THE VAULT: Horse Racing Past and Present

Hi again. Part of the way that Zenyatta inspired my life was through a series of events that led to my starting my own non-profit horse racing blog, THE VAULT. I have loved thoroughbreds since I was a little girl, but it took me until I was a mature adult to take the risk of sharing that love, plus great photos from both my own collection and those taken by superb equine photographers worldwide, on THE VAULT. Today, we have over 32,000 readers from Japan to Australia to North America, Europe & South Africa.

Zen-sters on Zenyatta's Diary were really my first readers, together with Blood Horse's Steve Haskin.

I will continue to post the latest from THE VAULT here on Zenny's forum, as I did when her Diary was active. The latest, as "Zensters Emeritus" know is dedicated to Kari Bussell, Zenny's greatest fan, and is about Kari's "first love," Ruffian:



  • Abigail, you are without a doubt one of the treasures I discovered through my love for Z, and I am forever grateful to you for your tireless efforts in offering fresh perspectives, a lot of history, and technical details of our sport in an entertaining way. I did not know you had so many readers!!! Wow! I'm so proud of you and for you! Hugs, sweetie!
  • Abigail, well done! I just love to look at the old black & white photos.
  • Abigail I love your blog! I just signed on and looking forward to reading! Thanks!
  • Dear Abigail,
    Could you again post your pedigree analysis for Zenyatta's second mate???
    How did you make this thread ??? So glad you did.
  • Absolutely love this piece on the great Ruffian.
  • heck, people! I don't know what I am doing just yet! Can you all read this??? LOL!
    Love the Vault! So happy we can stay in touch and continue to enjoy Abigail's blog!!
  • I can never read enough or see enough photographs of Ruffian. I can still tear up if I think about her too long. Thanks for your wonderful narrative on her. You certainly did her justice. I love all your work. I remember the first one I read - it was on Steve's blog.
  • Thank you, Abigail for continuing to share your wonderful blog here also. I loved the blog post about Ruffian. It brought out so much more information and I really enjoyed reading it. I tried to post a comment on the blog but for some reason wordpress would not let me comment, even though I had commented on others at your site before. I'm so feeble at so much of this computer stuff, I just gave up. Any way...getting to the point ... I'm happy you will be sharing here, too!
  • Thank you, Abigail! You did it again, an awesome job of telling 'The Lady' s' story. I also fell in love with her when I was a little girl, and the phrase ' The Lady is a Champ' will always bring a tear of joy and sadness to my eyes. She was the most feminine of racehorses I had ever seen, yet she was a bulldozer on the track! She was the foundation for me to start watching the girls race, up until then I only watched the males. But boy did she open my eyes to true beauty and grace, wrapped up in a ball of dynamite! She is the most beautiful filly I've ever seen and will always be 'The Lady' to me! Perfect conformation, intelligient disposition, meek in temperment, the heart and will of the 'Ironhorse', playful sense of humor, and wings of eagles on her feet! When her hooves hit the dirt of the racetrack, all bets were off. To this day, she is the ONLY CHAMPION that has never been headed! If she had lived, I wonder what her babies would have been like?
  • @ Anne Maree, KellyM, OCSurfergirl, Signofthetimes, Karen, Dani, Celeste & Valeria: Thanks so much for taking the time to respond -- I truly appreciate it! I debated as to whether or not I should put something up about THE VAULT but, as I said, the tradition from the start on Zenny's Diary blog was to share first with my Zen-ster family before it went on out into the world. Celeste -- that's annoying that wordpress wouldn't let you post since, according to my site statistics, you are MY MOST DEVOTED least in terms of readers who leave comments (apparently 75% or more don't!). Dani: Yup, my very first was about Zenny & entitled "A Response to I Lied" and it was such an exciting experience to guest blog on Steve's "Hangin' With Haskin." I really thought that I'd get murdered -- my article was SO different than what Steve usually writes about. But people really liked it and I went on from there -- with a push from Steve -- to open THE VAULT.

    It's SO odd how events can weave together to open up a world of possibilities. It's like how I feel about my "Zen friends".....I mean, if I'd never paid attention to Kari's video & then looked more closely at Zenyatta, I wouldn't be here writing to all of you today. A little touch of the Divine, to be sure, and some Zenny angel dust!!!!
  • carolinarkansascarolinarkansas hot springs, arkansasMember
    Hi Abigail...always read your articles with great the pictures and videos...keep em coming....
  • Abigail, I have enjoyed everything you have ever written and have learned so much from reading your words.
  • Abigail You are a TREASURE !!! You are a very Gifted Lady. I am so glad we have you and The Vault.
  • Dear Abigail:

