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Zenyatta, Personal Ensign and Peculiar Preps

Zenyatta wins the Apple Blossom (again)

The only predictable result all weekend

Given the frankly puzzling results of the previous weekend’s Derby preps, it is much more pleasant to focus on Zenyatta’s latest victory in the Apple Blossom.  Once again, the great mare turned in an effortless performance; the fact that it was her first effort on dirt since she secured her initial G1 win (in the 2008 Apple Blossom) made no difference to her – if anything, she looked even more dangerous on the surface.  One hopes that the plan to visit a number of other tracks outside California this year in her march to the Breeders’ Cup comes to fruition; the Stephen

Foster at Churchill Downs is being mooted as her possible next start, depending on weight assignments.  It would certainly be an interesting spot, but I would love to see her in something on Belmont day – the Acorn would be a nice walkover for her, but I’d be curious to see her on the turf as well – the Manhattan Handicap would be an interesting test.  In any event – Zenyatta, please come to the east coast – we’d love to have you high-step and bow here.

There was a certain symmetry to Zenyatta’s latest triumph coming just hours after the death of the legendary Personal Ensign; while Zenyatta’s perfect record surpassed Personal Ensign’s own a few races ago, there was a feeling of torch-passing.  And I still believe the three finest Breeders’ Cup performances in history came from three fillies: Personal Ensign and Winning Colors in the 1988 Distaff, and Zenyatta in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic.  The boys have come close with Sunday Silence, Easy Goer and Alysheba, but when it comes to most memorable Breeders’ Cup races, the girls still have it.  Let’s have more.

It is difficult to shower anyone with praise in the aforementioned Derby prep races – the Blue Grass was dominated by horses who like turf and synthetics, but not the ones you might have expected, while the Arkansas Derby was simply peculiar.  First, the Blue Grass – Stately Victor now holds a record, but it’s not for his time – he’s the longest shot ever to win.  True, the previous owner of that record, Dust Commander, went on to win the Derby – but that was long before the synthetic surface era.  Poor Odysseus (who really should have been in the Arkansas Derby) ended up with a bone chip and will be out for a few months, while other formerly-likely Derby starters ran themselves out of the graded earnings game – and let in a few horses who (in the absence of further evidence of a liking for traditional dirt) will be bringing up the rear on Derby day.  While Mine That Bird demonstrated that, in the words of Del Amitri, ‘even long shots make it,’ it doesn’t happen that often in the big race.

As for the Arkansas Derby, at least we know these horses can run on dirt – but whether winner Line of David can repeat is a very open question.  Favored Noble’s Promise experienced quite a bit of bumping and bad luck, coming out of the race with multiples cuts and a lung infection, but hopefully the talented colt can recover by Derby time. Super Saver and Dublin both looked reasonable in the race, which could serve as a useful prep, but it was a very unusual result, however you look at it.

Oh, and the Union won their first home game.  Thanks again to the Seattle Sounders for leaving Sébastien Le Toux unprotected – we were very happy with his hat trick!

4 comments to Zenyatta, Personal Ensign and Peculiar Preps

  • Even by current standards of accomodating superstars, opening the Acorn to a 6yo would be rather extreme. The Manhattan would be sort of interesting, but given that her goal is a Churchill-BC, I don’t see why they would choose a turf race. From a sporting perspective, the Foster looks most promising.
    I don’t think we can draw any conclusions from Zenyatta’s Apple Blossom: the race was essentially a paid workout. Well done, but given the time and opponents even a lesser mare would have looked impressive. Here’s hoping her next start will be in an actual horse race.

  • Pssst…. don’t think Z will run in the Acorn, unless they give her a special dispensation to run against 3 year-olds.

  • Rufus Y.

    I love the fillies/mares and love when they race and beat the boys, but there has honestly never been a finer performance (you might argue memorable I suppose) but never a finer performance than Ghostzapper’s. He beat Dubai World Cup and BC Classic winner Pleasantly Perfect and future DWC winner Roses in May in the fastest Classic time ever while earning a 124 Beyer. He beat great dirt horses, on dirt, and he was never threatened. In terms of a single performance, nothing has matched it in the BC.

    You could argue that there are other BC horses who would have a chance, a small chance, of beating GZ, but if you’re sure that Zenyatta or Sunday Silence or Easy Goer would have, well, I’ll be glad to take your money.

    He’s not the may favorite BC horse, but man was he a freak.

  • admin

    I know, I know, the Acorn is for the kids – I wish they could just create an extra G1 race for her on Belmont day so that I could actually go. And while I think Ghostzapper was horribly under-appreciated by the general public, I’m not sure Pleasantly Perfect or Roses in May were all that exciting as competitors – but Ghostzapper’s 124 Beyer spoke for itself. Still never found that particular race all that compelling, but everyone has their own favorite(s).

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