One of the most beloved champions in Breeders’ Cup history, Zenyatta became the first female to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic and the first horse ever to win two different Breeders’ Cup races. Her grand quest began as a 4-year-old, when this daughter of Street Cry came into the 2008 Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic (previously the Distaff) unbeaten, and she did nothing to tarnish that cloak of invincibility as jockey Mike Smith sat patiently in last among the field of eight before unleashing her trademark explosive kick in the stretch to win by 1 1/2 lengths. Trained by John Shirreffs, she covered the 1 1/8 miles on Santa Anita’s Pro-Ride surface in 1:46.85 for owners Ann and Jerome Moss.
Zenyatta stayed unbeaten through the following season and returned to Santa Anita to take on male rivals in the Classic. In arguably the greatest moment in Breeders’ Cup history, she came from last to first down the Santa Anita stretch to the roar of the crowd to win the race over Gio Ponti by one length. She was named one of the top 10 female athletes of the year by Sports Illustrated. After a brief retirement, Zenyatta returned to the races in 2010, running her streak to 19 consecutive wins before a gallant yet career-ending only loss in the Breeders’ Cup Classic to Blame by a nose at Churchill Downs. That outstanding effort still propelled her to the Horse of the Year title.