Zenyatta is a racehorse. She's lost only once in twenty races. Her claim to fame is her trait for winning high-purse stakes while starting slow, hanging off the back of the pack, then sprinting to the finish. Yeah, she's a show-off. She's magnificent and she knows it.
Then, of course, there’s this: Zenyatta imbibes a goodly quantity of Guinness stout for breakfast. Plus...she’s damn good looking.
I gots me a “thing” for thoroughbreds. I have great affection for all animals, actually, but racehorses kinda take my affection to a whole ‘nother level. They’re athletes. They’re nothing like their fellow equines. They've got personalities. They’ve got moxie. Well, OK, lotsa horses have personalities and moxie (like the horse I see on my bike rides who's always practicing yoga), but thoroughbreds got beautiful bodies and champion hearts. And I loves me champion hearts, in whatever body they may inhabit.
I remember Phar Lap. An Ozzie with a heart bigger than most...who died mysteriously. I love Ozzies, horse and human alike. And if one is gonna die, why not die mysteriously?
There was Affirmed. The Triple Crown winner who smoked Seattle Slew and raced ferociously against Alydar. Affirmed simply seemed to know who his nemesis was. Alydar made him snort and prance.
And I remember Barbaro, fracturing his hind leg in three places at the Preakness. Imagine a sprinter racing so ferociously his/her bones shatter. Yes, that was Barbaro. Many surgeries and complications ensued. He was laid to rest shortly thereafter. Yes. I grieve.
I've lusted after Secretariat. Prolly one of the most beautiful horses I have ever seen. He was a Triple Crown winner, mocking his competition at the Belmont Stakes by 31 lengths! 31 lengths! When he died, he was buried whole with full honors (a rare tribute). His heart weighed 22 pounds, almost twice the size of the heart of your average horse. The U.S. Postal Service even issued a postage stamp honoring him. He was THAT magnificent.
Then, of course, there’s Seabiscuit, Man O’ War’s miscreant grandson. Seabiscuit got no respect. He wasn’t pretty. Looked kinda scruffy, actually. He was the classic “underdog”. So much so, that his legend has been the stuff of novel and film. Seabiscuit’s my kinda guy. He had “tude”. He’d die tryin’. Kinda like Steve Prefontaine, my all-time favorite human track star. If you’re not familiar with Steve Prefontaine, well, root around the Internet for a bit. Watch a coupla films.
He (Pre not Seabiscuit) was quoted as saying: “A lot of people run a race to see who is fastest. I run to see who has the most guts, who can punish himself into exhausting pace, and then at the end, punish himself even more.” And then he said: “Somebody may beat me, but they are going to have to bleed to do it.”
Yeah, “Pre” was unique. He died when he crashed his Porsche one drunk night...just like James Dean. My working theory is that Seabiscuit was reincarnated as Steve Prefontaine. I may be wrong but, then again, it all makes sense.
And that brings me to Man O’ War. A horse before my time. Like Zenyatta, he only lost one race. And in that one race, Man O’ War was actually facing backwards when the race began. Nevertheless, he finished second. He passed along his greatness (though not his looks) to his grandson. Genetics...what a trip.
So, yeah. I gots me a “thing” for beautiful horses with hearts unlike any other. And that brings me full circle to Zenyatta, who’s beautiful, athletic and drinks beer for breakfast.
And I’m not at all ashamed. Just hopelessly in love.
* * *
* * *