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Zenyatta an 8-5 early favorite

She draws eighth post in BC Classic

By Beth Harris
Associated Press / November 3, 2010

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Zenyatta’s growing popularity outside horse racing led to her odds getting hammered down to 8-5 for the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic Saturday.

The horse with the 19-0 record was made the early favorite in a field of 12 for the 1 1/4-mile race on dirt, where she will end her career.

Churchill Downs oddsmaker Mike Battaglia originally had Zenyatta at 5-2 on the morning line.

“Then my wife showed me the latest issue of Oprah magazine with the most influential women of the year, so then I knocked her down to 2-1,’’ he said. “Then I saw ‘60 Minutes,’ so I knocked her down to 8-5. We’re all looking for something special.’’

Zenyatta, who is also featured in this month’s issue of fashion magazine W, will break from the No. 8 post against the boys.

“We like that number. It’s one of our favorite numbers,’’ said Ann Moss, who owns Zenyatta with her husband Jerry. “It’s considered to be a lucky number.’’

At 6, Zenyatta is the oldest in the Classic, in which she came from behind to win last year on Santa Anita’s synthetic surface.

This time, she’ll be running on dirt against an accomplished field that includes Preakness and Haskell winner Lookin At Lucky, Whitney winner Blame, and Quality Road.

Blame was installed as the 9-2 second choice and will break from post No. 5. Quality Road was third choice at 5-1 and drew the No. 1 post. Lookin At Lucky was the fourth choice at 6-1 and will start from the far outside No. 12 post.

Those three and Zenyatta are the only ones at single-digit odds.

Also in the Classic is Jockey Club Gold Cup winner Haynesfield, who beat Blame in that race and is 12-1.

A trio of horses — Preakness runner-up First Dude, Fly Down, and Kentucky Derby third-place finisher Paddy O’Prado — were at 15-1.

Espoir City from Japan and Musket Man, third in the 2009 Kentucky Derby, were at 20-1. Etched and Pleasant Prince are the longest shots in the field at 30-1.

Zenyatta is 5-0 this year, with one win coming on dirt in the Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas. The others were on synthetic tracks in Southern California, where she is based.

A repeat victory in the Classic would likely earn Zenyatta Horse of the Year honors, which she lost to Rachel Alexandra last year. Rachel retired in September.

“It’s great we get to decide these things on a neutral playing field when the whole world is watching,’’ said Todd Pletcher, who will saddle Quality Road.

Dale Romans, a Louisville native, will try to knock off the queen with his two horses, First Dude and Paddy O’Prado.

“Everybody in horse racing has become a fan. She has an ‘X’ factor you can’t handicap,’’ he said about Zenyatta. “If I don’t win, I hope she does and I think everyone feels the same way.’’