Perfect Zenyatta Rolls to Seven Straight

Perfect Zenyatta Rolls to Seven Straight
Photo: Benoit
Zenyatta strolls to a Clement L. Hirsch win under Mike Smith.
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The nay-sayers who thought Zenyatta might have been vulnerable after her comparatively plodding win in the Vanity (gr. I) last time out were left with little left to criticize when the statuesque filly blew by her rivals to capture the $300,000 Clement L. Hirsch Handicap (gr. II) (VIDEO) under wraps at Del Mar Aug. 2. Zenyatta, the top-ranked older female in the nation, remains perfect in seven lifetime races.

Since Zenyatta, the 124-pound high weight in the field of eight went off at odds of 3-5, there are presumably few doubters left.

Trainer John Shirreffs had his dark bay impeccably turned out for the race and she ran to her appearance. Zenyatta, loping along at the back of the field heading into the final turn, came from off the pace with a bold move leaving the bend while angling out for the drive to win drawn down in the final stages by Jockey MIke Smith. She scored her fifth consecutive grade I or II triumph by one length in a track-record time of 1:41.48 for the 1 1/16-mile Polytrack distance.

"She ran the way she always does," said Shirreffs, noting that Zenyatta was calm and collected in spite of a delay in the paddock while Romance Is Diane had a shoe repaired. "I wasn't worried down the backside with her being a little far back. That's the way she likes to run. She was moving beautifully throughout the race. The big field helped us, too."

It was a patented move for Zenyatta, who loves to kick into gear for the final three furlongs. A two-time grade I winner, the 4-year-old daughter of Street Cry--Vertigineux, by Kris S., has won her seven races by a combined margin of 16 1/2 lengths while banking $914,580 for owners Mr. and Mrs. Jerry Moss.

"I think it's great for the sport that we have one like her," Smith said. "They (the other riders) all know her; she's such a great, big target you can't miss her. And they all rode to try to beat her. But it was fair and square and it was classy.

"Her last race (the Vanity) was one of her 'C' races. She didn't run that well. But she still got it done. That's what the good ones will do. Today was one of her 'A' races. She was just galloping. I know she set a track record here, but if I'd have let her go, no telling what she might have done."

The winning time eclipsed the 1:41.57 run by Well Armed earlier in the meet in the San Diego Handicap (gr. II).

Silver Z, as expected, overook Romance Is Diane for the lead at the clubhouse turn and led by about two lengths through a measured pace of :23.34 and :46.53. Model, tracking the first group, which also included Dawn After Dawn and second choice Tough, moved up on the outside for Michael Baze on the final turn to open a two-length lead in upper stretch. But Model was swallowed up by the long strides of Zenyatta, who felt a couple of cracks of the whip from Smith at the eighth pole as she quickly took control. With Smith wrapped up on her for most of the final sixteenth Model drew closer in the last strides but was no threat to the winner.

"When I opened up on the turn, I thought there for a second or two I might win this thing," Baze said. "And then along she came. What are you going to do? My filly ran great."

Tough Tiz's Sis, who finished just a half-length behind Zenyatta in Hollywood Park's Vanity one month ago, struggled home third this time for jockey Aaron Gryder, 5 1/4 lengths behind Model and a half-length in front of Romance Is Diane.

Zenyatta paid $3.20, $2.40 and $2.10, topping a $2 exacta worth $57 with Model, who returned $16.20 and $7.40 in her graded stakes debut for trainer Neil Drysdale. Tough Tiz's Sis lost for the third time to Zenyatta while recording her seven consecutive in-the-money performance, all in stakes races. She paid $2.80.

Romance Is Diane was followed by West Coast Swing, Silver Swallow, Silver Z and Dawn After Dawn. Placid Lake scratched.

View Stakes Details and Full Equibase Chart

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