Sunday, December 5, will be an emotional and meaningful day on two fronts for trainer John Shirreffs at Hollywood Park.
In addition to seeing retired superstar Zenyatta make her final public appearance in a ceremony between races, Shirreffs will also saddle defending champion Zardana in quest of a record sixth victory in the $150,000 Bayakoa Handicap.
Zenyatta, the glamour queen of racing with 19 victories in 20 starts, grazed outside Barn 55 South Sunday with groom Mario Espinoza as 25 adoring fans admired and photographed her.
“Zenyatta will be flown to Kentucky on the 6th,” said Shirreffs of the 6-year-old mare who will leave a gaping hole not only in his barn but in the entire industry. Zenyatta will go Lane’s End Farm for breeding next year to a stallion yet to be determined.
Zardana will try to provide the Z power in the Shirreffs barn with a repeat victory in the Bayakoa, a Grade II test for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on Cushion Track.
Zardana, a 6-year-old Brazilian-bred mare owned by Arnold Zetcher, defeated Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra in the New Orleans Ladies Stakes at Fair Grounds in March but is winless in three races since.
Zardana sandwiched two troubled trips in the La Troienne Stakes at Churchill Downs and the Spinster Stakes at Keeneland around a creditable third-place finish in the Vanity Handicap here behind Zenyatta and St Trinians.
“She still has to breeze seven furlongs,” said Shirreffs of a final work for Zardana before the Bayakoa. She will again be ridden by Victor Espinoza, who was aboard in the Bayakoa last year and seeks a record-equaling fifth victory in the race to tie Chris McCarron.
Espinoza also won the Bayakoa aboard Star Parade in 2003, Hollywood Story in 2004 and Foxysox in 2006.
Shirreffs previously won the Bayakoa with Manistique in 1998 and 1999, Starrer in 2002 and Hollywood Story.
Other probable starters include 2009 runner-up Silver Swallow (Mike Smith), Life Is Sweet Stakes winner Washington Bridge (Rafael Bejarano) and It Tiz, who worked a bullet six furlongs in 1:12.60 Saturday.
Dakota Phone, the only California-based horse to win a Breeders’ Cup race this year, will return Saturday in the $100,000 Native Diver Handicap, a Grade III test at 1 1/8 miles on Cushion Track.
“He’s ready to go,” said Dan Ward, assistant to trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, Sunday after the 5-year-old gelding worked satisfactorily Friday, his third drill here since winning the $1-million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile November 6 at Churchill Downs.
Joel Rosario, who guided Dakota Phone to the 37-1 upset and millionaire status, has the return call. Dakota Phone has been in the money in 22 of 32 starts and earned $1,273,810 for John Carver, Halo Farm and George Todaro.
Other probable starters include California Cup Classic winner Soul Candy (Rafael Bejarano) and Aggie Engineer (Joe Talamo) for trainer Paddy Gallagher, Spurrier (Victor Espinoza), Achak (Alonso Quinonez) and Philatelist (Patrick Valenzuela).
Aggie Engineer, winner of an allowance/optional claimer in his last start, worked seven furlongs in a bullet 1:27.60 Sunday.
Philatelist worked five furlongs in 1:00.40 Sunday for trainer Humberto Ascanio, who won the Native Diver last year with Mast Track. Philatelist will make his first start since March after going to the sidelines with a splint injury.
Trainer Doug O’Neill was back at work for a second morning in Barn 63 North Sunday after undergoing an emergency appendectomy this week.
“On Wednesday night, I thought I had a bellyache, and it turned out I had a bad appendix,” said O’Neill jokingly. “I went to St. John’s Hospital at Santa Monica at 8 p.m. for the surgery and was released at 8 a.m. Thursday morning.”
After watching football on television for two days, O’Neill returned to the barn Saturday morning and saddled entrants in the afternoon.
Veteran jockey Iggy Puglisi savored his first victory of the year Saturday with longshot Ghost N Your Heart, a 2-year-old filly which paid $58.80 after an upset victory in the fourth race for $32,000 maiden claimers.
“This was neat,” said Puglisi, a 36-year-old native of Argentina. “It was all because of one of her owners, Dave Unger. He called me and asked if I would like to ride her, and I said I would love to.
“I worked her one time, she was scratched from another race, and I got very lucky today,” said Puglisi of the first-time starter who rallied to win the 6 ½-furlong race. “It was nice to be back in the winner’s circle.”
Ghost N Your Heart completed a training double for Paul Aguirre, who also won the second race with Miss Picaboo.
Pico Perdomo, who returned from his native Uruguay to train on this circuit at the beginning of the year, has traded in the early hours to become racing manager for Rancho San Paesea S.A.
Rancho San Paesea leased three horses here with trainer Humberto Ascanio to Perdomo’s wife, Stella. They include Proudinsky, a multiple stakes winner who finished second in the Citation Handicap Saturday, and Philatelist, who worked Sunday for the Native Diver Handicap next Saturday.
FINISH LINES—Trainer Jamie Lloyd, hobbled on crutches after turning his ankle two days ago, seeks a double of sorts today with Fantastic Pick, who he trains in the Hollywood Derby, and Cloneylass, who he purchased in Ireland for the Miesque Stakes. Cloneylass, trained in New York by Rick Dutrow, will be transferred to Lloyd after the Miesque and remain here, according to the trainer…
Trainer Vladimir Cerin celebrated his 56th birthday Friday with his 1,000th career victory, Cigar Man, in the All American Stakes at Golden Gate Fields…Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert is two shy of his 2,000th victory… Aron Wellman, vice president of Team Valor International—co-owner of Matriarch winner Gypsy’s Warning Friday, said the South African-bred mare would be flown to Palm Meadows, Florida, Tuesday and rejoin trainer Graham Motion for future plans…Trainer Eoin Harty said that Victor’s Cry, winner of the Citation Handicap Saturday, returned in good order and be pointed to turf stakes at Santa Anita…*Peter Miller* hopes to complete a “triple crown” of the autumn meet here with Comma to the Top. The 2-year-old gelding, winner of the Generous Stakes Saturday after capturing the Real Quiet Stakes in his previous outing, will be pointed to the $750,000 CashCall Futurity December 18…Hollywood Juvenile Championship winner J P’s Gusto worked six furlongs in 1:13.80 and Hollywood Prevue runner-up Industry Leader drilled five furlongs in 59.60 for the Futurity…Eastern invader Nina Fever worked four furlongs in 48.20 for trainer Wesley Ward for the $250,000 Hollywood Starlet December 11…Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith returned this morning after competing in an all-star jockey competition in Japan.
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