Zenyatta's last race: An oral history [Breeders' Cup]

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Zenyatta

Stall Jr.: “Blame was so cool and calm. We just saddled him up, and he just stood there. With Zenyatta, they were shushing everybody.”

Asher: “I remember Mike Smith coming out of the paddock and urging people to clear back.”

Jerry Moss: “Normal horses — the other horses in the Classic — none of them had to put up with that.”

Asher: “It was an electric moment when she hit the track. A rose-colored sky was the backdrop. The lights were on, and the stands were full. All the cameras were going off and it looked like the grandstand was glittering.”

Stall Jr.: “Blame was so relaxed going into the gate. Halfway asleep, just the way he always was.”

Randy Moss: “You could see her going to the starting gate doing her little prance, which as far as I was concerned was actually a bit disconcerting. When people saw Zenyatta doing her little dance, they immediately ascribed human characteristics to a horse, and they said, ‘She’s showing off for the crowd.’ There may have been a little bit of that, but most of it was nervousness.”

Denman: “I had to stop myself a few times to take a few breaths. I didn’t want to get too excited too early.”

*****

Smith: “For whatever reason, she fumbled along those first few jumps out of the gate, kind of lost her footing. It was so dark and the lights were flashing everywhere. She was just distracted for a moment or two.”

Willard: “She was about 25 lengths out of it. I was concerned, but I’d seen her pretty far back before.”

Jerry Moss: “She was starting to get very, very, very far back. Even for her, this was a lot to contend with.”

Randy Moss: “She probably dropped a little farther behind than she would have ordinarily because when the dirt started hitting her in the face — having not been accustomed to that — it was more stinging and a lot harsher than what she was used to.”

Shirreffs: “The big thing for me was, I wanted to see her get into her rhythm. Whenever she established a nice rhythm and got into her stride, usually good things happened. It took her a little bit longer than usual.”

Delgado: “I actually called the vets on the radio and said, ‘Tell me there’s nothing wrong with her.’ They said, ‘Nope, she’s just trailing the field.’”

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