Sunday, December 5, 2010

I Just Can't

(Added: I wrote this in one take, no editing, only spellcheck, so if it rambles or makes no sense in parts, i apologize in advance)

I just can't say goodbye to Zenyatta. I don't want her to leave. She has meant so much to me over her three years of racing. From her debut on Thanksgiving Day, where there were, at best, 4k in the crowd until he finale at Churchill, where more than 40x as much watched her across the nation. She kept me going during the tough times of 2008 and through the good times the last two years. She got me to do things I never would have done in the past. She dragged me onto blogs and Twitter and Facebook to see if there were others like me who loved her. She helped me become a more complete person.

I just can't say goodbye to Zenyatta. Seeing her live so many times makes one "spoiled by greatness". Her debut made a miserable Thanksgiving Day a little better. Her El Encino win made the antibiotics from the illness that I was dealing with a little more tolerable. Her BC Classic win made life a little better. Her Classic loss made being a fan of hers a little better, as she silenced many of doubters about her class and her ability. Her announced retirement made it a little easier with her losing, knowing she went out with a big effort.

I just can't say goodbye to Zenyatta. Literally. While the many of my horse racing "family" and horse fans in SoCal has gone to visit her on the backside at Hollywood Park the last month, I couldn't bring myself to do it. I can't let go, nor can I face her. My heart deals with the strain of knowing i "picked a favorite amongst my children" when I picked Blame over Zenyatta in the Classic. While I know that i made the correct decision, it still hurts me. I go today to Hollywood Park with a heavy heart, knowing she is leaving us in California one final time, never to return. I know when I look her in the eye, it will be of man who doubted her. I will see her leave and have to move on. But...

I just can't say goodbye to Zenyatta.

(Adding this video of one of my favorite groups Boyz II Men's song "Yesterday", as I think it sums up how I feel)


  1. So true. Especially given the prospects for the "older" division(s) heading into this year. She did all she could to advance the cause and then some. Don't know that we'll ever see something like her again in our lifetime. Sure there will be good horses, but only one Z. Slow Cheetah, we still need you.

  2. Tencent - Man up. She's horse.

  3. Don't you listen to gib. She's not "just a horse" as anyone who knows horses realizes. Come on over to HP gib and join the congregation of worshippers of the Queen and then maybe you'll understand what Tencent's talking about. We won't see another like her for many years. If ever.

  4. As she came up just shy of her 20th win, it all made sense immediately. We strive to reach perfection in every catagory of life, but it was just a cruel reminder that we do not live in a perfect world, and so it goes, perfection was snatched from Zenyatta at the last possible moment. Just something to ponder! Farewell to this wonderful animal. May she enjoy many years of relaxation.

  5. why was my prior deleted. Do you believe in censorship?

  6. Anon whose comment was deleted,

    Yes, I actually do, when I feel it is warranted. There are very few things I have strong feelings AGAINST, and one of the few is the anointing of false prophets/messiahs. A person has the right to believe whatever they choose to believe in, just as another person has the right to walk away from any person who is publicly spreading their message. A comment on a blog is publicly spreading your message. My decision to "walk away" to stop the spread of that message is by deleting the comment.

    You have the right to spread your message, but since this is MY blog, I have the right to stop the spread of your message. Have a good day!

  7. yay, good for you tencent. Anon, if ya wanna spread your message, stand on a street corner with a sandwich board. Zenyatta is an animal who makes people forget the banality of their everyday lives. A messiah she ain't. A gift from god? Certainly. But then aren't we all?

  8. Lorrae,

    Thanks for the support.

    But don't be too hard on Gib. Every person says goodbye in their own way. I'm a little more openly emotional. To each his or her own.

  9. Tencent,

    I agree with your sentiments. I am a brand new fan to the sport. I've always watched the TC races, just as most Americans. But, in winter 2009, this sport took hold of me, and I don't want it to let go.

    I first saw Zenyatta run (on TV) when she began her 2009 campaign. I turned to my girlfriend (now fiancée) right after the race and said, "We have GOT to see her run live."

    We made plans to attend the 2009 Lady's Secret. However, work commitments beckoned for her, and we were unable to go. We were disappointed, thinking that she would retire after the 2009 BC, and we wouldn't be able to see her.

    But, as you well know, fate would not be so cruel to us and the rest of the public. And, we finally got out to SoCal for the 2010 edition of the Lady's Secret.

    The experience at Hollywood Park that day was incredible, unlike any I have witnessed. The moment was electric as she ran by Switch at the wire. The crowd never let up through the gallop back, the winner's circle, and her walk back to the barn area. We didn't want the celebration for race #7 to ever end.

    Her eventual loss in the Classic left me crying in front of a simulcast television at Laurel Park. I rarely cry, even at funerals for family members, but I couldn't hold it back.

    For me, it was amazing that Zenyatta could elicit such emotion from my normally tough, reserved personality. For my fiancée, who has spent her entire life around horses, she knew that all it would take was the right one.

  10. I thought Hollywood Park did a much better job with this year's Zenyatta retirement than last year's. I like that they paraded her in the paddock, allowing people to get much closer to the grand mare. And Mario was great in getting her to pose for the cameras. What a diva!

    Even though Zenyatta wasn't racing, part of me worried that something would go wrong; for me, racing is a mix of joy, excitement, and fear(for the horses). I did a fairly good job relaxing and soaking up these last moments with Zenyatta. Chris, saying goodbye might still be difficult for you, but I was totally at peace on Sunday, content with the realization that the greatest female in modern North American thoroughbred racing owed me nothing more.

    The Moss's definitely made the correct decision bringing her back for 2010. As popular as she was after last year's Classic win, her fanbase is much broader now, and even more passionate. Unbelievably, it was really only in the month or two prior to this year's Classic that Zenyatta really crossed over into mass public consciousness; it only took 19 straight wins to do it(similarly, Cigar only became a recognizable name to the average person AFTER he won his 16th straight race). The irony is that it was only in the 12th hour of Zenyatta's career, with retirement imminent, that she truly transcended racing. Had Jerry and Ann Moss decided to race her at age 7 in 2011, we might have come as close to seeing a repeat of the Seabiscuit "frenzy" of the late 30s as we are ever going to see these days.

    And for the record, I agree fully with the Moss's decision to retire the big girl. Save a Triple Crown, it is extremely difficult for a horse to "cross-over" into the general public. After the 08' Ladies Classic, Zenyatta became a star in the racing world. After the 09' Classic, she became a sports star. With the 10' Classic, she became a star of the general public.