I approached this race with a little bit of nervousness today, because I remember oh-so-well how Zenyatta just barely hit the wire first in this same race last year. Del Mar's polytrack is a tough and tricky surface. Some horses that run well on other surfaces can't handle this track, and vice versa. And today speed was holding, definitely not favoring Zenyatta's "come-from-wayyy-behind" running style.
It's funny, but the Zenyatta detractors always ramble on about her being "a synthetic specialist," as if all synthetic tracks were the same. They're not. Tapeta is one thing; polytrack another; Pro-ride yet another. Hollywood Park, for example, runs more like a dirt track than the others. And somehow her detractors seem to conveniently forget the fact that she's also won over dirt, twice.
Anyway, I digress. This particular field was, perhaps, a little soft (then again, it's hard to get horses willing to race Zenyatta anymore, at least in California), but the other jockeys all did their best to keep her from winning. Mike Smith wisely kept Zenyatta a little closer to the front this time and started her run about four furlongs to the close. But the pace! It was a dead crawl. I mean, there was no pace to run into at all. But she went on by them, despite the fact that the 4 horse forced her to go very wide, got to the front, and just did her thing. It didn't appear Mike Smith asked her very much.
There will be plenty left in the tank for the next two.
If her perfect records holds, she'll retire at 20-for-20 with a second Breeder's Cup Classic win.
(Oh, and much to everyone's surprise, Quality Road lost today. He got tired in the stretch and got nailed just before the wire by a horse named Blame. I won't blame Blame. You know I had to say that.)