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Zenyatta

zenyatta19_sda.jpg

Zenyatta, Mike Smith up (Skip Dickstein photo)
Zenyatta
Induction Year: 
2016
Foaled: 
2004
Breeder: 
Maverick Production, Ltd.
Owner: 
Mr. and Mrs. Jerome S. Moss
Trainer: 
John A. Shirreffs
Sire: 
Street Cry (IRE)
Dam: 
Vertigineux
Damsire: 
Kris S.
Career Years: 
2007-2010
Starts: 
20
First: 
19
Second: 
1
Third: 
0
Earnings: 
$7,304,580.00

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Bio

Throughout her historic four years on the American turf, Zenyatta was affectionately known as “The Queen” by her most ardent fans, an appropriate moniker considering the way she ruled racing throughout her exceptional career.

 

A dark bay daughter by Street Cry (IRE) out of the Kris S. mare Vertigineaux, Zenyatta was a $60,000 purchase by Jerry and Ann Moss at the 2005 Keeneland September Yearling Sale. Jerry Moss, who co-founded A&M Records, named Zenyatta after an album by A&M artists The Police, Zenyatta Mondatta. Sent to trainer John Shirreffs, a conditioner known for his patient approach, Zenyatta did not make her debut until late November of 2007.

 

Shirreffs’ methodical style was the perfect fit for Zenyatta, as was the pairing with Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, who was no stranger to piloting exceptional fillies and mares from his experience with the likes of Azeri, Inside Information and Sky Beauty, among others.

 

When all was said and done, Zenyatta won 19 of 20 career starts, including 13 Grade 1 wins. She was named Horse of the Year in 2010 and won a total of four Eclipse Awards. She became the first filly or mare to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic. She won the Lady’s Secret Stakes, Clement L. Hirsch Stakes and Vanity Handicap three times each and the Apple Blossom Handicap and Milady Handicap twice each. She was talented, charismatic and beloved. She was one of a kind.

 

What a remarkable ride it was.

 

“I’ll never have another one like her,” Shirreffs said. “She was once in a lifetime. It’s hard to put into words everything she was on the track and what she meant and still means to everyone. She was really unique … one of the best ever.”

 

After winning both of her starts as a 3-year-old late in 2007 at Hollywood Park, Zenyatta made her 4-year-old debut with her first graded stakes win in the 2008 El Encino Stakes (Grade 2) at Santa Anita. Next up was her first race with Smith in the irons, the Grade 1 Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park. Overcoming a slow start, Zenyatta served notice she was a force to be reckoned with by delivering a 4½-length victory over Brownie Points and Ginger Punch, the previous year’s Champion Older Female.

 

Returning to California, Zenyatta won the Milady, Vanity and Clement L. Hirsch and the Lady’s Secret Stakes before defeating Cocoa Beach by 1½ lengths in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic at Santa Anita to cap her season undefeated in seven starts and lock up the first of three consecutive Eclipse Awards for Champion Older Female.

 

Zenyatta’s legend only continued to grow in 2009. As she did the year before, Zenyatta won the Milady, Vanity, Clement L. Hirsch and Lady’s Secret in succession prior to contesting the Breeders’ Cup. This time, however, the decision was made to test the mighty 5-year-old mare against the boys in the Classic. Facing an accomplished field that included Gio Ponti, Summer Bird, Colonel John, Mine That Bird and Einstein, it was Zenyatta who stole the show. After breaking slow and running last for much of the race, Zenyatta began picking off one horse after another as she weaved through the stretch with precision movements to defeat Gio Ponti by 1½ lengths in one of the most spectacular performances in Breeders’ Cup history.

 

“She’s one of the greatest horses of all time,” Smith said after the race. “She’s the horse of the decade, by far.”

 

At the close of her 5-year-old campaign, Zenyatta was undefeated through 14 career starts (including eight Grade 1 victories) and once again was named Champion Older Female. In a move that surprised many, Zenyatta was brought back for a 6-year-old campaign in 2010 — and she was as good as ever.

 

Zenyatta began her 2010 season with a victory in the Grade 1 Santa Margarita Invitational Handicap and then followed a familiar path back to the Breeders’ Cup with her second victory in the Apple Blossom and wins in the Vanity, Clement L. Hirsch and Lady’s Secret, giving her three consecutive victories in each of those events.

 

Undefeated through 19 starts, Zenyatta attempted to join Tiznow as the only horses to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic twice, but she came up just short of perfection and just short of Blame at the wire. In what was her final career start, Zenyatta’s furious closing move was denied in the final strides. Although she was defeated in the Classic, Zenyatta’s overall body of work was rewarded when she was named the 2010 Eclipse Award winner for Horse of the Year. She also won her third consecutive Eclipse for Champion Older Female.

 

Zenyatta retired with an overall record of 19-1-0 from 20 starts and career earnings of $7,304,580, the highest total of any filly or mare in North American history.

 

“Zenyatta took us places we never imagined we could go,” Shirreffs said. “She brought a euphoric feeling to a lot of people, me included, whenever she ran. She is everything you could ask for in a racehorse.”

 

Jerry Moss believed Zenyatta had a singular focus on the racetrack that led to her remarkable success and legacy.

 

“Her game, if you could read into that beautiful mind of hers, was to simply win the race,” he said. “She just wanted to win. It didn’t matter by how much. She knew how to win with her heart and her head.”

 

“She’s a gift, an enormous gift,” Ann Moss added.

 

A gift all of the racing world was fortunate enough to enjoy.

 

Horse