The crowd gathers to see the Zenyatta statue at Santa Anita.

The crowd gathers to see the Zenyatta statue at Santa Anita.

Benoit Photo

Fans Come Out Early to See Zenyatta Statue

Mosses on hand as lifelike bronze by sculptor Nina Kaiser is unveiled at Santa Anita.

Proving that Zenyatta is far from forgotten, many of her fans arrived at Santa Anita Park early Sept. 29 in order to see her statue unveiled at noon, an hour before the first race. Chanting her name, clutching posters, and in some cases wearing pink hats adorned with Zenyatta ears and tiaras, they watched Team Zenyatta pull the drape off of the life-sized statue.

"It's absolutely beautiful," said Jerry Moss, who with his wife, Ann, campaigned Zenyatta. "We're knocked out."

Nina Kaiser, also the sculptor of John Henry's statue at Santa Anita, created the 1,200-pound bronze of Zenyatta. She posed the mare in her classic dancing stance, with her right front foot extended, mane and tail flowing, neck bowed, and without tack.

A carrot was placed on the statue's base, along with bouquets of flowers.

The statue stands at just over 17 hands, Zenyatta's height, and its weight is the same as Zenyatta was during her career. Kaiser worked on the project for more than two years.

The statue sits on the south side of the Kingsbury Fountain in the Paddock Gardens. It will be the first thing that patrons see as they enter the general admission gate. Zenyatta is directly across from John Henry, who stands on the north side of the fountain.

"She looks fantastic," said Ann. "It's such a wonderful honor. She deserves it."

Zenyatta retired with a career record of 19-1, including a victory against male horses in the 2009 Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I), and was named 2010 Horse of the Year.

The fans asked for an update on Zenyatta's first foal, a colt by Bernardini .

"He has been weaned and is running around with other boys his age," said Jerry Moss. "He's looking great and feeling great."

The Mosses have not yet decided on a name for the colt, nor which stallion Zenyatta will be bred to in 2013. She is in foal to Tapit .

"We think about it every day," said Ann about naming the youngster.

"It's keeping us up nights," added Jerry.

Trainer John Shirreffs and racing manager Dottie Ingordo-Shirreffs also participated in the unveiling. Shortly afterward, Shirreffs stood behind the crowd, practically incognito.

"I wanted to see the entire statue," he said. "It's hard to see it up close."

Exercise rider Steve Willard and jockey David Flores, who rode the mare in her first race, were also on hand. Her regular rider, Hall of Famer Mike Smith, was in New York to ride at Belmont Park.

Fans flocked to the Mosses, taking photos and asking them to sign posters. A couple of them noticed Shirreffs, including one man who walked up to the trainer to say just two words, "Thank you," as he shook the trainer's hand and then walked on.