x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Zenyatta soars to cloud nine

Zenyatta stayed perfect in the Breeders' Cup US$2 million (Dh7.5m) Ladies' Classic at Santa Anita on Friday.

Jockey Mike Smith, aboard Zenyatta, crosses the finish line to win the Ladies' Classic.
Jockey Mike Smith, aboard Zenyatta, crosses the finish line to win the Ladies' Classic.

ARCADIA // Zenyatta stayed perfect in the Breeders' Cup US$2 million (Dh7.5m) Ladies' Classic at Santa Anita on Friday, roaring from last to first around the turn to win her ninth consecutive race. Zenyatta, ridden by Mike Smith, trailed by as much as 10 lengths on the back straight. When Smith asked for more, the four-year-old filly responded with her trademark push to beat Cocoa Beach by one-and-half lengths. Cocoa Beach's stablemate Music Note was third.

Smith said after picking up his second win on Ladies' Day: "She was there any time I wanted her. I knew she was going to make her move today." Meanwhile, Forever Together pulled away late to win the Filly & Mare Turf, Stardom Bound put together an electrifying move at the turn to win the Juvenile Fillies, Ventura surged past heavy favorite Indian Blessing to take the Filly & Mare Sprint, and Maram held off a challenge from Heart Shaped to claim the inaugural Juvenile Fillies Turf.

Zenyatta finished the race in 1min 46.85secs. "She makes things happen, she's just so special," trainer John Shirreffs said. "We're so blessed to have her in our barn. From the very beginning when she started racing, she showed another dimension that you would never expect." The win was the first Breeders' Cup victory for Shirreffs and owners Jerry and Ann Moss. The trio had previously won the 2005 Kentucky Derby with Giacomo. Smith's two wins moved him into a second-place tie with Pat Day for most in the Breeders' Cup.

Smith and Day both have 12 wins in American horse racing's richest weekend. The all-time leader Jerry Bailey has 15. Zenyatta wasn't the only star, and she may have found a kindred spirit in Stardom Bound. The two-year-old gray filly, also ridden by Smith, came through with an electrifying victory in the Juvenile Fillies. Like Zenyatta, Stardom Bound spotted the field early, falling all the way to 12th as Smith waited to push the button.

All it took was a little urging at the turn, and Stardom Bound exploded to the front. She got away so quickly that the trainer Christopher Paasch saw her start looking around for someone to race. Smith managed to keep her attention through the straight and she cruised across the finish line well clear of Dream Empress. "It was just an incredible performance," Smith said. "I'm at a loss for words."

Stardom Bound isn't undefeated like Zenyatta, but after gamely finishing off her third straight Grade I win, she is unquestionably this season's champion two-year-old. Stardom Bound was the seventh consecutive favourite to win. Also on the five-race card devoted exclusively to fillies and mares, Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel pulled off an upset in the Filly & Mare Sprint and his former assistant Chad Brown quickly followed in his mentor's footsteps with a win in the Juvenile Fillies Turf.

Forever Together prevailed by three-quarters of a length in a wide-open scramble to win the Filly & Mare Turf. * Associated Press