    Loved the article on Ruffian and I must say I enjoy everything you've done on the Vault. Your pieces on Northern Dancer, Secretariat, Man o' War, Z and RA, to name a few, all wonderful. Hugs, JB
  • Thank you for remembering the greatest female (or male for that matter) racehorse in history. Ruffian had it ALL. She had the speed to stay up front in every race, never headed, she had the endurance to stay in front and keep it up for a mile and a half, running that distance faster than the colts did, and there was only one horse that Secretariat's trainer thought could beat him, and that was Ruffian. She was not only such a great racehorse, but the beauty she had, she could have been a showhorse also. No need for fancy color mixing on TB's as they do now to make a pretty horse, Ruffian was natural, and she was beautiful, and she knew it. Kind of like Zenyatta, but Ruffian will always be the best horse there ever was. Thank you all. :)
  • Dear Carolinutah, Crazy4Z, Shari & TErnhrdt: Thank you SO MUCH for these lovely comments and for sharing your own stories about loving Ruffian. It was a bit daunting to take her on as a subject, I must say, since her story has been told so beautifully by authors like Jane Schwartz and she is an icon of American racing. I'm glad I got the tone and focus of the piece right from your point of view. And, as teachers like myself & Shari would know: I learned more than you can imagine by tackling a text on Ruffian that experts on her career would still enjoy reading!
  • Abigail, You write so beautifully and inform so well. I am new to almost all of the TB racing details, only what I read and trips to Saratoga when I was a little girl with my dad. I'm trying to soak in all of Zenyatta's world and loving it. I really appreciate your contribution and although I didn't know Kari, I feel like I did. Thank you.
  • Abigail, this really was such a beautiful story and so engrossing that I almost thought there would be a happy ending! Ruffian broke my heart and Zenyatta helped heal it. You have that wonderful ability to really draw the reader in. Thank you for reminding us of the beautiful "licorice daughter". I also just re-read the story of Jericho Braveheart, your spirit dog. Tears fell again and now I know what your heart felt like after losing him. When I first read about Jericho, I had no idea how losing a pet could cause so much grief. You and your family were so lucky to have him and he was so lucky to have you! Thank you again for sharing your wonderful stories. You have a real gift!
  • caseycasey any racetrack with camera in handMember
    Your blog is so informative and entertaining at the same time. I always enjoy reading it!
  • The Vault is a treasure and I am glad you are on the new site. I don't post much in the Forum, prefer the blog. Your presence here may help me change my mind.
  • The Vault is a treasure and I am glad you are on the new site. I don't post much in the Forum, prefer the blog. Your presence here may help me change my mind.
    Hi, Terry! I'm just the opposite...I think I like the Forum better than the blog...there seems to be a lot of things being said in that blog that I find a little hard to take. People who don't seem to know anything throwing comments around like they are facts, and it seems the same misinformation keeps coming up, as people don't seem to be able to read prior comments which might have addressed the very issue they brought up! At least here in the Forum, there are many discussions to choose from, and most people on here seem to be pretty cordial and aren't so argumentative. I'm glad we have several options. Good to "see" you, and glad all the Zsters have showed up here. It's actually a little easier to parse through everyone's comments than it was on the Diary. I grew weary of paging through 400 to 500 comments!!! Wow! One Diary had over 800 comments!
  • Hi Abigail, please consider doing a piece on Swale or Pebbles! I would love to read a story about one of my most beloved champions, as it seems everyone has seem to have forgotten about Slew's black beauty of a son. It was a sad day to lose him so soon, if he had lived, I truly believe he would have been a Triple Crown Champion like his father. I love all of Slew's progeny, but Swale was my heart, beautiful, and something to see on the racetrack! Thanks!
  • Dear Marypny, louisecastello, Casey, Terry Crow, Ann Maree & Valeria: Thank you so very much for taking the time to write your support for THE VAULT. It's always wonderful to hear from VAULT readers and share their experiences and memories and so forth. Terry -- I understand how you feel about the Forum. I'm not great with forums in general but I do agree that having different topics sure helps to focus my energy. Valeria -- Pebbles is on my list already but I'm having a miserable time getting any real info. on her except the usual, dry stuff. I will certainly be pleased to add Swale! Consider it done. He was a beauty and a massive talent -- his loss was huge for the breed as well as his fans. Mary & Casey: so glad you enjoyed the piece about Ruffian. As I said above, she was quite daunting to take on. Louise: I remember hearing from you when Jericho died. You wrote me such a beautiful message. I'm THRILLED to meet you here again!
  • Dear Abigale,
    Each and every single time I try to leave you a comment to tell you how much your exquisite words about my moma and Ruffian mean to me, I get all emotional and lose myself reading another one of your beautiful installments on The Vault. Even with all the time that has passed since I first read this, I am still at a great loss of words to express how truly moved I am. She loved Ruffian with a passion. I grew up hearing so much about her , I feel like a expert who was alive to witness her greatness. She always said Majestic Prince was the first horse to make the hair on the back of her neck stand up and her first love, but Ruffian was the first horse to completely capture her whole heart. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. I will treasure this tribute to her always.
    I hope you might consider doing a piece on the great stallion Boston. My son is named after him, keeping a promise to my great grandad. We have searched for info on him for years. He is mentioned in a few books and has a wikipedia page,but that is about it on him.
    I would also like to thank you for being such a good friend to her. I look forward to reading your next installment.
  • Abigail, oh I'm so happy to have found you here, I hope you remember me. I adored your series and wanted you to publish it. Well I'll settle for this for now. Enjoyed the Ruffian/Kari article so much......loved both of them a lot. Both very special "souls" who left a mark on my heart and many others. I love the old pictures you include in each article it is so great to see these famous legends. I hope someday you will do one on my love A P Indy. Hugs
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