INGLEWOOD, Calif. -- Terrell Owens has a photo of Zenyatta on his cell phone. He's got a bunch more of the undefeated star mare on his digital camera, too.
The NFL star wide receiver had a free Sunday this past weekend as his Cincinnati Bengals had the week off, and Owens spent 30 minutes on an overcast afternoon on the Hollywood Park backstretch at trainer John Shirreffs' barn. The focus of the trip was an opportunity to meet Zenyatta, the two-time champion and winner of 19 races.
Owens, 36, was given a personal tour of the stable by Shirreffs. When led to Zenyatta's stall, Owens snapped several pictures of the 6-year-old mare in her stall before Shirreffs handed Owens a carrot and invited him to feed it to her.
"How do I do that?" Owens said. He placed the carrot in his palm, and it was gone as quickly as it was presented to Zenyatta. A moment later, Owens, a formidable presence himself dressed casually in a white T-shirt and Bermuda shorts, saw Zenyatta's size as she was led out of her stall toward a patch of grass outside the barn.
"Oh my God, she's huge," Owens said as she was led away.
Once outdoors, Owens posed for more pictures alongside the mare. Listed at 6-foot-3, Owens is one athlete who can stand adjacent to Zenyatta's withers and not look up.
"You can tell she has a lot of power," he said. "She's as big as a male horse. She's unbelievable, very muscular."
It was the first time Owens had seen Zenyatta, who is being prepared for the Breeders' Cup Classic at Churchill Downs on Nov. 6. He said he wasn't sure he would be able to attend the race because of commitments with the Bengals, who play Pittsburgh on Nov. 8. During his week off, Owens spent part of the weekend in Los Angeles on business.
Owens, a six-time Pro Bowler who is second on the all-time list in receiving yards, said he follows racing, having attended the Kentucky Derby in the past and taken a tour of Three Chimneys Farm in Kentucky.
"It was interesting to see how much goes into caring for the horses," he said. "It's first-class."
A few minutes later, Zenyatta was taken back to her stall. Owens had one final request before heading to the grandstand to watch a few races. He wanted an autograph from Shirreffs.