by Jon White
Graded stakes winners Zenyatta and Tiago both “are doing very well” and probably will run in stakes at the upcoming Hollywood Park spring/summer meet, which gets under way April 23, trainer John Shirreffs said.
“We haven’t made any definite decisions at this point,” Shirreffs responded when asked what races might be coming up for Zenyatta and Tiago. “The Apple Blossom Handicap (gr. I) and Oaklawn Handicap (gr. II) are on our radar. But Hollywood has a nice series for older horses and a nice series for fillies and mares, and I’d say that’s what’s more likely.”
The Hollywood Park stakes series for older horses includes the Mervyn LeRoy Handicap (gr. II) April 26, Californian (gr. II) May 31, and Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I) June 28.
The track’s stakes series for fillies and mares includes the Hawthorne Handicap (gr. III) May 4, Milady Breeders’ Cup Handicap (gr. II) May 31, and Vanity Handicap (gr. I) July 5.
Undefeated Zenyatta had been entered in Santa Anita Park’s Santa Margarita Handicap (gr. I) March 9, but was withdrawn because she had missed some training and Shirreffs believed she was not 100% ready for that race. The 4-year-old Kentucky-bred daughter of Street Cry—Vertigineux, by Kris S., worked five furlongs in 1:00 at Hollywood Park March 11, followed by a six-furlong drill in 1:11 1/5 at that track March 18.
Zenyatta, who did not race as a 2-year-old, has developed quite a following, due in large measure to her explosive come-from-behind style. She won twice at the Hollywood Park fall meet before taking Santa Anita’s grade II El Encino by 1 3/4 lengths on Jan. 13 in her stakes debut. Owned by Jerry and Ann Moss, Zenyatta was acquired for $60,000 at the 2005 Keeneland September sale.
The Mosses’ Tiago worked five furlongs in :59 3/5 at Hollywood Park on March 15.
“I thought it was an excellent work,” Shirreffs said. “I actually thought it was a bit quick for him, but he was a little fresh.”
Tiago, a 4-year-old Kentucky homebred son of Pleasant Tap—Set Them Free, by Stop the Music, finished fourth in the $1-million Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) March 1.
“I was hoping that he’d run a little bit better than he did,” Shirreffs said of Tiago’s Big ’Cap performance. “When Champs Elysees didn’t break (from post one), Tiago (in post two) hesitated at the start himself. So he lost position right off the bat. It was just one of those things. The race just didn’t work out like we had hoped.”
Tiago now has lost four in a row since winning the Goodwood Stakes (gr. I) last Sept. 29. He also won the Swaps Breeders’ Cup Stakes (gr. II) and Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) last year and finished third behind Rags to Riches and Curlin in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I). Tiago is a half-brother to 2005 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Giacomo.