Because Guildenstern cannot justify or understand the thing that is happening right in front of his face, he dismisses it. Numbers-wise, it doesn't make sense. The way he clings desperately to his pragmatism eventually leads to the rather annoyed and finally resigned Guildenstern awaiting his execution.
Tomorrow, Zenyatta runs in what will likely be her final race. She has started nineteen times, and she has won nineteen times. This annoys a lot of people, because these folks are racing pragmatists who depend upon numbers and trends and whatever fancy new handicapping system they have to give them probabilities of how horses are going to run. Like Guildenstern, they use logic, and their logic is speed. Pure speed that is quantifiable and measurable by the speed figures that tell them when a horse is performing at the top of the game.
But Zenyatta is the idiot savant who just doesn't see those numbers. To her, it's not about predicting who is going to win. It's about actually going out and running the race. And so far, she's done that pretty damned well.
There's been a ton of analysis, of course, leading up to the Breeder's Cup Classic. It's been insane, actually. Mostly, handicappers have fallen back on their tools and their tools tell them that it's Blame, and not Zenyatta, who is a mortal lock for tomorrow. Along with this, they take time out to explain why Zenyatta is going to lose. It looks a little like this:
She's too slow: Zenyatta's speed figures are substantially lower than those of the majority of the field.
She's a synthetic specialist: Only two of Zenyatta's races have come on conventional dirt, and both of those races were at Oaklawn Park. She hasn't run at Churchill Downs yet.
Her style won't be conducive to a dirt track: Zenyatta comes from far back, and the word is that speed holds much, much better on the dirt than it does on the synthetics.
She hasn't beaten anything: Zenyatta hasn't faced the top horses in the country all year.
She barely wins her races in slow times: Although she wins, she really does just eke out these victories, and she does it over extremely suspect competition.
These are the reasons the numbers people give. This is why she can't beat Blame, Quality Road, Lookin At Lucky or Haynesfield.
Well, I am a numbers person, too. But I only have one number:
The sheer amount of coverage Zenyatta has received since arriving at Churchill Downs earlier in the week has been unfathomable. There was a 60 Minutes special on her last week. She has a wonderful feature in Sports Illustrated. There have been interviews with all of her connections and stories just coming from all over the place. This is the kind of attention reserved for a champion AFTER a race, not in the week preceding it. But when people are around Zenyatta, logic goes out the window. HOW has this mare managed to win 19 races in a row, including two Breeder's Cup races? HOW did she beat those colts last year with the trip she had? HOW did she win this year's Santa Margarita while buried down on the rail with a sixteenth of a mile to go? HOW did she run down a filly while carrying nine more pounds? Stand in front of her. Just look at her size, and at the way she moves. People who do this become Rosencrantzes. They're tossing that coin, it keeps landing heads, and rather than question how it can be, they accept it and marvel at it. Whenever Zenyatta has gone to the track this week, she's been followed by literally hundreds of people with cameras. People leave their cars in the street to come over and get a look at her as she grazes behind her fence. Even trainers, hardened racetrackers, are taken aback and in awe when they see her. Her owners followed Zenyatta to the track in a sheriff's car, as Ann Moss filmed Zenyatta's van while hanging out of the window. It's bedlam, kids, that would even make the Beatles run for cover.
(remake of A Hard Day's Night with Zenyatta? She DOES love the camera!)
Her detractors, and they are legion, are cynical Guildensterns, always demanding another coin toss, so the universe can be set right. They have set impossible standards for her: She has to win ANOTHER Breeder's Cup Classic to be considered a great horse. She simply cannot be great unless she beats males, at ten furlongs, at Churchill Downs.
That's ludicrous. She already IS great. No other horses are held to this standard. The Guildensterns don't think much of her record. ANY horse, running against Zenyatta's competition, would win nineteen in a row. But her record DOES mean something to racing, and it's starting to mean something to the people outside of racing. Zenyatta has already landed heads 156 times in a row. If she doesn't make that 157th toss, it won't take away from her utterly magnificent accomplishments.
At the end of Stoppard's play, while awaiting execution, Guildenstern is still trying to find reason in the insanity of the play:
Where we went wrong was getting on a boat. We can move, of course, change direction, rattle about, but our movement is contained within a larger one that carries us idly towards eternity without possibility of reprieve or hope of explanation.
He still thinks there was a point when he could have made a decision that wouldn't have resulted in this outcome. Guildenstern doesn't understand that fate has put him here. He never had a chance. Rosencrantz, on the other hand, is just as cheerful, if not just a touch more befuddled than usual. Rosencrantz would freaking love Zenyatta. He'd be feeding her carrots, while Guildenstern would be measuring her to figure out how the hell she won all those races.
Tomorrow should be a celebration, not of records or statistics or a biased/non-biased track or pace or speed figures or any of that, but of perfection and honesty and heart. We should be carried along with Zenyatta, instead of worrying or fussing or fighting about what her place in history will be. This will likely be the last time we see this magnificent horse run and no matter what happens, watching this great horse barrel off that turn and charge down the stretch is going to be enough for me.