What if Zenyatta lost? I'm not talking about the Breeders' Cup Classic. I'm talking about any start, any start either this year or last. What if Zenyatta lost?
I wish she had because we'll never know how great or versatile should could have been. When it became apparent that she could threaten Personal Ensign's win streak of thirteen races — notably apparent after Zenyatta won the 2008 Ladies Classic — Zenyatta was handled in such a manner to cater to this win streak.
The obvious evidence of this came when she was scratched from the Grade II Louisville on Kentucky Oaks Day at Churchill Downs because the track was muddy. (Had she run, it would have given us the closest thing to a Zenyatta-Rachel show down. We could have at least compared their perforances on the same surface.) In this case Zenyatta was her own worst enemy. Had she lost at some point in her 14-race career, perhaps then her connections would have been more willing to ship her out of California and to run her on dirt.
I know Zenyatta won her only start on dirt in her fourth career race in the Grade 1 Apple Blossom at Oaklawn. I know that she defeated Ginger Punch, so it was a credible win. This could have been a launching pad to tackle a broader pallate. Could she have run successfully on other dirt tracks? We will never know because after April 5, 2008, she never left California.
If she lost, perhaps we would have seen her take on the boys more than once. Perhaps she would have come to Belmont Park to run against Rachel Alexandra in the Beldame.
So in a number of ways, beating up on inferior fillies and mares out West robbed her of her potential to be a truly transcendent mare. Sure, she won 14-of-14, but I'd take a career that saw her go 11-for-14 while running on the East Coast against some of the best horses in North America.
Another note, Zenyatta's 14-race win streak could be in jeopardy. Dating back to November 2009, Rachel Alexandra has won nine races in a row.
Think Jess Jackson is not aware of that? Cigar may have some company as well. Another 8-for-8 year would lock that up too.