Two-time champion Zenyatta grazed outside Barn 55 South with groom Mario Espinoza on a sunny Thursday morning as trainer John Shirreffs came to grips with the reality that the superstar mare had been officially retired.
“We discussed it at dinner a few nights ago, and that was it,” said Shirreffs from his stable office in reference to the decision with owners Jerry and Ann Moss and Dottie Ingordo-Shirreffs, wife of the trainer and racing manager for the Mosses.
The decision entailed Zenyatta be flown to Lane’s End Farm in Kentucky in early December for a mating to a stallion yet to be determined next year. Zenyatta concluded one of the greatest careers in thoroughbred history with a second-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs November 6, her only setback in 20 starts. She earned more than $7.4-million, a career record for a female thoroughbred.
Fans continued to stream to Zenyatta’s barn to take pictures of her Thursday. A “Welcome Home Zenyatta” sign with hundreds of signatures covered the bulletin board on a wall outside the stable office.
“It will be a little anticlimactic, but I can breathe again,” said regular exercise rider Steve Willard of the anticipated change around the barn without Zenyatta. “She’s been an awful lot of fun.”
Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, her rider in her last 17 starts, said, “I’m just happy that she’s retiring healthy and sound, that’s the main thing. Maybe I’ll get the opportunity to ride her babies one day.”
Hootie, the veteran stable pony that had regularly accompanied Zenyatta to the track, was also retired, according to his exercise rider, Freddie Wilson. The gelding will go to a pasture with other old ponies at the Gardena facility of Laura Armstrong, another exercise rider.
JUNIPER PASS, HAIMISH HY WORK FOR HOLLYWOOD DERBY
Juniper Pass worked four furlongs in a bullet 49.40 seconds on the turf course under jockey Brice Blanc Thursday to signal his readiness for the $250,000 Hollywood Derby November 28.
“He’s certainly on the improve, and the distance is right,” said trainer Ray Bell of the colt coming off a victory in an allowance/optional claiming race here November 7 at the Derby distance of 1 ¼ miles on grass.
Juniper Pass, a Kentucky-bred son of Lemon Drop Kid, has won two of seven starts for owners Robert and Betty Irvin.
Haimish Hy, a late nomination for $5,000, worked seven furlongs on Cushion Track in 1:30 for trainer Art Sherman. He won the El Cajon Stakes at Del Mar.
Other probable starters in the Grade I test include Oak Tree Derby winner Fantastic Pick (Corey Nakatani), Oak Tree Derby runners-up Blue Panis (Joe Talamo), Kid Edward (David Flores) and Sebastian Flyte (Joel Rosario) and New York invader Citrus Kid (Rafael Bejarano).
METEORE WORKS MILE FOR CITATION
Meteore earned the green light from Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella for the $250,000 Citation Handicap November 27 after working one mile on turf in 1:42.20 under exercise rider Janeen Painter Thursday.
Mandella named Alonso Quinones to ride the 4-year-old colt in quest of his first victory since capturing the La Jolla Handicap at Del Mar in August, 2009. The Kentucky-bred son of Pulpit finished fourth in the Oak Tree Mile in his last start October 9.
Mandella had originally hoped to send out two starters in the Grade I test at 1 1/16 miles on turf but Kapo Di Tutti, his other candidate, has been sidelined with a suspensory injury.
Mandella seeks to tie Charlie Whittingham and Wally Dollase atop the Citation list with four victories after scores with Leger Cat in 1992, Gentlemen in 1996 and Redattore in 2003.
Other probable starters include multiple stakes-winning New York invader Court Vision (Joel Rosario), California Cup Mile winner Bruce’s Dream (Joe Talamo), Proudinsky (Rafael Bejarano), Shoemaker Mile winner Victor’s Cry and two late nominations: Colgan’s Chip and Ryehill Dreamer.
McANALLY HOPES MOCCASIN IS SWEET
Hall of Fame trainer Ron McAnally seeks a record-equaling third Moccasin Stakes victory with Sugarinthemorning in the $100,000 seven-furlong test for 2-year-old fillies Sunday.
“It’s the next step up,” said McAnally optimistically Thursday of the Candy Ride filly seeking her third victory in four starts. The filly comes off a convincing 3 ¼-length allowance victory for California-breds at 6 ½ furlongs here on October 10.
Bred and co-owned by Stephen Weissman of Dana Point, Sugarinthemorning will try to join Superlative in 1997 and Classic Olympio in 1999 as McAnally trainees to win the Moccasin. McAnally will try to join Brian Mayberry as the only three-time winner of the race.
The Moccasin serves as a prep for the $250,000 Grade I Hollywood Starlet at 1 1/16 miles on December 11.
FINISH LINES—Zayat Stable has transferred Norfolk Stakes winner Jaycito, seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in his last start, to the barn of Hall of Famer Bob Baffert from that of Mike Mitchell. Baffert said Thursday that he had not yet formulated plans for the colt…California Cup Sprint winner Cost of Freedom worked five furlongs in 59.80 for trainer John Sadler for the $100,000 Grade III Vernon Underwood Stakes here Thanksgiving Day. Victor Espinoza has taken a call on 2009 Australian Horse of the Year Scenic Blast for the six-furlong race…Shippers Special Duty from France and Gypsy’s Warning from Maryland are expected for the $250,000 Grade I Matriarch at one mile on turf for fillies and mares November 26…Boxer des Rues worked five furlongs on turf in 1:00.40 for trainer Doug O’Neill for the $100,000 Grade III Generous Stakes for 2-year-olds at one mile on turf November 27…English import Wave of Applause worked six furlongs on grass in 1:14.40 for trainer Jim Cassidy for the $100,000 Grade III Miesque Stakes for 2-year-old fillies at one mile on turf November 28.
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