Breeders' Cup Preview: Zenyatta Steps Up to Face the Big Boys

November 5, 2009

She's beautiful, a big Hollywood celebrity, and her lucky number is 13. And like any starlet, she also apparently has a flair for the dramatic.

Just who is this intriguing lady?

None other than Zenyatta, the undefeated (13-0-0) racehorse whose participation in the Breeders’ Cup Classic was announced only days before the event.

Zenyatta’s handlers could have taken the easy route by putting her in Friday’s Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic. Undoubtedly, she would have been an overwhelming favorite to win that race again after having cruised to a dominant victory in 2008.

Instead, caution has been thrown to the wind, as Zenyatta now will be racing the boys.

Home-field advantage means something in every sport, and if ever a horse could claim home-field, it would be Zenyatta. She has spent most of her career in Southern California, and thus, should be quite familiar with the track at Santa Anita.

Zenyatta's size (approximately 1,200 pounds) will make her perhaps the biggest horse out of the gate on Saturday. But that will do little to help her because the boys will likely jostle her if she tries to take the inside route. So, to avoid getting mugged, expect Zenyatta to try to break away from the large field and head for the outside.

Once outside, Zenyatta will be best served sitting half-a-dozen lengths or so off the pace before closing hard on the final turn. Such a Phar Lap-esque style of running has become her signature move, as it worked perfectly for her in last year’s Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic.

Although Zenyatta's trainer, John Shirreffs, should cook up a clever gameplan for his lady, history will be working against him, as no filly or mare has ever won the Breeders' Cup Classic since the event was established in 1984.

Still, other than that history, there is no sound reason to bet against the talented 5-year old. Betters hoping to find value therefore should anchor their wagers around Zenyatta.

By Joe Hammond
Contributing Writer for

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