Captured to perfection in her signature post-race curtsy, head bowed and right hoof pawing the ground, the mighty Zenyatta was unveiled in magnificent bronze Saturday at noon before an enthusiastic coterie of fans in the south quadrant of Santa Anita’s Kingsbury Memorial Fountain area, directly across from a replica of another turf legend, John Henry.
Enduring uncharacteristically hot weather, the crowd roared its approval when the life-sized sculpture by Nina Kaiser was uncovered, a full 1200 pounds and 17.2 hands high, conforming with Zenyatta’s physical measurements.
Zenyatta won 19 straight races to start her career before losing her final race in the Breeders’ Cup Classic that year. Among her heart-pounding, come-from-behind triumphs was the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita, in which she became the first female to defeat males in the championship event.
Retired as a broodmare at Lane’s End Farm in Kentucky, Zenyatta, now eight years old, currently is in foal to Tapit. In March, she delivered her first foal, a colt by Bernardini.
“We don’t know who her next boyfriend will be,” Moss told the throng. “We’re so grateful to everyone I can’t express it in words.” Added Ann of the likeness: “She looks fantastic.”
Well after Saturday’s last race, as darkness enveloped the statue, fans were still there, touching it and posing for pictures with the Zenyatta that will be their eternal shrine.
BEJARANO PROVES YOU CAN’T KEEP A GOOD JOCK DOWN
Rafael Bejarano bounced back like the proverbial rubber ball from a spill in Friday’s fifth race. The mishap appeared to be very serious to the naked eye, and the 30-year-old rider took off his remaining mounts that day but worked horses Saturday morning and won four races that day—all stakes—including three Grade I’s for trainer Bob Baffert.
There was never a doubt Bejarano would fulfill his engagements Saturday, according to his agent, Joe Ferrer.
Asked how soon Ferrer felt Bejarano would ride on Saturday, he answered: “Immediately, because he said he fell on his head but he was able to roll, and when you can roll, the initial impact isn’t as hard as when you hit and don’t roll.
“He told paramedics he was OK. I talked to Rafael on the phone, and Jimmy Barnes (Baffert’s top assistant) went and saw him in the ambulance. I asked Jimmy to give him the phone and Rafael told me he was fine, ‘Don’t worry about it. I’ll call you back in 10 minutes.’
“When he told me that, I knew that he was riding the next day.”
Bejarano rides four horses for Baffert in stakes at Hoosier Park in Indiana on Saturday, including Fed Biz in the Indiana Derby, Eden’s Moon, Ellafitz and Hoorayforhollywood.
Baffert’s horses earned $470,000 in purse money at Santa Anita Saturday, his three winners finishing a combined 16 lengths in front of their rivals.
“Everything’s good,” Baffert reported Sunday morning when asked how Game On Dude, Power Broker and Executiveprivilege came out of their authoritative victories. “No complaints.”
The 59-year-old Hall of Fame trainer was happy with the improvement in Santa Anita’s conventional dirt surface. “When we first got here, it was pretty damn deep and young horses were struggling,” he said, “but now, to me, the best horses are winning.”
BAFFERT DUO WORKS FOR INAUGURAL SANTA ANITA SPRINT CHAMPIONSHIP
Bob Baffert-trained Capital Account and Coil worked in company on Santa Anita’s main track Sunday morning for next Saturday’s Grade I, $250,000, Win and You’re In Santa Anita Sprint Championship.
Capital Account went four furlongs in 48.40 under Rafael Bejarano, while Coil went five furlongs 1:01 with Martin Garcia up. “They stayed together in an easy tempo.” said clocker Toby Turrell of Winners Card.
Probable for the Santa Anita Sprint Championship, formerly run as the Ancient Title Stakes: Amazombie, Mike Smith; Camp Victory, Joe Talamo; Capital Account, David Flores; Coil, Martin Garcia; Jimmy Creed, Garrett Gomez; and the filly Reneesgotzip, Corey Nakatani.
