Saturday, August 07, 2010

Zenyatta Goes 18 for 18

Zenyatta won her 18th race this afternoon in California, continuing her unbeaten streak.

To understand how important Zenyatta is to horse racing, let's compare her to the greatest thoroughbreds in the sport.

In 1999, The Blood-Horse magazine commissioned a panel of seven horse-racing experts to compile a list of the 100 best thoroughbred racehorses of the 20th century.

The top ten horses on that list include names even people unfamiliar with the racing world would recognize.

Only eleven horses in history have won all three of the U.S. Triple Crown events (the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes). Four of the top ten horses of the 20th century were Triple Crown winners: #9 Seattle Slew (1977); #5 Count Fleet (1942); #3 Citation (1948); and #2 Secretariat (1973).

Secretariat actually set new race records for two legs in the Triple Crown--the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness. Nearly forty years later, those records have not yet been broken.

Even so, Secretariat still came in #2 on the list after the most famous racehorse in history: Man O' War.

Man O' War never won the Triple Crown because he wasn't entered in the Kentucky Derby. Like Zenyatta's owner, Man O' War's owner believed the Derby was too early in the year for a large three-year-old horse. Man O' War was 16.2 hands (compared to Zenyatta's 17.5 hands).

Man O' War did, however, win the other two legs of the Crown. In his lifetime the horse won 20 of 21 races. The #2 horse on the list, Secretariat (also 16.2 hands) won 16 of his 21 races. Both horses retired at three years old.

Zenyatta has now won 18 of 18 races and, unlike either Man O'War or Secretariat, is unbeaten. She is also six years old.

Here's today's race:

In reviewing the races left to run this year, it's probable Zenyatta will be entered into the Zenyatta Stakes, formerly known as Lady's Secret Stakes, but which has now been renamed. That race usually runs toward the end of September in Santa Anita, California. Zenyatta has won that race for the last two years.

After that, the two championships in thoroughbred racing--The Breeders' Cup Classic and its sister race, the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic--are both run in early November. This year, they will be held at Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby. It's likely Zenyatta would be entered into the November 6th Breeders' Cup Classic for a second time.

If she wins both the Zenyatta Stakes and the Breeders' Cup Classic, she would tie Man O' War's twenty wins and would still be the horse with the longest unbeaten streak in thoroughbred history. Not a bad note on which to retire.

Oh, and by the way, it would make her only the second horse in history to win the Breeders' Cup Classic twice AND the only horse in history to win both the Breeders' Cup Classic and the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic.

Watch her spectacular previous wins here and here on my blog.

And stay tuned ...


Victoria Dixon said...

Thanks for posting these! I tried to find stuff on her the other day, but had to cut my surfing short.

Maya Reynolds said...

Victoria: You are very welcome.