Zenyatta (foaled April 1, 2004) is a retired American champion Thoroughbred racehorse, winner of her first 19 starts in a 20-race career. Her sole defeat came in the 2010 Breeders' Cup Classic to Blame, as she attempted to defend her win in the 2009 event. Despite the loss, she was named the 2010 American Horse of the Year. She was the American Champion Older Female Horse in 2008, 2009 and 2010. She was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 2016.
Zenyatta winning the Lady's Secret Stakes
|Foaled||April 1, 2004|
Lexington, Kentucky, U.S.
|Breeder||Maverick Productions, Limited|
|Owner||Jerry & Ann Moss|
|El Encino Stakes (2008)|
Apple Blossom Handicap (2008, 2010)
Milady Handicap (2008, 2009)
Vanity Handicap (2008, 2009, 2010)
Clement L. Hirsch Handicap (2008, 2009, 2010)
Lady's Secret Stakes (2008, 2009, 2010)
Santa Margarita Handicap (2010)
Breeders' Cup wins:
Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic (2008)
Breeders' Cup Classic (2009)
|American Champion Older Female Horse|
(2008, 2009, 2010)
American Horse of the Year
Secretariat Vox Populi Award
|United States Racing Hall of Fame inductee (2016)|
NTRA "Moment of the Year"
Lifesize statue at Santa Anita Park (2012)
Zenyatta was a late developing horse, not making her first start until November 22, 2007, winning a maiden race then an allowance race in December as a three-year-old. As an older horse in 2008 through 2010, she recorded seventeen graded stakes wins with 13 of them at the Grade I level. In 2009, she became the first mare to win the Breeders' Cup Classic. Her other major wins include the Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic in 2008, the Apple Blossom Handicap in 2008 and 2010, the Vanity in 2008-2010 and the Lady's Secret in 2008-2010. The Lady's Secret was subsequently renamed in her honor.
Zenyatta developed a passionate following, though some racing experts questioned the quality of the opposition in the majority of her races on artificial surfaces in California. She was known for her closing finishes, often spotting early front runners large leads, then overtaking her opponents down the final strides.
Zenyatta is a dark bay mare who was bred in Kentucky by Eric Kronfeld's Maverick Production, Limited. She was sired by Street Cry, who was the 2002 UAE Horse of the Year after winning that year's Dubai World Cup. In addition to Zenyatta, Street Cry also sired 2007 Kentucky Derby-winner Street Sense, Australian Horse of the Year Winx, multiple Group 1 Australian Weight for Age champion Whobegotyou, and 2009 Melbourne Cup winner Shocking. Zenyatta is out of Vertigineux, and thus is a half-sister to multiple Grade I winner Balance. Her damsire is the stallion Kris S.
Zenyatta was sold as a yearling at the 2005 Keeneland September Sale for $60,000 to Jerry and Ann Moss. She was named after the album Zenyatta Mondatta, by The Police, who were signed to A&M Records by Jerry Moss. She was trained by John Shirreffs and guided by jockey Mike Smith for 17 of 20 starts. David Flores rode Zenyatta in her first three starts.
During her racing career, Zenyatta's height was reported by various sources at between 17 hands (68 inches, 173 cm) and 17.2 hands (70 inches, 178 cm) at the withers. Her stride was estimated at 26 feet (7.9 m). She was a powerfully built mare with a "tremendous" shoulder and hip, but "less than ideal" ankles. She reportedly weighed 1,217 lb (552 kg).
Zenyatta won 17 Graded stakes races including 13 Grade I events and defeated four champions of eight different awards: Gio Ponti (2009 American Champion Older Male Horse and 2009, 2010 American Champion Male Turf Horse), Sealy Hill (Canadian Horse of the Year, Canadian Champion Three-Year-Old Filly and Canadian Champion Female Turf Horse), Summer Bird (2009 American Champion Three-Year-Old Male Horse) and Ginger Punch (2007 American Champion Older Female Horse).
