Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Zenyatta signals she's ready to roll

Jay Privman, Daily Racing Form

DEL MAR, Calif. - The best filly in the country ran last Sunday in New Jersey. At the other end of the continent, the best mare in the country runs this Sunday.

One week after Rachel Alexandra's tour de force in the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth, Zenyatta will put her unbeaten record on the line at Del Mar in the Grade 1, $300,000 Clement Hirsch Stakes, a race she won last year en route to an Eclipse Award as champion older filly or mare.

In an apparent indication of her readiness for this weekend's race, Zenyatta turned in a sensational workout on Sunday morning, effortlessly breezing five furlongs in 1:00 while outworking Green Cat, a stablemate in trainer John Shirreffs's barn. Of the 174 workouts on Del Mar's main track on Sunday morning, only two received breezing designations.

"She's sitting on go," said Steve Willard, the regular exercise rider for Zenyatta. "I've been doing this for 50 years, and I still get a kick out of it with a horse like her. She goes in a high cruising speed, at three-quarter throttle, but you know you can swallow the other horse whenever you want."

"Zenyatta looked really good," Shirreffs said. "With the race a week away, you don't want to do too much."

The Hirsch, at 1 1/16 miles on Polytrack, is expected to have a small field, in large part because the Hirsch is a stakes race instead of a handicap, and Zenyatta will carry 123 pounds and concede, at most, four pounds to her rivals. She carried 129 pounds when she won the Vanity Handicap at Hollywood Park in her last start.

Her rivals could include Life Is Sweet, who also is trained by Shirreffs. But her status became clouded after a sizzling five-furlong work, in company, in 57.60 seconds on Sunday morning, which Shirreffs thought was too fast. The time equaled the fastest of 85 at the distance.

Zenyatta, owned by Jerry and Ann Moss, and Life Is Sweet, owned by Pam and Marty Wygod, ran against one another at Hollywood Park, with Zenyatta prevailing in the Milady Handicap. Since then, Life Is Sweet finished third against males in the Hollywood Gold Cup. Life Is Sweet was being pointed to the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap last Sunday against males, but was pulled from consideration because Shirreffs was not satisfied with the way she trained when she first got to Del Mar this summer.

Since then, though, she has done better, Shirreffs said. Asked if waiting a week from the Hirsch to go instead in the Grade 1, $350,000 John Mabee Stakes on turf on Aug. 16 was an option - being as Life Is Sweet has run well on turf in the past - Shirreffs said, "Mr. Wygod is not interested in running on the grass."

In addition to Zenyatta, those certain for the Hirsch are Anabaa's Creation, Champagne Eyes, Dawn Before Dawn, and Lethal Heat.

Anabaa's Creation worked five furlongs in 1:00.60 on Sunday morning for trainer Julio Canani.

Briecat, Life Is Sweet, and Tidal Dance are possible for the race.

"We're going to enter and take a look," Peter Eurton, the trainer of Tidal Dance, said Monday morning.


D.S. Williamson said...

I'm betting Zenyatta gives as good as Rachel Alexandra did. They are 2 of the finest specimens around today. It is truly awesome to watch them run.

ai said...


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