The news that Zenyatta is going to run as a six year old mare in 2010 was a sweet sound to many horse racing fans in North America and around the world. Most of us are used to hearing about early retirements of our favorite horses to be rushed off to the breeding shed in order to bring bring their owners millions of dollars. We're not used to a horse with the stature of a Zenyatta returning to the track, it just doesn't happen very often (although we've been blessed the last couple of years with Curlin, Rachel Alexandra, and Zenyatta all racing longer than most other top horses).
I caught an interview with Zenyatta's owner, Jerry Moss, on HRTV right after the announcement yesterday and it was a pleasure to hear his reasons for bringing back this super mare. Moss noted that Zenyatta still had that racing look to her, she was still eager to be at the track and she was still eager to run and compete. I think that is an important note for this reason: the thoroughbred was designed specifically to run, that is their purpose in life - it's what they are bred to do. A thoroughbred that is stuck in a barn or even a pasture some place where it doesn't get a chance to do what it was designed to do is a tragic thing for that horse. And perhaps that's what gets to me the most when we talk about horses retiring early to head to the breeding shed - the denial of a great horse doing what it was created to do.