ARCADIA (CBSLA.com/AP) — Retired superstar Zenyatta was honored with a life-sized bronze statue unveiled on Saturday at Santa Anita.
The mare’s owners, Jerry and Ann Moss, were on hand in searing heat to see the 1,200-pound statue that captures Zenyatta in her trademark prancing pose. It’s located near the paddock in front of the Kingsbury Fountain with the track’s Art Deco facade as a backdrop.
“It’s a gorgeous statue and it’s a complete replica. It carries her spirit, shows her joy of life and I’m very taken by it. It’s quiet an honor,” Jerry Moss said. “It means so much as she’s still very happily prancing around in the paddock very much alive. She is a great ambassador for the sport of racing and that’s what we’re mostly proud of.”
Fans chanted “horse of a lifetime” after the tarp came off. Sculptor Nina Kaiser included the white blaze on Zenyatta’s head. The statue stands at just over 17 hands — Zenyatta’s height — and its weight is the same as Zenyatta was during her career. Kaiser worked on the project for more than two years.
Ann Moss stroked Zenyatta’s right leg as fans crowded around for photos.
“You see how much people love Zenyatta. I tried to make them feel like they were in her presence, ” she said to CBS 2. “I could not ask for a more fabulous setting for a work of art and I’m so honored. It had to come close to the honor of the setting”
A carrot was placed on the statue’s base, along with bouquets of flowers.
The unveiling reunited most of Zenyatta’s connections, including the Mosses, trainer John Shirreffs, the couple’s racing manager and Shirreffs’ wife Dottie, exercise rider Steve Willard and jockey David Flores, who rode the mare in her first race. Her regular rider, Hall of Famer Mike Smith, was in New York to ride at Belmont Park.
Zenyatta had a career record of 19-1, including a victory against male horses in the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Classic, and was named 2010 Horse of the Year.
Now 8 years old, Zenyatta is a broodmare at Lane’s End Farm in Kentucky. She gave birth to a colt sired by Bernardini in March and is pregnant with her second foal after being bred to Tapit.
Jerry Moss said the colt has been weaned, adding, “He’s looking great.” Nicknamed Baby Z, he has yet to be named.
“Name the horse Zendini,” a man suggested to Moss.
Zenyatta’s statue is located across from a life-sized statue of John Henry and not far from one of Seabiscuit.
(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)