|Jockey Mike Smith celebrates yesterday's victory aboard Zenyatta. (Chris Carlson/Associated Press)|
Classic win for Zenyatta
Filly roars ahead for perfect mark
ARCADIA, Calif. - Make it 9 for 9 for the unstoppable Zenyatta.
The 4-year-old filly stayed perfect in the $2 million Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic at Santa Anita yesterday, roaring from last to first around the turn to win the race and make a case for Horse of the Year honors.
Zenyatta, ridden by Mike Smith, trailed by as many as 10 lengths on the backstretch. When Smith asked her, she responded with her trademark push to beat Cocoa Beach by 1 1/2 lengths.
"She's sent from God, I tell you," Smith said after picking up his second win on Ladies' Day. "She was there any time I wanted her. I knew she was going to make her move today."
The heavy favorite paid $3 while covering 1 1/8 miles in 1:46.85.
"She makes things happen, she's just so special," trainer John Shirreffs said. "We're so blessed to have her in our barn. . . . From the very beginning when she started racing, she showed another dimension that you would never expect."
The win was the first Breeders' Cup victory for Shirreffs and owners Jerry and Ann Moss. The trio previously won the 2005 Kentucky Derby with Giacomo.
Smith's two wins moved him into a second-place tie with Pat Day for most in the Breeders' Cup. Smith and Day both have 12 wins at horse racing's Super Bowl. All-time leader Jerry Bailey has 15.
Zenyatta's sparkling performance comes 20 years after Personal Ensign capped her spectacular career with a heart-stopping win over Kentucky Derby champion Winning Colors in the 1988 BC Distaff, now the Ladies' Classic.
Zenyatta still has four races to go to match Personal Ensign's perfect 13-for-13 record. If she runs like she did around the far turn at Santa Anita - eating up ground with each massive stride as she roared past the rest of the eight-horse field - matching Personal Ensign's impossible record could be within reach.
Zenyatta wasn't the only star on Ladies' Day, and she may have found a kindred spirit in Stardom Bound.
The 2-year-old gray filly, also ridden by Smith, came through with an electrifying victory in the $2 million BC Juvenile Fillies.
Trainer Christopher Paasch dubbed his star "Baby Z" in honor of Zenyatta, and Stardom Bound ran like it in a 1 1/2-length win over Dream Empress. Like Zenyatta, Stardom Bound spotted the field early, falling all the way to 12th as Smith waited to push the button.
All it took was a little urging at the turn, and Stardom Bound exploded to the front. She got away so quickly that Paasch saw her start looking around for someone to race. Smith managed to keep her attention through the stretch and she cruised across the finish line well clear of Dream Empress.
"It was just an incredible performance," Smith said. "I'm at a loss for words."