INGLEWOOD, Calif. (June 25, 2011)—Benefiting from a ground saving trip by jockey Joel Rosario, Zazu defeated 7-10 favorite Plum Pretty by 1 ½ lengths to win the $147,000 Hollywood Oaks Saturday at Hollywood Park.
Never far off the pace in the compact field – reduced to four after the Saturday morning scratch of Big Tiz – Zazu squeezed through a narrow opening along the rail inside of tiring pacesetter Wallstreeter at the head of the stretch and went on to her second graded victory.
Owned by Jerry and Ann Moss, the 3-year-old Tapit filly out of the Mr. Greeley mare Rhumb Line helped trainer John Sadler make some history in the Grade II.
Sadler, who saddled Switch for a victory over Blind Luck in the 2010 Oaks, became only the second trainer to win the race in consecutive years. Charlie Whittingham won with Turkish Trousers in 1971 and Pallisima in 1972 for Mrs. Howard B. Keck.
For the second consecutive year, Sadler also thwarted the Kentucky Oaks winner from repeating in the Hollywood Oaks. Fran’s Valentine remains the lone filly to win both races, accomplishing the feat in 1985 for owner Earl Scheib’s Green Thumb Farm Stable and trainer Joe Manzi.
Third behind Plum Pretty in the Kentucky Oaks in their most recent encounter May 6 at Churchill Downs, Zazu earned her third win in nine starts. Also successful versus Plum Pretty in the Grade I Las Virgenes Feb. 5 at Santa Anita, Zazu pushed her bankroll to $472,985.
Completing the 1 1/16 miles over Cushion Track in 1:43.36, Zazu, who was purchased for $285,000 at the Keeneland September sale in 2009, paid $4.20 and $2.10 as the 11-10 second choice. There was no show wagering.
“It was pretty tight down on the inside, but (David Flores on Wallstreeter) left the rail open enough for me to get through,’’ said Rosario, who won two other races Saturday to take sole possession of the lead in the rider standings with 14 days left in the Spring/Summer meet. Rosario has 46 wins, three more than Rafael Bejarano, who rode at Prairie Meadows in Iowa for a second consecutive day Saturday
“She’s been doing much better lately, working real well in the morning. We’re not surprised she ran the way she did. I was able to keep my eye on Plum Pretty the whole race because I knew she was the one to beat. I waited on the inside until the last possible moment. I saw the hole open and took it from there. If (Flores) didn’t move out a little, I would have had to go around.’’
Seeking her third consecutive win and trying to provide trainer Bob Baffert with his third Oaks victory, Plum Pretty returned $2.10. She simply could not contain the winner in the closing yards after tracking Wallstreeter for most of the trip. Plum Pretty took over the lead with about a quarter of a mile to run in her first start at Hollywood Park since a debut sprint win last Oct. 27.
Love Theway Youare finished third, 4 ¼ lengths behind Plum Pretty and 8 ¼ in front of Wallstreeter.
“Zazu ran really well in the Kentucky Oaks, the winner just got a little better trip,’’ said Sadler. “She was on her home court and her home base today, so that helps.
“It was just a beautiful ride by Joel. He cut the corner on the turn and that was probably the difference. He made all the right choices today.’’
Baffert, who opted to run Plum Pretty in the local Oaks after deciding against a trip to New York for the Grade I Mother Goose, offered no excuses for the runner-up.
“She ran well,’’ he said. “She got beat by a nice filly. I think (Garcia) thought that (Zazu) was going to get stopped on the rail. She just got a little tired at the end.’’
Joe Talamo, who is third in the standings with 41 wins, and Patrick Valenzuela both won twice Saturday. There was one perfect ticket – worth $96,391 – in the Pick 6.
Racing resumes Sunday at Hollywood Park. Post time is 1 p.m.
The feature race is the $100,000 Beverly Hills Handicap. A Grade III for older fillies and mares at 1 ¼ miles on turf, the Beverly Hills attracted six entrants – Malibu Pier, First Settler, Timezone, Cozi Rosie, Restless Soul and Streamline Baby.
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