Hollywood hype surrounds Zenyatta

Undefeated champion Zenyatta will be gunning for a world-record 17 wins straight in the G1 Vanity Hcp at Hollywood Park on Sunday.  She has won the last two editions of the 1800 metre Vanity and a three-peat will see her surpass legendary gallopers Cigar and Citation who both won 16 in a row.  

Cigar’s winning streak came to an end when he was beaten by Dare and Go in the 1996 Pacific Classic at Del Mar.  Citation’s roll was stopped by Miche in the 1950 La Sorpresa Hcp at Santa Anita.

Zenyatta (6m Street Cry – Vertigineux by Machiavellian) has been allocated 58.5kg – the same weight she carried in a six-horse Vanity field last year.  “The weight was pretty much what we were expecting,” trainer John Shirreffs said trying to ignore the hype.  “We’re just trying to focus on the Vanity and not on all of her accomplishments.”  

Zenyatta bowed out of racing after her Breeders’ Cup Classic victory last year but it was a short-lived retirement.  Owners Jerry and Ann Moss decided to give her another year and she returned to win the Santa Margarita Hcp at Santa Anita on March 13 and the Apple Blossom Hcp at Oaklawn Park on April 9.

“She’s amazing; she’s from another planet,” Ann Moss said after her last start victory.  “For her to bring so much joy to so many people is wonderful.”

Bred by Maverick Productions in Kentucky, Zenyatta was a bargain at just $60,000 at the 2005 Keeneland September yearling sale.  She is by Darley sire Street Cry from Vertigineux who has also foaled G1 Santa Anita Oaks winner Balance (Thunder Gulch) and LR Remington Park Oaks winner Where’s Bailey (Aljabr).

Vertigineux’s half-sister Mountcat (Mountain Cat) was sold for $110,000 to South Australian breeder Malcolm Hale at the 2010 Magic Millions Broodmare Sale last week.  She was sold in foal to Street Sense – a Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup winning son of Zenyatta’s sire Street Cry.  

Shirreffs has the last word prior to the Vanity this Sunday.  He was asked whether Zenyatta would take any improvement from her first two wins this year.  “That’s hard to say,” he explained.  “How can you be better than perfect?”