The undefeated 5-year-old mare Zenyatta, who became the first female to win the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) last month at Santa Anita, finished second to tennis star Serena Williams as the Associated Press "Female Athlete of the Year" for 2009, it was announced Dec. 22.
Zenyatta, with 18 votes, finished a distant second to Williams, who received 66 votes from the 158 ballots cast by editors at U.S. newspapers who are AP members. The 3-year-old filly Rachel Alexandra, winner of the Preakness Stakes (gr. I), finished seventh with 10 votes.
“It’s been an unprecedented year for our sport with not one, but two females distinguishing themselves as all-time greats," said Alex Waldrop, president and CEO for NTRA. "Their historic campaigns transcended horse racing and captured the attention of sports fans around the world. I’m eager to see which Thoroughbred will be voted Horse of the Year at the Eclipse Awards on January 18.”
Zenyatta impressed by winning the Breeders' Cup Classic Nov. 7 with a spectacular come-from-behind effort. Since retired, she was victorious in all 14 of her starts, including eight grade I races, in her career.
Owned by Jerry and Ann Moss and trained by John Shirreffs, the champion daughter of Street Cry returns to the scene of her greatest triumph Dec. 26 in a farewell appearance for fans as Santa Anita opens its 75th season.
The strapping mare breezed a half-mile at her Hollywood Park headquarters in :49.40 Dec. 21, but Shirreffs said the work did not mean Zenyatta would return in 2010. “As far as I know, Mr. Moss retired her,” Shirreffs said. “Zenyatta is just winding down from her regular training regimen.”
She is to be shipped to Kentucky for breeding at an unspecified date, Shirreffs added.
“It’s early yet,” he said. “Breeding season doesn’t start for another month and a half.”
All fans in attendance at Santa Anita on opening day will receive an attractive full-color poster of Zenyatta, courtesy of HRTV, and will be treated to a winner’s circle ceremony honoring her. HRTV’s Kurt Hoover will host.
In addition to the Zenyatta poster, fans also will receive Santa Anita’s traditional wall calendar, which this year features dramatic photos chronicling the greatest moments of the past 75 years.
Four stakes races highlighted by the $300,000 Malibu Stakes (gr. I) for 3-year-olds and the $300,000 La Brea Stakes (gr. I) for 3-year-old fillies headline the 10-race opening day program.