Californians (well, anyone who loves horse racing, really) love Zenyatta, who was offically retired recently at Hollywood Park, between the seventh and eighth races on a program featuring the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby.
The five year old mare was clearly the most popular living thing in the crowd, and that includes Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. To be fair, his speech drew more boos than cheers anyway.
Zenyatta and trainer John Shirreffs were praised for her 14-race campaign highlighted by an historic win in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita on Nov. 7.
“I can’t say enough about her trainer,” one celebrity said. “We’re humbled by the event and our association with this great racehorse.”
A replay of the Breeders’ Cup Classic was shown.
A few moments later, Zenyatta herself, ridden by regular exercise rider Steve Willard, jogged down the stretch past most of the crowd and back toward the winner’s circle where Smith climbed aboard once more to end the ceremony.
Zenyatta will remain at Shirreffs’s barn at Hollywood Park in coming weeks.
Her final days at the barn have become especially poignant.
“She always lifted the barn into a good mood,” said Shirreffs’s assistant Michelle Jensen. “We were part of her family and she was part of our family.”