great in all the win photos (she does).
But another is that this girl likes to dance. In the paddock and during the post parade, she is famous for doing a little toe-flicking trot that makes me think she might be auditioning for the Spanish Riding School of Vienna, or maybe a second career in the dressage arena (not a chance, big girl, but you can piaffe out in the field in Kentucky with your foals).
California track journalist Mary Forney posted this video of Zenyatta showing off in the paddock before the race on Saturday. Thanks to Mary for making this available!
In case you missed the race, here's the replay. Zenyatta was late out of gate, started on her left lead instead of her right, switched leads, and came from dead last.