ARCADIA, Calif. - -Zenyatta, now undefeated in 14 starts, took a major gallop Saturday to go from racing's rock star to America's superstar by becoming the first female horse to win the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic.
The 5-year-old mare did it with drama and style, and in the end received a standing ovation from an announced crowd of 58,845 at Santa Anita Park, which lived up to its nickname "The Great Race Place."
The Classic started with a major delay at the starting gate when Quality Road would not go into the gate. Officials eventually scratched the 3-year-old colt, causing all the horses to be backed out of the gate. Zenyatta was reloaded without jockey Mike Smith as she seemed hesitant to want to run when the race started.
"She sure stood there when the gates opened," Smith said. "I needed to help her out of there."
Zenyatta ran last in the 12-horse field for the first half of the race and appeared out of it entering the final turn. But entering the stretch, Smith took her outside and eventually ran down Gio Ponti to win by a length.
"She started to get to them in the stretch, and then the crowd started screaming," Smith said. "Then she started looking at the crowd, so I had to get after her a little bit, but she still won within herself."
Zenyatta has become a celebrity in California and seems to love the attention. Smith kept the horse away from the winner's circle until all the other horses left so that the mare could bask in the attention. He then gave the "raise the roof" sign and the crowd responded.
The question remains whether Zenyatta, undefeated for life, did enough to win Horse of the Year. Rachel Alexandra, winner of the Preakness and also a female, was the likely winner going into Saturday. Her handlers chose not to run in the Breeders' Cup because they didn't want to "run on plastic," a shot at the synthetic surface mandated in California. It seems to be unpopular with owners, trainers and bettors, and the California racing board has hinted tracks can go back to dirt if they choose.
Trainer John Shirreffs, who saddled the horse last year for a win in the Ladies Classic, was teary after the race.
"The way the crowd took to her was just amazing," he said. "They cheered for her, they clapped for her, they love her."
Goldikova, also a female, won the $2 million Turf Mile in another come-from-last-place performance.
$5,000,000, stakes, 3YO&up;, 1 mi.
Horse (Jockey) Wn Pl. Shw
4 (4) Zenyatta (M.Smith) 7.60 5.60 3.80
7 (7) Gio Ponti (R.Dominguez) 9.20 6.60
5 (5) Twice Over (T.Queally) 7.00
Off 3:57. Time 2:00.62. Fast. Scratched-Quality Road. Also ran-Summer Bird, Colonel John, Richard's Kid, Awesome Gem, Regal Ransom, Mine That Bird, Rip Van Winkle, Einstein, Girolamo. Pick 6 (6-7-11-2-2/4-4/12) 6 Correct Paid $1,838,305.20, 5 Correct Paid $4,822.40. $1 Pick 4 (11-2-2/4-4/12) 4 Correct Paid $752.20. $1 Pick 3 (2-2-4) 3 Correct Paid $360.30. $1 Consolation Pick 3 (2-2-12) 3 Correct Paid $50.20. Head2Head (14-FIELD) 1 Correct Paid $5.60. Consolation Double (2-12) paid $4.00. Consolation Double (L. CLASSIC/CLASSIC 2-12) paid $18.40. Daily Double (2-4) paid $23.20. Daily Double (L. CLASSIC/CLASSIC 2-4) paid $92.60. $1 Exacta (4-7) paid $43.70. $1 Superfecta (4-7-5-3) paid $3,417.00. $1 Trifecta (4-7-5) paid $596.20.
(c) 2009 Equibase Company LLC, all rights reserved.
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Juvenile Fillies Turf
She Be Wild
Filly & Mare Turf
Ladies Classic (Distaff 1984-2007)
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Man of Iron
Vale of York
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