Zenyatta comes from behind for win

Updated: March 14, 2010, 12:28 AM ET
By Robyn Norwood | Special to ESPNLosAngeles.com

Zenyatta, the unbeaten mare who became the first female horse to win the Breeders' Cup Classic last fall, pulled off another come-from-behind run Saturday to win the $250,000 Santa Margarita Invitational in her first race since her historic victory at Santa Anita Park.

But some of the juice went out of Zenyatta's return race before the post-It parade, when the crowd gathered at the paddock and watched 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra -- whose Preakness Stakes win last year was the first by a filly since 1924 -- finish second to Zardana in the $200,000 New Orleans Ladies at Fair Grounds Race Course.

The loss left a much-anticipated $5-million showdown between the horses in the Apple Blossom Handicap on April 9 at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark., in question.

Zenyatta, once pointed toward retirement, put on a show at Santa Anita, her path to the lead seemingly blocked coming down the stretch only to overtake Dance To My Tune at the finish of the 1 1/8 mile race, her first since her historic win in the Breeders' Cup Classic on the same course last November.

Zenyatta, paid $2.60, $2.20 and $2.10.

Owner Jerry Moss, speaking after the race, said he had watched Rachel Alexandra lose.

"I'm sorry she lost," he said. "She lost to a better horse today."

Robyn Norwood is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles.

Robyn Norwood

Contributor, espnW.com
Robyn Norwood, the only woman to serve as president of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association, was a sportswriter for the Los Angeles Times for more than two decades. She has covered 11 Final Fours, two Olympics and the Super Bowl and visited almost every podunk college town in America.