Next Stop: The Zenyatta Zone
All horses racing in Friday’s Breeders’ Cup races had to be on the grounds at Santa Anita at noon today. Zenyatta, accompanied by stablemate Tiago , passed through the stable gate at 11:59. Judging from her 3-5 morning line odds and all the accolades she has received, that should be the only close call the magnificent filly will have this week.
Zenyatta stepped off the van at 12:01 and circled outside the barn for several minutes with stablemate Tiago, who is a leading contender for the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I).
There have been numerous superlatives used to describe Zenyatta, who takes an eight-for-eight record in the Ladies Classic (gr. I), and none are exaggerations. She is huge in stature, her coat is beautifully dappled, and she makes a commanding presence, yet she is quite the lady. And she has a mind of her own. She stops when she wants to stop, goes when she wants to go, and performs an unusual little routine with her front legs, stretching them forward and pawing at the ground when she feels what she’s doing is too mundane. She showed that off several times when schooling in the paddock later in the afternoon, which apparently began to bore her after a while.
On her way to the paddock she passed the massive Midnight Lute who was returning from his schooling session. And as she did, the two behemoths all but blocked out the sun.
Her schooling session was a treat for the fans, many of whom flocked to the saddling stalls to take pictures.
Another odd sight was when Zenyatta went into the receiving barn for several minutes and placed in a stall before heading to the paddock, which most horses at Santa Anita will do. Not Tiago, who has a habit of kicking the walls of unfamiliar stalls. So, as while Zenyatta was occupied in the receiving barn, Tiago hung back about a hundred yards, still in the stable area, and stood calmly under a tree until Zenyatta was finished with her business.
Trainer John Shirreffs supervised the schooling session, while his wife Dottie, who is racing manager for both horses’ owners, Jerry and Ann Moss, took pictures with her cell phone camera and sent them on the Mosses. Dottie began taking pictures from the time the two horses stepped off the van. But she is not the official photographer who chronicles the life of Zenyatta and Tiago, and the everyday life at her husband’s barn. John and his trusty Nikon handle that task, and he proudly showed off his vast collection of photos he has stored on his laptop. He also takes video of the horses and every aspect of training and barn life and puts them on Youtube.
It is not a coincidence that Shirreffs runs one of the most efficient, congenial, and successful barns, not only in
Because John loves the track, barns, and facilities at
In short, John Shirreffs is not your average trainer, and the appearance and success of his horses bear that out.
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