Sunday, August 9, 2009

Zenyatta Cuts Perfection Close in Hirsch Win


Unbeaten Zenyatta remained perfect in 12 starts, but she had her closest call yet in Del Mar's Clement L. Hirsch Stakes (gr. I) (VIDEO) Aug. 9. Forced to circle the field six wide on the turn behind a slow pace, the giant mare just managed to get up by a head over Anabaa's Creation.

Ridden perhaps a little overconfidently by regular jockey Mike Smith, the 1-5 shot Zenyatta got the job done in the final lunge after Anabaa's Creation, who stalked the deliberate pace of Lethal Heat, got a narrow advantage in deep stretch. The final time for the 1 1/16-mile test for fillies and mares was 1:43.24 on the Polytrack.

“Wasn’t that something! I thought I had it," Smith said. "But I’ve got to admit I underestimated the company we were keeping today. They made her run."

Zenyatta registered her sixth grade I win for trainer John Shirreffs and owners Jerry and Ann Moss and successfully defended her win last year in the Hirsch, when she was victorious by one length. She is three-for-three in 2009 and eight-for-eight at the distance.

“It was very, very close down there," said a relieved Shirreffs. "All the way down the stretch I’m hollering, ‘Get ‘em, Get ‘em.’ What I really liked about her race is that she had a lot of ground to make up, and she put her head down and kept making it up. She never picked her head up. She kept reaching out and running for the wire. That’s Zenyatta.”

Zenyatta's career bankroll swelled to $2,594,580 with the victory. She earned $180,000 for the win. Maverick Productions bred the dark bay In Kentucky. She is by Street CryVertigineux, by Kris S.

The winner paid $2.40, $2.20 and $2.10 and the $2 exacta with Anabaa's Creation ($7.60, $5.80) was $22.20. Lethal Heat was $5.20 to show.