Zenyatta is a beautiful filly that had not lost a race (she was 13 of 13) when she ran the Breeders’ Cup Classic against an international field of top (male) horses. I don’t follow the sport much, but this was the premier event of the year and for a filly to beat this field to keep her record intact would have been amazing. One of the horses balked going into the gate and kicked up such a fuss that he was scratched. He would have been the pace horse she would have relied on as well, as she is a slow starter. In fact, she started dead last and was a few lengths behind within seconds.

On the final turn of the mile and a quarter race she swept around on the outside and, as the announcer said, starting “picking them off.” There wasn’t much time left and it seemed that if she caught half the field it would be an impressive finish. Then the other horses seemed to be standing still–she passed them all and won by a length or so, as I recall. It was one of the most amazing athletic feats I had ever seen.

At that level, they all love to run and to compete–as much as human athletes do. I saw talent and joy. The owner and the trainers and the jockey were on a high. I remembered Secretariat. and thought of all those human athletes who exist on another plane from their peers: Gretzky, Federer, Bolt, Woods. They are artists. I was standing up beside the TV set. Words don’t suffice.

Afterward, the jockey was asked if she was the Horse of the Year. “She is the Horse of the Decade,” he said. “She was really upset by the start, but she is so agile and she loves the crowd.”

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