The 53-1 longshot Zenden turned in the performance of his career – a brilliant, track record-setting victory in Saturday’s $1.5 million Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1) – only to have his triumph turn to tragedy within seconds. On the gallop-out, the Carlos David charge broke down catastrophically and had to be euthanized. Jockey Antonio Fresu was unseated but escaped injury.
A pall was cast over World Cup night at Meydan, as participants on track and spectators around the world absorbed the shocking conclusion. What started out as the story of a gigantic upset, by the longest shot on the board, instead became a devastating punch to the gut.
Zenden’s form didn’t stand out among an international field. The winner of the 2018 Buffalo Man S. for original trainer Victor Barboza Jr., he also finished second in the 2019 Swale (G3) and fourth in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2). During his stint with Todd Pletcher, Zenden’s best results were an allowance score at Gulfstream Park West and a runner-up effort in the 2020 Fred W. Hooper (G3).
The LLP Performance Horse colorbearer resurfaced with David last fall. Successful in his debut for the barn at Laurel, he was well beaten in the Nov. 28 Frank Whiteley and Dec. 19 Mr. Prospector (G3). Zenden appreciated class relief to finish a head second in an optional claimer at Tampa Bay Downs, then moved forward to hold on in the Feb. 13 Pelican S. over the same track and trip.
Expected to be part of a contentious pace scenario in the Golden Shaheen, Zenden appeared to be up against it, especially once drawing the far outside post. But the strapping chestnut beat his rivals for speed and never looked back, crossing the wire a 3 1/4-length winner over Japan’s closing Red le Zele.
Canvassed rallied for third, overtaking Wildman Jack who salvaged fourth by a head from Copano Kicking. Al Tariq, Switzerland, slow-starting 9-5 favorite Yaupon, Premier Star, Jalen Journey, Justin, Matera Sky, and Good Effort rounded out the order of finish. Important Mission was scratched.
Zenden etched his name in the Meydan annals by establishing a new track record in 1:09.01. He bettered Mind Your Biscuits’ mark of 1:10.12 from the 2018 running. With his tragic final start in the books, he earned $1,131,760 from a 15-6-3-0 line.
Bred by Brent Harris and Beth Harris in Kentucky, Zenden was by Fed Biz and out of the Sharp Humor mare You Laughin. His dam is a half-sister to multiple Grade 1-winning millionaire Sweet Reason and Grade 3 scorer Don’t Forget Gil.