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Zenyatta draws a crowd as she heads to the track.
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Mathea Kelley

Haskin's BC Report: Hello, Zenyatta

Zenyatta, as expected, has made her presence felt, attracting huge crowds.

As Bob Baffert keeps saying, “It’s Zenyatta’s Breeders’ Cup.” That was evident Wednesday morning when Zenyatta brightened an overcast sky with her mere presence on the racetrack.

Hundreds of Photographers, TV cameramen, and onlookers formed a gauntlet leading to the track, as Zenyatta and her large entourage made their way to the gap shortly after 9 a.m. You know you have attained rock star status when a patrol officer leading the way yells to the crowd, “No flashes!” “No flashes!”


Photographers then dispersed and flocked to the rail where they lined up three and four deep as far as the eye could see. The trainer’s stand by the gap was packed like the proverbial sardines in a can.


After limbering up for several minutes at the end of the chute, Zenyatta took her first spin around the track and had exercise rider Steve Willard’s arms fully extended, powering along with her typical gargantuan strides.


Since her arrival late yesterday morning, which lacked only a blare of trumpets, Zenyatta has been public and media friendly, spending a good deal of time grazing behind the barn along the Longfield Ave. fence, where people stop their cars to get a look at her and neighborhood residents come over to take pictures, some with their children.


All the while, a steady stream of photographers stand outside the grassy area, armed and ready, waiting for the next Zenyatta head lift and pose or patented dance step.


As one can no doubt deduce by now, Zenyatta presence at Churchill Downs has been nothing short of surreal.


It actually started at the airport. The private jet carrying Jerry and Ann Moss and John and Dottie Shirreffs was supposed to land about 15 minutes before the Tex Sutton charter flight from California. But as the jet touched down, Dottie could see the Tex Sutton plane already there. Ann yelled for the pilot to stop the plane and let them off. After clearance was granted, the Mosses and the Shirreffs’ got off the jet while still on the tarmac and dashed over to the Tex Sutton plane, where Ann could record Zenyatta’s arrival. Zenyatta them disembarked, quickly boarded a private van and headed to Churchill Downs for the five-minute drive with a police escort. With no transportation, and having to leave their luggage on the plane, the Mosses and Shirreffs’ rode to the track with the police.


Anyone who was at Barn 41 for Zenyatta’s arrival yesterday knew this was not going to be your typical Breeders’ Cup, especially when a round of applause went up as Zenyatta stepped off the van. She was given several turns for the mass of photographers lined up behind the police barricade before going out for her first grazing session. Unfortunately a drought that has hit Kentucky the past couple of months has left little of the lush grazing grass that was here for the Derby.


Stay tuned tomorrow for the next episode of “As the Zenyatta World Turns.”


Terra too Firma


The connections of Workforce and Midday, most notably Michael Stoute and Henry Cecil, are not thrilled by the firm condition of the turf course, which, as mentioned earlier, has had virtually no rain for months. There even was talk about scratching Workforce if there wasn’t sufficient water put on the course.


Lookin’ Good


Anyone who hasn’t seen Lookin At Lucky  since the Triple Crown is going to be in for a big surprise when they see the colt now. A late May foal, he has had a growth spurt since then, having grown three inches in the last five or six months, and has put on a great deal of muscle. In short, he looks magnificent.


Gio Ponti  made his first trip to the track this morning and looks in excellent condition. Also making his first trip to the track after arriving from New Jersey by van was Musket Man, who has been bright and alert and feeling good.


The decision to switch gears at the last minute and enter Morning Line  in the Dirt Mile (gr. I) instead of the Classic (gr. I), for which he was pre-entered with a first preference, was made the by Legends Racing brain trust, who felt their colt was better suited to the mile at this point in his career.


One galloper who caught the eye this morning was Haynesfield, who looked very strong and was striding out beautifully. With Morning Line  out of the Classic, that probably leaves Haynesfield as the controlling speed. The way he’s improved and the way he looked on the track today, he may take them farther than most people think.


Fly Down also was out for a gallop and had his head way down and was really into the bit.