All Signs Point to Zenyatta in Vanity
by Jack Shinar
Date Posted: 7/2/2008 10:05:33 PM
Last Updated: 8/29/2008 11:34:49 AM

Zenyatta is the clear standout in the Vanity Handicap.
Photo: Benoit
The strapping filly Zenyatta, unbeaten and barely challenged in five starts for trainer John Shirreffs, is the clear standout as the 124-pound topweight in the $300,000 Vanity Handicap (gr. I) at Hollywood Park July 5.

The 1 1/8-mile Vanity, one of three grade I stakes on the Hollywood program, drew a field of seven fillies and mares to the Cushion Track. Among those signed on to try their luck against Zenyatta are the grade I winner Tough Tiz's Sis and Sealy Hill, Canada's Horse of the Year in 2007.

Zenyatta shoots for her second grade I win in the Vanity after romping to victory in Oaklawn Park's Apple Blossom Handicap (gr. I) this spring. Purchased for $60,000 by Jerry Moss and his wife Ann at the 2005 Keeneland September yearling sale, the 4-year-old daughter of Street Cry is coming off a 2 1/2-length win over four foes in the Milady Handicap (gr. II) on the Hollywood Park synthetic surface at odds of 3-10.

In the Milady, Zenyatta demonstrated the same tactics she has displayed in all of her starts, winding up her big run on the far turn and winning in often breathtaking fashion while drawing away in deep stretch.

Mike Smith, who took over the mount on Zenyatta prior to the Apple Blossom, will pilot her once more in the Vanity. Zenyatta spots her rivals from three to 14 pounds and will break from post 3.

Shirreffs, who estimates Zenyatta at just under 17 hands, took his time getting his star to the races after she was delayed by several minor problems. She did not make her debut until late in her 3-year-old season last November and didn't appear in a stakes until January, when she won the El Encino (gr. II) against 4-year-old fillies by 1 3/4 lengths over Tough Tiz's Sis. That's been the closest anyone has come to Zenyatta, who followed that victory with her triumphs in the Apple Blossom -- in which she defeated 2007 older female champion Ginger Punch -- and the Milady.

Zenyatta has won her five races by a combined margin of more than 15 lengths and has earned $554,580.

Trainer Bob Baffert has been looking to keep Tough Tiz's Sis on synthetic surfaces while avoiding Zenyatta but appears to have run out of options as he goes for a second grade I win with the 4-year-old Tiznow   filly. Tough Tiz's Sis was razor sharp in winning the 1 1/16-mile Hawthorne Handicap (gr. III) in her last start May 4 in a time of 1:41.84.

She figures to use her speed while breaking from the rail for Aaron Gryder, who has won back-to-back stakes with the bay. Tough Tiz's Sis has won seven of 17 lifetime starts and earned $627,792.

Melnyk Racing Stables' Sealy Hill became the first filly to sweep Woodbine's Triple Tiara series for Canadian-foaled 3-year-old fillies last year, when she was unbeaten in three starts on Polytrack. After a game second-place effort in the E.P. Taylor Stakes (Can-IT), she was voted the top horse in Canada.

Given a six-month vacation, the 4-year-old daughter of Point Given   is rounding into form for trainer Mark Casse. She comes off a third-place finish May 31 when blocked while rallying in the home stretch of Woodbine's Nassau Stakes (Can-IIT). Sealy Hill leads the Vanity field by far with earnings of $1,126,544 while compiling a record of 6-3-2 in 13 starts.

Silver Swallow, runner-up in the Santa Anita Oaks (gr. I) as well as the Railbird (gr. III) and Hollywood Breeders' Cup Oaks (gr. II) on the Cushion Track in 2007, makes her third start after a six-month absence for trainer Bruce Headley. The 4-year-old gray daughter of Alphabet Soup   is coming off a 2 1/4-length allowance win over the track May 21. That was just her second triumph in 12 lifetime starts.

Silver Z also comes into the Vanity off an allowance score. The 6-year-old Cee's Tizzy mare has had her issues -- she didn't break her maiden until February of 2007 -- but has four wins in six starts since then for trainer Brian Koriner.

Fleetheart began her career with four wins in a row but has dropped five straight since entering stakes company. Andmoreagain, winless in three U.S. starts since breaking her maiden in Great Britain last August, completes the field.

$300,000 Vanity Handicap (gr. I, Race 5, 2 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 3 & Up, 1 1/8 Miles (All Weather)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Tough Tiz's Sis (KY), 121, Aaron T. Gryder
2. Silver Z (CA), 114, Joseph Talamo
3. Zenyatta (KY), 124, Mike E. Smith
4. Silver Swallow (FL), 112, David R. Flores
5. Sealy Hill (ON), 118, Patrick Husbands
6. Fleetheart (FL), 113, Martin Garcia
7. Andmoreagain (KY), 110, Julien R. Leparoux


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