An interesting mix of talented fillies, headlined by 2012 grade I winners Include Me Out, Love Theway Youare, and Love and Pride, and will go postward in the Sept. 29 Zenyatta Stakes (gr. I) at Santa Anita Park.
Formerly called the Lady's Secret Stakes, the Zenyatta was named for the 2010 Horse of the Year, a three-time winner of the Lady's Secret. She will be honored by Santa Anita Park as a life-sized statue of the mare will be unveiled in the track's paddock gardens area at noon the day of the race.
Slated for 4:38 p.m., the 1 1/16-mile Zenyatta is the eighth race on the card and has drawn a field of nine. The race is one of grade I races on the Saturday card and carries an automatic berth in the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic (gr. I) Nov. 2 at Santa Anita for the winner as a Breeders' Cup Challenge event.
Include Me Out, a 4-year-old daughter of Include −Don't Trick Her, by Mazel Trick, will enter the Zenyatta off a gutsy neck victory in the Aug. 4 Clement L. Hirsch Stakes (gr. I) at Del Mar.
Trained by Ron Ellis for Samantha Siegel's Jay Em Ess Stables, Include Me Out has been in fine form this year. She launched the season with a trio of scores in the Jan. 22 La Canada (gr. II), Santa Margarita Invitational (gr. I), and Majorie L. Everett Handicap (gr. II), with her only loss being a second in the June 16 Vanity Handicap (gr. I) to Love Theway Youare.
Ellis didn't seem too concerned about again facing Love Theway Youare, who got her revenge on Include Me Out in the Vanity after being second to that rival in the Santa Margarita.
"I'm not too worried about (Love Theway Youare). She got a little lucky to beat us (in the Vanity)," he said. "I think my rider (Joe Talamo) moved a little too soon that day. He opened up by six (lengths) and my filly got bored when she got out in front."
In her most recent work, Include Me Out, an earner of $683,600 from 11 starts, covered six furlongs over Santa Anita's turf course in a bullet 1:13 4/5.
"She's been training great. Her last work was on the grass because the Hollywood Park track where she normally trains had been closed," Ellis explained. "She worked really good over it. She has a half sister (Check the Label) that's a grade I winner on the grass, so I figured she would handle it fine."
Ellis is looking forward to seeing Include Me Out return to Santa Anita's main track. "I think she favors the natural dirt over the synthetic," he said.
Bred in Kentucky by Brereton C. Jones, Include Me Out was a $150,000 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky select yearling sale purchase in 2009. She will be ridden by regular rider Talamo in the Zenyatta and the pair will break from post 6.
Include Me Out, Love Theway Youare, and Love and Pride, are the co-highweights and will all carry 124 pounds.
Love Theway Youare, trained and owned by Korean native Myung K. Cho, has only won one of seven starts this year, but the fact she has fared well against Include Me Out on two different occasions proves she belongs.
The daughter of Arch most recently finished a distant fifth to Game On Dude in the July 7 Hollywood Gold Cup Handicap (gr. I). Her best effort prior to the Vanity and Santa Margarita was a third in the 2011 Hollywood Oaks (gr. II).
In her most recent work, Love Theway Youare covered five furlongs in a minute flat at Santa Anita Sept. 21 and was clocked the third fastest horse of 48 at the same distance that day.
Overall, she holds a record of 3-1-3 from 20 starts, for earnings of $372,990. Bred in Kentucky by Christopher Dragone, Love Theway Youare is out of the Tabasco Cat mare Diversa.
Jockey David Flores has the riding assignment for the first time and will leave from post 2.
Love and Pride, trained by Todd Pletcher for Green Hills Farm, comes into the Zenyatta having won the Aug. 26 Personal Ensign Handicap (gr. I) by a half-length over champion 3-year-old filly Royal Delta in her last start.
The daughter of A.P. Indy−Lle de France, by Storm Cat, has won two other stakes this year, including the June 16 Obeah (gr. III) at Delaware Park. She has compiled an overall record of 6-2-4 from 15 starts for earnings of $775,760.
Bred by TNT Stud, she will be piloted by Martin Garcia and will break from post 7.
Other top Zenyatta competitors include the respective second- and third-place finishers of the Clement L. Hirsch: Star Billing, winner of the 2011 Matriarch Stakes (gr. IT), and Chilean multiple group I victor and champion Amani, who makes her third stateside start.
Rounding out the field are other 2012 graded stakes winners Switch (July 14 A Gleam Handicap, gr. II) and Via Villaggio (May 19 Railbird, gr. III); Joyful Victory, a dual grade III victor in 2011; and multiple graded stakes-placed runner Miss Mittagong.
$250,000 Zenyatta Stakes (gr. I, Race 8, 4:38 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 3 & Up, 1 1/16 Miles
PP, Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Amani (CHI), R Bejarano, 121, N D Drysdale
2. Love Theway Youare (KY), D R Flores, 124, M K Cho
3. Switch (KY), G K Gomez, 119, J W Sadler
4. Joyful Victory (ON), R Napravnik, 119, J L Jones
5. Star Billing (KY), V Espinoza, 121, J A Shirreffs
6. Include Me Out (KY), J Talamo, 124, R W Ellis
7. Love and Pride (KY), M Garcia, 124, T A Pletcher
8. Via Villaggio (KY), M A Pedroza, 116, J Hollendorfer
9. Miss Mittagong (KY), M Gutierrez, 119, B D Cecil