Today at 6:45 p.m. EST, the Breeder’s Cup will be run at Churchill Downs in Kentucky. Zenyattawill run in this race; the only mare in a sea of testosterone-filled male racehorses, and she is bigger physically than all of them. This will be her twentieth race , and she has won all nineteen of the races she ran prior to this one. This is also her last race. Normally I would write about her tomorrow after her history is permanently penned, but I want to make sure that all the women in the country watch her today and thank her for the gifts she gives us.
She was purchased for a mere $60,000 when she was one year old, four and a half years ago. She had a skin condition which made her not so pretty, hence her low purchase price. She didn’t run in the Kentucky Derby, her trainer says, because “she matured late and wasn’t ready yet.” I get that. I am just getting ready to run my races now, and I’m fifty-seven.
She is very quiet and gentle off the track. She plays with kids, never moves unless necessary (I so get that), and she doesn’t have the thoroughbred angst most racehorses have, both on and off the track. She drinks a Guinness every day, and no other beer interests her.
Then she hits the track. She does a prancing dance that is really beautiful to watch, and I’m confident Alvin Ailey would do something like it if he were still alive. I love watching it. She comes out of the gate slowly—really slowly—and is always last for the first part of the race. Then she turns it on. She lowers her whole body and takes off, seemingly loving the passing of her competition, rather than just getting to the finish line first. She is ruthless, and has nineteen times run each race the same way, and won. Nineteen in a row. From behind.
I love Zenyatta. I love her grace. My favorite word is grace, and she has it. I love that she isn’t afraid to compete against the boys but doesn’t always need to show her toughness. She can bring it when she needs to and be the ‘lady’ when she wants to.
I have always struggled with the feminine question of when to be the girl and when to let out the competitive spirit that takes no prisoners. Not to kill the competition, but simply to beat it. She has mastered it, and I think of her often in business and in my personal life. She is my personal heroine. Oprah put her in Oprah magazine’s list of the most powerful women in the world. Good choice, Ms. O.
Today is her last race. I’m sure they will breed her. Her jockey, Mike Smith, who has ridden her in all her races, says she still has never put it all out there—she hasn’t needed to. He says she will do it today. He also said there is no male worthy of her. I like that too. I hope you will all watch her. I hope you will all thank her for the gifts she has given me, and I’m sure many other women.
Good luck today, Zenyatta. Win girlfriend. And thank you so very much.