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The racing world has begun its countdown to the historic moment when Zenyatta runs in the 2010 Breeders Cup Classic and attempts to repeat her 2009 victory against the colts and preserve her unblemished career racing record at 20 straight victories. That's right: Never a loss, not even a second place, no matter who else was in the race.
It all happens next Saturday around 6 p.m. at Churchill Downs. The Classic is the richest single horse race in the world and, in turn, the Breeders Cup is the richest sporting event in the world.
But around 7 p.m. tonight (Sunday, October 31) we should all take a break and sit down with some Halloween candy to watch Zenyatta on 60 Minutes on CBS. That's mainstream tv in the USA, no cable subscription needed.
What you are likely to hear is what her fans will tell you: that it's not just that she wins--although her record speaks for itself. It's how she wins. With equal amounts of style--ears pricked forward, dancing in the paddock and the post parade like a grand prix dressage horse--and drama. She comes from dead last and seems to use her massive hindquarters to motor out of the racetrack like a supercharged Hummer when it's time to make her move. But she also seems to know exactly where the finish line is and she runs just far enough and fast enough to beat whomever is in her way. Ears up, she just gallops on by, often winning by half a length, just enough to seal the victory.
Zenyatta has caught the imagination and the affection of the nation. Whether she wins or not, she has been a shot of adrenaline for horseracing, a sport that so many had written off as dead, dying or diseased beyond repair. Churchill Downs next Saturday will be filled to overflowing to see her, and hopefully some of her fans will just happen to fall in love with some of the other races and some of the other horses while they're hanging around waiting for her race.
Ahead of us lies a week of Zenyatta fun and media antics. She takes it all in stride. Her trainer and owners seem to chuckle right along while you know they are deep in the important business of insuring her health and safety and fitness as the big day approaches.
Yesterday Zenyatta had her final workout at her home base at Hollywood Park in California. On Tuesday, she will fly to Louisville, Kentucky.
You can watch two full days of Breeders Cup races on ESPN and ABC. As crazy as this sounds, it looks like Zenyatta's race will only be shown on cable television. ABC probably has a more important (to them) football game.
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