Unbeaten superstar Zenyatta galloped on the main track at Hollywood Park Wednesday morning to the satisfaction of trainer John Shirreffs and was entered to face five foes in the $250,000 Lady’s Secret Stakes, Presented by TVG, Saturday, one of six Grade 1 stakes during Breeders’ Cup Challenge weekend.
Zenyatta seeks to stretch her unbeaten streak to 19 in the Lady’s Secret, highlight of opening weekend of the Oak Tree Racing Association meet, which opens at Hollywood Park Thursday night for the first time in its 41-year history.
Zenyatta, a 6-year-old Street Cry mare, earlier this year became the first horse to win the Vanity Handicap here and the Clement Hirsch Stakes at Del Mar three straight years. She also seeks a record three-peat in the Lady’s Secret, a race she won the previous two years at Santa Anita. The only other horses to win the race twice were Hollywood Wildcat in 1993-94 and Healthy Addiction in 2005-06.
Zenyatta, with career earnings of $6,254,580, also seeks to become the all-time leading female earner. The $150,000 first prize in the test for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on Cushion Track would enable her to pass leader Ouija Board, who earned $6,312,552 from 2003-06. She drew post five under regular rider Mike Smith.
Lady’s Secret rivals do not plan to make the race a walkover for the two-time champion mare. Trainer Eric Reed shipped in a pair from Keeneland Monday, Rinterval and Satans Quick Chick, with assistant Dallas King and groom David McLellan.
Rinterval, a 5-year-old mare, set most of the pace in the Clement Hirsch and finished a game second, beaten only by a neck. Satans Quick Chick, a stretch-running 4-year-old filly, will make her first start since January after being supplemented for $4,500. Last year she won the Grade 2 Raven Run Stakes at Keeneland and set a track record for one mile and 70 yards at Presque Isle Downs. Both are owned by Jerry Jamgotchian.
Trainer Bob Baffert entered Moon de French, a 5-year-old mare coming off a wire-to-wire victory at one mile in the Adoration Stakes at Del Mar on September 5. The Hall of Fame trainer conceded that he faced a daunting challenge.
“Zenyatta is like a guided missile,” said Baffert of the mare’s devouring stretch kick. “She’s got radar and locks down on the leader.”
Baffert gave Zenyatta one of her toughest tests in the 2008 Vanity with runner-up Tough Tiz’s Sis, beaten by a half-length. “Tough Tiz’s Sis didn’t have the best of trips and Zenyatta didn’t run one of her best races,” said Baffert. “She could have been beaten that day.”
Trainer John Sadler, who conditioned Healthy Addiction, entered Switch, the only 3-year-old who upset prohibitive favorite Blind Luck in the Hollywood Oaks in June. Switch will carry 120 pounds, the others 123 each.
Emmy Darling, claimed for $62,500 out of a mile victory at Del Mar on August 19, rounds out the field.
The Lady’s Secret will be run as the seventh race and is scheduled to be televised nationally on ESPN.
ENGLISH IMPORT HIBAAYEB ARRIVES FOR YELLOW RIBBON
Godolphin Stable’s Hibaayeb, a 3-year-old filly in search of firm turf, cleared quarantine here Wednesday afternoon after being entered for the $250,000 Yellow Ribbon Stakes Saturday.
“She shipped well and arrived Monday,” said Claire Sparks, assistant to trainer Saeed bin Suroor, accompanied by exercise rider Jo Hunnam, both clad in Godolphin blue. The English-bred daughter of Singspiel was based in England and flown from Amsterdam.
“She likes the fast ground,” said Sparks of the filly, winner of the Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes at Ascot in June but unplaced in three subsequent starts on soft footing. “We’re hoping for a quick surface.”
Hibayeeb has won two of ten starts and earned $369,871. Her last eight outings have been in Group I or II company. She drew the outside post in a field of nine.
“She will just have some nice easy canters up to the race,” said Sparks. “She’s fit. She galloped before we left.” Rafael Bejarano will ride in the 1 ¼-mile grass race for fillies and mares.