In Zenyatta's 20:19–1–0 racing record, she defeated multiple Grade I winners including: Colonel John; Richard's Kid; Einstein; Ginger Punch; Tough Tiz's Sis; Cocoa Beach; Music Note, Life Is Sweet, Switch, and Summer Bird. She also defeated European Multiple Group I winners Rip Van Winkle and Twice Over, and Grade 1 winners Awesome Gem (2010 Hollywood Gold Cup); Girolamo (2010 Vosburgh Stakes); Mine That Bird (2009 Kentucky Derby); Hystericalady (2007 Humana Distaff Handicap), Romance Is Diane (2006 Hollywood Starlet Stakes), Double Trouble (2008 Santa Maria Handicap), Santa Teresita (2009 Santa Maria Handicap), and Carriage Trail (2008 Spinster Stakes).
On November 22, 2007, Zenyatta won her first start and defeated 11 opponents. She broke her maiden in a Maiden Special Weight going 6½ furlongs at Hollywood Park and stopped the tele-timer in 1:15.22. She was ridden by David Flores, carried 122 lbs and won by three lengths. She earned $25,200 of the $42,000 purse.
On January 13, 2008, Zenyatta stopped the tele-timer in 1:40.61 and broke the stakes record in the 1-1/16-mi Grade 2 El Encino Stakes at Santa Anita. She was ridden by David Flores and won by 3/4 of a length carrying 116 lb.
Zenyatta traveled to Oaklawn Park on April 5, 2008, for her first start on dirt and her first Grade 1 attempt. There she defeated the 2007 Older Female champion, Ginger Punch, and won the Apple Blossom Handicap for her first Grade 1 victory. She won by 4½ lengths and completed the 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.64. She was ridden by Mike Smith for the first time, a partnership that continued for the last 17 races of her career. She paid $5.60 to win, $3.60 to place, and $2.20 to show. Zenyatta went on to win the Grade 2 Milady Handicap and the Grade 1 Vanity Handicap at Hollywood Park. She then set a track record of 1:41.48 for 1 1/16 miles and won the Grade 2 Clement L. Hirsch at Del Mar.
On September 27, 2008, Zenyatta won the Grade 1 Lady's Secret Stakes at Santa Anita Park. She clocked negative splits throughout the race, running each quarter faster than the one before it. Her splits were :24 4/5, :23 4/5, :23 1/5, :22 3/5, and a final sixteenth in :06 flat. She finished the 1 1/16 miles in a stakes-record 1:40.30 and established herself as the heavy favorite for the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic in October.
On October 24, 2008, Zenyatta was sent off as the 1–2 favorite for the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic at Oak Tree at Santa Anita Park. She circled the field at the top of the stretch and won, capping an undefeated season and making a case for herself as Horse of the Year. Her Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic was the second-fastest in Breeders' Cup history at 1:46.85 for 1⅛ miles. She posted a 1½-length victory over Cocoa Beach.
On May 23, 2009, Zenyatta won the Grade 2 Milady Handicap at Hollywood Park. She carried 126 lbs and defeated stablemate and Grade I winner Life Is Sweet, finishing the 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.30 and winning by 1¾ lengths.
On June 27, 2009, Zenyatta won the Grade 1 Vanity Handicap at Hollywood Park for the second straight year. She carried 129 lbs, spotting her rivals from 13 to 18 pounds, and became the first horse to win under such a weight assignment since 1977. She won by 2½ lengths with a final time of 1:48.15 at the 1⅛ mile distance. In 2008, she won the Vanity under 126 pounds.
On August 9, 2009, Zenyatta overcame a strong aversion to the Del Mar track surface, which she had been reluctant to even train over, and won the Grade 1 Clement L. Hirsch Handicap at Del Mar. With a furlong left to run, she had four lengths to make up and closed to win by a head over Anabaa's Creation. She finished the 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.24.
On October 10, 2009, Zenyatta won the Lady's Secret at Oak Tree at Santa Anita with ease, and on October 28, 2009, it was announced that she would compete in the Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park.
