Trainer John Shirreffs says the unbeaten Zenyatta, who matched Personal Ensign’s record unbeaten streak of 13-0 Saturday with her usual come-from-behind victory in the Lady’s Secret Stakes at Santa Anita’s Oak Tree meet, is as sweet as can be around the barn.
“Zenyatta’s the sweetest horse you can imagine,” he said in the winner’s circle after the 5-year-old daughter of Street Cry again overcame turtle-like splits to unleash the powerful closing surge that has led to victories against every distaffer she’s raced against. “I mean, she licks her groom. You could lay down next to her in the stall and she wouldn’t move. She could be your pillow. For being the strong filly that she is, she’s just really got a great, sweet personality.”
Sure she does, and then she gets on the race track, pins her ears up when jockey Mike Smith asks her to run, and annihilates anything in front of her. She’s unlike any distaffer we’ve seen in these parts in quite some time — maybe ever.
“When she passes the other horses, she just puts her ears up,” Shirreffs said. “It’s like, ‘It’s me, and I’m here.’ ”
Here to knock their socks off.
Zenyatta has now won 12 of her 13 races on synthetic surfaces, but Shirreffs strongly believes she’s a better horse on dirt. She turned in what owner Jerry Moss considers her most impressive victory in the 2008 Apple Blossom Handicap over Oaklawn Park’s dirt track, firing on all cylinders in the stretch to zoom past reigning Eclipse Award winner Ginger Punch and win by 4 1/2 lengths.
Shirreffs, who’s watched his standout mare close and win time and again now while chasing slow fractions, wondered aloud Saturday what she’d be like while racing on dirt.
“Can you imagine if she was running in 46 and 47 (second) half miles, what she’d be doing at the end of a race?” he asked. “Just imagine it. Do the math, as they say.”
The math says she’s 13-0 and sitting on the chance to become the first distaffer to win the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 7 at Santa Anita. Shirreffs and Moss say they’ll make a decision when it’s time, but it says here they’ve already pretty much made up their minds — she’s going to run in the Classic against the boys.
“We want to see how much she’s got in her tank, so we’ll see what happens,” Moss said when asked what factors will go into the decision regarding which Breeders’ Cup race Zenyatta goes in.