12/05/2009 12:00AM

Zardana makes the grade in Bayakoa

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Zardana's first start on a synthetic track in 22 months produced a milestone victory in Saturday's at Hollywood Park.

Zardana won the Grade 2 race by 1 1/4 lengths over Silver Swallow, the first graded stakes victory of her 17-race career. Zardana had won three minor stakes in Brazil and California before Saturday's race, her sixth start in a graded stakes. She was fourth in the Grade 1 Santa Maria Handicap on a synthetic track in February 2008 when trained by Ron McAnally.

Well known around current trainer John Shirreffs's barn as a headstrong mare, Zardana ($24) was given a confident ride by jockey Victor Espinoza.

Zardana was third for the first half-mile, stalking pacesetter Briecat through early fractions of 23.65 and 46.80 seconds. Espinoza guided her to the outside of Briecat in early stretch, took the lead in the final furlong, and won comfortably. Zardana finished 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.24.

Silver Swallow finished a half-length in front of Cat by the Tale in the field of 10 fillies and mares. Teamgeist, the 3-1 favorite, could only manage only sixth after running last for the first half-mile.

Zardana, 5, races for Arnold Zetcher, and has won 7 of 17 starts and $293,421. Earlier this year, she won the restricted Swingtime Stakes over a mile on turf at Santa Anita.

Shirreffs said that Zardana will stay in training in 2010 with the main-track graded stakes for fillies and mares at Santa Anita as her wintertime goal.