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STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN
ZENYATTA EYES MARCH 13 SANTA MARGARITA PRIOR TO ‘RACHEL’ SHOWDOWN
Zenyatta is scheduled to make her 2010 debut in the Grade I Santa Margarita Handicap at Santa Anita on March 13 prior to a potential showdown with Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra in the Apple Blossom Handicap, now that the race has been moved from April 3 to April 9 to accommodate Rachel Alexandra’s schedule.
“We’re very comfortable with the new date and hope the race between the two takes place,” said Dottie Ingordo-Shirreffs Friday. She is the racing manager for Jerry and Ann Moss, who own Zenyatta, and the wife of John Shirreffs, who trains the undefeated 6-year-old mare.
Zenyatta’s participation in Santa Margarita would mark a return to the scene of her greatest triumph, a breathtaking last-to-first victory in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Oak Tree on Nov. 7. Zenyatta made history by becoming the first female to defeat males in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Less than an hour before Oaklawn Park owner Charles Cella announced Thursday that the race between Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta was back on, Moss said that the Apple Blossom had been a major objective, Rachel Alexandra or not. Zenyatta’s only start on traditional dirt came in the 2008 Apple Blossom, a race many consider to have been her finest performance prior to winning the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Cella told the Associated Press that both Jackson and Moss agreed Thursday to run in the Apple Blossom on April 9 rather than the original date of April 3, for a $5 million purse. Cella decided to move the race back six days to give Rachel Alexandra more time to attain her top form. She has not raced since winning the Woodward Stakes last Sept. 5, but is training at the Fair Grounds for her 2010 debut in the $200,000 New Orleans Ladies Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on March 13.
Meanwhile, Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Zenyatta, perfect in 14 career starts, continues to train forwardly at her Hollywood Park headquarters where she went six furlongs Thursday in 1:13.80, breezing, under regular rider Mike Smith.
“We’re going to concentrate on Oaklawn . . . that’s what we’re focusing on,” Moss said Thursday at Santa Anita, prior to Cella’s announcement. “We’ve given our permission . . . to extend another week or so. We’re not going to stand in the way of a week stopping this race from happening.”
AMERICAN LION MAKES TWO-TURN DEBUT IN ROBERT B. LEWIS STAKES
American Lion tries two turns for the first time in Saturday’s Grade II, $150,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes at 1 1/16 miles, and trainer Eoin Harty is confident the bay son of Tiznow is up to the challenge. American Lion is coming off two victories at seven furlongs, his latest in the Grade III Hollywood Prevue last Nov. 21.
“You’ve got to go two turns for the first time at some point, so this is it for him,” Harty said, adding, “but you never know if they can be successful until they do it.”
American Lion, owned and bred by WinStar Farm, will be ridden by Eclipse Award-winning jockey Julien Leparoux, who was aboard for the two victories. “His ability to win races, I think,” Harty said when asked the Frenchman’s strongest attributes. “And he’s got great patience.”
American Lion was ready to run last Saturday, but the Lewis was put on hold when inclement weather forced cancellation of the race. Harty rolled with the punch, calling the delay “a minor inconvenience.”
The field for the Lewis, which goes as the sixth race: Dave In Dixie, Joel Rosario, 115, 7-2; Tiz Chrome, Garrett Gomez, 117, 6-5; American Lion, Julien Leparoux, 117, 9-5; Caracortado, Atkinson, 117, 4-1; and Tango Tango, Rafael Bejarano, 115, 20-1.
ESPINOZA GIVES ZARDANA A LONGSHOT’S CHANCE IN SANTA MARIA
One glance at the entries for Saturday’s Santa Maria Handicap and Victor Espinoza knows he has a daunting task. If Espinoza wins the Grade II, $150,000 mile race on Zardana, he will have to conquer the likes of Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic winner Life Is Sweet, Mushka, runner-up in that race, and the streaking St Trinians, unbeaten in her three U.S. starts by a combined margin of nearly 15 lengths.
“My mare ran big last time,” said Espinoza, speaking of a victory in the Grade II Bayakoa Handicap on Hollywood Park’s Cushion Track last Dec. 5. “She’s run good on the turf, too, but her last race on synthetic was one of her best races. There are some tough ones in the Santa Maria, but upsets happen every day. Anything can happen. It’s just a matter of luck.”
Trained by John Shirreffs, the Brazilian-bred Zardana has seven wins from 17 starts, with earnings of $293,421 for owner Arnold Zetcher.
The field for the Santa Maria, which goes as race eight on a 10-race program: My Baby Baby, Alex Solis, 114, 12-1; Pretty Unusual, Paul Atkinson, 117, 8-1; St Trinians, Joel Rosario, 116, 5-2; Mushka, Kent Desormeaux, 118, 4-1; Zardana, Victor Espinoza, 117, 6-1; Once Upon A Grace, Joe Talamo, 111, 30-1; Czechers, Chantal Sutherland, 113, 20-1; and Life Is Sweet, Garrett Gomez, 123, 8-5. Spring Style was scratched.
RIVALS HOPE FOR THE BEST AGAINST BLIND LUCK IN LAS VIRGENES
Ask any trainer except Jerry Hollendorfer about their chances in Saturday’s Grade I, $250,000 Las Virgenes Stakes and the likelihood is they’ll tell you they’re running for second.
