11/17/2012 12:21PM

Hollywood Park: Shirreffs 'excited and relieved' by Eblouissante's debut victory

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Shigeki Kikkawa
Eblouissante, a half-sister to the great Zenyatta, wins her career debut by 4 1/4 lengths Friday at Hollywood.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – So what if Eblouissante, the half-sister to Zenyatta, did not make her debut until Friday, well into November of her 3-year-old year?

It was worth the wait for owner-breeder Eric Kronfeld.

“It just validates John Shirreffs’s beliefs as a trainer,” Kronfeld said in the winner’s circle. “He wanted to do what it took to allow the filly to grow into herself.”

“What’s the point of racing in May? Let them develop.”

Kronfeld could enjoy himself after he watched Eblouissante, who is by Bernardini, win a maiden race over 1 1/16 miles by 4 1/4 lengths. Kronfeld also bred the popular mare Zenyatta, the 2010 Horse of the Year, but sold her as a yearling in 2005. He held on to Eblouissante, hoping for the best. Despite high expectations, Kronfeld was stunned by what he saw on Friday.

“I didn’t think she’d win like that,” Kronfeld said.

Ridden by Corey Nakatani, Eblouissante ($4.80) closed from seventh to win in 1:45.27. She caught pacesetter Saturday Nite Ride inside the eighth pole and drew off late. Chestnut Moon finished second, a half-length in front of Saturday Nite Ride.

While following the legacy of Zenyatta, who won 19 of 20 starts, is almost impossible to duplicate, Eblouissante won in a very promising style.

In the moments after Friday’s race, Shirreffs said he was both “excited and relieved” by the result.

“She’s such a beautiful racehorse and she performed so well,” he said. “I’ve been waiting for this day.

“I thought she handled everything well. It was her first time and she didn’t know what was going on. She couldn’t have handled herself better.”

In recent weeks, Shirreffs said that Eblouissante had shown more determination in finishing her workouts. She displayed the same tendency in Friday’s race, moving from sixth-place to second from the end of the backstretch to early stretch.

“It looks like something clicks and she knows she should catch the horses in front of her,” Shirreffs said. “We’ve seen that in the morning.

“Corey did a great job with her. We wanted to find a rhythm.”

Shirreffs and Kronfeld are hoping that Eblouissante can start in an allowance race before this meeting ends on Dec. 16 or at the Santa Anita winter-spring meeting, which opens on Dec. 26. Kronfeld lives in New York, but admitted that transcontinental flights will be common for him next year to keep up with Eblouissante.

“I may have to move here,” he said.

Kronfeld no longer owns Vertigineux, the dam of Eblouissante and Zenyatta, having sold her privately in 2008.

Eblouissante’s win came almost five years to the day of Zenyatta’s debut on Nov. 22, 2007. Zenyatta started her career in a race over 6 1/2 furlongs, winning by three lengths. She won her first 19 starts before finishing second to Blame in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs in her final race.

Zenyatta, 8, resides in Kentucky as a broodmare.

Dave Schuler More than 1 year ago
Is Mike Waiting @ Licking His Chops-??-lolk-DS
Pom De Terre More than 1 year ago
I was stuck someplace friday before this race went off and refused to drive as inwould have missed it. when i got to a place where i could watch it- a race track not carrying the vocals, it was like old time keeneland. then that surge on the corner turn- omg- visions of secretariat's preakness... i thought for a couple seconds she didnt have a chance ( despite the money i plinked down on her 4 hours before) - and wow was i wrong. such a grand win. such a hopeful future. and under the hands of most of today;s trainers, this beautiful filly would have been finished due to injury. God bless you John- you are one of the "old time" trainers. PLEASE do not change your methods. You are what racing needs.
Jonni Sincere More than 1 year ago
she 's a better gate horse than Zenny
Pom De Terre More than 1 year ago
that is a TOTALLY RIDICULOUS AND IGNORANT statement to make after ONE START.
Pom De Terre More than 1 year ago
actually- just ignorant - forget ridiculous. some people are born stupid,
Ponies Payme More than 1 year ago
I hope she wins one more on synthetic, so when she goes to the dirt track, I can clean up betting against her.
Dave Schuler More than 1 year ago
SORRY Ill Be Betting ON Her-lolk-DS
Carol Ross More than 1 year ago
WOW!!! another fabulous girl to watch!
GOODWIN More than 1 year ago
Amen, Horse Cents!
Flint King More than 1 year ago
I hope more trainers take note of this.many horses with talent are pushed and ruined as two year olds and three year olds.givem time and let them develop
Horse Cents More than 1 year ago
Baffert would have pushed her to the derby and retired her three months ago. She would have had a five month career with six starts, one win other than maiden, like Bode. Happy to have trainers like Shirreffs around.
Pom De Terre More than 1 year ago
oh how right u are
JoyJackson21 More than 1 year ago
How refreshing! I wish more owners were like Mr. Kronfeld - not after instant gratification, willing to let his beautiful, gifted horse develop at her own speed, then showcase her in a race she will shine in. John Shirreffs has done a fine job with her so far. His philosophy is working in Eblouissante's case. Eblouissante is a lovely, talented filly and I am looking forward to seeing her race in the future. Her first race was excellent, and certainly exciting to watch. I hope all of her future races are fun and exciting to watch as well. Her future looks to be bright and dazzling. Go, Eblouissante, go!!
Mark Shrader More than 1 year ago
That's what great breeding does, send her out first time at 8.5 furlongs and she wins easily. Vertigineux is gold and Bernardini is quite a sire. His bloodlines read like a who's who of greats. Seattle Slew, Secretariat, Bold American, Fappiano, Buckpasser, Dr Fager, Spectacluar Bid. Zenyata's baby is also out of Berdardini. This should be fun to watch.