Throughout her historic four years on the American turf, ZENYATTA was affectionately known as “The Queen” by her most ardent fans. An appropriate moniker considering the way she ruled racing throughout her exceptional career.
Owner Jerry Moss (a co-founder A&M Records), named ZENYATTA after an album by A&M artists The Police, Zenyatta Mondatta.
John Shirreffs was selected to train ZENYATTA. Shirreffs then chose Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith as the horses exclusive rider. Smith was no stranger to piloting exceptional fillies and mares, and so with that team in place ZENYATTA began her glorious career in late November 2007.
When all was said and done, she won 19 of 20 career starts, including 13 Grade 1 wins. She was named Horse of the Year in 2010 and won a total of four Eclipse Awards. She became the first filly or mare to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic. She was talented, charismatic and beloved. She was one of a kind.
What a remarkable ride it was.
“I’ll never have another one like her,” Shirreffs said. “She was once in a lifetime. It’s hard to put into words everything she was on the track and what she meant and still means to everyone. She was really unique … one of the best ever.”
The ZENYATTA legend really took hold in 2009. This was the year her connections decided to let the mighty five year-old compete against the boys in the Breeders Cup Classic. Facing an accomplished field that included GIO PONTI, SUMMER BIRD, COLONEL JOHN, MINE THAT BIRD and EINSTEIN, it was the filly who stole the show. After breaking slow and running last for much of the race, ZENYATTA began picking off one horse after another as she weaved through the stretch with precision movements to defeat GIO PONTI by 1½ lengths in one of the most spectacular performances in Breeders’ Cup history.
“She’s one of the greatest horses of all time,” Smith said after the race. “She’s the horse of the decade, by far.”
At the close of her 5-year-old campaign, Zenyatta was undefeated through 14 career starts which included eight Grade 1 victories. In a move that surprised many, she was brought back for a 6-year-old campaign in 2010 — and she was as good as ever.
Undefeated through 19 starts, ZENYATTA attempted to join TIZNOW as the only horse to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic twice, but she came up just short of perfection as her furious closing move came up just a stride short of BLAME at the wire. That would be her final career start. Despite losing that race, ZENYATTA’s overall body of work was rewarded, as she was named the 2010 Eclipse Award winner for Horse of the Year.
ZENYATTA retired with an overall record of 19-1-0 from 20 starts and career earnings of $7,304,580, the highest total of any filly or mare in North American history. She was elected into The Racing Hall Of Fame in 2016.