The lineup also includes two other shippers: Gypsy’s Warning, a Group I winner in South Africa and third-place finisher in the Beverly D Stakes, from Maryland for trainer Graham Motion; and Sweet and Flawless, third-place finisher in the Bewitch Stakes at Keeneland, for trainer Eric Reed.
Éclair de Lune, winner of the Beverly D, was not entered. Dan Landers, assistant to trainer Ron McAnally, said the Hall of Famer told him to “sit tight” on the mare by phone during a trip to France.
CROWN OF THORNS BLOWS OUT FOR GOODWOOD
Crown of Thorns, who missed winning the Breeders’ Cup Sprint by a nose last year, is aiming for longer distances this fall.
“His race in the Pat O’Brien looked like he wants to go further,” said trainer Richard Mandella Wednesday after entering the 5-year-old horse in the $250,000 Goodwood Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on Cushion Track Saturday.
Crown of Thorns, owned by B. Wayne Hughes’s Spendthrift Farms, won the Grade II Robert Lewis Stakes at 1 1/16 miles in 2008 before going to the sidelines for more than a year.
He returned last fall to finish second in both the Ancient Title Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Sprint before going to the sidelines for another nine months. He returned to rally strongly and finish second in the Grade I Pat O’Brien Stakes at seven furlongs at Del Mar on August 28.
Crown of Thorns drew post two in a field of seven. A strong lineup also includes unbeaten 3-year-old colt Twirling Candy, Hollywood Gold Cup winner Awesome Gem, Pacific Classic winner Richard’s Kid and Pacific Classic runners-up Crowded House and Dakota Phone.
Dakota Phone worked four furlongs in 48.80.
ENGLISH IMPORT BOXER DES RUES WORKS FOR NORFOLK
Boxer des Rues, who arrived here a week ago after winning his only start in England, worked three furlongs on Cushion Track in 37.60 seconds Wednesday before trainer Doug O’Neill entered him in the $250,000 Norfolk Stakes for 2-year-olds Saturday.
“He just cleared quarantine a few days ago,” said O’Neill. “He walked out of the gate in his debut and came flying. He was bought privately after that.”
J. Paul Reddam bought the Kentucky-bred son of Smart Strike after he won a maiden race at Kempton at one mile on synthetic by a nose.
Boxer des Rues, to be ridden by Rafael Bejarano, drew post three in a field of seven at 1 1/16 miles on synthetic. The field is headed by J P’s Gusto, winner of his last four stakes, climaxed by the Grade I Del Mar Futurity.
Clearance Clarence, winner of a $32,000 maiden claiming race at one mile at Del Mar in his last start, was supplemented for $4,000 by trainer George Papaprodromou.
TRIO DRILLS FOR OAK LEAF STAKES
Rigoletta, Izshelegal and True Way of Grace each worked Wednesday for the $250,000 Oak Leaf Stakes for 2-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles on Cushion Track Sunday.
Rigoletta and Izshelegal finished third and fourth, respectively, in the Grade I Darley Debutante at Del Mar, while True Way of Grace comes off a victory in the Barretts Debutante Stakes at Fairplex Park on September 18.
Rigoletta worked five furlongs in 1:00.40 for trainer Dan Hendricks, while Izshelegal was timed in 48 for four furlongs for conditioner Terry Knight. True Way of Grace was clocked in 50.40 for four furlongs for Alexis Barba.
Darley Debutante winner Tell a Kelly and Spinaway Stakes runner-up Alienation are expected to head the lineup. Probable starters include Alienation (Martin Garcia), Izshelegal (Mike Smith), Rigoletta (David Flores), Tell a Kelly (Alonso Quinonez), True Way of Grace (Joel Rosario) and the Jerry Hollendorfer-trained duo of Indian Gracey (Joe Talamo) and Pacific Pride (Rafael Bejarano).
