She came out on the track, her groom leading her to the barn to be saddled. She knew she was the center of attention, and she seemed to instinctively know that she was at the most famous track in the land. She also seemed to have a sense that, one way or another, history was going to be made on this day.
And she pranced. She strutted. While her groom tried very hard to keep the crowd quiet, she seemed to revel in the attention. She took it all in, and it was as if she was thinking to herself, "yes, I am the best, and I know it. It's time to have a little fun."
The race began, and she quickly dropped to last place. The gap between her and the horses in front of her was amazing. "Something must be wrong," I said to my wife. At any moment, I expected Mike Smith, her jockey, to pull up and lead her off the track.
He didn't. And as the field ran down the backstretch and approached the final turn, she began to look as if there was still something there. Mike Smith led her through the pack, and then to the outside, where it was time for one last, desperate stretch run.
It was one of the most amazing scenes in the world of sports that I can remember. It brought to mind Dave Wottle's amazing 800-meter run at the 1972 Olympics, with Jim McKay screaming "He's got one Kenyan! He's got the next..." as Wottle stuck his head in front of Yevgeny Arzhanov at the tape to win the gold medal.
She had a clear view of the finish line, and she was clearly the fastest horse on the track - the best horse on the track. She gained ground, with blazing speed.
And she lost, by a head, for the first time. But even in losing, she was a champion. And now she will be able to prance to her heart's delight, out in the field, without having to worry about running down those pesky, arrogant boys.
Zenyatta. A great champion.