We know where the undefeated Zenyatta will be racing this weekend. She’ll be trying to break the record of 16 consecutive victories in unrestricted races that she shares with Citation, Mister Frisky and Cigar when she runs in Sunday’s $250,000 Grade 1 Vanity Handicap at Hollywood Park. She would become the first three-time winner of the stake if she gets the job done while carrying a career high-tying 129 pounds. She also carried 129 pounds in last year’s Vanity.
Meanwhile, Jess Jackson is hemming and hawing about where reigning Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra will race on Saturday. She’s 0 for 2 this year after winning all eight of her starts in 2009 and hasn’t looked like the same horse that beat the boys in the Preakness, Haskell and Woodward a year ago. The options for her next race include the Stephen Foster Handicap or Fleur de Lis at Churchill Downs, the Ogden Phipps at Belmont Park or the Obeah at Delaware Park. The last three are races for fillies and mares, but she would face males in the Stephen Foster.
If Jackson needs any advice it would be to avoid the Foster. Rachel Alexandra needs to win a race and regain her confidence before taking on males again. The guess here is that Jackson will announce soon that his standout 4-year-old filly will race in the Fleur de Lis, which would be her seventh start at Churchill. She’s won three times and finished second three times at the storied track.
On Sunday, Rachel Alexandra worked four furlongs in 49.40 seconds at Churchill with Shaun Bridgmohan in the saddle. Which raises another question. Who will ride Rachel Alexandra this weekend — Bridgmohan or Calvin Borel? While trainer Steve Asmussen did not blame Borel for the Medaglia d’Oro filly’s upset loss to Unrivaled Belle in the La Troienne at Churchill on April 30, Jackson was not as forgiving with his post-race comments. It wouldn’t be a major surprise if a jockey change is imminent.
Meanwhile, the record-setting Zenyatta is poised for the Vanity after breezing six furlongs in 1:15.20 on Monday morning at Hollywood Park with regular jockey Mike Smith in the saddle. Trainer John Shirreffs told the Daily Racing Form that he was pleased with the workout after the daughter of Street Cry finished the drill by traveling the final three furlongs in 36 seconds.
Zenyatta is expected to face four or five rivals in the Vanity, including the talented St. Trinians, who will get nine pounds from the two-time Eclipse Award winner as top older female. St. Trinians has won four of five starts in the U.S., including the Grade 2 Santa Maria Handicap on Feb. 13 at Santa Anita.