Perfection is back. The whole of racing, especially in Southern California, is enamored by the announcement Saturday by Jerry Moss that undefeated champion Zenyatta will race again.

“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 Sunday morning between training chores at Santa Anita. “It’s not like she’s ever been abused. (Trainer) John Shirreffs is not going to do that. She’s lightly raced (14 starts). 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.”

There is no argument from Mike Smith about the 6-year-old mare owned by Jerry and Ann Moss and trained by Shirreffs running again, after her retirement was announced following her history-making victory against males in the Breeders’ Cup Classic last Nov. 7. It’s more than a business relationship for Zenyatta and the Hall of Fame jockey, who is her regular rider.

“She definitely knows who I am,” Smith said. “Without a doubt, I think she does. If you spend enough time around these horses, they get to know you. She knows when she sees me, she’s going to get to do something. Whenever I get on her back, she gets excited and starts dancing.

“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.”

Zenyatta worked five furlongs on Cushion Track Sunday at her Hollywood Park headquarters in 1:01.40, breezing.


M One Rifle won the Grade I Malibu Stakes at seven furlongs on the front end, crossing the wire 2 1/2 lengths in front, but the lead is not required for victory, in the opinion of Mike Smith, who rides the California-bred son of Bertrando again in Saturday’s Grade II $150,000 Palos Verdes Handicap at six furlongs.

“We’ll see where he draws and everything,” said Smith, who has ridden the gelding in all eight of his starts, four of them victories. “He’s pretty fast. If he gets away good, he’ll be fine, but he doesn’t necessarily have to be in front. That’s what I like about him.”

Trained by Bruce Headley, M One Rifle has been in the money in every race, earning $378,572.

Probable for the Palos Verdes: Dancing In Silks, Joel Rosario; Eaton’s Gift, Tyler Baze; Kinsale King, Martin Garcia; M One Rifle, Mike Smith, and Supreme Summit, no rider.

FINISH LINES: HRTV will carry the Horse of the Year announcement live Monday from the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. The announcement is expected to take place at 7:15 p.m. As previously announced, TVG has exclusive coverage of the Eclipse Awards, but will allow HRTV to also carry the announcement live on their network . . . Bob Baffert said unbeaten Kentucky Derby hopeful Conveyance came out of his front-running victory as the 3-10 favorite in Saturday’s one-mile San Rafael Stakes in good order, and could ship out of town for his next start. “Either that or the Sham Stakes (Feb. 27),” Baffert said. “I think he’ll be better on dirt.” . . . Gary Stute said Papa Clem came out of his game win in the San Fernando Stakes in good shape and will point to the Strub Stakes on Feb. 6. “So far, so good,” the trainer said . . . San Fernando runner-up Smart Bid also could return in the nine-furlong Strub. “He ran a super race,” trainer Graham Motion said of the colt’s half-length defeat. “I just wish we could have reversed roles. I wish we could have tracked Papa Clem instead of him tracking us. He ran a game race and Mike (Smith) gave him a great ride. I think the colt validated that he belonged in the Malibu by running so well. I don’t know what might be next. It’s kind of one race at a time. We’ll look at the Strub. I just don’t know how far he wants to go.” . . . In conjunction with Santa Anita, Papa Clem owner/breeder Bo Hirsch and his wife, Candy, are donating $10,000 from the colt’s San Fernando gleanings to the Red Cross’s Haitian Relief Fund, which was created to deal with the recent 7.3 earthquake that devastated the Caribbean island nation . . . With at least six inches of rain forecast in the Santa Anita area this week starting tonight, and the Pro-Ride main track to be closed for training Monday, 258 horses worked on that surface Sunday. Breeders’ Cup Classic runner-up Gio Ponti, a candidate for the San Antonio Handicap on Feb. 7, went five furlongs under Brice Blanc in 1:00.40 for Christophe Clement . . . Agent Brian Beach reports that Eddie Ahern will come in from Europe to begin riding at Santa Anita on Thursday. “He was the all-weather track champion in Europe,” Beach said . . . World traveler and Puerto Rican native Julio Garcia rode Ranger Heartley to an upset victory in Saturday’s $100,000 California Derby at Golden Gate for owners David and Herb Alpert and trainer John Sadler . . . David Flores won Saturday’s $50,000 Glendale Handicap at Turf Paradise on Dextera for trainer Jim Cassidy . . . All THOROUGHBREDS members will receive a free Santa Anita collectible ice bucket while supplies last tomorrow, Martin Luther King Jr. Day. First post time is 12:30 p.m. Santa Anita will be dark for live racing on Tuesday and Wednesday . . . Entering Sunday’s races, there were 36 contestants alive in ShowVivor.