Zazu won a rematch with Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) winner Plum Pretty when she scraped the rail at the top of the stretch and drew off in the final strides for a 1 1/2-length victory in the $147,000 Hollywood Oaks (gr. II) June 25 (VIDEO).
Ridden fearlessly by Joel Rosario, Zazu caught the rail at the point of the turn and also bumped slightly with pacesetter Wallstreeter while squeezing through the narrow opening. In spite of losing her momentum temporarily, Zazu reached even terms with 3-5 favorite Plum Pretty, who had taken the lead on the outside. Those two battled to the final sixteenth of a mile before Zazu edged away for her first graded stakes win at Hollywood Park.
Zazu, who received four pounds from Plum Pretty, the 123-pound high weight, gave trainer John Sadler consecutive wins in the Hollywood Oaks. Sadler saddled Switch to an upset of Kentucky Oaks winner Blind Luck last year. He joins Charlie Whittingham, who went back-to-back with Turkish Trousers in 1971 and Pallisima in 1972, as back-to-back winners of the 66-year-old race.
“She ran really well in the Kentucky Oaks, the winner just got a little better trip," Sadler said of Zazu. "It was a big field over there and she got kind of jostled around on the first turn. She was on her home court and her home base today, so that helps. It was just a beautiful ride by Joel . He cut the corner on the turn and probably that was the difference."
The winning time in the Oaks was 1:43.36 for 1 1/16 miles on Hollywood's Cushion Track. Plum Pretty was attempting to become the first to complete the Kentucky/Hollywood Oaks double since Fran's Valentine in 1985.
Jerry and Ann Moss bred and own Zazu. The daughter of Tapit --Rhumb Line (Mr. Greeley) picked up her second graded win after capturing the Las Virgenes Stakes (gr. I) at Santa Anita Feb. 5. She has beaten Plum Pretty in three of their four meetings, but was third in the Kentucky Oaks May 6.
Just four contested the race with the scratch of Big Tiz, who was expected to provide some early foot. Instead, it was Wallstreeter who pulled her way to the front for David Flores. Plum Pretty tugged at jockey Martin Garcia while settling into second. Zazu stayed closer to the pace than usual for Rosario in third and Love Theway Youare trailed. Fractions were moderate -- :23.48 for the opening quarter-mile, :47.02 for the half and 1:12 for six furlongs.
Plum Pretty angled three wide rounding the bend and was poised to take the lead, leaving Rosario with the option of following her on the outside or taking the rail route. After clearing the tight spot, Zazu staged an exciting stretch duel with Plum Pretty. Zazu took a narrow lead in deep stretch and won inching away under a strong hand ride.
“It was pretty tight down on the inside, but (Flores) left the rail open enough for me to get through," Rosario said. "She’s been doing much better lately, working real well in the morning. We’re not surprised she ran the way she did.
"I was able to keep my eye on Plum Pretty the whole race because I knew she was the one to beat. I waited on the inside until the last possible moment. I saw the hole open and I took it from there. If (Flores) didn’t move out a little, I would have had to go around.”
"My filly fired okay, but she just got a little tired,” Garcia said of the runner-up.
Zazu earned $90,000 for her third win in nine starts, increasing her bankroll to $472,985.
Sadler said he is considering trying Zazu on the turf.
"We've got a lot of turf races for fillies in Southern California, so we’ll have to talk about that,’’ he said.
The winner paid $4.20 and $2.10 as the close second choice. The Bob Baffert-trained Plum Pretty, who won the Kentucky Oaks by a neck over St. John's River, returned $2.10. The exacta was worth $6.
Baffert thought Plum Pretty ran well in her first try since the Kentucky Oaks.
"She just got a little tired at the end. My filly just doesn’t have the kick, but now we know she can handle the synthetic.”
Love Theway Youare finished 4 1/4 lengths farther back in third, with Wallstreeter trailing.