05/24/2009 11:00PM

Conservative path for Zenyatta


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Zenyatta is likely to have a conventional campaign of major stakes in California through the summer and fall in defense of her title as the nation's outstanding older female.

Two days after her easy win in the Grade 2 Milady Handicap at Hollywood Park on Saturday, Zenyatta was walked at trainer John Shirreffs's barn on the track's backstretch. The 5-year-old Zenyatta, unbeaten in 10 starts, is likely to return to racing in the $300,000 Vanity Handicap, a Grade 1 over 1 1/8 miles on June 27.

Shirreffs has not mapped out a specific plan for Zenyatta, but the schedule is essentially defined on their behalf. If Zenyatta stays in California, the $300,000 Clement Hirsch Handicap at Del Mar on Aug. 9, the Lady's Secret Stakes at Santa Anita in early October, and the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic in November are the goals.

Owned by Jerry and Ann Moss, Zenyatta won the 2008 BC Ladies' Classic at Santa Anita and that race this year will probably be the final start of her career.

"I would think that would be it," Shirreffs said. "You're anxious to get a foal out of her because they do breed."

Shirreffs is reluctant to ship Zenyatta to other circuits, especially with the Breeders' Cup drawing closer.

"With the Breeders' Cup out here, what's the need?" he said. "When it gets closer to [Breeders' Cup] time, you don't want to ship around too much. Saratoga is a long way."

Shirreffs is not interested in trying Zenyatta against males in a race such as the $700,000 Hollywood Gold Cup on July 11.

"The Gold Cup is a mile and a quarter," he said. "She's never run that far. It would be an ambitious spot and against the boys? Let's make it even harder."

Zenyatta won the Milady by 1 3/4 lengths over stablemate Life Is Sweet. Jockey Mike Smith guided Zenyatta around five rivals on the second turn and hand-rode her to a popular victory.

Prior to the race, the saddling enclosure was four-deep with Zenyatta's well-wishers, many of whom were snapping away with cell phone and digital cameras or holding up small camcorders to record the moment. It's not often that fans in California have a chance to be that close to a reigning champion, and one that has yet to be beaten.

The mare did not seem to mind the attention. While occasionally pawing at the ground, she otherwise stood quietly, with her ears pricked, taking in all the attention.

It is possible that Zenyatta and Life Is Sweet could have a rematch in the Vanity. The winner of the Grade 1 Santa Margarita Handicap at Santa Anita in March, Life Is Sweet was not disgraced in defeat on Saturday.

"She ran a super race," Shirreffs said.

Shirreffs said he will consult with owner Marty Wygod about Life Is Sweet before finalizing plans.

Next target uncertain for Monterey Jazz

The course record of 1:32.50 that Monterey Jazz set over a mile on turf on Sunday seemed almost secondary to trainer Craig Dollase the following morning. He was more excited that Monterey Jazz had ended a four-race losing streak and showed the sort of form that has already led to three stakes wins in his career.

"It was awesome," Dollase said. "We were looking for a good confidence-building race. It's nice to see him get back to his form."

Ridden by Tyler Baze, Monterey Jazz led throughout and won by 3 3/4 lengths over the millionaire Grade 1 winner Becrux. Monterey Jazz set early fractions of 23.63 and 46.22 seconds, leading by as many as four lengths on the turn and five lengths in the stretch.

Monterey Jazz has won 7 of 18 starts and $580,880. He won three graded stakes in late 2007 and early 2008, including the Grade 2 Strub Stakes at Santa Anita.

Dollase said on Monday that he did not have a goal for Monterey Jazz, but the $150,000 American Handicap over 1 1/8 miles on turf here on July 4 is likely to enter the discussions.