Undefeated Zenyatta, a smashing winner of the Apple Blossom Handicap (gr. IT) in her last start, returns to her Hollywood Park base for the $175,000 Milady Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II), where she will face seven rivals on the Cushion Track May 31.
At Hollywood, the triumvirate of trainer John Shirreffs, jockey Mike Smith, and owners Jerry and Ann Moss will try to duplicate their sweep of Oaklawn Park's April 5 Apple Blossom and Oaklawn Handicap (gr. II), which was won by Tiago. The 4-year-old Zenyatta figures to be a heavy choice in the Milady, and Tiago, also 4, is the 126-pound high weight in a five-horse field in the Californian (gr. II) over the same Cushion Track surface later on the Inglewood track's card.
"They're both doing very well, but every race is a hurdle," said Shirreffs, who won the 2006 Milady with Proposed.
Zenyatta carries high weight of 122 pounds in the 1 1/16-mile Milady. The race also drew recent Santa Barbara Handicap (gr. II) victor Foxysox and the grade I winner Romance is Diane, making her first start since losing to Zenyatta by less than two lengths in the El Encino (gr. II) at Santa Anita in January.
The strapping Zenyatta did not debut until November of her 3-year-old season but has wasted little time in reaching the top of the national rankings for older females with just four starts. The first three victories all came on Cushion Track.
The Street Cry filly's win streak includes the El Encino, her first stakes triumph. But none of the Cushion Track efforts proved more impressive than the Apple Blossom on dirt, where she charged from well off the pace to sweep past the 2007 Eclipse Award-winning Ginger Punch in the stretch en route to a 4 1/2-length win over Brownie Points. She'll pick up six pounds off that effort in the Milady.
Zenyatta has earned $444,000 in her brief career.
The Great Britain-bred Foxysox could make it back-to-back wins in the Milady for trainer Carla Gaines and owner Warren B. Williamson, who teamed to capture the 2007 running with the ill-fated Nashoba's Key. Foxysox won the April 19 Santa Barbara at 10 furlongs on the Santa Anita grass course by a nose over Black Mamba last time out. That ended a five-race losing streak for the 5-year-old chestnut mare.
Foxysox, a daughter of Foxhound, has won six of 20 starts in her career for earnings of $596,718.
Senji Nishimura's Romance is Diane has been out of action since her third-place finish in the El Encino Jan. 13. In her previous race, the Mike Mitchell trainee won the Bayakoa Handicap (gr. II) in front-running style on Hollywood's synthetic surface. She figures to ensure an honest pace.
The 4-year-old California-bred daughter of In Excess captured the Hollywood Starlet (gr. I) in 2006 and leads the field in earnings with $615,650 while winning five of 12 starts.
Trainer Bobby Frankel will be represented by the Brazilian-bred Double Trouble, who finished fifth as the 2-1 choice in the Santa Barbara after jockey Rafael Bejarano lost his whip while they were driving in mid-stretch. The 5-year-old Double Trouble has shown an affinity for artificial surfaces, winning the grade I Santa Maria Handicap at Santa Anita in February by 4 1/2 lengths prior to a third-place finish behind Nashoba's Key in the Santa Margarita Handicap (gr. I).
Kris' Sis and La Tee finished second and third, respectively, behind Diamond Diva in the opening day Wilshire Handicap (gr. IIIT) on the turf. Diamond Diva returned on Memorial Day to run second to Precious Kitten in the Gamely (gr. IT).
Both Kris' Sis and La Tee will have new riders in the Milady. Julio Garcia has the mount on Kris' Sis, and the Washington-bred La Tee will be piloted by Tyler Baze.
Santa Teresita and Model, the one-two finishers in the Santa Lucia Handicap at Santa Anita last month, round out the field. Santa Teresita, trained by David Hofmans, returned to finish second behind Tough Tiz's Sis in the Hawthorne Handicap (gr. III) on Hollywood's synthetic surface May 4.
$175,000 Milady Handicap (gr. II, Race 5, 3:20 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 3 & Up, 1 1/16 Miles (All Weather)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Kris' Sis (KY), 113, Julio A. Garcia
2. Foxysox (GB), 117, Victor Espinoza
3. Model (KY), 113, Alonso Quinonez
4. Romance Is Diane (CA), 118, Michael C. Baze
5. La Tee (WA), 113, Tyler Baze
6. Zenyatta (KY), 122, Mike E. Smith
7. Double Trouble (BRZ), 116, Rafael Bejarano
8. Santa Teresita (KY), 116, Joseph Talamo