On November 7, 2009, Zenyatta became the first female to win the Grade I Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park. She carried 124 lbs and won by 1 length over Gio Ponti. She earned $2,700,000 of the $5,000,000 purse. She became the first horse to win two different Breeders' Cup races, improving her winning record to 14 of 14. The field of 12 horses over which she triumphed included 2009 Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird, 2009 Belmont Stakes, Travers Stakes and Jockey Club Gold Cup hero Summer Bird, European Group 1 winners Twice Over and Rip Van Winkle, and Pacific Classic winner Richard's Kid. The runner-up, Gio Ponti, was the winner of four Grade 1 Stakes in 2009, including the Arlington Million, and was named Champion Older Male and Champion Male Grass horse. Zenyatta finished the 1¼ miles in 2:00.62 and surpassed the 2002 "Horse of the Year" Azeri in North American female earnings. Azeri, retired in 2004, had career earnings of $4,079,820.
On December 26, 2009, opening day of the 75th year of the Santa Anita meet, Zenyatta bid farewell to her admirers with a jog around the grandstand in what appeared to be the final parade of her career.
On January 16, 2010, it was announced that Zenyatta would not be retired and would race during the 2010 season. On January 18, she won the Eclipse Award for top Older Female of the 2009 season. She was voted runner-up to 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra.
On March 13, 2010, Zenyatta captured her 15th straight victory in the Grade 1 $250,000 Santa Margarita Invitational Handicap at Santa Anita Park. She was assigned 127 lbs and spotted her seven rivals 11 to 16 pounds. She wove through traffic mid-stretch to get clear and won under a hand ride, eased before the wire. She completed the 1⅛ miles in 1:48.20 and won by 1¼ lengths.
Early in 2010, it was announced that Zenyatta would meet Rachel Alexandra, that had not raced since winning the Woodward on September 2009, on the track in the Apple Blossom Invitational on April 9 at Oaklawn Park. The Apple Blossom Handicap was changed to an invitational for the renewal of the race. There was also talk of a series of three races over the 2010 racing season in which Zenyatta and Rachel would meet. However, following Rachel Alexandra's loss in the New Orleans Ladies Stakes at Fair Grounds Race Course on March 13, it was announced that she would not run in the Apple Blossom Invitational.
On April 9, 2010, Zenyatta romped in the Grade I $500,000 Apple Blossom Invitational at Oaklawn Park and increased her undefeated record to 16–0. With the win, Zenyatta tied Cigar, Citation, Ormonde, and Ribot for consecutive victories without a loss. She completed the 1⅛ miles in 1:50.71.
On June 13, 2010, Zenyatta won her 17th straight race in the Grade I $250,000 Vanity Invitation Handicap at Hollywood Park by 1/2 length under 129 pounds. She nabbed St. Trinians, to which she conceded 9 pounds, at the wire to surpass the records of Citation and Cigar for consecutive victories in unrestricted races. With the victory, Zenyatta tied the world record set by Rock of Gibraltar for consecutive Grade/Group I victories. She earned $150,000 of the $250,000 purse and paid $3.00 to win, $2.10 to place. There was no show wagering.
On August 7, 2010, Zenyatta broke the world record set by Rock of Gibraltar for consecutive Grade/Group I victories. She won her eighth consecutive Grade I victory and increased her undefeated record to 18–0. Zenyatta carried 123 lb and won her third Clement L. Hirsch Handicap. She was ridden by Mike Smith and finished the 1 1/16 miles in 1:45.03, winning by a neck. Zenyatta's 18th win tied Eclipse for consecutive victories without a defeat. With the win, Zenyatta captured her 12th Grade I race and tied the All-time North American record (set by two-time champion Bayakoa) for Grade I victories by a filly/mare.
On October 2, Zenyatta broke the North American record for Grade I victories by a filly/mare with her 13th Grade I win, which came at Oak Tree at Hollywood Park. She won her 9th consecutive Grade I victory and ran her unbeaten streak to 19–0 . In addition, she broke the all-time North American female earnings record (formerly held by Ouija Board, which retired in 2006 with earnings in excess of $6,312,552). Zenyatta (carrying 123 lb) won her third Lady's Secret Stakes by a half-length over Grade I winner Switch. She finished the 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.97 and increased her career earnings to $6,404,580.