DRYSDALE TO START PAIR IN CLEMENT HIRSCH STAKES
Trainer Neil Drysdale said Wednesday that he planned to enter graded stakes winners Bourbon Bay and Marlang in the $250,000 Clement Hirsch Stakes at 1 ¼ miles on turf Sunday.
Bourbon Bay will make his first start since winning the Grade II San Juan Capistrano Handicap at Santa Anita in April for his fourth straight win.
Marlang will try to rebound from a disappointing effort in the Sword Dancer Stakes at Saratoga in August after capturing the Sunset Handicap here in July.
“Marlang didn’t ship well to Saratoga,” said Drysdale, hoping that explained the front-runner’s distant ninth-place finish. “The time off for Bourbon Bay was by design. We were thinking of starting him back in the Joe Hirsch at Belmont (this Saturday), but the weather is rainy back there and we didn’t know if he would like soft turf.”
Marlang worked six furlongs in 1:14.80 on Cushion Track.
The Drysdale duo will face a stiff challenge from another duo trained by Richard Mandella, Champ Pegasus and Worth Repeating, one-three finishers respectively in the Del Mar Handicap.
The probable lineup: Bourbon Bay (Rafael Bejarano), Marlang (Martin Garcia), Champ Pegasus (Joel Rosario), Worth Repeating (Joe Talamo), Buenos Dias (Brice Blanc), Falcon Rock (Corey Nakatani), Unusual Suspect (Patrick Valenzuela) and Where’s the Remote (Mike Smith).
BAFFERT MOURNS REAL QUIET
Trainer Bob Baffert Wednesday mourned the death of Real Quiet, who died Monday at Penn Ridge Farms in Harrisburg, Pa., where he stood stud.
“It was sad,” said Baffert. “Real Quiet came off the heels of Silver Charm winning the Kentucky Derby and did it for Mike Pegram. That was the year I met my wife Jill.
“’The Fish’ turned out to be an awesome horse,” said Baffert of the nickname he gave him because of his narrow head-on look. “He left his mark. We got Midnight Lute from him.”
Real Quiet sandwiched wins in the 1997 Hollywood Futurity and 1999 Hollywood Gold Cup around 1998 Triple Crown wins in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness. He is the only horse to win the Hollywood Futurity, Gold Cup and Kentucky Derby and sired two-time Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Midnight Lute.
FINISH LINES—Trainer Mark Glatt is hopeful that Czechers or Reba Is Tops is capable of producing a victory in the $100,000 Grade III Senator Ken Maddy Handicap for fillies and mares, opening-night feature for fillies and mares at six furlongs on turf. Glatt, John Sadler and Marty Jones have each entered a pair in a nine-horse field. “I’ll need to be able to double team Unzip Me,” said Glatt of the 124-pound highweight trained by Jones. Patrick Valenzuela, who returned to the California circuit at Del Mar for the first time since 2007, has the call on Czechers. Glatt and Valenzuela teamed to win the 2005 Maddy with Elusive Diva…Agent Scotty McClellan is happy to have jockey Joe Talamo back. Talamo, 20, missed most of Del Mar with a broken wrist suffered in a spill and returned for the last two days of Fairplex Park on Sunday and Monday… Alex Gonzalez, leading apprentice at the Hollywood Park summer meet, also missed most of Del Mar after suffering a concussion in a spill. The 18-year-old said Wednesday that he will begin galloping horses Thursday in preparation for a return. Agent Vince DeGregory said he would file for an extension on his apprenticeship that was scheduled to end in late October… Tyler Baze, who also missed most of Del Mar after suffering broken facial bones in a mishap aboard a mount, is expected to return during the meet as well… Dan Ward, assistant to trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, said Blind Luck was flown to Philadelphia Wednesday for the $750,000 Cotillion Stakes at Philadelphia Park Wednesday… Martin Garcia will be at Hoosier Park in Indiana Saturday to ride Lookin at Lucky for Bob Baffert in the $500,000 Indiana Derby…Trainer Carla Gaines said that Temple City would make his next start in the $500,000 Hawthorne Gold Cup Saturday.
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