November 25, 2009

Lady’s Secret to Zenyatta - A Mistake was Made

That foul odor you smell is emanating directly from the offices of the Oak Tree Association after yesterday’s announcement that they have renamed the Grade 1 Lady’s Secret Stakes . Starting next year, the race held every Fall at the Oak Tree at Santa Anita Meeting, will now be known as the Zenyatta Stakes. Don’t get me wrong, Zenyatta is a fabulous mare and it makes perfect sense that they want to honor her by naming a race the Zenyatta. We are all familiar with her fantastic list of accomplishments the past two years. The problem is the Oak Tree Association honored her by taking away needed recognition of one of the greatest mares ever to race in the United States.

Lady’s Secret was everything good about racing. The beautiful gray daughter of Secretariat danced every dance and did so with class and beauty. Owned by the late Eugene Klein and trained by D. Wayne Lukas, Lady’s Secret won 25 of her 45 races in the mid 80s. Nicknamed the Iron Lady, she won eight consecutive stakes as a three-year-old in 1985. She followed that up with a Horse of the Year campaign in 1986. In her four-year-old season, Lady’s Secret won ten graded stakes, eight of which were Grade 1s. It was her second straight year with ten stakes wins. She ran against males four times, with a dominant win in the Whitney. Lady’s Secret won four stakes that year at Santa Anita, including an easy score in the Breeders’ Cup.

It is a shame that she will no longer have a race named after her at the track where she won her most important race. The Hall-of-Famer does have a few other stakes named after her at other tracks, but they are much smaller and not fitting of one of racing’s royalty. Racing should revel in its rich and storied past. Lady’s Secret may be recent history, but make no mistake, she is an important part of the history of American racing. She was a grade 1 filly who deserves to have a grade 1 race named in her honor.

Give Zenyatta her race, she certainly deserves the recognition, but do not strip the honor from such a marvelous race horse as Lady’s Secret to do so. Zenyatta won the El Encino, Milady, Vanity, and Clement L. Hirsch in California, and Santa Anita also has a number of other big stakes for females during the year. The powers that be in in California racing easily could have renamed any one of the many stakes races for older mares run in Southern California. Any one of those races being renamed would not have disrespected the history of racing and the fitting honor bestowed upon the great Lady’s Secret. Instead the Oak Tree Association chose to make the poorest possible decision and I, for one, think their decision stinks.


LDP said...

I feel the way you do, Zenyatta did earn the right to have a stakes named after her, but not at the expense of another great. If I remember correctly both BB and Curlin have races in there honor, even Barbaro does, but their names did not take the place of another great. This should be the same case here.

LDP said...

I feel the way you do, Zenyatta did earn the right to have a stakes named after her, but not at the expense of another great. If I remember correctly both BB and Curlin have races in there honor, even Barbaro does, but their names did not take the place of another great. This should be the same case here.

tjreyn01 said...

Completely agree!!

Ghostsnapper said...

I was disappointed the minute it was announced that Oak Tree decided to rename the Lady's Secret Stakes the Zenyatta Stakes. I agree that I'd like to see a stakes race named after our great unbeaten mare, but to strip the honor from a previous champion isn't classy at all.

@LDP: The Barbaro Stakes was formerly known as the Sir Barton Stakes, and I was also miffed they stripped a stakes race from horse racing's first Triple Crown winner.

I'm sure it's all because of money they don't create more grated stakes instead of renaming them. It's just a shame they have to dishonor champions in the process.

LDP said...

I'm not so miffed at the two Barbro Stakes. Neither on had a great amount of stature to begin with unlike the Lady's Secret. That is why this is such an issue.

Marti said...

Talk about offensive...they can either create a race in Z's name, or re-name another one. THIS pisses me off. Lady's Secret is an all-time great who PROVED it, and she sure as hell doesn't deserve to be remembered by having the flavor of the month take her race from her. Sorry if the Z fans will think I am being too harsh...but this is a crock. How will you feel 10-15 years from now when they take it from Z to give it to the next mare they think needs a race?

Anonymous said...

(from jane)

No, Marti, it's OK.
I'm a BIG Zen fan. I think she's absolutely God's gift to the equine race! But I totally disagree with this!!
Yes, Zen should have her own race but you DONT JERK THE RUG OUT FROM UNDER THE IRON LADY TO DO IT!!! Officials have lost their minds riding the popularity of Zen; it's ridiculous!!
Thank you Brian, for posting this :)

Anonymous said...

I am SO angry--I cannot stand it!!! No one is a bigger fan of Zenyatta than I, but this is so WRONG!!! Lady's Secret was the Iron Maiden! She ran and ran and ran, beat males, and did everything asked of her (and that was a lot)! Not to mention, she was Horse of the Year! Find another race for honoring Zenyatta, PLEASE!!!

Jennifer Cook said...

Well put, Brian. LDP makes a great point, too, that the Lady's Secret was a prestigious race. Everyone makes a bad decision once in awhile. I hope that powers that be in this case hear the outcry and undo this one. There's got to be a better way.

The_Knight_Sky said...

Terribly foul stench!