On November 6, Zenyatta attempted to become the first North American horse to retire undefeated with 20 wins and the second horse to repeat in the Breeders' Cup Classic after Tiznow. She fell behind the leader by at least 18 lengths in the early going at Churchill Downs, but rallied in the stretch to close in on Stephen Foster Handicap and Whitney Handicap winner Blame. Zenyatta fell inches short and lost by a short head. Other horses in the Breeders' Cup Classic included Preakness and Haskell Invitational winner Lookin at Lucky; Quality Road, dominant winner of the Florida Derby, Metropolitan Handicap, Donn Handicap, and Woodward Stakes; Japanese shipper Espoir City, winner of the 2009 Japan Cup Dirt; and Jockey Club Gold Cup winner Haynesfield. With her second-place earnings of $900,000, Zenyatta surpassed Tiznow, John Henry, and Alysheba in all-time North American earnings (male or female) with earnings in excess of $7,304,580. She also broke the all-time Breeders Cup earnings record (previously held by American Horse of the Year and two-time Breeders Cup Classic champion Tiznow). The top-five Breeders Cup earners are: Zenyatta: $4,680,000, Tiznow: $4,560,400, Goldikova (IRE): $3,508,200, Conduit (IRE): $3,240,000, and Curlin: $2,955,000.
On January 17, 2011, Zenyatta won the Eclipse Award for top Older Female and Horse Of The Year of the 2010 season. The voting for Horse of the Year was 128 for Zenyatta to 102 for Blame, with five votes for Goldikova. It was Zenyatta's third nomination for Horse of the Year and her first win.
On March 23, 2011, Zenyatta became the first horse to win the William H. May Award. The award honors an individual or group that has provided "meritorious service" to the industry. Past recipients include racing industry greats such as John R. Gaines (Breeders' Cup founder), Joe Hirsch (founder of the National Turf Writers Association), Bob and Beverly Lewis, Stanley Bergstein, and Richard Duchossois.
|2nd||2010/11/6||Breeders' Cup Classic||1 1⁄4 mi||M E Smith||2:02.28||Head||I||Blame (1st)||Churchill Downs|||
|1st||2010/10/2||Lady's Secret Stakes||1 1⁄16 mi||M E Smith||1:42.97||1⁄2||I||Switch||Hollywood Park|||
|1st||2010/8/7||Clement L. Hirsch Handicap||1 1⁄16 mi||M E Smith||1:45.03||neck||I||Rinterval||Del Mar|||
|1st||2010/6/13||Vanity Invitational Handicap||1 1⁄8 mi||M E Smith||1:49.01||1⁄2||I||St. Trinians||Hollywood Park|||
|1st||2010/4/9||Apple Blossom Invitational Handicap||1 1⁄8 mi||M E Smith||1:50.71||4 1⁄4||I||Taptam||Oaklawn Park|||
|1st||2010/3/13||Santa Margarita Invitational Handicap||1 1⁄8 mi||M E Smith||1:48.20||1 1⁄4||I||Dance to My Tune||Santa Anita Park|
|1st||2009/11/7||Breeders' Cup Classic||1 1⁄4 mi||M E Smith||2:00.62||1||I||Gio Ponti||Santa Anita Park|||
|1st||2009/10/10||Lady's Secret Stakes||1 1⁄16 mi||M E Smith||1:42.89||1 1⁄4||I||Lethal Heat||Santa Anita Park|||
|1st||2009/8/9||Clement L. Hirsch Stakes||1 1⁄16 mi||M E Smith||1:43.24||head||I||Anabaa's Creation||Del Mar|||
|1st||2009/6/27||Vanity Handicap||1 1⁄8 mi||M E Smith||1:48.15||2 1⁄2||I||Briecat||Hollywood Park|||
|1st||2009/5/23||Milady Handicap||1 1⁄16 mi||M E Smith||1:42.30||1 3⁄4||II||Life Is Sweet||Hollywood Park|||
|1st||2008/10/24||Breeders' Cup Distaff/Ladies' Classic||1 1⁄8 mi||M E Smith||1:46.85||1 1⁄2||I||Cocoa Beach||Santa Anita Park|||
|1st||2008/9/27||Lady's Secret Stakes||1 1⁄16 mi||M E Smith||1:40.30||3 1⁄2||I||Hystericalady||Santa Anita Park|||
