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The week in Zenyatta

October 22, 2010     E-mail this page to a friend!

(photo by Robert Cooke, Jr., courtesy of Breeders' Cup)
Zenyatta notes by Jim Gluckson, courtesy of Breeders’ Cup

Zenyatta works seven furlongs (Friday, October 22)

Two-time champion Zenyatta, by design, was put through a major exercise on Friday, working seven furlongs in 1:271 over the Hollywood Park main track under regular jockey Mike Smith. The splits for the workout were :384, :504, 1:031 and 1:151. She completed the final quarter-mile in :24.

The work was the second of three workouts scheduled before Zenyatta departs for Kentucky on November 2 to defend her title in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs on November 6. Breaking into the work at the three-quarter pole, the undefeated mare worked in company with stablemates Sorbonne, with Isabelle Bourez up, and El Vino, with Steve Willard up. She easily passed Sorbonne rounding the turn for home and then finished almost on even terms with El Vino.

“The objective today was to not have her pass anyone,” said trainer John Shirreffs. “We wanted to keep her focused throughout the entire work because she tends to slack off when she gets by another horse. We wanted her to have a fresh horse with her the whole time. It went pretty much as we had planned.”

“I got a great response from her,” said Smith, who noted that the track was a little heavy due to the rain the last few days. “She was a little aggressive leaving there, which is good because it shows that she wants to do more. The goal was to keep her focused and she did that. She caught the first horse (Sorbonne) pretty easily and then took a breather around the turn. I asked her to focus again and go after Steve’s horse (El Vino) and that horse was really focused. She got to him pretty nicely. We wanted 1:27 and we got 1:271. One second off seems pretty good to me.”

Zenyatta’s next workout out will be Saturday, October 30. She will leave California on a Tex Sutton chartered flight on Tuesday, November 2.

Another smooth day for Zenyatta (Thursday, October 21)

One day after an unusually wet morning, Mother Nature continued to oblige two-time champion Zenyatta with Kentucky like weather morning as she went to the Hollywood Park main track amidst cool temperatures and overcast skies on Thursday. The undefeated mare galloped 1¼ miles under regular exercise rider Steve Willard as she continued to prepare for defense of her title in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs on November 6.

“She’s doing grand,” said Willard. “Mentally, her head is in a great place. Her mechanics are great and when they are good, good horses will be in a good spot.”

Prior to her gallop, Zenyatta got a little keyed up at the presence of her jockey, Mike Smith, because he usually means a work or a race is about to happen, but she quickly settled down. While Mike had just stopped by on Thursday to talk to some reporters, he will return on Friday to pilot Zenyatta through a workout, her second of three scheduled timed exercises before she leaves California for Kentucky on November 2.

Rain doesn’t hinder Zenyatta’s training plans (Wednesday, October 20)

Any questions of how Zenyatta may take to a rain soaked racetrack should be answered well before she gets to Kentucky on November 2 for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Churchill Downs as California is experiencing much more wet weather than the Bluegrass State at the moment. As steady rain fell, Zenyatta took the long way to the main track at Hollywood Park and proceeded to gallop 1¼ miles under regular exercise rider Steve Willard, who said the different path was “just to change things up a bit.” Despite the rain, the Cushion Track was labeled fast.

The two-time champion, who will be looking to extend her undefeated record to 20-0 with a repeat victory in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, has been galloping 1½ miles, but today’s gallop was purposely shortened by a quarter of a mile.

“You always do a little less when the track is soft, but it’s no big deal,” said trainer John Shirreffs.

Zenyatta will return to the main track on Thursday for another gallop and will have a timed workout on Friday.

Zenyatta returns to main track for gallop (Tuesday, October 19)

Undefeated champion mare Zenyatta returned to the main track on Tuesday for the first time since her 5-furlong workout last Friday and galloped 1½ miles under regular rider Steve Willard. Looking to become the first horse since Tiznow (2000 and 2001) to win back-to-back Breeders’ Cup Classics, Zenyatta will have her next timed workout on Friday, October 22.

As is her normal routine, Zenyatta will continue to go the track in the morning around 9:00 am and will be outside her barn grazing at 3:00 pm each afternoon.

Zenyatta looking for more from morning routine (Monday, October 18)

Undefeated champion mare Zenyatta was aggressive in her Monday morning training session in preparation for the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic on Sat., Nov. 6 at Churchill Downs.

She galloped 1 1/2 miles on the Hollywood Park dirt training track under exercise rider Steve Willard.

"She ain't no kid’s horse," said Willard after keeping the 19-and-0 star under a tight hold despite her desire to go faster.

"She wants to do more," said trainer John Shirreffs as he watched her intently from the rail. "She'll get her chance soon."

Those chances will come in two more scheduled workouts - one this Friday, October 22 and Saturday, October 30.

Meanwhile, a quiet Sunday routine was jazzed up yesterday when star NFL wide receiver Terrell Owens dropped by to visit Zenyatta while he was spending time on L.A. on his bye week from the Cincinnati Bengals.

The 6'3", 224 lbs. Owens was struck by the size and height of Zenyatta as well as her accomplishments.

“Man, she’s big!’’ Owens said. “She’s a beautiful horse. She is a big girl.’’

A group of less star-studded but equally awestruck fans were on hand Monday to pose for pictures with the two-time Breeders' Cup winner during her typical 10:30 a.m. grazing time.

"I really became a fan of hers after the '09 Classic, said Mike Peterson, a lifelong racing fan from L.A. "She's just incredible, and such a ham."

Zenyatta “perfect” in 5-furlong workout (Thursday, October 14)

Two-time champion Zenyatta, looking to cap her perfect record with a second straight victory in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) on November 6, worked an easy five furlongs in 1:02 3/5 under regular rider Mike Smith on Thursday at Hollywood Park. She worked in company with stablemate El Vino.

The breeze, the first since Zenyatta collected victory #19 in the Lady’s Secret Stakes (G1) at Hollywood Park on October 2, is one of three workouts that trainer John Shirreffs has planned before the Street Cry (Ire) mare departs for Kentucky on November 2.

“It was perfect for what you want first work back,” said Smith. “Not too fast. Not too slow. Her energy level is great. I tipped off the turn there and kinda let her run. Two jumps and she caught him (stablemate El Vino). Whooo. She’s like driving the most incredible sports car and today we didn’t even need to get out of second gear. I let her run, she got past (El Vino) and then she just went right back to cruise control. Just incredible!”

“Nice work for her first one back,” added Shirreffs. “It was just to get her focus back on a routine. It’s not how fast. It’s about getting back to work and letting her know that another work will be coming. It’s about getting the proper spacing.”

Zenyatta went to the track just after 9 am (PST) and was accompanied by a small crowd of media and fans, which is expected to grow steadily over the next three weeks. One person who has been following Zenyatta almost as closely as her connections is Hollywood Park clocker Donald Harris, who told TVG that watching the workout gave him goose bumps.

“She’s hitting the ground with such precision right now,” said Harris. “She’s floating over the track just like she was last year before the Classic.”

Zenyatta is scheduled to work again on October 22 and 30. She will walk the shedrow on Friday and then resume her regular morning gallops on Saturday.