Zenyatta Beats the Equine Rodney Dangerfield

By Adele

Since winning the Kentucky Derby as a 50-1 long shot, Mine That Bird hasn’t caught a break. Having Zenyatta sail past him in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic yesterday with another one of his jockeys on her back must have been the icing on the cake.

Zenyatta-JaeCHong-AP-NYTimes

Zenyatta is No. 4 in yellow (Photo - Jae C. Hong/AP, NY Times)

Zenyatta, running on her home track at Santa Anita, was racing against boys for the first time — some of the best male horses in the world, including Mine and his brother, Belmont winner Summer Bird.

It was the longest race (1 ¼ miles) Zenyatta’s ever run, too. Her jockey was Mike Smith, who rode Mine in the Preakness when his Derby jockey, Calvin Borel, abandoned him to ride Rachel Alexandra, who beat him and crushed his Triple Crown dreams.

Walking to the gate, Mine was a dignified pro, but Zenyatta was, as usual, prancing and pawing for the crowd. Then she turned diva when they tried to load her.

But that was nothing compared to the fit Quality Road threw. He refused to be loaded, so they blindfolded him, which only made him madder. He scratched his legs bucking, so they scratched him from the race.

The scene rattled everybody, so the horses were all backed out, dismounted, and reloaded. The change in routine seemed to throw Zenyatta, and she was slow out of the gate, trailing the field with Mine, who probably experienced dreadful déjà vu when he saw his jockey riding Zenyatta.

With every other horse in front of her, Zenyatta regained her sense of purpose and flew in the final stretch to pass the lead horse, Gio Ponti, and win the race. The first female to win in its 26-year history. Her 14th straight victory, keeping her undefeated.

Summer Bird came in 4th. Mine That Bird came in 9th.

Watch the race.

Maybe Mine never intended to win, but to show Calvin Borel what happens to fair-weather jockeys.

They’re saying Zenyatta will probably retire. She’ll never race Rachel Alexandra, who skipped the Breeders’. But that’s probably for the best. One of them would have to lose.

They’re also saying Zenyatta deserves to be Horse of the Year. I don’t go that far. Rachel beat the boys 3 times this year to Zenyatta’s one. If anything, they should share the honor.

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4 Responses to Zenyatta Beats the Equine Rodney Dangerfield

  1. Adele says:

    Adele, here’s hoping you can score an interview with Rachel Alexandra. I’d like to see her reaction to the idea of Zenyatta’s being horse of the year.

    And poor Mine. After a great showing at the Kentucky Derby, he’s become the Chicago Cubs of the racing world.

  2. catsworking says:

    Adele, I’ve been angling to talk to Rachel Alexandra, but she’s surrounded by all these “people,” so there’s a lot of bureaucracy. Fred had a much easier time of getting to Big Brown last year, and Mine That Bird was agreeable to me this year.

    Rachel’s taking the rest of this year off, so I’m hoping her schedule will open up and give her some time to talk to me.

    I don’t think Mine That Bird has won another race since the Kentucky Derby. He wasn’t our favorite going into the Derby (Fred was backing General Quarters), but you’ve got to feel sorry for the guy, getting thrown over by TWO jockeys for these females who both beat him. That had to be painful.

  3. Lori says:

    I was very near the gate for the break of the Classic. Quality Road did not have “a fit”, he just didn’t want to load, and the gate crew mishandled it. They even flashed a whip at him more than once.
    The reloading everybody did not throw Zenyatta at all. She was calm, poised, looking straight ahead, and ready to win:)

  4. catsworking says:

    Welcome, Lori! Thanks for giving us the track-side scoop on that race. I just read that Quality Road won another race in Florida, making it 6 out of 9 starts he’s won, and never coming in less than 3rd.

    I’m waiting for Rachel Alexandra’s people and Zenyatta’s people to agree on having them race each other this year. They’re both superstars and it would be a great race, but it will be sad to see one of them lose unless they can pull off a tie!

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