Jockey Mike Smith's Facebook page reported that the superstar Zenyatta will foal within the next 24 hours. At last count, there were 656 comments on Zenyatta's most recent diary entry. Team Zenyatta tweeted that she was relaxed and yawning all day.
As I read these updates, my mind takes me back to a hazy July morning in 2011 when Lucas Marquardt and I had the pleasure of spending a little time with the great mare.
Since 2008, I had the privilege of photographing the bold, beautiful daughter of Street Cry a few times at the track. I've photographed thousands of horses in my life, from the Breeders' Cup to the World Equestrian Games to our local horse auction. No horse other horse has the presence of the great Zenyatta. On the track, she earned over $7,000,000 and she carried herself like she knew it.
She was poetry in motion when she glided over the track at Santa Anita.
She was a supermodel when she showed off her legs at bath time at Churchill Downs.
She always seemed to know where the camera was, and always thrilled the hordes of photographers who surrounded her and documented her every move.
In July, I visited Zenyatta at Lane's End Farm. Retired from racing and pregnant with her first foal, she had a serene look to her, but had not lost an ounce of charisma.
Life on the farm agreed with Zenyatta, just like track life did when she was a racehorse. When she was led out to her pasture, her walk was casual... a far cry from the trademark prowling dance she did before her races at the track.
Her famed dapples were still as big as apples, but had been kissed by the sun from the time spent in her pasture, grazing on Kentucky bluegrass.
It must be a challenging job to care for a mare as famous as Zenyatta, and her team strikes a perfect balance of caring for her every need while also letting her enjoy life as a horse. Tasty Temptation is the perfect companion for Zenyatta, and the two mares peacefully spend many hours together in their idyllic pasture.
Although she could have grazed on acres and acres of grass, Zenyatta chose to spend time with her human admirers, much to our delight.
And now, I go back to waiting with the rest of the world. I extend my very best wishes to Team Zenyatta for an easy and safe delivery for mare and foal, and a bright future for all.