Jan. 18, 2011
HORSE OF THE YEAR ZENYATTA LEADS OAKLAWN TRIO AT ECLIPSE AWARDS
HOT SPRINGS, AR (Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2011) – Following on the heels of Curlin (2007 and 2008) and Rachel Alexandra (2009), Jerry and Ann Moss’ Zenyatta became the fourth consecutive horse with ties to Oaklawn Park to be named Horse of the Year when the awards were announced Monday night in Miami, Fla. Coincidently, Oaklawn had honored the multiple champion earlier in day with a wildly popular Zenyatta bobblehorse giveaway just as it had done in previous years with Curlin and Rachel Alexandra.
In addition to Zenyatta, Lookin at Lucky, winner of the 2010 Rebel Stakes (G2), won the Eclipse Award for champion 3-year-old male, while Blind Luck, the 2010 Fantasy Stakes (G2) winner, took home the prize for champion 3-year-old filly. Their achievements come one year after Oaklawn winners Summer Bird and Rachel Alexandra also earned champion 3-year-old colt and filly titles, respectively.
However, it was Zenyatta who stole the hearts of Oaklawn fans when she came to Hot Springs last April and in one of the most dominating performances of her career, won her 16th straight victory to tie the record of Cigar and Citation in the $500,000 Apple Blossom Invitiational (G1) before a crowd of nearly 45,000. The 7-year-old mare, trained by John Shirreffs, also won the Apple Blossom in 2008.
Both her appearances in Arkansas stuck with the connections through Zenyatta's amazing 19-for-20 career, and Jerry Moss was specific in his thanks to Oaklawn's president Charles J. Cella.
“She ran an amazing race that day,” said Jerry Moss in his acceptance speech. “She beat the champ Ginger Punch in a beautiful race. We were lucky enough to win that day as well with a horse called Tiago (in the Oaklawn Handicap (G2)). So needless to say, it was a huge day for us at Oaklawn, and we've always loved that track and the people, and I want to thank Mr. Cella for all he's done and for his good wishes along the way.”
“I can tell you that the day Zenyatta ran in the Apple Blossom Invitational turned into one of the most memorable days of racing in Oaklawn history,” said Cella in reflecting upon the race late last year. “Here we are, this little old race track in a town of 38,000 people – Zenyatta comes to town and is greeted like the Queen Mother – a police escort from the airport to the Oaklawn stable area, crowds of people watching her every move. Almost 45,000 fans come out on a Friday to watch her run. It was magical.”
Zenyatta was retired after her lone defeat, when she finished second by a head to Blame in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1). She gained nearly as many admirers in that loss after overcoming a 20-length deficit with her patented late rally, only to lose by the slimmest of margins in one of the most exciting races in recent years. She now resides at Lane’s End Farm in Kentucky and is due to be bred sometime this spring.