Zenyatta keeps clicking and the clock keeps ticking.
The champion mare equaled Personal Ensign’s unbeaten streak of 13 straight with her second consecutive victory in the Lady’s Secret Stakes Saturday, but there was no word Sunday morning on whether she would face males for the first time in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 7 or defend her Ladies’ Classic title on Nov. 6.
Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith left little doubt that in his opinion Zenyatta has the talent to successfully step out of her division. “Ability-wise, she can run with anyone, anytime, anywhere,” Smith said. “She has an amazing turn of foot—one that I’ve never seen before.”
Team Shirreffs, although understandably thrilled with Zenyatta’s smashing 1 1/2-length victory in the Lady’s Secret, that evening took it in stride with a discreet celebration.
“We had a nice quiet dinner,” Shirreffs said.
MINE THAT BIRD FINE, WOOLLEY OPTIMISTIC ABOUT HIS PROSPECTS
Except for a disappointing sixth-place finish in Saturday’s Goodwood Stakes, all was well with Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird Sunday, although future plans were undecided.
“He looks OK this morning,” trainer Chip Woolley said. “He came back good, I think. I haven’t talked to the owners much since we’ve run, so I’m not sure exactly what we’ll do from here, but the horse ran pretty good (beaten about four lengths). There was not quite enough pace in the race to set it up for him, and we might have been a little too far out of it. It’s kind of hard to say.
“It’s never a good thing when your horse is off 10 weeks and coming into a Grade I race like that. It’s kind of hard to be maybe as sharp as you want to be. I tried to tell his owners last night, it’s not like you got beat a fading 10 lengths or something. You were the only horse left running in the race, you were still closing ground. >From the head of the lane to wire, he makes up about six or seven.
“The problem is, they got away with a :48 half (:48.54), and that’s too slow. I thought we were in pretty good shape going into the first turn. He’s closing up a little bit on the turn, and you can see Calvin (Borel) kind of stand up and take a hold of him. What happened was, they were slowing down, coming back to him. It wasn’t really him moving up. They backed up to him a little bit because they slowed down from :23 and change (:23.75) to :48 and change.
“Calvin rode a good race. He rode him like I wanted, and that’s the kind of race we’re going to need if we’re going to win the Breeders’ Cup (Classic). He rode him just right. If he would have let him drift up a little more to the field, things might have different.”
FINISH LINES: Tomorrow, Monday, the Oak Tree Racing Association presents Columbus Day Dollar Day. General Admission will be $1, along with programs, hot dogs, soft drinks, beer, popcorn and coffee. First post time is 12:30 p.m. Gates open at 10:30 a.m. Monday’s feature races are the $60,000 Swingtime Stakes for fillies and mares at one mile on turf and the $65,000 added Louis R. Rowan Stakes for fillies and mares at 6 1/2 furlongs . . . Patrick Valenzuela was a visitor at Clockers’ Corner Sunday morning. The 47-year-old rider, who has been riding in Louisiana since his banishment from the Golden State, is hopeful the California Horse Racing Board will grant him a license to ride again here. “I had a great meet in Louisiana,” Valenzuela said. “Unfortunately, a horse broke down with me and I broke my (left) shoulder blade. I’ve been out for about six weeks. I’m hoping the doctor will release me on Wednesday and I’ll get a license from the CHRB. By the grace of the good Lord, that might happen. We’ll just take it one day at a time and hopefully I’ll be back riding where my family is and where I love to be.” . . . Trainer Mary Hartmann said if Presious Passion fares well in today’s Clement L. Hirsch Turf Championship, he will remain at Santa Anita under assistant Fernando Espinoza and point to the Breeders’ Cup Turf . . . Bob Baffert, off to a flying Oak Tree start with eight wins from 25 starts, was delighted with Richard’s Kid’s third by one length in the Goodwood Stakes. “It was a perfect race for him,” the Hall of Fame trainer said. “We needed to run one-two-three. We’re coming back in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.“ . . . New Bay, impressive winner of Saturday’s third race, is ticketed for the $100,000 Damascus Stakes at seven furlongs on Nov. 7, Richard Mandella said . . . Probable for next Saturday’s Grade III $100,000 Sen. Ken Maddy Handicap at about 6 ½ furlongs on turf: Flashover, no rider; Gotta Have Her, Tyler Baze; Pasar Silbano, David Flores; and Royal Taat, Joel Rosario . . .
Garrett Gomez and Rafael Bejarano, tied with Rosario for the Oak Tree lead at eight wins each through Saturday, ride at Woodbine on Saturday. Gomez rides Champs Elysees for Bobby Frankel in the $2 million Grade I Pattison Canadian International at 1 1/2 miles on turf, and Chamberlain Bridge for Bret Calhoun in the $500,000 Grade II Neartic Stakes at six furlongs on turf. Bejarano rides Little Nick for trainer Allen Iwinski in the Neartic and Princess Haya for Michael Matz in the $1 million Grade I E.P. Taylor Stakes at 1 1/4 miles on turf . . . A promotional video currently being shown on YouTube features interesting and informative highlights of HRTV’s prominent races and interviews from the beginning of the year . . . Entering Saturday’s races, there were 447 contestants alive in Oak Tree’s popular online handicapping contest, ShowVivor . . . A group of 11 communications students from Woodbury University in Burbank were press box visitors Sunday morning and were able to participate in a lively question and answer session with Oak Tree announcer Trevor Denman . . . Richie Silverstein, agent for Martin Pedroza and Danny Sorenson, will be Jerry Antonucci’s guest Monday at the Today’s Racing Digest seminar, 11 a.m., in the East Paddock Gardens.