Thursday, September 25, 2008
Saturday’s Six Grade I Stakes Advance
ARCADIA, Calif. (Sept. 24, 2008) – Jerry and Ann Moss’s Zenyatta, racing’s paragon of perfection, and stablemate Tiago, defending champion in the $500,000 Goodwood Stakes, will be major players at Santa Anita on Saturday when the Oak Tree Racing Association presents an unprecedented six Grade I stakes races, each with Breeders’ Cup World Championship implications.
Unbeaten Zenyatta, the 4-year-old filly who has towered over her opposition in seven starts, will be a solid choice in the $250,000 Lady’s Secret Stakes at 1 1/16 miles, but could get her sternest test yet when facing Hystericalady, winner of three consecutive Grade II stakes by a combined 19½ lengths.
First post for the unique 11-race program billed as Breeders’ Cup Challenge Day is at 12:30 p.m. Excepting the Clement L. Hirsch Turf Championship, winners of the Grade I stakes will be assured a starting spot in their respective Breeders’ Cup events under the event’s “Win and You’re In” program.
A topnotch field of 10 entered the $400,000 Yellow Ribbon Stakes for fillies and mares at 1 ¼ miles on turf with trainer Todd Pletcher’s Wait a While the one to beat. The 5-year-old gray mare won the Yellow Ribbon by 4 ½ lengths two years ago and is two-for-two over the Santa Anita turf.
The $250,000 Clement L. Hirsch Turf Championship at 1 ¼ miles features R. D. Hubbard’s Spring House, also two-for-two over the local grass, and an odds-on winner of the Del Mar Handicap in his last start, as well as Eastern-based Red Giant from Pletcher’s barn.
The $250,000 Ancient Title Stakes at six furlongs, a prep for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, has attracted such crack sprinters as Idiot Proof, who took the 2007 Ancient Title, and Street Boss. The latter has won his last five starts including Hollywood Park’s Triple Bend Handicap and Del Mar’s Bing Crosby Handicap, both Grade I races, in his last two.
Stardom Bound, a dazzling 4 ½-length winner of the Grade I Del Mar Debutante in her last start, will be the center of attention in the $250,000 Oak Leaf Stakes for 2-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles.
Tiago, fifth to Curlin in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic at Monmouth Park, has not raced since a disappointing sixth-place finish in the June 28 Hollywood Gold Cup after upsetting highly-regarded Heatseeker in the Oaklawn Handicap. Hall of Famer Mike Smith rides the 2007 Santa Anita Derby winner trained by John Shirreffs. Tiago, a half-brother to 2005 Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo, has earned $1,734,270 from a 5-2-3 record in 15 career starts.
WinStar Farm’s Well Armed will be the horse to catch in the Goodwood. Earlier this year, the 5-year-old gelding held on for third behind Curlin in the $6-million Dubai World Cup. He scored wire-to-wire victories in Del Mar’s San Diego Handicap and the San Antonio Handicap at Santa Anita. Aaron Gryder rides for trainer Eoin Harty. The son of Tiznow has banked $1,230,803 from a 5-3-1 mark in 18 races.
The complete field for the Goodwood Stakes (10th race), with jockeys and weights in post position order: Zappa, Joel Rosario, 124; Tres Borrachos, Tyler Baze, 121; Informed, Martin Garcia, 124; Surf Cat, David Flores, 124; Slew’s Tiznow, Alonso Quinonez, 121; Albertus Maximus, Garrett Gomez, 124; Well Armed, Aaron Gryder, 124; Tiago, Mike Smith, 124; Spirit One, Ioritz Mendizabal, 124; Mostacolli Mort, Martin Pedroza, 124, and Mast Track, John Velazquez, 124.
While only five fillies and mares entered the Lady’s Secret, attention will be riveted on Zenyatta and Hystericalady. Zenyatta, with regular rider Smith aboard for trainer Shirreffs, drew just outside of Hystericalady, who will break from post position No. 3.
