I almost didn’t watch the race yesterday. I didn’t want to see Zenyatta lose, or even worse, get hurt. But I’m glad I did because she put on an incredible show of speed, spirit and competitiveness.
After trailing the field by up to as much as 20 lengths, Zenyatta made her run in the Breeder’s Cup and . . . fell short by a head to Blame. She may not have won, but she certainly proved herself and her competitiveness in a closer that had people in living rooms across the country standing up and cheering her on. Certainly, I thought there was no way she could have caught Blame. And yet, she came damn close.
Speculation before the race was that Zenyatta hadn’t been tested enough in 2010 — running only against lesser fields and only against mares. I think that can be put to bed forever. Zenyatta passed 10 of the best colts in racing and lost by a head to a horse that calls Churchill Downs home (and who was comfortable on that track). She ran her heart out and certainly had the ability to win it.
But it’s important to remember that she was running against the best colts out there and that Blame had a near perfect trip. Sometimes the stars don’t align.
Here’s the race. It gives me goosebumps even after watching it several times because I still cannot believe she was able to make up so much ground. This video also shows some of Mike Smith’s very emotional press conference. It’s clear that his faith in the horse was not shaken and he steps up to take the blame for her loss. However, it’s hard to see exactly what he could have done differently. Maybe she didn’t like the dirt in her face, but she still ran a magnificent race and showed her quality. The interview also showed Mike Smith’s quality. If you want to watch the entire press conference, you can see it here.
Blame’s retirement was announced shortly after the race. As for Zenyatta, while it was previously stated she wouldn’t run again, her connections are now saying that she might run again. I’m sure the entire racing industry hopes she continues because she’s reinvigorated the sport like no other horse has been able to do since Affirmed won the Triple Crown in 1978.