|1st||2008/8/2||Clement L. Hirsch Handicap||1 1⁄16 mi||M E Smith||1:41.48||1||II||Model||Del Mar|||
|1st||2008/7/5||Vanity Handicap||1 1⁄8 mi||M E Smith||1:49.51||1⁄2||I||Tough Tiz's Sis||Hollywood Park|
|1st||2008/5/31||Milady Handicap||1 1⁄16 mi||1:41.17||2 1⁄2||II||Santa Teresita||Hollywood Park|
|1st||2008/4/5||Apple Blossom Handicap||1 1⁄16 mi||M E Smith||1:42.64||4 1⁄2||I||Brownie Points||Oaklawn Park|
|1st||2008/1/13||El Encino Stakes||1 1⁄16 mi||D. Flores||1:40.61||1 3⁄4||II||Tough Tiz's Sis||Santa Anita Park|||
|1st||2007/12/15||Allowance||1 1⁄16 mi||D. Flores||1:40.97||3 1⁄2||None||Quite a Stormkat||Hollywood Park|
|1st||2007/11/22||Maiden||6 1⁄2 fur||D. Flores||1:15.22||3||None||Carmel Coffee||Hollywood Park|
- 14.^ Broke the all-time Breeders Cup earnings record (previously held by American Horse of the Year and 2-time Breeders Cup Classic champion "Tiznow").
- 13.^ Broke the all-time North American record for Grade I victories by a filly/mare. Tied the all-time North American record for consecutive victories without defeat. Broke the all-time North American female earnings record. First mare to win this race 3× (consecutive years).
- 12.^ Broke the world record with 8 consecutive Grade/Group I wins. Tied Eclipse with 18 consecutive victories without defeat. First mare to win this race 3× (consecutive years).
- 11.^ Broke the all-time North American record with 17 consecutive victories in unrestricted races. First mare to win this race 3× (consecutive years).
- 10.^ Tied the all-time North American record with 16 consecutive victories in unrestricted races (held by Citation and Cigar)
- 9.^ First filly or mare to win the Breeders Cup Classic. First horse to win two different Breeders Cup races.
- 8.^ Tied for most wins
- 7.^ Tied for most wins
- 6.^ Tied for most wins
- 5.^ Tied for most wins
- 4.^ Second fastest Breeders' Cup Distaff/Ladies' Classic
- 3.^ New stakes record (Dirt or Synthetic)
- 2.^ New track record (Synthetic)
- 1.^ New stakes record (Dirt or Synthetic)
Zenyatta was selected three years in a row (2008–2010) for NTRA's Moment of the Year Award, for her 2008 Ladies' Classic victory, historic 2009 Breeders' Cup Classic victory, and narrow defeat in the 2010 Breeders' Cup Classic. She finished second in the voting for AP Female Athlete of the Year in both 2009 and 2010. She was featured in O and W Magazine and in a profile on 60 Minutes in 2010 prior to her historic attempt at 20 consecutive victories in the 2010 Breeders Cup Classic. In a public opinion poll by the Daily Racing Form, 87% of people voted for her to be the 2010 Eclipse Horse of the Year. Thousands appeared for her retirement ceremonies at Hollywood Park and Keeneland Race Track despite frigid 18-degree temperatures at Keeneland.
On November 17, 2010, Zenyatta was slated to be retired. She arrived at Lane's End Farm in Versailles, Kentucky, on December 6, 2010. On February 23, 2011, she traveled by van to Darley Stud, where she was bred to Bernardini. On March 29, after coming up negative on a 45-day pregnancy checkup, Zenyatta was bred again to Bernardini. She was announced to be in foal 60 days later. Zenyatta later give birth to a dark bay colt, eventually named Cozmic One, on March 8, 2012. Cozmic One had two starts in 2015 and performed poorly at the track. He has since been retired and in 2018 will become an ambassador for the Retired Racehorse Project after training at De Sousa Stables.
