Zenyata pranced about Churchill downs, seemingly soaking in the crowd’s movie star-like adoration before the start of the $5 million Breeder’s Cup Classic. The 6-year old mare was attempting to reach immortality by finishing her career with perfect 20-0 record.
As she was loaded into the gate, electricity buzzed through the equine-oriented patrons of the sport in anticipation of seeing history. The starting bell echoed through horse racings shrine: “And they’re off!”
The initial blastoff was impressive for the field with the exception of one horse: Zenyata. Before the horses even made the first turn for the 1- 1/4 mile Classic, Zenyata was trailing by some eight to ten lengths. As the horse reached the midway point, things got worse as the lead lengthened to eighteen lengths. There was a curious silence that blanketed a stunned Churchill Downs as the stunned crowd rubbed their unbelieving eyeballs. “This is it,” I told my wife, “She’s toast.”
The third turn found Zenyata making little progress, “There goes every exotic horse racing bet (exactas, trifectas, superfectas…) in the whole friggin’ world,” I said, “Including mine.” I threw my ticket to the floor: Then it happened.
The closing stretch found Zenyata and jockey Mike Smith making an unbelievable move right in the center of the field. She passed them one by one like they were standing still until only one remained. “You have got to be kidding me,” I shouted, jumping from my chair. The number 5 horse Blame, with jockey Garret Gomez, was the only obstacle between Zenyata and immortality. Zenyata and Blame went stride for stride and nose to nose as the Churchill patron’s roar shook the Kentucky shrine. Sride for stride; nose to nose; the finish line: Blame by a hair.
I need the movie rights for this one.