Colin’s signature race wasn’t his last, it was his penultimate start, in the important Belmont Stakes, one of the historic fixtures on the New York calendar. There was drama surrounding it because Colin wasn’t actually supposed to start in it — he’d been declared retired after suffering what was widely reported as a career-ending injury in the days leading up to the race. Then, miraculously, he appeared like an apparition under adverse conditions of fog and heavy rain and won, even though his jockey had misjudged the finish of the race and had eased up the champion with plenty left.
As with Personal Ensign and Zenyatta, the crowd spoke for Colin. The New York Times account of the race said:
Then the crowd went into a frenzy of emotion and appreciation, and acclaimed Colin champion in such applause that the hard-working brass band in the grand stand made only a dumb show in the effort to render the familiar air, ‘Hail to the Chief,’ for not a note was audible twenty yards from the band stand, so great was the tumult of the shouting and so sincere the crowd in its vociferation.”
That type of crowd response, whether 100 years ago, 20 years ago, or last Saturday, cannot be manufactured; it’s an organic reaction to the sight of something special.
That’s what Zenyatta was Saturday, when she joined the élite company of Personal Ensign and Colin in the pantheon of great AND undefeated racehorses.