By Scott Jagow
It was not meant to be.
Zenyatta charged down the stretch like she always does, but she could not catch Blame, who won the Breeders' Cup Classic by less than a head in a photo finish.
Zenyatta broke last and trailed the field by 14 lengths in the early going, but jockey Mike Smith nudged her along rounding the clubhorse turn, and she only trailed by a length down the backstretch. In the middle of the far turn, Zenyatta started making her patented move, while Blame was battling with Lookin' at Lucky on the front end. Blame started to pull away in mid-stretch, but Zenyatta put in a furious rally, with several lengths to make up, as the crowd at Churchill Downs gasped in anticipation.
It looked for a moment that she would do it, but the wire came first. Fly Down finished third.
Jockey Mike Smith fought back tears as he described the race:
“She responded really, really well. My hat's off to Blame. He ran an incredible race. He didn't fold, and I needed him to fold a little bit… It hurts more than I can explain, just because it was my fault. She should have won, and it hurts.
Owner Jerry Moss: “I thought she was going to get there. She lost to a really great horse.”
Blame's trainer Al Stall, Jr.: In defeat, Zenyatta didn't lose anything. I don't think you'll find anybody criticizing anything she's ever done, much less today. It was just two very good horses, and everybody talked about it coming down to these two for a long time. It played out that way.”
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Breeders' CEO Greg Avioli:
“While her story did not have a perfect ending, our entire sport was truly blessed by Zenyatta's amazing career. Congratulations to Blame, to the incomparable Goldikova, and to all of our champions whose performances this weekend were spectacular. “The Breeders' Cup extends its sincere thanks to all of the participants in our event, to the enthusiastic crowd, to our sponsors, and to our partners at Churchill Downs. We look forward to our return next year.”
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