Zenyatta will return to the races Friday

Trainer John Shirreffs told the Daily Racing Form today that Zenyatta will make her 2009 debut in Friday’s $350,000 Louisville Distaff at Churchill Downs.

Zenyatta, champion older filly for 2008 who has won the first nine starts of her career, breezed five furlongs in 59 seconds Sunday morning at Hollywood Park. She’s scheduled to be flown to Louisville on Monday.

“She looks like she’s getting ready right now, and I didn’t want to particularly train her for a couple more weeks,” Shirreffs told the Racing Form.

Owner Jerry Moss told me last week Zenyatta would have returned in the Grade III Hawthorne Handicap at Hollywood Park if track management had not canceled the race as part of its purse cuts. Moss and Shirreffs didn’t want to wait until the $150,000 Grade II Milady Handicap on May 23, thus the start in Kentucky. Moss would like to run the 5-year-old daughter of Street Cry at least once at Hollywood Park, and she could run in the $300,000 Grade I Vanity Handicap on June 27.

Zenyatta, who won her only previous start on dirt powerfully in last April’s Oaklawn Handicap, has not raced since winning the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic by 1 1/2 lengths on Oct. 24 at Santa Anita.

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