One theory has it that The Police’s 1980 album Zenyatta Mondatta came from the words Zenith and Monde (French for “World”), meaning Top of the World. Another says the translation came from Sanskrit, also meaning Top of the World. Whatever the case, after watching the thoroughbred version of Zenyatta win the Ladies Classic on Breeders’ Cup Day 1, you saw a horse on top of the (racing) world. After making her customary rally-wide move from last, Zenyatta ran by Cocoa Beach to remain perfect, running her record to nine-for-nine. If there has been a better filly or mare in my lifetime, I haven’t seen her. I remember Ruffian as a kid, and more recently the undefeated Personal Ensign, and brilliant runners like Inside Information and Azeri. They might have been as good but none of them better than Zenyatta. The gorgeous amazon, who exudes sheer class when she steps on the racetrack, runs the same race every time, lagging behind early, picking it up on the far turn under light urging from rider Mike Smith, then swooping by her outclassed rivals through the lane. Here’s hoping she stays in training next year and comes back to win another Classic—the Breeders’ Cup Classic against the boys.

The Breeders’ Cup card kicked off with a huge performance from Ventura, who rallied from far back to win the Filly and Mare Sprint in 1:19.90, just a hundredth of a second off the track record. She ran by champion Indian Blessing like that one was tied to a post, drawing off powerfully through the final 100 yards. Late runners, seemingly no matter how wide, had all the best of it today. Besides Zenyatta and Ventura, Juvenile Fillies winner Stardom Bound wrapped up a championship with a Zenyatta-like move on the far turn, rallying 5-wide into the lane to win impressively while giving Smith the first of his two BC wins on the day.

Prior to that race, Maram remained undefeated in three starts by narrowly holding off Euro invader Heart Shaped in the Juvenile Fillies Turf, with favored pacesetter Laragh tiring to third. In the other turf event, Forever Together duplicated her latest Keeneland victory with another strong stretch run to sweep by Sealy Hill and Wait a While to take the Filly and Mare Turf.

Although I have been somewhat ambivalent about the BC going to a two-day event, I have to admit I really enjoyed today’s prelim card. Many felt it was a slight to Zenyatta to be relegated to the all-female Friday card, but the other side of the argument is that she got the spotlight all to herself. The crowd of 31,257 gave her a rousing ovation as she returned to the winner’s circle, knowing her status as one of the all-time greats had been secured.

Can’t wait to see what tomorrow has in store for us. Let’s see if Curlin can put on the same kind of show.


One Response to “Zenyatta–Top of the World”

  1. danesch on October 25th, 2008 8:42 am

    Zenyatta’s performance surpassed the usual response of bettors referring to another chaulk win. In the off-track betting parlor where I was residing, they actually gave her a standing ovation. As a witness to greatness, each of us will cherish this memory.


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