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Winx and Zenyatta – Queens of Racing

As Americans, we are always looking for the next great thing. Technology, trends–even race horses. We have been blessed by what some are calling another ‘Golden Age’ of Thoroughbred racing. From Tiznow to American Pharoah, the 21st century has sparkled.

But what if a horse so captivated a nation in which she had never stepped foot?

A world over in Australia, the tides are flowing in the same direction. A Queen of the Turf has reigned supreme for nearly three years now. Winning almost every major race that she can, Winx is standing taller than any other horse on the planet. She has consistently bested her rivals at their own game, breaking their hearts time and time again. Winx will be ready for a new challenge in 2018, as the great mare is set to take her show on the road.

Winx has excited American racing fans unlike any other international horse. We have set our alarms in the dead of night to watch her extend her winning streak, which extended to 22 races when she added a third Cox Plate to her resume in October. By the late Street Cry, she checks all the boxes when it comes to speed and stamina, but there is one other factor that draws American racing fans to her in a unique way…

…her distinct similarities to our Queen of recent times, Zenyatta.

Zenyatta marks her 18th victory, winning the Clement L. Hirsch Stakes at Del Mar Thorobred Club, Del Mar, CA (Photo by Eclipse Sportswire)

Zenyatta and Winx are the same in many ways but unique enough in their own right. Comparing horses is often hard. The two mares are actually ‘half-sisters’ (true half siblings in thoroughbreds only share a dam). They are both daughters of Street Cry, effectively stamping his worth as a stallion. Street Cry ran primarily on dirt and synthetics but was bred to for the turf as well. Zenyatta was a monster on dirt and synthetics, but many have speculated that she would have handled the turf with ease. Winx has never raced on a surface other than turf, but her pedigree suggests that she would handle any other surface no problem.

The dominance and class that both mares have exhibited in their racing careers is a special feat that will withstand the test of time. Both have amassed some of the longest racing streaks in modern history. Winx’s 22 race winning streak is the second longest in her native Australia, behind only Black Caviar. Zenyatta also claims the second longest in her native land with 19–bested only by Rapid Redux. Winx has also eclipsed Zenyatta in the successive stakes department, with her 22 stakes wins ahead of Zenyatta’s 17. Zenyatta, however, ranks supreme when it comes to fewest losses, having only been defeated once, while Winx has lost a total of six times, finishing out of the money on three occasions.

When it comes to size and stature, Zenyatta and Winx could not be more different. It is no secret that Zenyatta towers over most other Thoroughbreds. Zenyatta stands 17.2 hands tall at her withers, over an entire hand taller than Winx at 16.1. Zenyatta also has over a hundred pounds on her.

Winx’s unique strides really set her apart from any other race horse, even Zenyatta. Unlike her rivals, Winx does not have a particularly long stride. Her stride has been measured around 22.2 feet, while most Thoroughbreds are around 25 feet or even more. Her small and efficient stride allows her to take 14 strides every 5 seconds, allowing her to settle or accelerate at any point in a race. Zenyatta has a stride that was measured around 26 feet, significantly larger than Winx.

Winx – photo courtesy of Andrew Hawkins

One aspect that the two great mares share is their devastating turn of foot. When the field turns for home, they both gobble up the ground and rocket past their foes. Both have a come from behind style that has failed few times. Zenyatta had a habit of breaking last and settling well behind the pack before unleashing a kick in the stretch. It is quite a true statement that some of Zenyatta’s races are arguably the most exciting we have seen this century. Winx, however is content to sit wherever she falls in, whether that be in the back or mid pack. Winx’s rally comes underway around the turn, and she pulls away in the home straight. These performances often make racing fans love and appreciate them even more. Never going to the lead and hoping to hang on, these mares have left us hungry for more excitement when they try to come and catch them.

While the curtain has long closed on Zenyatta’s career, the beat goes on for Winx. She is currently resting up and awaiting her 2018 campaign. Returning in the Spring, she will target the races at Royal Ascot and eventually could travel the world even more. She has proved herself more than enough in Australia, beating any horse at any distance–even if it is not her preferred one.

As Winx is set to become a global titan of the turf, Zenyatta is enjoying time in her paddock at Lane’s End in Kentucky. After foaling a filly by Medaglia d’Oro this year, she was bred in late Spring to Into Mischief. Hopefully 2018 will answer the two big questions we have for these incomparable mares : Can Winx win outside of Australia? Will one of Zenyatta’s foals finally win a race?

One thing is for sure, whatever happens next, horse racing fans will always adore these two Queens of the sport.


A special “Thank You” to Andrew Hawkins for the photos of the great Winx.

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