Her stirring last-to-first victory under Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, witnessed by an electric on-track crowd of 58,845, extended her winning streak to 14, surpassing Personal Ensign’s record of 13, and thrust Zenyatta firmly into the forefront for Horse of the Year honors against the 3-year-old filly Rachel Alexandra. The latter three times defeated males in an unbeaten campaign of eight starts this year but did not compete in the 26th Breeders’ Cup World Championships.
Asked whether he thought Zenyatta deserved to be Horse of the Year, Shirreffs said, “How can she not be? She’s the Horse of the Decade. To me, she’s the horse of a lifetime.”
Owned by Jerry and Ann Moss, Zenyatta also was named Horse of the Meet in Oak Tree’s Media Poll last year. The 5-year-old daughter of Street Cry earned $2,700,000 with her Classic victory, almost equaling her previous total of $2,774,580 and thus nearly doubling her career earnings to $5,474,580.
Zenyatta also was named the meet’s outstanding older horse and the outstanding filly or mare; the Classic was chosen Race of the Meet, and Zenyatta’s first-ever victory by a female against males in the Classic was named Accomplishment of the Meet.
Mr. and Mrs. Moss, for their display of sportsmanship in running Zenyatta against males in the Classic, rather than the Ladies’ Classic, which she won last year, were named Owners of the Meet.
The balloting was dominated by Breeders’ Cup winners.
Conduit, winner of the $3 million Turf, was named outstanding grass horse, while Juddmonte Farms’ Midday, winner of the Filly & Mare Turf, was voted outstanding grass filly or mare and outstanding 3-year-old filly.
Man of Iron, a 3-year-old son of Giant’s Causeway who posted a nose victory at 6-1 in the mile and three-quarter Marathon, outpolled rivals to be named the meet’s top 3-year-old.
Norfolk Stakes winner Lookin At Lucky, beaten a head by 30-1 shot Vale of York in the Juvenile, was named outstanding 2-year-old, edging Vale of York on the basis of his Norfolk win and the fact that he broke from the disadvantageous No. 13 post position in the 1 1/16-mile Juvenile.
She Be Wild won honors as top 2-year-old filly thanks to her game 7-1 surprise in the Juvenile Fillies.
Dancing in Silks, who registered a 25-1 upset winning a four-horse photo in the Sprint, was voted outstanding sprinter.
For the second straight meet, Bob Baffert was named outstanding trainer. The recent Hall of Fame inductee set an Oak Tree record with 24 victories, topping the previous mark of 22 set by Doug O’Neill in 2003. Baffert also won four stakes races this meet to share the lead with Shirreffs.
Rafael Bejarano, who edged Joel Rosario for Oak Tree riding honors after a meet-long duel, was voted outstanding jockey. Bejarano won 31 races to Rosario’s 30. Others receiving votes were Mike Smith and Garrett Gomez.
Christian Santiago Reyes was named top apprentice rider by virtue of 13 victories, which placed him in the top 10 in the standings.
Shadow of Illinois, who won an optional $62,500 claiming race by three-quarters of a length on Oct. 18, was named claiming horse of the meet. The durable 9-year-old California-bred son of Illinois Storm trained by Anthony Saavedra formerly competed in stakes races and won the Grade III San Simeon Handicap at Santa Anita in 2005.
2009 OAK TREE AT SANTA ANITA MEDIA POLL
Horse of the Meet: Zenyatta 2-Year-Old Filly: She Be Wild
Older Horse: Zenyatta Sprinter: Dancing in Silks
Older Filly or Mare; Zenyatta Claimer: Shadow of Illinois
Grass Horse: Conduit Trainer: Bob Baffert
Grass Filly/Mare: Midday Jockey: Rafael Bejarano
3-Year-Old: Man of Iron Apprentice Jockey: Christian Santiago Reyes
3-Year-Old Filly: Midday Race of the Meet: Breeders’ Cup Classic
2-Year-Old: Lookin At Lucky Accomplishment: Zenyatta’s Classic Win