Zenyatta headlines lead-up to Breeders’ Cup

Zenyatta headlines a huge weekend of Group 1 racing in the United States when she starts in the Lady’s Secret Stakes at Santa Anita on Saturday.

The Street Cry mare will attempt to increase her unbeaten run to 13 wins in a row.  If successful, she will equal the record of Personal Ensign (Private Account) who was undefeated while racing from 1986-1988.

There are 12 Group 1 events in the US this weekend in the lead-up to the Breeders’ Cup meeting at Santa Anita in November.

Zenyatta captured last year’s Lady’s Secret by three lengths and then confirmed divisional honours as Champion Older Mare with a victory in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic.

She returned to competition in May this year winning the G2 Milady Hcp at Hollywood Park before adding the Vanity Hcp (G1) and Clement L. Hirsch Stakes (G1).  She only beat Anabaa’s Creation (Anabaa) by a head in the latter and the Irish bred mare will have another crack at spoiling Zenyatta’s history making bid on Saturday.

Despite a perfect 12: 12-0-0 record, Zenyatta is not the front-runner for the US Horse of the Year award.  East Coast filly Rachel Alexandra (Medaglia d’Oro) is the favourite for that honour.

A last-start winner of the G1 Woodward Stakes on September 5, Rachel Alexandra has finished racing for the year after an arduous campaign.  She returned to her home base at Churchill Downs from Saratoga this week.

Rachel Alexandra won all 8 of her starts in 2009 headlined by her game G1 win in the Woodward over Macho Again and the best older males in the business.

She also defeated Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird (Birdstone) in the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico and was then too good for Belmont Stakes winner Summer Bird (Birdstone) in the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park.

Managing part-owner Jess Jackson stood firm this year promising Rachel Alexandra would not run in the Breeders’ Cup on Santa Anita’s synthetic surface.  But he did indicate his Medaglia d’Oro filly will race on at four next year.  But by then Zenyatta will have retired, thus spoiling the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime showdown between the two champions.

Saturday’s Goodwood Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita will see Kentucky Derby hero Mine That Bird gearing up for the Breeders’ Cup Classic.  Following his shock 50-1 upset at Churchill Downs, the Birdstone colt has been placed in the Preakness Stakes, Belmont Stakes and G2 West Virginia Derby.
Mine That Bird will be reunited with jockey Calvin Borel who jumped off his back after the Derby to stick with Rachel Alexandra.