Zenyatta Keeps the Beat Going in Vanity

Zenyatta Keeps the Beat Going in Vanity
Photo: BenoitPhoto.com
Zenyatta and Mike Smith, right, hold off Tough Tiz's Sis and Aaron Gryder, center, and Silver Swallow (David Flores), left, for victory in the Vanity Handicap.
Unbeaten Zenyatta's effort was a cut below her best on a hot day at Hollywood Park, but that was good enough to win the $300,000 Vanity Handicap (gr. I) (VIDEO) July 5.

Ridden by Mike Smith, Zenyatta, the 1-5 favorite over six rivals, went for an early run while reeling in the lonely front-runner Silver Z with a furlong left to go. She then had to hold on under left-handed urging from Smith in deep stretch as a determined Tough Tiz's Sis, who had to angle out for a clear run mid-stretch, cut the edge to a half-length at the wire.

The 4-year-old Zenyatta ran her winning streak to six in the 1 1/8-mile Cushion Track test while recording her second grade I victory. Five of her wins have come on synthetic surfaces.

Smith said afterward that Zenyatta thought her work was done after making a three wide move on the final turn and overtaking Silver Z.

"I've been letting her do things a little too easy," the Hall of Fame jockey said. "Maybe she's spoiled, so I had to get after her a little today and maybe it was a lesson for both of us."

Silver Z, with Joe Talamo aboard, changed the race's tactics when she stole out to a 10-length lead on the backstretch while running swift fractions of :23.59, :46.16 and 1:09.91. Tough Tiz's Sis, along the inside, and Sealy Hill chased. Zenyatta, running in the back half of the pack beside Silver Swallow, angled to the outside on the far turn and was closing in on the leader in upper stretch. In past races, Zenyatta would stride out through the lane but on this day, she struggled after getting the lead, drifting in briefly, as Tough Tiz's Sis, in tight along the inside, and farther back, Silver Swallow, moved into contention.

Zenyatta got the job done and clocked a solid final time of 1:49.51. Tough Tiz's Sis, ridden by Aaron Gryder, got clear of trouble and finished 1 1/4 lengths in front of 23-1 shot Silver Swallow, the show horse.

Winning trainer John Shirreffs said he was concerned prior to the race because Zenyatta was on her toes and a little overheated.

"I didn't want to see her that warm," he said.

Shirreffs said Zenyatta would likely run next at Del Mar, adding, "If they get that track worked out, we will run there."

He said that he had no plans to run his star against males.

The winning daughter of Street Cry--Vertigineux, by Kris S., was coming off a a 2 1/2-length win in the Milady Handicap (gr. II) on Memorial Day. Zenyatta's Vanity win was worth $180,000 for owners Jerry and Ann Moss and bumped her lifetime earnings to $734,580.

Tough Tiz's Sis has given Zenyatta her two toughest tussles. She ran 1 3/4 lengths behind the amazon filly in the El Encino Stakes (gr. II) in January and enjoyed a nine-pound weight switch in the Vanity. Zenyatta followed the El Encino with a smashing 4 1/2-length triumph in Oaklawn Park's Apple Blossom Handicap in her grade I debut April 5.

Zenyatta carried top weight of 124 and paid $2.60, $2.10, and $2.10. Tough Tiz's Sis, who had a two-race win streak for trainer Bob Baffert ended, returned $3.40 and $2.80. She rounded out a $2 exacta worth $6.60. Silver Swallow, trained by Bruce Headley, was $4 to show.

Bred by Maverick Production Limited in Kentucky. Zenyatta was a $60,000 yearling purchase at Keeneland in September 2005.

Silver Z finished fourth, followed by Sealy Hill, Fleetheart, and Andmoreagain.

(Chart, Equibase)

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