Mike Smith was aboard Zenyatta in all but three of her 19 straight victories before suffering her only defeat in the Breeders’ Cup Classic in 2010, so it’s understandable that the 46-year-old Hall of Fame jockey has nothing but fond memories of the great mare, who has since retired to the breeding shed.
In the mind of Smith and Zenyatta fans worldwide, and in light of her greatest victory, in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita in 2009, it’s with proper justification that Santa Anita unveils a life-sized statue of her on Saturday, Sept. 29 in the Paddock Gardens area.
“I was in Chicago Sunday and everything I signed was Zenyatta. The statue of her is a fitting tribute. She’s one of the great horses who ran here and one of the greatest ever, so she deserves a statue.”
In addition to the statue unveiling, the inaugural Grade I, $250,000 Zenyatta Stakes (formerly the Lady’s Secret), a race won by Zenyatta over three consecutive years from 2008 through 2010, will be run on Sept. 29.
Unfortunately, Smith will be at Santa Anita that day in spirit only. Agent Brad Pegram has him booked on mounts Sept. 29 at Belmont Park, including 2011 Ladies’ Classic winner Royal Delta for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott in the Grade I, $400,000, “Win and You’re In” Beldame Stakes at 1 1/8 miles.
Zenyatta, now eight and enjoying her role as broodmare at Lane’s End Farm in Kentucky, will be linked with two of the greatest horses of all-time, John Henry and Seabiscuit, as her statuary likeness will join those legends adjacent to the track’s grandstand.
Named after The Police’s blockbuster album “Zenyatta Mondatta,” Zenyatta is owned by Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Jerry Moss and his wife, Ann.
Zenyatta retired with 19 wins from 20 starts and $7,304,580 in earnings. Although she lost by a head in her final start, the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic, her stature as one of the sport’s all-time greats remained undiminished as she was voted 2010 Horse of the Year.
Fast forward to today and Smith is looking forward to riding 2011 Breeders’ Cup Sprint champion Amazombie in the inaugural Santa Anita Sprint Championship on Saturday, Oct. 6.
“He’s doing well and I’m excited about him running,” Smith said. “Bill (trainer and co-owner Bill Spawr) is doing a great job getting him right at the right time again.”
CAPITAL ACCOUNT SET FOR SANTA ANITA SPRINT; FED BIZ EYES HOOSIER DERBY
Bob Baffert has nine horses nominated to the Grade I, “Win and You’re In” Santa Anita Sprint Championship on Saturday, Oct. 6, but on Tuesday named only Capital Account as a likely starter in the $250,000 race at six furlongs, formerly run as the Ancient Title Stakes.
David Flores, who piloted the son of Closing Argument to victory in the Grade II Pat O’Brien Stakes at Del Mar, retains the mount. El Cajon Stakes winner Fed Biz, also nominated to the Sprint Championship, is bound for Indiana and the $500,000, Grade II Hoosier Derby at 1 1/16 miles on Oct. 6, Baffert said.
Capital Account worked four furlongs on Santa Anita’s conventional main track Monday in 48.80, while Fed Biz went five furlongs in a bullet 1:00 on Sunday.
FROM SADDLE TO SALES, PINCAY STAYS ACTIVE
Laffit Pincay Jr. has done his best to remain fighting fit since retiring from riding in 2003 after nearly four decades in the saddle. Between working out and playing golf, his latest passion is a product called GastroMax3, a preventative of ulcers in horses,
“Not only is it a product that works, but it’s less expensive than anything else on the market, so it benefits the owners’ pocket books,” said the 65-year-old Pincay, at 127 pounds not far from his riding weight.
“I thought the product was good for the industry and it gave me something to do, too. I’ve been at this for about a month. Jorge Velasquez called me and asked me if I wanted to get involved in this product and I said yes.”
VETERAN CONDITIONER HENRY MORENO CELEBRATES HIS 83RD BIRTHDAY
Veteran trainer Henry Moreno celebrated his 83rd birthday with friends and fellow horsemen Tuesday morning at Clockers’ Corner.
“I’ve had a good life,” said Moreno, who could easily pass for someone 10 years younger. “I was raised on a ranch in Corona and we milked 120 cows a day. My dad had a lot of horses and cattle and I guess you could say all that hard work has been good for me.”
Moreno enjoyed a chocolate birthday cake with trainers Mel Stute, Barry Abrams and Don Collins, along with assistant trainer (to Don Warren) Tim Reavey, owners Madeline and Harris Auerbach, exercise rider Chris Aplin and owner Yip Quan.
Moreno, who started out with Quarter Horses, saddled his first winner in 1950 and is best known as the conditioner of two powerful, multiple stakes-winning South American mares, Tizna and Sangue. He also trained the multiple Grade I winning filly Lite Light prior to her being sold to rapper MC Hammer.
Moreno also developed Grade I stakes-winning sprinter Sam Who, but at age 83, he’s looking forward, not back.
“I’ve got (California-bred) Spud Spivens here and I’m getting him ready for the (Oct. 13) the Cal Cup. He’s the best horse I’ve had in quite a while.”
Here’s hoping the affable Moreno has many more birthday candles in his future.
FINISH LINES: Along with Henry Moreno, Harris Auerbach, manager of the syndicate for super stallion Unusual Heat, celebrated birthdays Tuesday with a cake at Clockers’ Corner. Moreno turned 83, while Harris was 43. Unusual Heat, still going strong at stud at the Harris Farms in Coalinga, commands $20,000 per service. “He’ll be 23 on Jan. 1 but he looks like he’s 15 or 16,” Harris said. California Cup Classic (Oct. 13) candidate Spud Spivens, a stakes-placed son of Tizbud trained by Moreno, worked five furlongs on Santa Anita’s main track Tuesday in 1:01.60 . . . San Marcos Stakes winner Slim Shadey worked five furlongs on Santa Anita’s main track Tuesday in 1:01.60 for the inaugural John Henry Turf Championship (formerly run as the Clement Hirsch) at 1 ¼ miles on Sept. 30. “One more work and we should be ready,” said trainer Simon Callaghan . . . Long-time horsewoman Sally Lundy is currently assisting trainer Carla Gaines after a tour with trainer Janet Armstrong. “I took a year off after that to recharge my batteries,” said Lundy, who was a major player in the late Bobby Frankel’s operation for 11 years until the Hall of Fame trainer died at the age of 68 on Nov. 16, 2009 . . . Trainer David Hofmans, whose signature win came in the 1996 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Woodbine when he saddled Alphabet Soup to an upset victory, is one win shy of 1,000 in his career.