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STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN
ZENYATTA’S LEGEND GROWS AFTER 16TH STRAIGHT VICTORY
Mankind has its Seven Wonders of the World, and racing has its Equine Wonder of the World. She’s Zenyatta. The iconic mare enhanced her impeccable reputation as expected Friday with one of her easiest victories, a 4 1/4-length tour de force in the Grade I, $500,000 Apple Blossom Invitational Handicap at Oaklawn Park.
The undefeated 6-year-old mare owned by Jerry and Ann Moss and trained by John Shirreffs joined 1948 Triple Crown winner Citation, two-time Horse of the Year Cigar, and Mister Frisky as the only modern-day Thoroughbreds to post 16 consecutive victories in races not restricted to state-breds, The daughter of Street Cry has earned $5,924,580.
Horsemen remain transfixed by her mythical brilliance, among them Hall of Fame trainers Bob Baffert and Ron McAnally, both based in Southern California, where Zenyatta makes her home at Hollywood Park.
“She hasn’t had a race that easy since she won a one-other-than,” said Baffert of the Apple Blossom, only her second race on traditional dirt (she won the 2008 Apple Blossom by 4 1/2 lengths, her greatest margin of victory).
“She’s so much better on the dirt,” continued Baffert, who is preparing 2-year-old champion Lookin At Lucky for the Kentucky Derby on May 1. “When you get them on the dirt, they can really show their brilliance. He (Mike Smith) never turned her loose. You could run her back next week. She earned what, $300,000, to work a mile and an eighth in 1:50? She can run in 1:48.”
Asked where he would place her in the pantheon of racing, as is his wont, Baffert shot back with a jestful remark before turning serious.
“She’s almost caught up to Silverbulletday,” Baffert said, referring to his champion filly of 1998 (2-year-old) and 1999 (3-year-old). “How about that? She’s almost there. She’s one race away from Silverbulletday, I think.
“Really, John’s done a great job with her, a big mare like that. It’s hard to keep them healthy. She’s really fun to watch. She’s never been in a race where she’s had to lock up with a horse at the top of the stretch and go eyeball to eyeball. She just sits there and catches everybody off guard. I’d love to see Rachel (Alexandra) and her match up. It would be great for racing.”
McAnally, who trained champion females Bayakoa and Paseana, in addition to two-time Horse of the Year John Henry, continued to be overwhelmed by Zenyatta.
“She’s awesome,” McAnally said. “She has to be one of the greatest. The way she lays back and just makes that one run, she’s very extraordinary. How often do you find horses like this? Horses like Bayakoa and Paseana are very difficult to find, and especially horses like Zenyatta and John Henry. She (only) runs a quarter of a mile with her long stride. Those other horses, you can see they have two strides to her one.”
BICYCLING TRUMAN BROTHERS PREPARE FOR BORDER-TO-BORDER TRIP
It may not be Hope and Crosby, but come next month, Eddie and Jerry Truman will be on the road, not to Morocco, but the Great White North.
The two bicycling brothers will be off to Canada, where they will start a trip that will end nearly 2,000 miles later in Tijuana, Mexico. Why? Just for the fun of it, unless a person of good will wishes to sponsor their journey to generate funds for a worthy cause, such as caring for retired Thoroughbreds.
“We’re riding border to border, from Canada to Mexico,” Eddie said. “We’ll fly up to Seattle, pick up our bikes there, then go to the border and start riding in a town called Blaine, about 60 miles north of Seattle. (Horse transportation specialist) Hubbard will van our bikes to Seattle.”
Trainer Eddie and former jockey Jerry have been biking aficionados for years.
“I’ve been doing it about 25 years, and Jerry about 15,” said the 63-year-old Eddie, who stands 5-6 1/2 and weighs 150 pounds. “Jerry’s been riding about 15 years, and he’s riding better than he ever has in his life. He’s strong.” Jerry, 70, is 5-5 and weighs 130 pounds.
“We plan to leave for the trip around May 27,” said Eddie, who saddled Pack Your Bags to win Friday’s second race. He has five wins from 31 starts this meet. “I might have to stop and go to a sale in Florida for a few days,” Truman continued, “so we might ride to San Francisco and then I’d fly to the sale, fly back, and go on from there. We’re doing it just to do it, not to raise money, although I thought about that. I wish I knew how to organize a fund-raiser. It’d be nice to raise money for something.”
FINISH LINES: Probable for next Saturday’s Grade III, $100,000 San Simeon Handicap for older horses at about 6 1/2 furlongs on turf: Ever A Friend, Tyler Baze; Mr Gruff, Joel Rosario; and Red Sun, Rafael Bejarano. Ever A Friend worked five furlongs on Hollywood Park’s Cushion Track Saturday in 1:00.40 for Mike Mitchell . . . Tuscan Evening seeks her fourth straight win in Saturday’s Grade II, $150,000 Santa Barbara Handicap for older fillies and mares at 1 1/4 miles on turf. Bejarano rides for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer . . . Sunday’s Grade III, $100,000 Las Cienegas Handicap at about 6 1/2 furlongs on turf was carded as the fourth race due to the possibility of late afternoon rain at entry time . . . Agent Tony Matos reports that Victor Espinoza rides Distorted Dave for John Sadler in the Grade II, $300,000 Coolmore Lexington Stakes at Keeneland next Saturday . . . Friday’s single winning Pick Six ticket of $102,804.80 was bought in Maryland on a $144 purchase.