Unbeaten champion Zenyatta was walked around the shedrow in Barn 55 South Sunday as trainer John Shirreffs applied the final touches to the 5-year-old mare in defense of her crown in the $300,000 Vanity Handicap Saturday. The Grade I test for fillies and mares will be run at 1 1/8 miles on Cushion Track.
“She had a very good work Friday,” said Shirreffs of a six-furlong drill in a bullet 1:12.60 as he awaited weights scheduled to be issued in the afternoon by the racing office.
Zenyatta carried 126 pounds as she opened her 2009 campaign with a repeat victory in the Milady Handicap on May 23 under regular jockey Mike Smith.
“She came out of that last race better than ever,” said regular exercise rider Steve Willard, flashing the thumbs-up sign.
Zenyatta, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Street Cry, is undefeated in ten starts and has earned $2,234,580 for owners Jerry and Ann Moss.
Her closest margin of victory was a half-length in the Vanity last year. “It was really, really hot that day,” recalled Dottie Ingordo-Shirreffs, the trainer’s wife and racing manager for the Mosses.
Horse of the Year Azeri was the last to repeat in the Vanity, also under Smith, carrying 127 pounds in 2003. Other repeat winners in the prestigious 68-year-old race are Annie-Lu-San in 1957-58, Convenience in 1972-73 and It’s In The Air in 1979-80.
Other probable Vanity starters are Allicansayiswow (Joseph Talamo), Modification (Joel Rosario) and Briecat (Martin Garcia). Hot n’ Dusty heads a list of possibles that also includes Dawn After Dawn, Forest Melody, Life Is Sweet and You Lift Me Up.
Trainer John Sadler expressed optimism after Black Mamba worked seven furlongs on turf in a bullet 1:26.40 under exercise rider Lupillo Alferez Sunday in defense of her title in the $150,000 Beverly Hills Handicap next Sunday. The Grade II test is for fillies and mares at 1 ¼ miles on grass.
Black Mamba rallied to finish fourth, beaten by 1 ½ lengths, in her last start in the 1 1/8-mile, Grade I Gamely Stakes on the turf here May 30.
“The last time was a little shorter for her,” said Sadler. “Now she is back at her preferred distance. I think she’ll be tough.”
Black Mamba rallied to win the race last year by 1 ¼ lengths under Garrett Gomez, who again has the call.
Black Mamba seeks to become the fifth mare to repeat in the Beverly Hills in its 44-year history. The others are La Zanzara in 1974-75, Swingtime in 1977-78, Flawlessly in 1992-93 and Astra in 2001-02.
Other probable starters include Charming Legacy (Joseph Talamo), Restless Soul (Rafael Bejarano), Toque de Queda (Victor Espinoza), You Lift Me Up (Joel Rosario) and Lemon Chiffon.
You Lift Me Up worked six furlongs on turf in 1:15.20. “I’m not sure, but we will probably go in the grass race,” said trainer Jerry Hollendorfer of the 4-year-old filly, also nominated to the Vanity.
Mrs Kipling, winner of the Senorita Stakes here May 3, worked seven furlongs on turf in 1:29.20 under exercise rider Derek Oldham.
“She worked well and remains on target for the American Oaks,” said John O’Donoghue, assistant to trainer Neil Drysdale, vacationing in England.
Mrs Kipling and Honeymoon Handicap winner Well Monied head locally-based prospects for the $700,000 American Oaks, a Grade I test for 3-year-old fillies at 1 ¼ miles on turf July 5. Invitations were scheduled to be released Sunday afternoon.
FINISH LINES — Jose Valdivia, Jr., who traveled to New York Saturday to win the New York Breeders’ Cup Handicap at Belmont Park on Icon Project, will visit Prairie Meadows in Iowa next Saturday to ride Victory Pete for trainer Alexis Barba in the $250,000 Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Handicap. He worked five furlongs in 1:01.40 here Saturday… Trainer John Sadler was pleased with a six-furlong drill in 1:12.60 here Saturday by Whatsthescript in preparation for defending top honors in the American Handicap here on the Fourth of July …Redondo Beach Stakes winner Tuscan Evening worked five furlongs on turf in 1:01.60 breezing under exercise rider Marco Ramirez for the Royal Heroine Mile on July 11…Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer was happy with a half-mile work in :50.60 by Dakota Phone under Rafael Bejarano for the $700,000 Hollywood Gold Cup on July 11.
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