Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

T-U 2

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

T-U 2

Article excerpt

2 CENTS

Now that the Breeders' Cup is over, horse racing will fall out of the public consciousness until the 2011 Triple Crown races. But first, a few last words on Zenyatta.

The dark bay mare who electrified even non-racing fans with her incredible late-running turn of foot should go down as the best female horse in history and belongs on anybody's list of top 10 thoroughbreds of all time. If anything, her narrow loss to Blame in the Breeders' Cup Classic last weekend enhanced her stature, rather than diminishing it.

Zenyatta, who went into the race unbeaten in 19 career races, had never before run at Churchill Downs. Mostly accustomed to the synthetic tracks in southern California, Zenyatta had never dealt with the constant kickback of dirt from the horses in front of her. She overcame that, an outrageously sluggish start, and a much wider trip than Blame to lose by a head. She lost fair and square, yet more than proved her mettle in doing so.

Sadly, history might not be all that kind to Zenyatta. Despite her 19-race win streak and more than $7 million in career earnings, Zenyatta will likely never be voted for Horse of the Year. She finished second in 2008 and again in 2009 when the award went to another distaffer, Rachel Alexandra, who beat the boys in the Preakness (even though Zenyatta won last year's Breeders' Cup Classic). This year's vote will likely go to Blame, who beat Zenyatta in their lone matchup.

Zenyatta deserves better. Her performance on the racetrack was just a photo finish short of Blame's, who also lost a race this year. Off the track. Zenyatta provided a much-needed jolt to a sport that has fallen out of the mainstream. She created unprecedented buzz and thousands of new fans. That ought to count for something, too.

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