10/12/2009 12:00AM

Classic a real possibility for Zenyatta

Benoit & Associates
Zenyatta's connections will wait to pick between the Breeders' Cup Classic and the Ladies' Classic.

ARCADIA, Calif. - The connections of the unbeaten Zenyatta, who raced to her 13th straight victory in the Lady's Secret Stakes on Saturday at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting, said Monday they would wait as long as possible before determining which Breeders' Cup race she will run in. Zenyatta is the defending champion in the $2 million Ladies' Classic, which will be run this year on Nov. 6, but there is the very real possibility Zenyatta could take on males for the first time in the $5 million BC Classic on Nov. 7.

Asked on Sunday morning at Hollywood Park if he thought Zenyatta could compete with males in the richest race of the two-day Breeders' Cup program, her trainer, John Shirreffs, said, "I don't think there's any indication that she couldn't."

"But there's absolutely no reason to rush into that decision now," Shirreffs added.

The decision will be made by Shirreffs along with Jerry and Ann Moss, who own Zenyatta, and Shirreffs's wife, Dottie, who is the racing manager for the Mosses. Pre-entries for the Breeders' Cup are taken Oct. 26, and are announced Oct. 28. At that point, Zenyatta could still be pre-entered in both races. Final entries are due on Nov. 3.

"Both races are very much open to discussion," Dottie Ingordo-Shirreffs said Monday morning. "It will depend on who's coming, the size of the field."

John Shirreffs on Sunday morning was savoring the Lady's Secret, in which Zenyatta equalled the win streak of Personal Ensign and received a rousing cheer when she returned to the winner's circle.

"It was really special because Zenyatta equaled Personal Ensign's record," Shirreffs said.

The only disappointing aspect of the day for the Mosses and Shirreffs was that a half-hour before the Lady's Secret, Tiago finished last in the Goodwood Stakes.

"He's not the same horse right now," John Shirreffs said.

Dottie Ingordo-Shirreffs said plans for Tiago are "undecided at this time, but he is going to Adena Springs at the end of his racing career."

The Classic, at 1 1/4 miles, should have a full field of 14. Among those under consideration for the race are several horses who competed Saturday in the Goodwood, including Gitano Hernando, the upset winner of the race, and Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird, who finished sixth.

Gitano Hernando "came out of the race well, but we really do need to take our time and evaluate everything," said Aron Wellman, the racing manager for the horse's owner, Team Valor International, which is headed by Barry Irwin.

"It was a long journey from his Newmarket base," Wellman said. "He got in on Tuesday, left quarantine at Hollywood Park on Thursday, shipped to Santa Anita Thursday afternoon, and ran Saturday. That's a lot for a lightly raced 3-year-old who had not won a graded stakes yet."

Mine That Bird returned to the track at Santa Anita on Monday morning to jog and "went well, bucking and playing," according to his trainer, Chip Woolley Jr.

"Nothing set up for him," Woolley said of the Goodwood. "The pace was too slow. He needed the race. It had been exactly 10 weeks race to race.

"Calvin," Woolley added, referring to jockey Calvin Borel, "said he was a little tired pulling up. That would explain why his run was a little less explosive. He was a little tired. Calvin said he struggled with the track a little bit, but I can't use the track as an excuse. It's been my experience that if a horse really struggles badly with a track, he pulls up exhausted. My horse got his wind back pretty quickly.

"It was a prep. He only got beat 3 1/2 lengths. It's not like he got beat a dying nine lengths. Everybody seems disappointed, but I think they're disappointed because it's Mine That Bird. If it wasn't him, they'd have said, 'Well, he was off for 10 weeks.' "