That’s because Hollendorfer’s Blind Luck is the 1-2 morning line favorite to win the one-mile race. The horses still have to go around the race track, but on paper at least, rival horsemen are conceding victory in the Las Virgenes to Blind Luck.
“My filly’s doing really, really good,” said Eric Kruljac, who trains La Nez, a California-bred daughter of Storm Creek. “I’m going to give her one more chance to see if she can go two turns. It looks like Blind Luck will win easy, and we’ll see what happens with the rest of them.”
La Nez was sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at one mile last Nov. 6, and third in the California Breeders’ Champion Stakes for fillies at 1 1/16 miles on Dec. 26.
The field for the Las Virgenes, which goes as the fourth race: Blind Luck, Rafael Bejarano, 122, 1-2; Evening Jewel, Victor Espinoza, 118, 8-1; Crisp, Joel Rosario, 118, 4-1; Switch, Tyler Baze, 116, 6-1; La Nez, Mike Smith, 118, 8-1; and Summer Games, Michael Baze, 116, 20-1.
CALLAGHAN HAS AN EAR FOR APPLAUSE IN SUNDAY’S LA CAŇADA
Applause makes her United States debut in Sunday’s Grade II, $150,000 La Caňada Stakes. Trainer Simon Callaghan says the Irish-bred daughter of Danehill Dancer, who last raced on Oct. 3 at Newmarket, fits in the nine-furlong race for 4-year-old fillies.
“She’s been training pretty good,” Callaghan said. “She’s the sort of filly who isn’t flashy, but kind of goes about her business. It looks like a competitive race and we’re starting at a wide post position, but we’re happy that she’s going in the right direction and progressing well. Like I said, it’s a tough race but she’ll run a nice race.”
Applause won her two races in England under 129 and 130 pounds, respectively, both on turf. “She’s a pretty talented filly,” Callaghan continued, “and with every run back in Europe, she’s been progressing, which is the big thing. She was fourth in the Cambridgeshire (beaten only a length and a half in a field of 32 starters), which is a premier handicap back home. She’s got a really progressive profile and is the sort of filly who’s going to fit into stakes races over here.”
Applause was also cross-entered in Monday’s Buena Vista Handicap.
The field for the La Caňada: Unrivaled Belle, Kent Desormeaux; Dream Empress, David Flores; Dave’s Revenge, Brice Blanc; Striking Dancer, Alex Solis; Freedom Star, Martin Garcia; Pretty Katherine, Joel Rosario; Gripsholm Castle, Victor Espinoza; Stardom Bound, Julien Leparoux; Gumption, Mike Smith; Miss Silver Brook, Garrett Gomez; Applause, Eddie Ahern; Spirit Seeker, Rafael Bejarano; Floating Heart, Joe Talamo; and Pretty Unusual, Chantal Sutherland.
TOC INDUSTRY SUMMIT SATURDAY AT SANTA ANITA
Advance reservations indicate strong interest in the Thoroughbred Owners of California Industry Summit scheduled for Saturday in the Baldwin Terrace Conference Room at Santa Anita. The summit is the result of requests from TOC members at the 2009 annual meetings for a mid-winter session to address some of their most pressing concerns about the future of California racing.
The summit features three panels of industry representatives speaking on California’s satellite wagering system, the year-round racing calendar, and track surfaces. Panelists will include California Horse Racing Board Commissioner John Harris, Craig Fravel and Tom Robbins of Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, George Haines of Santa Anita, Robert Hartman of Golden Gate Fields, Chris Korby of CARF, Tom Varela of SCOTWINC, Dr. Rick Arthur of CHRB, Drs. Lucy Anthenill and Francisco Uzol of UC Davis Lab, trainer John Sadler, and professional handicapper Toby Turrell. The meeting begins at 8:30 a.m., with check-in starting at 8 a.m.
FINISH LINES: There will be special racing on Monday, Presidents’ Day. The first 10,000 fans in attendance at Santa Anita will receive a free set of Santa Anita Pint Glasses with paid admission, while supplies last. First post time is 12:30 p.m. Seven 3-year-olds were entered in Monday’s co-feature race, the Grade II, $150,000 San Vicente Stakes at seven furlongs. Monday’s other feature, the Grade II, $150,000 Buena Vista Handicap for older females at one mile on turf, attracted a full field of 12, headed by high weight under 122 pounds Tuscan Evening, who is trained by Jerry Hollendorfer . . . With Valentine’s Day on Sunday, Santa Anita guests can send ProFlowers to their sweethearts and receive a 15 percent discount. Interested parties can go on line at www.ProFlowers.com/SantaAnita, or call 1 800-580-2913 . . . With apologies to the Three Tenors, the Three Garcias were named on horses in today’s eighth race: Martin from Mexico on Miss Wined Up; Julio from Puerto Rico on Infinity n’ Beyond; and Matt from San Jose on Poetic Riches. The three are not related . . . Santa Anita’s second version of its popular on-line handicapping game, WinVivor, was down to 130 contestants going into Friday. . . Tom Quigley, publisher of Horse Player Magazine, will be Jerry Antonucci’s guest on Monday’s Today’s Racing Digest seminar, 11 a.m., in the East Paddock Gardens.