On the eve of Friday’s $500,000 Grade 1 Apple Blossom Invitational, a race where Zenyatta will go for her 16th victory without defeat, here’s what some of the Southland trainers are saying about the 6-year-old superstar, courtesy of Santa Anita publicity official Ed Golden:
RONALD McANALLY (trainer of champion fillies Bayakoa and Paseana)
“I’m absolutely amazed that Zenyatta’s done everything you would have asked of her. She’s such a big, long-striding mare, and to win like she does, especially in the Santa Margarita when she was last turning for home and won going away, is remarkable. She’s just a great mare. I’m amazed every time she runs. It’s unbelievable.
“I think (John) Shirreffs has done a marvelous job with her, spacing her races and doing the right thing with her. I liked Zenyatta against Rachel Alexandra before the (Horse of the Year) voting and I liked her after the voting. I thought the Eastern voters made a big mistake making Rachel the Horse of the Year. The people back East have more votes than they have out here and I think they realize now that they made a huge mistake.
“I know Rachel wasn’t fit enough to win her first out in New Orleans this year. I could see the handwriting on the wall right from the beginning. But even had she been fit and they ran together tomorrow in the Apple Blossom, to me there’s no question that Zenyatta would have beaten her.”
“I really thought that Rachel Alexandra deserved Horse of the Year, but at the same time, I never had any doubt in my mind, and I don’t even need to see them run against each other, to know that she’s not as good as Zenyatta.
“I’ve been around racing 30 years. There are things a lot of us trainers don’t know, but we all know a freak when we see a freak, and Zenyatta stands head and shoulders above all the horses I’ve ever seen.”
“I always thought Zenyatta would beat Rachel Alexandra on any surface, as long as it wasn’t in a match race, where Rachel would get an easy lead. Zenyatta should have been Horse of the Year in 2009, because what she accomplished last year was enough to make her one of the all-time great race mares. Rachel Alexandra accomplished a lot, but we don’t know if she’s one of the all-time greats. So if you’re one of the all-time greats, and the other one is or isn’t, you should be Horse of the Year, no question about it.
“I’d like to see Rachel Alexandra do well and I’d love to see them compete against each other, but obviously, they’re afraid of Zenyatta and they’re not going to run against her.”
“Rachel Alexandra is a wonderful, beautiful, lovely filly, but I think Zenyatta is far superior. But by the same token, I think Rachel Alexandra ran against a class of 3-year-olds that maybe were subpar last year, maybe not. None of them jumped up real strong after she beat them, and the older horses she beat in the Woodward seemed to go downhill afterwards.
“But Zenyatta took on the best in the world and won as she pleased. Opinions are going to be East versus West, and that’s never going to change. I was in Hot Springs recently and the arguments were about which horse was best, but I’ll tell you this: they were all waiting for Zenyatta to come there.”
What do you think?