Santa Anita’s traditional opening day of Dec. 26 brought out 35,292 to watch a pair of grade I races and to honor Zenyatta and John Henry. The crowd was the largest in the last 10 years of opening days at the “Great Race Place.”
The throng enthusiastically cheered Jerry and Ann Mosses' undefeated Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) winner Zenyatta who was paraded in front of the grandstand and into the winner’s circle by jockey Mike Smith after the day’s sixth race. It marked her last scheduled public appearance before heading for the breeding shed in Kentucky.
Zenyatta climaxed her brilliant career with a 14th consecutive triumph when defeating males in the Nov. 7 $5-million Classic co-hosted by the Oak Tree Racing Association at Santa Anita.
Earlier in the afternoon marking Santa Anita’s diamond anniversary, Hall of Fame trainer Ron McAnally helped to unveil a life-sized bronze statue of John Henry, sculpted by Nina Kaiser. The likeness of the revered gelding, who won 12 stakes at Santa Anita during the 1980s while conditioned by McAnally, will permanently stand near the track paddock.