INGLEWOOD, Calif. (June 13, 2010)-With a powerful closing kick she has never failed to deliver, Zenyatta remained perfect, running her way into history with a thrilling victory over St Trinians and four others in the $250,000 Vanity Handicap (video) Sunday at Hollywood Park.
The win was the 17th in a row for the 6-year-old daughter of Street Cry and the Kris S. mare Vertingineux, enabling her to surpass Cigar, Citation and Mister Frisky for the longest win streak by a modern day thoroughbred in races not restricted to state breds.
She also became the first three time winner of the Vanity, a Grade 1 which was run for the 69th time Sunday.
Owned by Jerry and Ann Moss and trained by John Shirreffs, who has won the Vanity a record five times, Zenyatta, the 1-2 favorite, was able to overtake a gallant St Trinians in the closing yards. The half-length win, accomplished in 1:49.01 for the 1 1/8 miles, increased Zenyatta’s earnings to $6,074,580.
Spotting the runner-up nine pounds as she carried the same 129 she did in last year’s Vanity, Zenyatta trailed for more than two-thirds of the race, came widest of all into the stretch, then had to run down St Trinians, who had gotten the jump on the two-time older female champion.
With about a sixteenth of a mile to go, it appeared Zenyatta’s streak could be in jeopardy, but she was able to do what she’s always done since beginning her career with a maiden victory at Hollywood Park on Nov. 22, 2007. She is 7-for-7 at the track she calls home.
Returning to loud cheers and applause from the 12,232 on hand, Mike Smith, who has been aboard for 14 of Zenyatta’s victories, acknowledged the excited crowd.
“It’s just incredible,’’ said Smith after his fifth win in the race. “It was a great, great race. It was a gallant effort on St Trinians part. She really ran huge.
“When we headed for home, I hit a real big gear and she hit another one right back at me and I said, ‘Whoa, she’s serious, she’s going to make me run.’ I was working at it until the last hundred yards and then I knew I would out grind her.’’
Jerry Moss believed Zenyatta would stay unblemished while watching the Vanity unfold.
“I had a feeling she was going to make it somehow like she always does, ever since she caught Anabaa’s Creation in that race at Del Mar (the 2009 Clement L. Hirsch where Zenyatta won by a head).
“She won, she got there, she gave away the nine pounds and she came about seven wide. She’s just awesome. What can I say. The reaction of the crowd was amazing. She’s such a fan pleaser. Everybody here loves her.’’
Shirreffs, who has accumulated his Vanity victories since 1999, was a little concerned entering Sunday’s race due to Zenyatta’s last two works not going exactly the way he had wanted.
“Her last couple of works were a little on the slow side, so we were kind of concerned about that,’’ he said. “She was always finishing well in her works, they just didn’t set up the way we wanted in the morning. When it’s done perfectly, you say, ‘OK, that’s done, we’ve taken care of that and we go on to something else,’ but when you can’t completely close the book it leaves some uncertainty.’’
Making her first appearance since finishing sixth as the 3-1 favorite in the Santa Anita Handicap on March 6, St Trinians and new rider Martin Garcia took over the lead with about an eighth of a mile to run and had 2 ½ lengths on Zenyatta, but couldn’t quite stay.
Losing for the first time in five races against females in the United States, St Trinians finished six lengths clear of Zardana, who is also trained by Shirreffs.
Will O Way finished fourth, 6 ¼ lengths behind Zardana, then came Miss Silver Brook and Cherryblossommiss, who battled for the lead through the first six furlongs.
“I thought I had her just the way I wanted her and I knew John had his mare just the way he wanted her,’’ said Mike Mitchell, the trainer of St Trinians. “It was a good horse race. What can you say.
“I wanted to be a little farther in front of her turning for home because I know the kick that Zenyatta’s got. My mare has a big kick, too. She just got outrun. I’m happy. I just wanted it to be a good race. We’re all big fans of Zenyatta in my family. I know that (St Trinians) didn’t shame herself.’’
Garcia was certainly impressed by the first two finishers.
“I don’t know what to say,’’ he said. “I can’t say anything right now. I couldn’t have asked her for any more. The other mare is just too much horse. But mine is too.’’
In winning her seventh consecutive Grade 1, Zenyatta paid $3.00 and $2.10. There was no show wagering. The place price on St Trinians was $2.20.
Racing will resume on Wednesday at Hollywood Park. Post time is 1 p.m.
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