Zenyatta isn’t the only mare trying to set a record for victories at the Breeders’ Cup Championships today.
Irish-born Goldikova, like undefeated Zenyatta, will try to win a record third race at the event, which is being held this year at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky.
Goldikova, who has 11 top-level victories in Europe -- seven against colts -- would hold the record for consecutive victories in Breeders’ Cup races before Zenyatta. The 5-year-old runs in the $2 million Mile on the turf, which she has won the past two years, about two hours before Zenyatta runs in the $5 million Classic.
“Goldikova is a very special mare,” Freddy Head, her trainer, said during a teleconference. “She’s been running against the best in Europe, the best milers in Europe for three years now, and she’s beaten them all.”
Three races later, Zenyatta will try for her record 20th consecutive win and third Breeders’ Cup title. The 6-year-old became the first female to win the Classic last year and won the Ladies’ Classic in 2008.
“The unique thing about her is she’s come from last,” trainer John Shirreffs said during a teleconference. “How she does it, I have no idea because she’s always sort of at the mercy of the pace. She’s got to go wide or she’s got to cut a corner.”
Zenyatta is the early 8-5 favorite, running from the eighth post position against 11 colts in the Classic, the richest thoroughbred horse race in North America. Goldikova, given 6-5 odds in the morning line, will try to outlast 10 colts as she leaves from the 10th gate.
“Goldikova, if she wins this, she’s amazing,” trainer Bob Baffert said on a teleconference. “I think she was shadowed a little bit by Zenyatta. It’s going to be exciting to watch Goldikova if she can repeat because she’s an amazing animal and she gets a little bit lost when she comes to the stage.”
The Breeders’ Cup is the richest two-day sports event, paying $26 million in purses, said Greg Avioli, chief executive officer of the racing series.
Baffert, who trained Classic entry Lookin At Lucky, says the fans will be rooting for Zenyatta to win her final race before she retires.
“That mare’s done so much for racing that I get goose bumps every time I watch her run,” Baffert said. “She’s just amazing, and we all want to win, but we don’t mind getting beat by her.”
Horse of Year
The winner of the Classic often earns Horse of the Year honors. Zenyatta lost the 2009 award to Rachel Alexandra, who had won the Preakness Stakes. Shirreffs said he is confident that she can win the title this year if she retains the Classic championship.
“Her legacy’s going to be how she changed the perception and how she engaged the fans with racehorses,” Shirreffs said. “The fans really get behind her and she sort of plays to the crowd, so she’s brought a lot of people into racing.”
Head said Goldikova has a good chance of being named European Horse of the Year after being passed over last year.
“This is definitely the decade of the filly,” Avioli said.