Thursday, November 11, 2010


On Saturday at Flemington, we witnessed a potential superstar of the turf in Black Caviar.
Majesty with every stride, the daughter of Bel Esprit maintained her unbeaten record and, in doing so, made the best sprinters in the land look second rate.
A hemisphere away and some 24 hours later, another grand lady in Zenyatta strove to keep her unblemished record intact – going for an incredible 20 straight in North America’s penultimate championship, the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Sadly – as is the case with many racing’s fairytale endings – Zenyatta failed by a head, but unbelievably won more fans than she lost.
In a magnificent summary of the Breeders’ Cup Classic, the Bloodhorse’s Steve Haskin wrote that Blame (the eventual winner) and Zenyatta put on a show for the ages creating a mosaic of emotions that ran the gamut between joy and sadness, and in the end, admiration.
Haskin added: As for Zenyatta, Henry Ward Beecher wrote, “It is defeat that turns bone to flint; it is defeat that turns gristle to muscle; it is defeat that makes men invincible.”
And apparently women. For Zenyatta, her defeat in the $4,545,000 Breeders’ Cup Classic will be remembered as an affirmation of her greatness. In victory after victory, she captured the heart. In her lone defeat, she captured the soul. All this remarkable mare lost in the Classic was her unbeaten record. But, like Seattle Slew’s memorable nose defeat in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, her courageous performance actually will enhance her place in history.
Although she will not retire undefeated, Zenyatta proved in the end that perfection is not always measured in numbers.
Amazingly, at one stage Zenyatta was some 20 lengths off the pace, but as Haskin reports: the roar from the grandstand was deafening, with the majority of fans pleading for Zenyatta to get up. But this time it was not meant to be. For the first time in her career, the mighty Zenyatta’s powerful closing rush came up inches short.
The next day, Haskin added: Zenyatta went out to graze for several hours in the afternoon, again drawing a crowd of admirers, some of whom brought her cakes and held up signs, even chanting “Zen-Ya-Ta!” When she headed back to the barn, everyone gave her a warm round of applause, knowing they likely will never see her or her likes again.
Soon, Barn 47, where Blame resided, would be empty, as would Zenyatta’s stall in Barn 41. The grazing area that was such a hub of activity for five magical days would be quiet, and all that will remain are the memories of one of the most exciting chapters in racing history and the final curtain call for perhaps the most amazing and unique racehorse of all time.

To read Steve Haskin’s feature in full and view the race video, click here.

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