The fans are speaking loud and clear in a different poll at my blog.

(you may have seen it)

PS: nice place you got here Mr. Zipse. I'll be sure to return. ;-)

joani said...

Smells like a publicity ploy. If this was intended to garner more support for Zenyatta's being named HoY, it may backfire, unfortunately. It's the wrong way to honor her at this time. It's a slap in the face to the great Lady's Secret and to those who remember her.

Anonymous said...

I'm in the minority, but I agree with this move. People don't forget this is not the first time that a horses. The Eight Belles used to be called the La Troienne, the Go for Wand was called the Maskette, and the Personal Ensign was called the Firenze. This is not the first time, or the last time a race was changed.

Anonymous said...

I voted for the renaming, although I don't like it. Neither did I like the Barbaro Stakes knocking off old Sir Barton, especially now that Barbaro has two races named for him. Replacing the great foundation mare La Troienne with a great filly famous for her accidental death on the track bothered me as well. But this is the trend and it will continue. I won't stand in the way of remembering horses that are nearer and dearer to the racing public's hearts now. Honoring more recent horses gives more accolades to those who live amongst us too, their living trainers, owners and breeders. That's a nice plus, to honor those who are alive to appreciate it. Still, if I could keep the original names I would. But it might be better for the sport to live more in the present. At least Zenyatta was worthy, not a payback for the kind of accidents that will always happen in racing.

Valerie said...

I totally agree with you, Brian. How quickly we rush to forget the true legends. Just as renaming races after Eight Belles and Barbaro were undertaken too early (and, seriously, doesn't it appear a bit odd to name races after horses that breakdown? Just saying...), this smacks of public relations one-ups-manship on the part of Oak Tree/Santa Anita, as one of the TWO Clement Hirsch races would have been the more appropriate to rename.

By the way, I LOVE your new look! Especially the white background for the main text. It was way too hard to read the white text on black. Nice job!!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a West Coast ploy to get more HOY votes for Zenyatta (and no I'm not biased, I'm from So Cal). Timing is everything and it's way off here.

Steve Munday said...

Agree with just about everyone's comments above. Shouldn't have to honor Zenyatta's legacy by diminishing the legacy of another great mare.

I wish she would stay in training one more year and maybe try a race or two east of the Mississippi.

Susan said...

I know they want to honor Zen, but this is wrong. Find another race to rename, make a new race, but don't take a Grade one away from Lady's Secret.

Amateurcapper said...


You and the other commenters know how I love ZENYATTA...

That said, I agree wholeheartedly that taking the Lady's Secret away from a rememberance honoring a truly great champion is a complete travesty. I know the reasoning...ZENYATTA won the Lady's Secret twice and were her only G.1 wins @ SA, but it's not a requirement for a horse to win a stakes for it to be named for her/him.

How would the ZENYATTA INVITATIONAL HANDICAP sound? That would replace the Santa Margarita Invitational Handicap, which crowns the best older female of the prestigious winter/spring meeting. That would give two of the best females ever to be shod two important races on the SoCal stakes calendar.

Maybe all this discussion could result in the "powers that be" changing their minds? Should there be a petition?

T. N. Trosin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
T. N. Trosin said...

At least I now know I'm not the only one that thought this was a bad idea.

Let Oak Tree know your thoughts

Assault said...

I was actually surprised to read this type of blog from you. In fact, I'm surprised that your surprised of this event.

Look through your "American Racing Manual" and you will see that this event happens on a frequent basis.

I am a pinhooker. I judge horseflesh for a living.

OakTree and Sherwood Chillingworth understand that Zenyatta is the most brilliant mare that has ever raced on this circuit since December 25, 1934.

From this point forward, every filly or mare that steps foot on the racetrack that lies at the base of the San Gabriel mountains will be measured against the legendary "Zenyatta".

The incomparable "Zenyatta" is at the pinnacle and the pantheon of all fillies and mares that ever raced. Ruffian is the only one that is comparable.

Lady's Secret is not comparable to Zenyatta. I've seen both in person. I have all their video footage. Zenyatta breathes different air. She is in a different area code all together.

Eugene Klein has been quoted and has said that Lady's Secret could not beat aged males at a mile and a quarter. His actions speak volumes. He was true to his word. He never entered Ladies Secret in the Breeders Cup Classic.

Eugene Klein would be honored to be surpassed by this brilliant mare.

You have to keep in mind that you have been blessed to see this superstar.

Trevor Denman said it best: "SuperHorse". I haven't heard that term used since "Secretariat" graced the cover of "Time" magazine.

Ladies Secret was one of the great ones , but there are only so many Grade I events for fillies and mares at the OakTree meeting.

It takes a "Horse of the Year" to replace a "Horse of the Year".

Citation said...

That sound your hearing is me laughing my ass off about how weak that 2009 Woodward Stakes was.

Did Macho Again finish 9th in the Clark today?

Where was Bullsbay?

By the Way: Did Rachel Alexandra take the whip 20 times (from Borel) to beat Macho Again?

The only horse that has had quality this year is "Summer Bird". Everything else has been garbage.