INGLEWOOD, Calif. (May 20, 2009) — Zenyatta, perfect in nine career starts, will carry high weight of 126 pounds when she makes her 2009 debut in Saturday’s $150,000 Milady Handicap at Hollywood Park.
The daughter of Street Cry capped a seven-win 2008 campaign with 1 ½-length victory over Cocoa Beach in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic, clinching an Eclipse Award as the nation’s outstanding older female.
Zenyatta, a 5-year-old mare owned by Jerry and Ann Moss and trained by John Shirreffs, made her first two starts here in the fall of 2007 before embarking on her sensational 4-year-old campaign.
Each of her 2008 victories came in stakes — four in Grade I races and three in Grade II races. She enters the Milady at 1 1/16 miles on Cushion Track with earnings of $2,144,580 and will break from the outside post with regular rider Mike Smith up. The field of nine fillies and mares lines up as follows from the rail out:
Gambler’s Justice, with Martin Garcia up, carries 113 pounds; Taste’s Sis, Danny Sorenson, 112; Allicansayis Wow, Joe Talamo, 113; Dawn After Dawn, Joel Rosario, 116; Champagne Eyes, Michael Baze, 114; Bel Air Sizzle, Rafael Bejarano, 114; Life Is Sweet, Garrett Gomez, 122; Hot n’ Dusty, Alex Solis, 110, and Zenyatta, Smith, 126.
Zenyatta, who began her 2008 campaign with a victory in the El Encino at Santa Anita in January, followed up with one of her finest efforts in the Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park.
A distant fifth on the far turn, she unleashed her patented late kick in the stretch and won by a widening 4 ½-length margin with Brownie Points and 2007 distaff champion Ginger Punch in her wake.
Victories followed in the Milady and Vanity Handicap at Hollywood Park, the Clement L. Hirsch Handicap at Del Mar and in the Lady’s Secret and Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic at Santa Anita.
Zenyatta will spot her rivals from four to 16 pounds in the Grade II Milady, a race she won easily after being squeezed at the start a year ago.
Closest in the weights is stablemate Life Is Sweet, a 4-year-old daughter of Storm Cat owned and bred by Martin and Pam Wygod. She has won three straight races since coming to Shirreffs from the barn of Bill Mott — the El Encino, La Canada and Santa Margarita at Santa Anita.
Sherriffs had not planned for the fillies to meet head-on — at least this early in the year. He shipped Zenyatta to Kentucky for the Louisville Distaff on May 1, but scratched following rain at Churchill Downs.
Life Is Sweet, who made five of seven starts for Mott on turf, enters the Milady with five wins in ten starts for earnings of $540,810. Two-time Eclipse Award-winning jockey Gomez has been aboard for each of her California victories and will fly in from New York to take the mount.
Dawn After Dawn — the 2008 La Canada winner — and productive California-bred Bel Air Sizzle have enjoyed fine careers in their own right, but have been running on turf of late.
Dawn After Dawn finished second in the Distaff Turf Mile at Churchill Downs while making her most recent start on the Kentucky Derby undercard. She has won six races (four on turf) for earnings of $568,094.
Bel Air Sizzle, a winner of five of 21 races and $466,366, has made 12 straight starts on turf since winning the 2009 Melair through disqualification.
Allicansayis Wow does not have the credentials to match the high weights, but she demanded attention while winning her North American debut here April 23. After clipping heels at the head of the stretch and almost going down, she rallied from last to win an allowance race at 1 1/16 miles.
The Milady will run as the eighth race on Saturday’s nine-race program at Hollywood Park.
First post time is at 1 p.m.
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