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BREEDERS’ CUP CHAMP BEHOLDER FACES OLDER FOR THE FIRST TIME, JOYFUL VICTORY & NAPRAVNIK SHIP WEST AS CONTENTIOUS FIELD OF EIGHT COLLIDE IN GRADE I ZENYATTA STAKES AT SANTA ANITA SATURDAY
OUTSTANDING FIELD CONTESTS MILE AND A SIXTEENTH BREEDERS’ CUP ‘WIN AND YOU’RE IN’ PREP FOR $2 MILLION DISTAFF AT SANTA ANITA NOV. 1
ARCADIA, Calif. (Sept. 25, 2013)—Fresh off a facile 2 ¾ length romp in the Torrey Pines Stakes on Sept. 1, Spendthrift Farm’s Beholder, winner of last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies and subsequent Eclipse Champion, will face a deep and contentious field of older fillies and mares for the first time in Saturday’s Grade I, $250,000 Zenyatta Stakes going 1 1/16 miles at Santa Anita. The Zenyatta is one of five Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” prep stakes on Saturday, with the $2 million Distaff on Nov. 1 slated as the ultimate destination.
Front-running Joyful Victory, a runaway winner of the Grade II Molly Pitcher Stakes at Monmouth Park July 28, ships in from Churchill Downs for trainer Larry Jones and could go favored under female riding sensation Rosie Napravnik.
Ridden by Gary Stevens at odds of 1-10 in the Torrey Pines, Beholder was an impressive winner of the Grade I Santa Anita Oaks on April 6, and was subsequently second in the Grade I Kentucky Oaks May 3. Ridden in all nine of her first starts by Garrett Gomez, the mount opened up to Stevens when Gomez took personal time off this past summer.
Trained by Richard Mandella, Beholder’s best races have come when she’s allowed to utilize her natural speed—which could present problems in the Zenyatta given the fact she’s likely to face stiff early pressure from Joyful Victory.
With $1,825,000 in earnings from a 10-6-3-0 mark, Beholder is in search of additional Eclipse hardware in the Zenyatta.
Second in last year’s Zenyatta with Napravnik up, Joyful Victory returned to Santa Anita to blitz a field of four rivals in the Grade I Santa Margarita Stakes on March 16, winning gate to wire by four lengths and earning a career-best Beyer Speed figure of 108.
Following her Santa Margarita score, Jones was singing Napravnik’s praises, stating “Rosie is a special rider. It’s a gift from God, what she’s got. She doesn’t realize it yet, but she’s been anointed with talent. She is one of the brightest stars in the game, I can assure you.”
Napravnik has three wins from five tries aboard the 5-year-old grey mare by Tapit. Joyful Victory’s overall mark stands at 19-7-5-3, with $1,222,679 in earnings.
Trainer Todd Pletcher has shipped the classy New York-based Authenticity west for Saturday’s Zenyatta. Second in the Grade I Personal Ensign Stakes Aug. 25 at Saratoga, the 6-year-old mare by Quiet American has two wins and three seconds in her last five starts—all grades stakes.
Owned by Padua Stables LLC, Authenticity will hope to get a stalking trip under Santa Anita-based Martin Garcia. She has four wins, four seconds and one third from 10 starts, good for $633,362 in earnings.
Jay Em Ess Stable will be represented by multiple Grade I winner Include Me Out in the Zenyatta. A winner of the Grade I Clement L. Hirsch and Santa Margarita Stakes in 2012, the 5-year-old mare by Include was eighth, beaten 5 ¼ lengths in this year’s Hirsch on Aug. 3 at odds of even money.
Trained by Ron Ellis, she’ll be handled by regular rider Joe Talamo. With an overall mark of 15-7-3-2, Include Me Out has earnings of $956,280.
Second in both the Grade I Vanity Handicap and the Grade I Hirsch in her last two starts, More Chocolate retains the services of Rafael Bejarano in the Zenyatta and rates a legitimate shot to upset. Trained by John Sadler, her most recent win came in the Grade II La Canada Stakes at Santa Anita on Jan. 20.
Given the race shape, she could likely sit mid-pack early and hope to be picking up pace casualties late under the ever-patient Peruvian. Owned by Michael Talla, the 4-year-old Malibu Moon filly is 12-3-4-1 overall, with earnings of $362,642.
The complete field for the Zenyatta Stakes which has been carded as the ninth race on an 11- race program, with jockeys and weights in post position order, is as follows: Great Hot, Chantal Sutherland-Kruse, 119; Via Villaggio, Corey Nakatani, 119; Beholder, Gary Stevens, 121; Include Me Out, Joe Talamo, 119; Flashy American, Julien Leparoux, 119; Authenticity, Martin Garcia, 119; Joyful Victory, Rosie Napravnik, 121, and More Chocolate, Rafael Bejarano, 119.