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Happy Trails, Zenyatta

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2010-12-06-zmariowalking.jpg

Zenyatta walking with her groom Mario Espinoza at her Hollywood Park retirement celebration

Photo courtesy of Benoit Photo

A good horse won. A great horse didn't.

It's just a month since Zenyatta ran her final race -- the Breeders' Cup Classic. We all know she lost by a nose. When Blame edged her out of the win, the race was over, the horses galloped out unharmed and the crowd was not ready to let Zenyatta go.

The next morning, Zenyatta was taken out to graze and meet her fans. Up close, no barriers. The grace of the Mosses and John Sherriffs was enormous. After all the hoopla, more than ever they were sharing their girl with others who love her.

Taking over from the summer's heated discusions of who-is-better-Zenyatta-or-Rachel-Alexandra, the voting for Horse of the Year is a hot topic. Last year, despite winning the Breeders' Cup Classic against the top males, Zenyatta with her perfect record was denied the Horse of the Year title.

This year, Zenyatta's detractors for the title are saying she didn't win the big race, the Breeders' Cup, so she shouldn't be Horse of the Year. In 2009 her BC win was dismissed, yet in 2010 her not winning it is a deal-breaker. Oy.

We'll learn the outcome when the votes for the award are tallied and made public in January. The Horse of the Year award is part of the Eclipse Awards that are co-sponsored by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, Daily Racing Form and the National Turf Writers Association. Members from each organization vote, with a total last year of about 233 voters.

In the meantime, Zenyatta had her farewell at her home base Hollywood Park on December 5, and was scheduled to fly to Lexington, KY the following day. Upon arrival, she will be feted at Keeneland. According to Keeneland's website she is scheduled to arrive at 4:10 PM EST and be paraded for her fans in the saddling paddock and walking ring,. After, she will travel the few miles to her new home at Lane's End Farm.

If everything checks out and all systems are go, this time next year Zenyatta will be heavy in foal. She'll likely deliver in early 2012, after a gestation of just over eleven months. At that point, whether or not Zenyatta won the 2010 Breeders' Cup Classic or the Horse of the Year will be moot. For all that will be in the past, while the foal that Zenyatta will be carrying is the future.

(The following slideshow is pictures from the Hollywood Park ceremony honoring Zenyatta's retirement, 12/05/10)

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Vignettes from Zenyatta's Hollywood Park Retirement Celebration
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