Horseracing isn’t exactly a big Sacramento pastime, but the buzz surrounding this weekend’s Breeder’s Cup has even this Girl on the Grid interested. For those of you whose knowledge of the races is limited to big hats and bourbon, the Breeder’s Cup Classic is the premier contest in horseracing. And this Saturday, everyone’s eyes will be on the only female horse in the field – a six-year old mare named Zenyatta.
Last year, Zenyatta made history by becoming the first female ever to win the Breeder’s Cup Classic, and she is considered by some to be the greatest racehorse of all time. With a 19-0 record, she is the favorite to win Saturday in what will likely be her final race. Still, there are no sure things in racing, and some skeptics doubt that she can win the Classic twice in a row. Regardless of whether or not she pulls it off, here are ten reasons to love Zenyatta:
- First, there’s that name… Zenyatta got her unusual name from the 1980 album by The Police, Zenyatta Mondatta (her owner, Jerry Moss, is the “M” in A&M Records, the band’s label).
- She beat the odds. Born on April 1, 2004, Zenyatta suffered from ringworm and was sold for a mere $60,000 – a pittance when you consider that she has earned more than $6 million in winnings.
- She’s got moves. Zenyatta loves to dance – no, seriously. She’s known for doing a little high-step/prance before races and delights in the attention she gets from the crowd while performing.
- She’s big and beautiful. At 17.2 hands (that’s 6’ from he back to the ground) and 1,200 lbs., Zenyatta is larger than most male thoroughbreds. She also happens to be highly photogenic (I mean, what other horse gets a shoot in W Magazine?)
- She’s got star power… Zenyatta has been profiled by 60 Minutes and made Oprah’s 2010 “O Power List.” Last year she came in second place – behind Serena Williams – for the AP Female Athlete of the Year. Oh, and she has more than 35,000 fans on Facebook.
- …But she doesn’t let it go to her head. While most thoroughbreds can be high-strung and unpredictable around strangers, Zenyatta is uncommonly gentle with adults and children alike.
- She has a flair for the dramatic. In every one of Zenyatta’s 19 wins, she has emerged from behind to take the lead. Her signature burst of speed in the final stretch usually comes from the outside and results in her winning by a comfortable margin.
- She’s proof that age is just a number. Zenyatta didn’t run her first race until the age of 3 (considered late by many in the Thoroughbred world). If she wins on Saturday, she’ll be the oldest horse ever to win the Breeder’s Cup Classic.
- She’s got style. Zenyatta’s jockey, Mike Smith, wears teal and pink, which contrasts rather nicely with Zenyatta’s shiny, dark bay (that’s brown) coat.
- She knows how to have a good time. This past April, Zenyatta celebrated her sixth birthday by downing a Guinness (she won’t drink the cheap stuff) and enjoying some cake. Now, what’s not to love about that?