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Zenyatta Gallops Off Into the Sunset

American superstar Zenyatta has run her last race and been retired with immediate effect to Lanes End Farm in Kentucky, writes Elliot Slater.

© JC Briens


Few horses in the modern era have received so many column inches, the six-year-old mare having transcended racing folklore to become an international sporting superstar and in the process redeeming the reputation of US horse racing that had taken such a battering only a few years ago.

Zenyatta's agonisingly narrow defeat at the hands of Blame in the Breeders' Cup Classic a few weeks ago was her only loss following an astonishing run of 19 successive career victories, many at Grade 1 level. Not all her races were against the best opposition around, but any horse that can stay sound, genuine, and have enough talent and determination to come 19 times in a row with a swooping late run from the rear of the field, has to be something extraordinary at any level and she was always one of the top betting tips around.

Those who doubted Zenyatta's ability were well and truly silenced when she took on the colts in the 2009 Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita and came with an amazing late rattle to catch the high class Gio Ponti and dual Champion Stakes winner Twice Over. It was enough to catch the attention of even the most hardened Irish racing fan!

Her only 'loss' prior to her attempted repeat in the Classic on November 6th was when surprisingly beaten to the title of US Horse of the Year by her arch rival Rachel Alexandra in 2009.

Granted a shade more luck in running it seems fair to argue that regular jockey Mike Smith's beloved conveyance might have retired unbeaten in 20 starts, but it wasn't to be. In a way her late surge from a seemingly impossible position leaves a no less thrilling memory of a horse who was a tremendous credit to the skills of her trainer John Shirreffs and was undoubtedly the pride and joy of owners Gerry and Ann Moss.

No mating plans for Zenyatta have yet been announced but anticipation is already growing ahead of the appearance of her first offspring in 2014.

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