INGLEWOOD, Calif. (October 31, 2010) — The last Southern California start – and 19th consecutive victory – for the undefeated Zenyatta was the highlight of the inaugural Oak Tree at Hollywood Park meet which concluded Sunday.
The average Southern California attendance for the 22-day season was 10,771.
Meanwhile, the average Southern California handle was $3,734,000 and the all sources average handle was $7,198,000.
“For the Oak Tree Racing Association it was a very satisfying meet, highlighted by Zenyatta’s win in the Lady’s Secret and the California Cup closing weekend,’’ said Oak Tree director and executive vice-president Sherwood Chillingworth. “Having to move venues on 30 days notice would not have been possible without the cooperation of the staffs of Hollywood Park and Santa Anita.
“We thank them both. The meet could not have been successful without their joint dedication for the good of the industry.’’
In front of an extremely enthusiastic on track crowd of 25,837, Zenyatta won for the eighth time at Hollywood Park, the track where she has been stabled throughout her brilliant career. In customary fashion, Zenyatta surged powerfully in the closing yards to defeat the valiant 3-year-old filly Switch in the Lady’s Secret Stakes Oct. 2.
In equaling the win streak of Peppers Pride, who earned all of her victories against fellow New Mexico breds, Zenyatta won the Lady’s Secret for an unprecedented third year in a row.
The win was the ninth consecutive Grade 1 for Zenyatta, who is owned by Jerry and Ann Moss and trained by John Shirreffs. The $150,000 top prize also enabled the 6-year-old daughter of Street Cry to surpass Ouija Board as the top female thoroughbred in terms of career earnings. She has a bankroll of $6,404,580. Ouija Board retired in 2006 with $6,312,552.
Under Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, Zenyatta will wrap her brilliant career when she tries to defend her title in the Breeders’ Cup Classic Nov. 6 at Churchill Downs.
Scheduled to leave for Kentucky early Nov. 2, Zenyatta was also voted Horse of the Meet – the third consecutive time she has been so honored at anOak Tree meet – in the annual media poll. She was also selected top older female.
Zabeel Racing International Corporation’s Richard’s Kid followed his victory in the Pacific Classic at Del Mar with another in the $250,000 Goodwood Stakes, providing trainer Bob Baffert with his second win in the Grade I.
The 3-year-old Smiling Tiger stamped himself a contender for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint Nov. 6 with a victory in the $250,000 Ancient Title Stakes Oct. 9 for owners Alan Klein and Phil Lebherz and trainer Jeff Bonde.
The meet’s other Grade I races were won by the improving 2-year-old Jaycito, who upset J P’s Gusto in the $250,000 Norfolk Stakes Oct. 2, Rigoletta, who posted the biggest surprise ($67.40) in Oak Leaf history when she defeated heavily favored Tell a Kelly in the $250,000 race Oct. 3, and Champ Pegasus, who rallied strongly to win the $250,000 Clement L. Hirsch Memorial Turf Championship Oct. 3.
In conjunction with the Oak Tree Racing Association’s move to Hollywood Park, the California Cup also had a new venue. The Cal Cup was held for the 21st time Oct. 30.
The series of races – including seven stakes with purses totaling $700,000 – for California breds featured several exciting finishes, including victories by Bruce’s Dream in the $100,000 John C. Mabee California Cup Mile Presented by TVG and Soul Candy in the $150,000 California Cup Classic Presented by City National Bank.
“We were particularly pleased with the accommodations and with how our breeders and sponsors were treated by everyone at Hollywood Park,’’ said Doug Burge, the executive vice president and general manager of the California Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association. “I thought the racing was extremely competitive and the wagering was on par with other California Cup days.’’
La Canada Stables topped the owners’ standings with six victories. In terms of earnings, the Zayat Stables LLC of Ahmed Zayat led with $220,260.
Jockey Rafael Bejarano defended his crown with 35 victories, one more than Joel Rosario. Bejarano also was tops in stakes wins with five, two better than Patrick Valenzuela.
Trainer Bob Baffert won his fifth Oak Tree title. He finished with 11 victories, one more than Doug O’Neill and John Sadler. Baffert broke a three-way tie for the top spot when favored Tweebster won the final race of the Oak Tree meet.
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