On May 8, 2012, she was confirmed in foal to Tapit. She delivered a chestnut colt, Ziconic, on April 1, 2013, her 9th birthday. Ziconic began his racing career in 2016, and, like his dam, demonstrates a come from behind running style. Ziconic was winless in twelve starts, though did run second twice and third an additional three times, making him more successful than his older half brother. On June 12th, 2019, it was announced that Ziconic was retired from racing and would retrain as an eventer.
On June 14, 2013, she was confirmed in foal to Claiborne Farm stallion War Front. She delivered a dark bay filly, nicknamed "Z Princess," on Easter, April 20, 2014, at 12:03 am. The filly was euthanized as a weanling on October 28, 2014 at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky, after an accident in the paddock.
On May 27, 2015, Zenyatta was confirmed to be in foal, again bred to War Front, after receiving a year off from breeding. She gave birth to a dark bay colt with a blaze on April 10, 2016. The colt died two days later due to complications from meconium aspiration syndrome.
She was next bred to Into Mischief on June 3, 2017, and confirmed in foal in July, but lost the pregnancy in April 2018 following a placental abruption. She was not bred in 2018 to give her time to recover from the abortion.
Street Cry (IRE)
|Mr. Prospector||Raise a Native|
|Coup de Folie||Halo|
|Raise The Standard|
|Helen Street (GB)
|Kris S. (USA)
|Roberto||Hail To Reason|
|For The Flag (USA)
|In The Offing||Hoist The Flag|
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- "Tennis No. 1 Serena is top female athlete". ESPN. December 30, 2009. Retrieved May 10, 2011.
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- Breeders' Cup Classic - Churchill Downs - Race 11 - 11/6/2010 | Races | BloodHorse.com
- "Lindsey Vonn chosen as AP's 2010 Female Athlete of Year". ESPN. December 18, 2010. Retrieved May 10, 2011.
- "Press Room , Santa Anita Park". Santaanita.com. Retrieved May 10, 2011.
- March 10, 2011
- Lindsey Vonn Tops Zenyatta for 2010 AP Female Athlete of the Year As Horse Is Again Runner-Up - Daily Blend - NESN.com
- Zenyatta's winning streak: Society: Wmagazine.com
- "Is Zenyatta the best racehorse ever?". CBS News. May 1, 2011.
- Horsemen: Give Zenyatta HOY - ESPN
- Zenyatta's California fans get chance to say good-bye - ESPN
- Zenyatta and her fans enjoy one last dance - ESPN
- Guardian News Retrieved November 18, 2010
- Bloodhorse.com February 23, 2011
- Bloodhorse.com March 29, 2011
- Horse of the Year Zenyatta In Foal at 60 Days | BloodHorse.com
- Diary Post #454
- "Cozmic One Begins New Off-Track Career". BloodHorse.com. Retrieved June 5, 2018.
- Ultrasound Confirms Zenyatta In Foal to Tapit
- Zenyatta Foals Tapit Colt
- DailyRacingForm.com Zenyatta's Weanling Dies Following Paddock Accident
- "Zenyatta's War Front foal dies at 4 days old". Lexington Herald-Leader. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
- "Shirreffs High on Zenyatta's Daughter Zellda". TDN | Thoroughbred Daily News | Horse Racing News, Results and Video | Thoroughbred Breeding and Auctions. November 15, 2019. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
- "Zenyatta Confirmed In Foal To Into Mischief For 2018". www.paulickreport.com. Retrieved June 5, 2018.
- http://www.zenyatta.com/news/zenyattas-2018-pregnancy Zenyatta's 2018 Pregnancy
- http://www.zenyatta.com/news/taking-time-off Taking Time Off
- "Zenyatta delivers Candy Ride filly". www.drf.com. Retrieved May 17, 2020.