INGLEWOOD, Calif. (June 24, 2009) — Unbeaten champion Zenyatta will spot seven rivals from 13 to18 pounds under Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith as she carries high weight of 129 pounds in quest of her 11th victory in Saturday’s $300,000 Vanity Handicap at Hollywood Park.
Zenyatta, winner of the Grade I event last year when she won an Eclispe Award as the nation’s outstanding older female, will attempt to become the fifth repeat winner of the 1 1/8-mile Vanity. The latest was two-time champion Azeri in 2002-03. Zenyatta would be joining an exceptional honor roll which also includes Annie-Lu-San (1957-58), Convenience (1972-73) and It’s In The Air (1979-80).
The 5-year-old Kentucky-bred daughter of Street Cry began her 2009 campaign with a repeat victory in the 1 1/16-mle Milady Handicap here May 23 when she carried high weight of 126 pounds. Owned by Jerry and Ann Moss, she boosted her earnings to $2,234,580 with her tenth victory.
Zenyatta will be making her sixth start at Hollywood Park, where she resides in barn 55 south under the care of trainer John Shirreffs. She broke her maiden here on Nov. 22, 2007, and also won an allowance race at the 2007 Autumn Meet.
Her seven-race 2008 campaign began with a victory in the El Encino in January and concluded with a championship-clinching victory in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic at Santa Anita on Oct. 24. Each of her wins came in graded stakes — four in Grade I races and three in Grade II races. She earned $2,090,580 in 2008 and was runner-up to Curlin in Horse of the Year voting.
One of her most impressive efforts came in the Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park in her second 2008 start. 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 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 carry the most weight in the Vanity since Azeri toted 127 in 2003. Gamely won under an impost of 131 pounds in 1968 and Silver Spoon carried 130 in winning the 1960 running.
Zenyatta has built a large fan base and is held in such high esteem there will be no show betting offered on the Vanity, which will line up as follows from the rail out:
Dawn After Dawn, with Garrett Gomez up, will carry 116 pounds; You Lift Me Up, Rafael Bejarano, 114; Forest Melody, Agapito Delgadillo, 113; Hot n’ Dusty, Alex Solis, 111; Modification, Joel Rosario, 114; Briecat, Martin Garcia, 114; Allicansayis Wow, Joseph Talamo, 113, and Zenyatta, Mike Smith, 129.
Dawn After Dawn, a winner of six races and $568,494 for Ike and Dawn Thrash, has made her last five starts on turf. One start prior to winning the 2008 La Canada, she finished fourth — beaten 5 ¼ lengths by Zenyatta — in the El Encino. She was out of the money when Zenyatta notched her seventh victory in the 2008 Clement L. Hirsch at Del Mar.
David and Holly Wilson’s Briecat scored a 13-1 upset here in the Bayakoa Handicap last December, but seeks her first 2009 victory in her fourth start of the year. The 4-year-old chestnut filly has won five of 13 starts.
Modification, owned by J. Paul Reddam and Mark Schlesigner, has won three of 14 starts, finishing seventh most recently in the Grade I Gamely on turf. Prior to that she finished in a dead heat for third in the Humana Distaff on a sloppy track at Churchill Downs. She was fourth — beaten one length by Zenyatta’s stablemate Life Is Sweet — in the La Canada in February.
You Lift Me Up has won five of 22 starts for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer and partner George Todaro. Four of her victories have come on turf, where she finished fourth while making her most recent start in the Fran’s Valentine here in April.
Mrs. Paul Shanahan’s Allicansayis Wow recovered after clipping heels and almost going down to win an allowance race here in April and finished third most recently behind Zenyatta and Life Is Sweet in the Milady — beaten 2 ½ lengths. She got a 13-pound break in the weights that day and now gets 15.
Forest Melody, a winner of three of 23 starts for trainer Paula Capestro and R. Man Racing Stable, has run on turf in 18 of 23 starts. Winner of an allowance race on Cushion Track here last November, the 5-year-old finished sixth most recently in the Santa Margarita in mid-March.
Hot n’ Dusty, owned by Madeline Auerbach and Little Red Feather Racing, has won three of 16 starts and will be making her stakes debut.
The Vanity will run as the fourth race on Saturday’s ten-race program at Hollywood Park. First post time is at 1 p.m.
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