On the same afternoon that Hollywood Park says good-bye to its most famous resident, Zenyatta, her trainer John Shirreffs will try to maintain a semblance of Z-Power when his solid Brazilian mare Zardana goes for a repeat in the $150,000 Bayakoa Handicap (gr. II) Dec. 5.
The 1 1/16-mile Bayakoa, one of the few Southern California graded events for females that Zenyatta didn't win during her record-smashing undefeated 19-race victory streak over four seasons, attracted a field of eight to the Cushion Track. It is the eighth race on the program with a 4:08 p.m. PST scheduled start.
The Bayakoa will come after the champion Zenyatta is honored by the fans at her home track. The 6-year-old mare is to visit the paddock and then will be paraded before the grandstand and the clubhouse during a farewell tribute to one of the most popular racehorses in Southern California history. All of that takes place following the sixth race.
The daughter of Street Cry who earned more than $7.3 million (a record for females that have raced in North America), departs for Kentucky the following day and will soon begin her life as a broodmare.
Stablemate Zardana, meantime, will try to become the fourth multiple winner of the Bayakoa, which will be contested for the 29th time. Shirreffs has won the Bayakoa a record five times.
Owned by Arnold Zetcher, Zardana was dismissed at 11-1 in 2009. The 6-year-old daughter of Crimson Tide stalked the pace and prevailed by 1 1/4 lengths over Silver Swallow, who also returns this year.
If Zardana repeats, she would join Star Parade (2003, '05), Starrer (2001-02) and Manistique (1998-99) as a two-time winner.
Victor Espinoza will again ride Zardana, who has won eight of 22 and banked $464,276. Espinoza has four victories in the race, one less than all time leader Chris McCarron. Zardana, leaving from post 3, was assigned top weight of 118 pounds.
Since her win a year ago in the Bayakoa, Zardana has had one victory in five starts. That was a 9-1 upset of 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra in the New Orleans Ladies Classic March 13 at the Fair Grounds.
In her most recent appearance, Zardana was ninth of 10 in a troubled Juddmonte Spinster Stakes (gr. I) effort Oct. 10 at Keeneland.
In addition to Zardana, Zetcher also has Wynning Ride, a 4-year-old daughter of Candy Ride trained by Bob Baffert, in the Bayakoa. They race uncoupled. Seeking her first graded stakes win, Wynning Ride was second as the 7-5 favorite in the Treasure Chest Stakes Nov. 20 at Delta Downs.
Silver Swallow, owned by Gainesway Thoroughbred, Aase Headley and Irwin Molasky and trained by Bruce Headley, is back for another shot at age 6. the impressive-looking daughter of Alphabet Soup has just four wins in 27 lifetime starts, but has finished in the money in 21 of those races and earned $444,855.
Grade II winner Sweet August Moon returns to Southern California for trainer Brian Koriner after a pair of fifth-place showings in Kentucky, including the Sentient Jet Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (gr. I) Nov. 5 at Churchill Downs. The 5-year-old daughter of Malibu Moon rallied five wide after being last early in the 13-horse Breeders' Cup field to finish respectably at odds of 39-1. She captured the seven-furlong A Gleam Handicap (gr. II) at Hollywood in July and is a seven-time winner overall in 19 tries with earnings of $462,396.
Washington Bridge, one of three 3-year-old fillies in the field, steps into graded company after collecting her first win outside Northern California. The daughter of Yankee Gentleman won Hollywood's Life Is Sweet Stakes at the Bayakoa distance Nov. 12 for owners Mark DeDomenico and trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.
A victory by the Kentucky-bred would be the fourth by a 3-year-old in the last five runnings of the Bayakoa. Washington Bridge would join Foxysox (2006), Romance Is Diane (2007) and Briecat (2008).
The other 3-year-olds in the lineup are It Tiz and Sister Dawn.
Trained by Mark Glatt for owners Allen and Susan Branch, It Tiz, a daughter of Tiznow , has won four of 12 and was second behind Washington Bridge in the Life Is Sweet.
Sister Dawn, who should be on or near the lead, comes off consecutive sprint victories including the Playa de Rey Stakes at six furlongs Nov. 14. This will be only her second start beyond 6 1/2 furlongs for trainer John Sadler and owners Ike and Dawn Thrash.
Completing the field is Lady Railrider, second as the 17-10 choice in the California Cup Matron Oct. 30.
$150,000 Bayakoa Handicap (gr. II, Race 8, 4:08 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 3 & Up, 1 1/16 Miles (Synthetic)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. It Tiz (KY), D R Flores, 114, M Glatt
2. Sister Dawn (KY), A Quinonez, 114, J W Sadler
3. Zardana (BRZ), V Espinoza, 118, J A Shirreffs
4. Silver Swallow (FL), M E Smith, 115, B Headley
5. Wynning Ride (ON), J Talamo, 117, B Baffert
6. Sweet August Moon (PA), J Rosario, 116, B J Koriner
7. Washington Bridge (KY), R Bejarano, 117, J Hollendorfer
8. Lady Railrider (CA), F T Alvarado, 117, S Specht