“They’re here for one reason.”

So said one long-time racegoer Saturday, as he scanned the multitudes gathered throughout Santa Anita. The 20,315 who attended was twice that of a typical Saturday on-track crowd. Call it star power.

They were awaiting the return of Zenyatta, and she didn’t disappoint. She showed up as scheduled, and then some, winning her 15th straight race in customary last-to-first fashion. She is a Ruffian in reverse.

“I thought she’d come back and run like she did, but she actually ran better than I expected,” her regular rider, Mike Smith, said Sunday at Clockers’ Corner. Even though she looked hopelessly beaten at the quarter pole in the mile and an eighth Santa Margarita Invitational Handicap, the 6-year-old mare would not be denied, bulling her way between horses near the eighth pole to win by a length and a quarter. While her fans might have had doubts, Smith was confident, even late in the race.

“I thought she had plenty of chance (at the quarter pole),” the Hall of Fame rider said. “I just didn’t want to run over anybody.”

Jerry Hollendorfer sent out 51-1 shot Dance to My Tune to finish second to Zenyatta, and he was thrilled with the effort.

“It’s hard to beat a champion like her,” Hollendorfer said of Zenyatta. “Kind of everything went wrong for her, and she still won, so you’ve got to hand it to her, and she carried 127. Zenyatta’s a true champion.”

Zenyatta’s victory capped a coast-to-coast sweep Saturday for John Shirreffs, who, along with Hollendorfer, is among the best active trainers not in the Hall of Fame. Shirreffs upset Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra with “third-stringer” (behind Zenyatta and the just-retired Life Is Sweet) Zardana in Saturday’s New Orleans Ladies Stakes. David Flores rode Zardana for owner Arnold Zetcher.

Whether the proposed $5 million Apple Blossom Handicap featuring Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra will take place at Oaklawn Park on April 9 is now open to conjecture, in light of Rachel’s defeat.

No matter, Zenyatta’s legend will grow as time goes by.

People will say, “We were there. We saw Zenyatta.”


Calvin Borel will receive Santa Anita’s George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award in a winners’ circle ceremony following today’s sixth race.

Presented annually by Santa Anita since 1950, Borel will become the 61st recipient of one of racing’s most coveted awards. The Woolf Award honors and recognizes those riders whose careers and personal character earn esteem for the individual rider and the sport of Thoroughbred racing.

“Calvin’s probably the hardest-working jockey in the world,” said fellow Cajun and 2005 Woolf winner Ray Sibille. “Back when I started, you had someone who held your contract and he could stop you from riding if he wanted to. You had to learn the business from the ground up. You had to learn to muck stalls, put bandages on and learn how to groom a horse.

“We don’t have that anymore. We don’t teach these guys how to be horsemen. They gallop horses for six months and then they start riding (races). I had the bug with Calvin’s brother Cecil and he could have been the greatest rider to ever come out of Louisiana, he was that good. He just couldn’t keep his weight down.

“Cecil saw that Calvin had the ability to be a top rider and he saw to it that Calvin learned everything he could about the business. I’ll tell you one thing, when Jerry Hissam (Borel’s agent) gives you a call, you’re gonna get a really good, honest ride.

“There’s no doubt this means a lot to Calvin. When your peers vote on something like this, it means a lot. It’s a great honor and Calvin deserves it.”


Vic Stauffer, fired by jockey Joel Rosario last Wednesday, has taken the book of Tyler Baze, whose business was surrendered by agent Ron Ebanks that day when he began representing Rosario. Stauffer will continue to also represent Martin Garcia.

“I looked for Tyler, not the other way around,” Stauffer said Sunday morning. “I was immediately impressed by him with the way he handled the process, very professionally, like the way I like to see it. I talked to him about it and told him I’d be interested in working for him. He said he didn’t want to make a rash decision, he wanted to talk to several people and to some of the barns he rides for, and sort of vet that all out.

“The process took the better part of three days. When he told me last night that I could do it, I felt he approaches things with the care and passion the way I do . . . It’s been great.”

FINISH LINES: Trainer Mike Machowsky said Caracortado came out of his third-place finish as the 7-5 favorite in Saturday’s San Felipe Stakes in good order and will be pointed to the Grade I, $750,000 Santa Anita Derby on April 3. The California-bred gelding was beaten two lengths by victorious Sidney’s Candy . . . Tuscan Evening worked seven furlongs on Pro-Ride Sunday in 1:25.40 for next Sunday’s Grade II, $150,000 Santa Ana Handicap at 1 1/8 miles on turf. Other probables: Cat by the Tale, Joel Rosario; General Consensus, Alex Solis; and Treat Gently, Garrett Gomez. Hollendorfer said he is “going to consider the Fantasy” for Eclipse Award finalist Blind Luck, third as the 1-2 favorite in the Santa Anita Oaks on March 6. The Grade II, $250,000 Fantasy at 1 1/16 miles will be run at Oaklawn Park April 4. Blind Luck worked four furlongs on Pro-Ride Sunday in :49.20 . . . Agent Roger Olguin reports that 19-year-old San Diego native Enrique Montanez will make his riding debut next month at Santa Anita. He tacks 102 pounds and has been working for trainer David Hofmans . . . Carlos Anton of La Puente was the lucky winner of a $10,000 “Mystery Voucher” in a promotional mailing by Santa Anita’s Marketing Department. Anton popped the voucher in at an automatic mutuel machine in the Club House and voila! . . . Three players remained alive in ShowVivor II entering Sunday’s races: Roland Frederick of Kaplan, La.; Orlando Arango of Los Angeles; and Mary Jo Lessell of La Grange, Ky. Each selected Zenyatta on Saturday.