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(left) Zenyatta in the Santa Margarita Handicap (Photo : Examiner)
(right) Rachel Alexandra in the New Orleans Ladies Stakes (Photo : TB Times)
(Footage : YouTube)
ZENYATTA VS RACHEL ALEXANDRA
The unbeaten Zenyatta (Street Cry) strode to her 15th career victory in the Santa Margarita Handicap (Gr1) at Santa Anita on Saturday and in doing so added more hype to her intended match race with Rachel Alexandra in the US$5 million Apple Blossom Invitational on 9 April - a race in which Zenyatta is a finalised starter. The headline story was the defeat of Rachel Alexandra in the New Orleans Ladies Stakes.
It was a bit more eventful than perhaps it had been scripted: Zenyatta was still last as they headed into the stretch, and jockey Mike Smith opted to take the shorter route to the wire. He had to steady briefly and, for a moment, it seemed that the Breeders’ Cup Classic winner was in a spot of trouble. But she angled inside to pass one rival, eased up on the outside of pacesetter Dance to My Tune (Stravinsky), and was on her way to yet another earspricked victory.
“I cut some corners and gambled a bit, but I was confident at all times that if she needed to make room, she could,” jockey Mike Smith said. “She’s a bit of a bully.”
“Everybody really loves her,” owner Jerry Moss said. “Everybody’s so pleased to have her back and to root for her, and when she wins, she makes everybody happy. She’s perfect. She’s the idol of perfection we all strive for. That’s about as profound as I get.”
Meanwhile, the defeat in New Orleans for the Horse of the Year put in some doubt Rachel Alexandra’s participation in the April 9 Apple Blossom Invitational at Oaklawn Park. Trainer Steve Asmussen said shortly after the Ladies. “If I thought she’d get beat I wouldn’t have run her today”. “We’ll have to be cautious. We want to do what’s right for the mare.”
“She needed the race, that’s all,” said JockeyCalvin Borel. “She needed the race more than anything.” That assessment was echoed by Steve Asmussen, who blamed himself for Rachel Alexandra’s defeat.
“The filly’s lacking fitness,” he said. “It was my job to have her there, and I didn’t do it.”
Extract from ANZ Bloodstock News