Monday, January 18, 2010

Zenyatta Back to Work at Hollywood Park

By Jack Shinar

A day after owners Jerry and Ann Moss announced that the undefeated champion Zenyatta would return for her 6-year-old season in 2010, the strapping mare worked five furlongs in 1:01 2/5 for trainer John Shirreffs at Hollywood Park on Jan. 17.

No return race has been selected yet, but Shirreffs told Daily Racing Form that Zenyatta could return in the $250,000 Santa Margarita Handicap (gr. I) at Santa Anita on March 13.

The daughter of Street Cry was to be retired for breeding after completing a career that consisted of 14 wins in 14 starts.

But the Mosses decided they would rather see Zenyatta race in 2010 because she had been doing so well while awaiting transfer to Kentucky to begin her broodmare career. Zenyatta won the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) in her most recent race on Nov. 7.

She is a finalist for 2009 Horse of the Year along with the 3-year-old filly Rachel Alexandra. The winner will be announced Jan. 18 at the annual Eclipse Award banquet in Beverly Hills.

Her latest workout was her fourth timed drill since the Breeders' Cup and the first beyond a half-mile.

Shirreffs told DRF that no decision has been made on Zenyatta's schedule, but indicated that they would like to return to Oaklawn Park for the Apple Blossom Handicap (gr. I) in Hot Springs, Ark., on April 3.

Zenyatta won the 2008 Apple Blossom, her only start outside of California in her career. It was also her only race on a dirt track.That would make the Santa Margarita a well-timed prep. Zenyatta has never raced in the 1 1/8-mile Santa Margarita, but she is five-for-five at Santa Anita.

Meanwhile, the decision to return Zenyatta to action has been well-received all around racing.

"It's the greatest thing to happen to racing in years, that they decided to run her again," Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella said Jan. 17. "It's not like she's ever been abused. John Shirreffs is not going to do that. She's lightly raced. What's the point of retiring her?

“I think it's a great thing for everybody; maybe not for the people who have to run against her," he added.

Zenyatta's jockey, Mike Smith agreed. "Her comeback is definitely great for racing. She's a star, and people love to watch her run. She's doing great and she's happy and healthy. Hopefully, she'll stay that way and keep on winning."

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