Trainer John Shirreffs added a second dose of Z power to the lineup for the $250,000 Grade I Vanity Handicap at Hollywood Park Sunday, entering Zardana along with heavily favored Zenyatta Thursday.
Zardana was originally scheduled to be shipped to New York for the Ogden Phipps Handicap at Belmont Saturday. “She worked too fast here Sunday, five furlongs in 58 and 4, to ship across the country,” explained Shirreffs of the change of plans. “Then the plane that was supposed to take her was delayed a day until Wednesday. All things added up to ‘don’t go.’ It was in the horse’s best interests to stay here.”
Zardana, a 6-year-old Brazilian-bred mare, won the Grade II Bayakoa Handicap here in December and upset Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra in the New Orleans Ladies Stakes at Fair Grounds in March. She has the speed to control the pace in a six-horse lineup in the 1 1/8-mile race on Cushion Track. She will carry 118 pounds, 11 less than Zenyatta, under Victor Espinoza.
Zardana drew post three and Zenyatta post five in the Vanity, which will go as the eighth of 10 races.
Zenyatta, meanwhile, appeared the picture of health as she was walked around shedrow by Carmen Zamora after galloping 1 ½ miles on the main track under exercise rider Steve Willard.
“Mentally and physically, she’s doing terrific,” said Willard. “She’s like her regular old self. Every time she runs, you wonder if she’s going to make it through another race. But she always comes through.”
Zenyatta, unbeaten in 16 starts, seeks a historic 17th in a row that would put her one ahead of Citation, Mister Frisky and Cigar in major races in modern history. She also seeks a record third Vanity, a race Shirreffs and jockey Mike Smith try to win for a fifth time each.
“I think the older this filly gets, the better she looks,” said groom Mario Espinoza, Zamora ’s husband, admiringly of Zenyatta. “She used to get more excited, like a teenager. Now, she’s more relaxed.”
Zenyatta bobbleheads will be given free to fans Sunday.
Trainer Dave Bernstein hopes to spring an upset in the $150,000 Californian Stakes Saturday with front-running One Track Mind.
Veteran Bernstein has one thing going for him in the Grade II test at 1 1/8 miles on Cushion Track: a 100% winning average.
“The Wicked North has been my only Californian starter,” said Bernstein of the 1994 winner in a photo finish under Kent Desormeaux. “He set a track record that day.”
One Track Mind, a 5-year-old chestnut gelding, seeks his first stakes win after a sharp win here in an optional claimer at 1 1/16 miles May 21.
“It’s a little soon back, but he did run huge last time, and we’re going to take a shot at it,” said Bernstein Thursday. Tyler Baze, who won the race last year on Informed, has the call back.
“One Track Mind loves this track, and Tyler said he was awesome after he worked him the other day,” said Bernstein. “He’s never gone this far, but he’s a gamer.”
One Track Mind, a California-bred by Mach One, has won six of 17 starts and earned $226,532. He has recorded three firsts, three seconds and one third in eight starts on Cushion Track here.
“At this level, the competition is always tough, and Rail Trip is a monster,” said Bernstein of the Californian favorite. “I just hope to run our race.”
One Track Mind drew post three in a field of eight in the Californian, which goes as the ninth of 10 races.
Trainer John Sadler, who has won 12 graded stakes this year with eight different horses, hopes to add to those figures here in 3-year-old stakes next weekend.
Sadler said Thursday that he planned to run Distorted Dave and Ranger Heartley in the $100,000 Affirmed Handicap on Cushion Track June 19 and Line of David in the $100,000 Will Rogers Stakes on turf June 20. Both races are Grade III at 1 1/16 miles.
All look to rebound from disappointing efforts in major eastern stakes. Distorted Dave faltered to finish seventh in the Lexington Stakes at Keeneland, Ranger Heartley faded to ninth in the Lane’s End Stakes at Turfway Park , and Line of David tired in the slop at Churchill Downs and finished 18th in the Kentucky Derby.
Line of David won the Arkansas Derby and two turf races at Santa Anita in his three previous starts. Rafael Bejarano has the Will Rogers call.
Sadler added to his graded stakes total here last weekend with victories by Cost of Freedom in the Grade III Los Angeles Handicap and Switch in the Grade II Hollywood Oaks.
Along with Switch, Cost of Freedom and Line of David, Sadler’s other 2010 graded stakes winners are Sidney ’s Candy, Crisp, Mona de Momma, Hurricane Ike and Cozi Rosie.
Competition in the Affirmed for Distorted Dave and Ranger Heartley is expected to include Sham and Snow Chief Stakes winner Alphie’s Bet (Mike Smith), Laz Barrera Stakes runner-up Concord Point (Martin Garcia), impressive allowance winner Golden Itiz (Tyler Baze) and Mindblower (Alonso Quinonez).
Expected to face Line of David in the Will Rogers are La Puente Stakes winner Dream Nettie (Joe Talamo), Leroy’s Dynameaux (Joel Rosario), Ukandoit (Mike Smith), Bogie and Eddie Logan Stakes winner Macias.
FINISH LINES— The stable area was overjoyed at the news of late trainer Buster Millerick being inducted into the Racing Hall of Fame. Millerick and retired jockey Don Pierce were announced Wednesday for induction this summer in Saratoga Springs , N.Y. The widely respected Millerick was best remembered for training Native Diver to three consecutive victories in the Hollywood Gold Cup from 1965-67. He ranks 10th in Hollywood Park victories with 467 and 17th in stakes with 35. Pierce, 73, was also linked with Gold Cup history, winning aboard the filly Princessnesian in 1968 and again with Quack in 1972. He also won the Los Angeles Handicap a record five straight times from 1969-73 with Indulto, Ack Ack, Fleet Surprise, Triple Bend and Soft Victory. He ranks 17th in Hollywood Park wins with 698 and 12th in stakes with 85…Television Games Network (TVG) will have a one-hour special Sunday (4-5 p.m. PDT) showcasing the Vanity. The coverage, featuring Ron Ellis, Frank Lyons, Ken Rudulph and Todd Schrupp, will also be on FSN West, Sun Sports (tape delayed), Altitude and SportSouth, meaning the Vanity broadcast will be available in more than 60 million homes…Meet-leading rider Rafael Bejarano was issued a five-day suspension by track stewards from June 16-20 for failure to make the proper effort to maintain a straight course in the stretch and causing interference with winner She’ll Heir in the Cinderella Stakes Wednesday.
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