The six-year-old daughter of  Street Cry will be retired to Lane's End, the Kentucky stud farm announced on Wednesday.

Idolised by the racing public not only in the US but around the world, the immensely popular mare finally lost her unbeaten tag in unforgettable circumstances with a head defeat to Blame as she attempted to land back-to-back successes in last month's Breeders' Cup Classic at Churchill Downs.

She will go down in the record books as the all-time leading North American female after amassing $7,304,580 (£4,594,225/€5,398,441) in earnings and gaining 13 top-flight victories.

Feverish speculation mounted after her agonising defeat to Blame, himself retired to stud this month, that Zenyatta could return to the track, but while owners Jerry and Ann Moss debated her future, trainer John Shirreffs hinted her racing days may be over.

Shirreffs said earlier this week: "We wanted the perfect ending. We didn't get it, but we saw a horse with a tremendous amount of heart that really tried."

Winner of the Eclipse award for top older female in 2008 and 2009, Zenyatta was initially retired after her first Classic victory in 2009.

However, her workouts impressed connections so much they reversed the decision and kept her in training in the quest to become the first horse to achieve a double in the Breeders' Cup showpiece since Tiznow in 2000-01.

Zenyatta was ridden for most of her career by Mike Smith, but the partnership ended on a sour note as the jockey came under intense criticism - notably from himself - for the Classic defeat, which came after Zenyatta had spent the first half of the race well adrift from the main field.

"Mike was devastated, really devastated," Shirreffs said in the aftermath of the Classic. "He loves this mare so much."

Zenyatta is expected to arrive at Will Farish's Lane's End Farm near Versailles, Kentucky in early December, though breeding plans have yet to be finalised.