Sunday, August 8, 2010

Zenyatta is 18 for 18: Adrian Nicholls wins French Group I

It is now 18 for 18. Zenyatta stayed unblemished when racing past the stubborn Rinterval and holding on when the latter attempted a comeback in the Grade I Clement L Hirsch stakes at Del Mar on Saturday. The John Shirreffs-trained mare was fifth in the six-runner field as Rinterval set a slow pace. Zenyatta, the 1-10 favorite, was about eight lengths off the lead after the first five furlongs. Rinterval ran the first six furlongs in 1 15.11 seconds. Jockey Smith let Zenyatta loose before the final turn and the unbeaten mare was wide coming into the stretch. She struck the front moments after and for a split second, the surge appeared to stall. Rinterval, with an alert Rafael Bejarano sensing an opportunity, fought back. In a matter of strides, it became apparent that jockey Smith had complete control of the situation. A reminder and Zenyatta stretched out with her ears pricked. The margin was a neck but it was a ‘convincing’ neck. The time for the 1700-metre Clement Hirsch was 1 45.03.

Mike Smith is eloquent when describing a race. “She (Zenyatta) began pulling herself up when she made the lead. She thought the job was done. She was out for a good cruise. She was literally playing,” Smith said.

“I hit the button a little too soon. When she gets in front, she wants to salute the fans,” Smith joked.

Owner Jerry Moss was laconic. “It is all sweet. Having her is a miracle. It is so great the fans turn out for her.”

Trainer Shirreffs spoke. “I cannot train over the phone. I do not want to take her to New York. We will follow the same script as last year. We will keep her here and give her a start in California.”

Shirreffs confirmed on Sunday that his mare’s next outing will be in the $250,000 Zenyatta Breeders’ Cup Stakes on October 2 at Santa Anita. After Zenyatta’s win in the Breeders’ Cup Classic last November, the Lady’s Secret stakes was renamed. Zenyatta won the Lady’s Secret in 2008 and 2009. The renaming was a reaction to the announcement that Zenyatta would be retired. When the six year-old mare resumed training, the name change was not rescinded. The Classic at Churchill in November, it has been reported, would be Zenyatta’s swan song but have we not heard it before?

Saturday’s Clement Hirsch victory gave Zenyatta her third consecutive win in that race. She has now won 12 Grade I contests. She is four for four in 2010. Her account has $6,254,580 and Ouija Board’s $6,334,296 tally is imminent danger. Zenyatta is now after Pepper’s Pride’s record of 19 consecutive wins. The win payoff was $2.20. Place paid $2.10 and there was a $94,675.39 minus pool. There was no show wagering.

The attendance number was 32,536. Mike Smith took his time to return to the winner’s circle. Zenyatta took a dance step or two and acknowledged the cheers.

Rinterval’s rider, Rafael Bejarano made a pithy comment. “She (Rinterval who had forced Informed Decision to a photo) was going OK. I tried to wait but she (Zenyatta) came up outside and I had to go. If I could have waited a little more, may be, it would have been different but the winner deserved it. She was good.”

Did jockey Bejarano think that he could have won? What does his statement tell you? Two jockeys can read the same situation two different ways.

Zenyatta is by Street Cry. Vertigineux is the dam and she is by Kris S. Zenyatta’s color is dark bay or brown.

There is sad news to report. Do you remember Tuscan Evening? The Irish transplant is six for six in 2010 and was getting ready to come to Chicago for the Beverly D on August 21, Million Day. On Sunday, the five year-old mare did a 1200-metre gallop in 1 15.25 at Del Mar. She was going to the half mile pole and she collapsed. In a matter of minutes, she was dead. There is no official confirmation but a heart attack is believed to be the cause.

Jerry Hollendorfer trained and William DeBurgh owned the daughter of Oasis Dream. Tuscan Evening’s mother was The Faraway Tree by Suave Dancer. With 12 wins from 27 starts. Tuscan Evening had earnings of $1,138,508. Her last win came in Arlington Park’s Modesty Handicap (Grade III) on July 17. She won races from 1300 to 2000 metres this year.

Dan Smith, Del Mar spokesman confirmed the death. “The workout went fine. There was no indication that anything was wrong, “ he stated.

In my next blog, we will look at the Whitney and the Test stakes at Saratoga on Saturday. Saratoga had the Alfred G Vanderbilt handicap on Sunday. The West Virginia Derby was held at Mountaineer Park on Saturday.

Two races from Europe and they were run on Sunday. Zoffany, an Aidan O’Brien pupil, took the Group I Keeneland Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh. Zoffany, John Murtagh up, was held up as stablemate Snow Mountain set a generous gallop. Richard Hannon’s Strong Suit, in line for three consecutive wins in as many starts, lay handy. Strong Suit, ridden by Richard Hughes and strongly fancied at 4/9, drew first blood in the 1200-metre race and was joined by Glor Na Mara ridden by Keving Manning. Glor Na Mara was gaining the upper hand as Zoffany came with a burst. In the waning yards, Zoffany shot past the front two to win by one half length. Glor Na Mara was a short head in front of Strong Suit. The time was 1 11.29 seconds.

Aidan O’Brien has a lease on the Phoenix Stakes. He has won the race 11 times in the past 13 runnings. “He (Zoffany) went to Ascot as a baby and it all happened a little bit too fast for him. We stepped him up in trip so things would happen a bit slower,” O’Brien commented.

O’Brien was referring to Royal Ascot’s Coventry Stakes in which Strong Suit won and Zoffany finished sixth. Zoffany is by Dansili out of Tyranny who is by Machiavellian. The freshman has won five races from six outings. The bookmakers reacted. Zoffany, Glor Na Mara and Strong Suit were made the top three in the English 2000 Guineas (2011) market.

It was a rare defeat for the Hannon-Hughes team. Strong Suit had won two races and was thwarted when going for three in a row. Zoffany has been odds in four of his wins. In the Coventry, he was 9-2. Zoffany was the second favorite at 3-1 on Sunday.

This will be music to the ears of those who followed jockey Adrian Nicholls in India this past winter season. Jockey Nicholls won a Group I race in France on Sunday. He rode Regal Parade, a six year-old gelding trained by his father, David Nicholls, to a neck victory in the Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville. The 1300-metre de Gheest was run in 1 16.8 on good to soft grass.

The pace was fast and Adrian Nicholls had Regal Parade in midfield and out of harm’s way. The pace began taking its toll on the leaders and Regal Parade hit the front in the final furlong. Joanna, a sophomore filly, finished with a flourish to be second.

Regal Parade was coming off a win in the Group III Shadwell Stakes at Newbury in July. The de Gheest provided an encore and gave Regal Parade his 10th win in 33 trips to the gate. Pivotal is the sire. Model Queen, a Kingmambo mare, is the dam.

Trainer Nicholls was thrilled. “He (Regal Parade) loves to get his toe in and I think experience played a role in beating the three year-old filly. He looked superb. The Haydock Sprint (September 4) is next,” he said.


  1. beloved TomKrish
    greetings,it is indeed nice of you to write in this blog.i missed your column in
    any way, i now know i can view your opinions.
    can you suggest me worthy books on Handicapping and punting strategy .
    thanks for posting
    may god bless u
    keep it up

  2. Mr Easwaran
    Thank you.
    I will be in India in December.
    I look forward to seeing you.
    Let me have your email address.
    I will send a message.
    The Arlington Million is in Chicago on Aug 21.
    Tom Krish in Chicago