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Smith Reminisces About Zenyatta

Mike Smith was aboard Zenyatta in all but three of her 19 straight victories before suffering her only defeat in the Breeders’ Cup Classic in 2010, so it’s understandable that the 46-year-old Hall of Fame jockey has nothing but fond memories of the great mare, who has since retired to the breeding shed.

In the mind of Smith and Zenyatta fans worldwide, and in light of her greatest victory, in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita in 2009, it’s with proper justification that Santa Anita unveils a life-sized statue of her on Saturday, Sept. 29 in the Paddock Gardens area.

“It’s kind of hard not to think of her every day,” Smith said of Zenyatta. “She’s hanging in my living room all the time, so every time I go through there, there she is. It’s a beautiful painting of her by Fred Stone. I have other pictures of her in different places at my home, but anywhere you go, people remember her.

“I was in Chicago Sunday and everything I signed was Zenyatta. The statue of her is a fitting tribute. She’s one of the great horses who ran here and one of the greatest ever, so she deserves a statue.”

In addition to the statue unveiling, the inaugural Grade I, $250,000 Zenyatta Stakes (formerly the Lady’s Secret), a race won by Zenyatta over three consecutive years from 2008 through 2010, will be run on Sept. 29.

Unfortunately, Smith will be at Santa Anita that day in spirit only. Agent Brad Pegram has him booked on mounts Sept. 29 at Belmont Park, including 2011 Ladies’ Classic winner Royal Delta for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott in the Grade I, $400,000, “Win and You’re In” Beldame Stakes at 1 1/8 miles.

Zenyatta, now eight and enjoying her role as broodmare at Lane’s End Farm in Kentucky, will be linked with two of the greatest horses of all-time, John Henry and Seabiscuit, as her statuary likeness will join those legends adjacent to the track’s grandstand. Named after The Police’s blockbuster album “Zenyatta Mondatta,” Zenyatta is owned by Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Jerry Moss and his wife, Ann.

Zenyatta retired with 19 wins from 20 starts and $7,304,580 in earnings. Although she lost by a head in her final start, the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic, her stature as one of the sport’s all-time greats remained undiminished as she was voted 2010 Horse of the Year.

Fast forward to today and Smith is looking forward to riding 2011 Breeders’ Cup Sprint champion Amazombie in the inaugural Santa Anita Sprint Championship on Saturday, Oct. 6. “He’s doing well and I’m excited about him running,” Smith said. “Bill (trainer and co-owner Bill Spawr) is doing a great job getting him right at the right time again.”

 

 

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