Zenyatta’s seven triumphs have generated earnings of $914,580 and raves from her esteemed rider. “She’s just amazing,” Smith said following her Clement L. Hirsch Handicap victory at Del Mar. “I think it’s great for the sport that we have one like her. She set a track record in this race, but had I let her go, no telling what she might have done.”
Said Smith after the daughter of Street Cry took Hollywood Park’s Milady Handicap: “Amazing. All I can say is just amazing. I’m beside myself. There’s no word in my vocabulary to describe her.” Smith, incidentally, was the regular rider of the last female to be selected Horse of the Year, Azeri in 2002.
Hystericalady has won her last three starts, all Grade II stakes, by a combined 19 ½ lengths. The 5-year-old daughter of Distorted Humor, who has earned $2,290,556 from 11 wins in 21 starts, likes to run on or near the lead. She would appear to have a significant pace advantage under Garrett Gomez in the compact Lady’s Secret field.
“I would never say that we have an edge going into a race,” cautioned Jerry Hollendorfer, yet Hystericalady’s co-owner and trainer added, “but I would hope to use her speed to an advantage.”
The complete field for the Lady’s Secret (5th race, all starters carry 124 pounds) with jockeys in post position order: Super Freaky, Martin Garcia; Wage Up Maggie, Tyler Baze; Hystericalady, Gomez; Zenyatta, Smith, and Santa Teresita, Michael Baze.
Spring House, who will be handled by Corey Nakatani, faces six in the Hirsch after being an odds-on winner of the Del Mar Handicap in his last start. Trained by Julio Canani, the 6-year-old gelding has posted a 7-5-11 record in 33 starts while earning $718,284. Red Giant, a 4-year-old, will have John Velasquez aboard after they won the Grade II Fourstardave Handicap at Saratoga in his most recent start. First or second in his last eight races, Red Giant shows earnings of $942,419 from a 5-3-1 record in 11 starts.
The complete field for the Clement L. Hirsch Turf Championship Stakes (4th race, all starters carry 124 pounds), with jockeys in post position order: Ferneley, Victor Espinoza; Transduction Gold, Jon Court; Bonjour, Martin Garcia; You Got Me Rocking, Joel Rosario; Out of Control, Gomez; Red Giant, Velazquez, and Spring House, Corey Nakatani.
Idiot Proof drew post position No. 4 among eight entrants in the Ancient Title. David Flores rides the defending champion for trainer Cliff Sise. The 4-year-old Benchmark colt has earned $1,284,992 for Martin and Pam Wygod with a record of 5-5-2 in 13 career races. Street Boss drew the rail as he attempts to extend his winning streak to six. Trained by co-owner Bruce Headley, Street Boss has captured seven of 11 races overall for earnings of $581,800.
The complete field for the Ancient Title Stakes (6th race, all starters carry 124 pounds), with jockeys in post position order: Street Boss, Flores; Delta Storm, Gryder; Decado, Alex Solis; Idiot Proof, Gomez; Sailors Sunset, Pedroza; In Summation, Nakatani; Esperamos, Julio Garcia, and Cost of Freedom, Tyler Baze.
Stardom Bound’s dominant victory in the Del Mar Debutante failed to scare off the opposition. The Tapit filly, trained by Christopher Paasch for Charles Cono, will meet 11 in the Oak Leaf with Smith in the saddle for a fourth time following the win and a pair of fast-closing seconds.
The complete field for the Oak Leaf Stakes (8th race, all starters carry 122 pounds): Will O Way, Rosario; Stardom Bound, Smith; Candilejas, Martin Garcia; Palacio de Amor, Espinoza; Montana Fields, Velazquez; Magic Roberta, Nakatani; Empressive Lady, Tyler Baze; Oro Blanco, Pedroza; Toro Bonito, Flores; Black Magic Mama, Gomez; Kinesiology, Michael Baze, and Malusita, Brice Blanc.
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