MARINA DEL REY MAN WINS $3,600 IN CASHCALL, SANTA ANITA PROMOTION
Ed Clark, a 75-year-old resident of Marina del Rey, won $3,600 Saturday by participating in a daily drawing sponsored by J. Paul Reddam’s CashCall and Santa Anita Park.
CashCall and Santa Anita announced that beginning yesterday, on-track fans could submit their entries to be part of a drawing to win a $1,000 win-bet on the last race of the day for the remainder of the 24-day Autumn Meet, with the exception of the two-day Breeders’ Cup.
Clark, a New Jersey native, who said that he’d “been playing the horses since I’m 20 years old,” found out about the CashCall/Santa Anita $1,000 win-bet contest when he arrived at The Great Race Place Saturday.
“When I came in, I saw the CashCall sign and I felt like I had to play. I like the jock (Rafael Bejarano) and I liked the horse (Byrama). I thought he was on the best horse in the race and that’s the way it turned out.”
Clark’s entry was drawn prior to the 11th and final race and he watched the race from the winner’s circle. Shortly after the race was declared official, he was interviewed live on HRTV.
Off as the first choice in the wagering at odds of 5-2, the Simon Callaghan-trained Byrama won easily, providing Bejarano with his fourth stakes win of the day. Byrama paid $7.20 to win, resulting in Clark’s $3,600 hit.
“I’m usually out here on the weekends,” said Clark. When asked if he might have anything specific in mind for his newfound bankroll, he responded “I don’t have any immediate plans.”
AARON GRYDER BACK AND WINNING AT SANTA ANITA
Aaron Gryder’s back and Santa Anita has him. The 42-year-old jockey from nearby West Covina has ridden with a high degree of success throughout the country. A regular on the Southern California circuit for a long spell before moving his tack to the Bay Area, where over the past few seasons he resurrected his career, specifically with regard to winning races in bunches against the likes of perennial Northern California riding king Russell Baze, Gryder has opted to return to the Southland full time.
And on opening day at Santa Anita, he wasted little time in getting off the schneid, as he guided $19.80 winner Tummel to a hard-fought nose victory over 25-1 shot Buds Pal in Friday’s second race, a 6 ½-furlong sprint for $12,500 claimers. Gryder came right back in the third race, winning it by three-quarters of a length aboard 15-1 outsider Regulus.
“I’m definitely staying for this meet,” said Gryder, whose agent is Saul Marquez. “I had a good time in Northern California. It served its purpose; we had a lot of winners and got some momentum. I had a great time up there, but you need to be around good horses to get on them. That’s what’s fun about this game, the chase of a good horse. I’m happy we picked up the Barretts Juvenile winner for Craig Dollase (Tree of Life) and it just seems like our business is getting better.
“I’m having a lot of fun and I’m here to stay.”
IMPROVEMENT IMMINENT AT SANTA ANITA ON HD SIGNAL, TRAKUS
The integration of the HD signal and Trakus at Santa Anita is progressing and viewers both on track and at simulcast sites will see improvements to the broadcast in the coming days.
"Santa Anita is working hard with Pegasus Communications to fine tune the production into the top simulcast signal in the nation," said Amy J. Zimmerman, VP - Business Coordination & Broadcasting. "Santa Anita has always taken great pride in our video signal and our fans deserve nothing less than the best. We collectively know it isn't there yet. Pegasus is working around the clock, and the broadcast presentation will continue to be perfected until we reach that goal."
The Santa Anita Autumn meet marked the first major overhaul of the Santa Anita broadcast signal in 20 years, producing the signal in HD for the first time.
FINISH LINES: Patrick Valenzuela, hobbled by knee issues, took off his mounts for the second straight day on Sunday, according to Santa Anita stewards . . . Prepping for Saturday stakes engagements at Hoosier Park, Eden’s Moon and Fed Biz worked on Santa Anita’s main track Sunday, the former going five furlongs in 1:02 and Fed Biz moving in 1:14 for six furlongs, each for Bob Baffert.