Switch In, But Zenyatta Stands Out in 'Secret
Trainer John Sadler pulled a switch when he entered Switch in the $250,000 Lady's Secret Stakes Presented by TVG (gr. I). But two-time champion Zenyatta stands alone as she goes for her 19th consecutive win over her home track at Oak Tree's Hollywood Park meet Oct. 2.
With a small field likely, Sadler said during a national press conference Sept. 28 that he was considering keeping his grade II-winning 3-year-old filly home for the 1 1/16-mile Lady's Secret rather than ship to Hoosier Park for the Indiana Oaks (gr. II) on the same day. And that's exactly what he did.
Switch is one of five rivals signed on to face Zenyatta, who is going for her third consecutive three-peat in the Lady's Secret following wins in the Vanity Handicap (gr. I) and the Clement L. Hirsch Stakes (gr. I) in her most recent starts.
The Lady's Secret, set as the seventh on the program with a 4:15 p.m.( PDT) post, is one of four grade I stakes on the Oak Tree card Saturday. All are designated as "Win and You're In" events for the Breeders' Cup at Churchill Downs. The Lady's Secret carries an automatic berth in the Nov. 5 Ladies' Classic (gr. I). Whether or not Zenyatta wins it, she is expected to pass that race for the chance to defend her title in the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) the following day.
Owned by Jerry and Ann Moss and trained by John Shirreffs, the 6-year-old Zenyatta is seeking her eighth win over the Cushion Track at Hollywood, where she has been stabled throughout her racing career. The daughter of Street Cry will be prohibitively favored to do so, though she'll have to face the underrated Rinterval once again, as well as the new shooter Switch. Rinterval missed by a neck to the superstar mare in a front-running effort in the Clement Hirsch Aug. 7 at Del Mar.
In addition to her wins in the Vanity and Hirsch this year, Zenyatta started the season by capturing the Santa Margarita Handicap (gr. I) and Apple Blossom Invitational (gr. I). She has 12 grade I wins in her career, but there is concern that the level of competition she has faced this season may not have her primed for a top effort at Churchill. She has not faced a grade I winner all year and she won't in the Lady's Secret, either.
"Don't worry about Zenyatta, trust me," said her jockey, Mike Smith. "She is very aggressive. Right now she is training probably as well if not better than last year going into the Classic."
Smith said all Zenyatta's connections can do is pick a route to the Breeders' Cup. The rest is out of their hands.
"It's just whoever shows up," he said. "If they don't come, they don't come, (there's) nothing we can do as far as racing against grade I horses. I know all of our races she has come out of them in great shape and she seems to be moving forward, and that is all you can ask going into the Breeder's Cup. So let's get through this week and hopefully we continue to go forward and I'll think she'll be ready."
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C R K Stable's Switch, who will be facing older horses for the first time, has won three of her four starts over the Cushion Track and was second in her only loss. Among her wins was the Hollywood Oaks (gr. II), in which she defeated Blind Luck, the leading 3-year-old filly in the nation, by 1 1/4 lengths at the Lady's Secret distance June 6. There were just five entrants in that race and Switch, ridden by Martin Garcia, was able to get first run on the late-running Blind Luck and built an insurmountable lead in the final furlong.
$250,000 Lady's Secret Stakes (gr. I, Race 7, 4:15 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 3 & Up, 1 1/16 Miles (Synthetic)
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