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Zenyatta gets a visit from Terrell Owens

Terrell Owens was struck by Zenyatta's size (Benoit Photos)
Unbeaten superstar ZENYATTA (Street Cry [Ire]) was introduced to Terrell Owens, the star wide receiver of the Cincinnati Bengals, at her Hollywood Park barn on Sunday. In California on business as the Bengals had a bye week, Owens enjoyed his first trip to a racetrack in the state and first to any stable area.

"I've been following a lot of horse racing," Owens said. "I've been to the Kentucky Derby (G1) and visited Three Chimneys Farm (near Midway, Kentucky).

"I've been hearing so much about Zenyatta. I thought it would be great if I was able to see her."

Owens, who played with San Francisco, Philadelphia and Dallas before joining the Bengals this past off season, was not disappointed in the experience.

Trainer John Shirreffs escorted Owens to Zenyatta's stall, where she was being tended by groom Mario Espinoza. When Espinoza led her out of her stall to graze outside, Owens' eyes widened.

"Man, she's big!" he said.

Shirreffs answered a question from Owens as to why Zenyatta was wearing standing bandages, then the six-time Pro Bowler fed the 19-for-19 superstar a couple of carrots.

Informed that Zenyatta is remarkably gentle around the barn, a contrast to her being highly competitive on the track in the afternoon, Owens smiled.

"So, she's like me: kind off the field, but somebody who shows a lot of passion on it," he said.

"She's a beautiful horse. She is a big girl."

Owens also took some time to visit the jockeys' room and was part of the winner's circle picture with trainer Barry Abrams, jockey Matt Garcia and the owners (Madeline Auerbach LLC) after Butch Marino's (Marino Marini) 11-1 upset victory in the 6TH race.

Earlier on Sunday, Zenyatta had galloped on the Hollywood Park training track under exercise rider Steve Willard, and about 25 fans paid a visit to her stable in the morning. 

Another of her many rooters is Jimmy Duggan, who was responsible for a special saddle that she has worn in her last 16 wins.

"She needed a special saddle because of her high withers," explained Duggan, steeplechase analyst for TVG. "The old saddle was pinching her. I called the Wicks Tack Shop in Lambourn, England, to have a special saddle made for her."

The saddle made a circuitous route to the Shirreffs barn.

"The saddle was sent to Newmarket, then to Dover, then to Calais, then to Luxemburg, and finally to quarantine at Hollywood Park," Duggan said of the trip in 2008. "It got here after her third start."

Zenyatta, who achieved a three-peat in the Lady's Secret S. (G1) on October 2, is scheduled to work Friday. She is preparing for her title defense in the November 6 Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) at Churchill Downs, her grand finale in quest of her 20th victory.


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