Zenyatta at Del Mar Race Track, CA - My Family Travels

There’s nothing about Del Mar, CA that one would really say complies with the “real world” throughout the month of August. It’s a small beach town a few miles up the coast from San Diego, but even from the freeway you can tell it’s something special. The sun comes out early and stays out nearly as long as the throng of eclectic tourists; people flock to the beautiful beaches from dawn ‘til dusk ‘til dawn again, romantic couples and young attractive surfers alike. Big white mansions cover the surrounding hills, looking out over the Pacific and giving this beach town a rather Mediterranean feel. And in the evenings beautiful people put on beautiful summer gowns and button-up Tommy Bahamas that they bought for too much money that day and head downtown to dine and drink in one of the many up-scale eateries that line the beach and Main Street.

            But the real magic resides somewhere else, a sort of alternate wonderland you might say. Wednesday through Sunday for six weeks in summer Del Mar locales and world travelers alike escape their own lives to head to the infamous and grandeur Del Mar racetrack, “Where the Surf Meets the Turf.”

            The energy changes when you walk passed the gates into the horse racetracks. Not a single body in the vicinity lacks the excitement of being in the presence of such talent, beauty, and… money!

             Even the L.A. good ol’ boys clad in silk Hawaiian prints and cigars hanging out the sides of their mouths, even the Sheik’s sons head to toe in expensive pinstriped suits and their young Italian fashion guru fiancés, with their blonde dancing hair partially covered by exotic lace sunhats, do not compare to one being as she steps into the paddock. The most impressive aspect of Del Mar thus far, perhaps.

            I’d heard speak of this Zenyatta from my dad, read about her in the paper, and overheard her name already today about 300 times. But only as this filly stepped into the grassy paddock did I really understand all the fuss. She would stop mid-stride, paw the ground with her head held high, then turn toward her competitors and stare straight into their eyes.  The crowd erupted into impressed chuckled, but there was something very intimidating about her. That may have partly explained the odds- 27:1, 32:1, 53:1, etc., and 1:9.

            Zenyatta was like no animal I’d ever seen. She knew what a real race was all about. See, Zenyatta had raced eleven times in her career; she had been towards the end of the pack each time, jogged her way around the track, and had won eleven times. This horse was unbeatable and she knew it.

            So the fillies lined up in the gate and the people raced back to their expensive clubhouse seats. And before you knew it, “they’re off!”

            Around the track they went; the horse with the unfathomably low odds in last, and all eyes on her. Then suddenly at the last stretch there was a change of pace. Zenyatta was not at the back anymore, but was in fourth, then second! The crowd could not sit still! People were scrambling to see over their neighbors hat, were yelling and chanting throughout the pavilion, “Get ‘er Zenyatta!” And at the finish two horses sped by, neck in neck.

            There was no question, however, as to who the winner was. “The Great Zenyatta” took flight in the fairy tale town of Del Mar that August day. I swear you could almost see the cape blowing in the breeze behind her.


Picture: http://media.kentucky.com/smedia/2009/08/10/03/552-ARC112_Del_Mar_Horse_Racing.1.standalone.prod_affiliate.79.jpg


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