Zenyatta

Zenyatta Zenyatta had the distinction of being named American Horse of the Year in 2010, but was also named American Champion Older Female in 2008, 2009 and 2010. In a four-year career between 2007 and 2010, she won 19 consecutive races – including 13 Grade 1 events – and earned over $7.3 million in prize money.

 

Zenyatta was owned by Jerry and Ann Moss, trained by John Shirreffs in California and ridden, for most of her career, by Mike Smith. She was, or is, a daughter of 2002 Dubai World Cup winner Street Cry, but owes her name to “Zenyatta Mondatta”, a studio album by English band The Police, whom Jerry Moss apparently signed to A&M records.

 

Zenyatta recorded her first Grade 1 win in the Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn Park, on just her fourth start, in April 2008. Indeed, her seven victories in 2008 included the Vanity Handicap at Hollywood Park, the Clement L. Hirsch Handicap at Del Mar and the Lady’s Secret Stakes at Santa Anita – all races that she would win for the next two years running – and culminated in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic, also at Santa Anita.

 

Zenyatta returned to Santa Anita in 2009 for the Breeders’ Cup Classic, in which she faced 11 rivals, including the Sussex Stakes and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes winner, Rip Van Winkle, who started 2/1 favourite. She missed the break but, although only sixth turning into the straight, was angled to the outside with a furlong to run and swept by the leader, Gio Ponti, in the closing stages to win by a length.

 

In fact, it was in the Breeders’ Cup Classic the following year, at Churchill Downs, where Zenyatta met her Waterloo, so to speak, although her final defeat was hardly as crushing or decisive as that suffered by Napoleon Bonaparte. She once again missed by break, but this time trailed the field by 5 lengths in the early stages. She took closer in the back straight and, once again, switched outside in the final furlong and a half, set off in pursuit of the leader, Blame. Zenyatta made up the best part of 2½ lengths in the final half a furlong, but Blame kept on gamely to win by a head. The narrow defeat was selected as the Moment of the Year by the National Thoroughbred Racing Authority (NTRA) and Zenyatta was named American Horse of the Year for 2010.

Smarty Jones

Smarty Jones Smarty Jones is best remembered for winning the first two legs of the American Triple Crown, the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, in 2004, before finishing second in the third, and final, leg, the Belmont Stakes. His defeat in the Belmont Stakes was the only one of his nine-race career.

 

Smarty Jones was bred and owned by Roy and Patricia Chapman and trained by John Servis. He was named in honour of Milly McNair, the late mother of Patricia Chapman, who was nicknamed “Smarty Jones” and with whom he shared a birthday. As a juvenile, Smarty Jones knocked himself unconscious in a schooling accident, fracturing his skull and the orbit of his left eye so badly that he nearly lost the eye.

 

However, after a lengthy period of recuperation, the horse made his racecourse debut in a maiden race, over 6 furlongs, at what is now Parx Racing in Bensalem, Pennsylvania. He won by 7¾ lengths and followed up, by 15 lengths, in the Pennsylvania Nursery, over a furlong further, at the same venue three weeks later. The rest, as they say, is history.

 

Smarty Jones also won the first four starts of his three-year-old campaign, including the Rebel Stakes and the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park, and duly started favourite for the Kentucky Derby three weeks later. On sloppy going, he tackled Lion Heart, who had set a fast pace, at the furlong marker and was ridden out to win “The Race for the Roses” by 2¾ lengths. Consequently, he started odds-on for the Preakness Stakes two weeks later, which he won, impressively, and the Belmont Stakes, three weeks after that, in which he suffered the one and only defeat of his career.

 

Attempting a mile and a half for the first time, Smarty Jones set strong fractions at the head of affairs, but when headed by Birdstone – a 36/1 chance on the day, but from an exceptional family – in the last 70 yards could only keep on at one pace and eventually finished second, beaten a length. He never raced again and was retired, through injury, in August 2004. At the end of his career, he had earned over $2.6 million in prize money, plus the so-called Oaklawn Centennial Bonus, of $5 million, offered by the owner of Oaklawn Park, Charles Cella, to any horse that won the Rebel Stakes, the Arkansas Derby and the Kentucky Derby.