Zenyatta remains undefeated at 19-0 with win in Lady’s Secret at Hollywood Park

By Beth Harris, AP
Saturday, October 2, 2010

Zenyatta wins Lady’s Secret to go 19-0

INGLEWOOD, Calif. — Nobody beats the queen on her home track, or anywhere else for that matter.

Zenyatta improved to 19-0 in her stellar career, using her usual come-from-behind move to overtake front-running Switch in the stretch and win the $250,000 Lady’s Secret Stakes on Saturday at Hollywood Park.

The 6-year-old mare prevailed by a half-length, putting a scare into her connections and much of the crowd before rallying late under Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith.

“She seems to know where the wire is at and she likes to make it a little dramatic,” he said. “It’s just incredible.”

Trainer John Shirreffs pounded his rolled-up racing program against his chest after Zenyatta sailed across the finish line of the 1 1-16-mile race, which she won for the third straight year.

“She’s a heart-stopper in so many ways,” he said, smiling.

Zenyatta’s exercise rider Steve Willard held his right hand over his heart, a relieved smile on his face.

“I’m sweating so much. Oh my God! It’s just fabulous,” said Dottie Ingordo Shirreffs, racing manager for owners Jerry and Ann Moss, and Shirreffs’ wife.

It was Zenyatta’s final prep before she heads to Churchill Downs next month to take on the boys again in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, which she won last year.

“I’m jazzed and I’m ready,” Jerry Moss said about the Classic.

Zenyatta ran the distance on the synthetic Cushion Track in 1:42.97. Sent off at 1-9 odds, she paid $2.20 and $2.10. There was no show wagering because of the five-horse field.

“She has so much heart,” Shirreffs said. “She digs down every time.”

Zenyatta definitely needed to bear down. Moon de French, trained by Bob Baffert, led much of the way with Switch right behind. Smith settled Zenyatta off the rail, where they were eight lengths behind in the early going.

“I’d like to see her win by a little more, but that’s just how she runs,” Jerry Moss said. “She knows where the wire is.”

Smith swung Zenyatta to the outside on the second turn before coming out wider in the stretch to take aim at Switch and jockey Alonso Quinonez.

“I thought I was home free at the eighth pole,” Quinonez said. “I couldn’t see Zenyatta coming because I was so into riding my horse. We lost, but it was exciting.”

Switch returned $2.60.

“I’ve been tiptoeing around the barn all morning, saying, ‘I know we’re going to give them a scare,’” Switch’s trainer John Sadler said. “To run second to the best horse in the world and one of the greats of all time is huge. I’m very, very excited.”

Moon de French and Satans Quick Chick finished in a dead-heat for third, another 4¾ lengths behind. Emmy Darling was fifth. Rinterval, who lost to Zenyatta by a neck last month at Del Mar, was scratched by the veterinarian in the paddock before the race.

The victory, worth $150,000, made Zenyatta the career earnings leader for a female horse. Her total of $6,404,580 overtook the old mark of $6,334,296 set by Ouija Board, who retired in 2006.

Zenyatta notched her eighth win at Hollywood Park, more than at any other track.

“She’s done some amazing things the last sixteenth of a mile,” Shirreffs said. “Her heart must be huge.”

There was plenty of love from the crowds that lined up five deep in spots around the paddock watching Zenyatta being saddled before the race. Female fans held up signs reading “Go Zenyatta” and “Queen Zenyatta.”

“The fans really demonstrate how I feel inside,” the low-key Shirreffs said. “I can’t really show those emotions, so I really enjoy them getting into it because that’s exactly how I feel.”

Zenyatta didn’t disappoint, putting on her usual pre-race show by goose-stepping around the paddock as the crowd cheered her and Smith. Among her high-profile fans were Penny Chenery, owner of Triple Crown winner Secretariat; actress Bo Derek; and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

Afterward, Smith stopped Zenyatta at the top of the grandstand to check out the crowd of 25,837, then guided her to the middle of the track, where she bathed in a standing ovation.

He held up his right index finger, signaling No. 1.

“She’s just amazing,” he said.

Zenyatta’s win overshadowed three other Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup preps on Saturday.

— Hibaayeb won the $250,000 Yellow Ribbon Stakes by a length over Ireland-bred Turning Top. Ridden by Rafael Bejarano, Britain-bred Hibaayeb ran 1¼ miles on the turf in 2:00.44 and paid $8.60 to win. Gypsy’s Warning was third.

— Jaycito and Smith won the $250,000 Norfolk Stakes by a length over J P’s Gusto. They ran 1 1-16 miles in 1:44.17 and paid $8.40 to win.

— Richard’s Kid, trained by Baffert and ridden by Quinonez, rallied to win the $250,000 Goodwood Stakes by a half-length. The two-time Pacific Classic winner covered 1 1-8 miles in 1:49.18. Crown of Thorns was second and Dakota Phone third.

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