06/06/2010 11:00PM

Zenyatta breezes slow early, fast late


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Zenyatta's final workout at Hollywood Park on Monday before Sunday's $250,000 Vanity Handicap - a six-furlong breeze in 1:15.20 - was more like two workouts in one, with a slow start followed by a strong finish.

While the final time was only the sixth fastest of nine recorded works at the distance, Zenyatta finished the final three furlongs in 36 seconds, which left trainer John Shirreffs encouraged.

An undefeated two-time champion, Zenyatta worked behind two stablemates, Breakmark and Green Cat, who worked five furlongs in 1:03.40.

"I keep it in mind that she's 6," Shirreffs said. "They went slow the first eighth. I think it's all right. This is not a 3-year-old or a 4-year-old. They know what's going on. They know the morning isn't much."

Zenyatta will not have many rivals in the Grade 1 Vanity, which is run over 1 1/8 miles on the Cushion Track main track.

As of Monday, only four or five other older females are likely to start. Zenyatta will carry 129 pounds, nine pounds more than St Trinians, the winner of the Grade 2 Santa Maria Handicap at Santa Anita in February.

The other four candidates are at the bottom of the list of weights among the 11 nominees. Will O Way has been assigned 114 pounds, while Cherryblossommiss, Miss Pleasant, and Miss Silver Brook have been assigned 112 pounds. None has won a graded stakes. Trainer Richard Mandella said on Monday that he was unsure whether Miss Pleasant, who would be the likely pacesetter, will start.

Sunday, Zenyatta will be seeking her 17th win, and an unprecedented third consecutive win in the Vanity. She carried 124 pounds in the 2008 Vanity, her sixth win, and 129 pounds in the 2009 Vanity, her 11th win.

The champion older female of 2008 and 2009 for owners Jerry and Ann Moss, Zenyatta has won 16 races and $5,924,580. A win in the Vanity by Zenyatta would surpass the 16-race winning streaks of Cigar, Citation, and Mister Frisky.

In Monday's workout, Zenyatta was ridden by jockey Mike Smith. Smith started Zenyatta five lengths behind Breakmark and Green Cat, who worked in tandem. Zenyatta trailed by three lengths on the turn, caught the leaders in early stretch, and was a length in front at the wire.

"She went slow but she went good," Smith said as he rode Zenyatta back to the barn. "I wanted a little more pace in front of me."

A few minutes later, Smith said put the workout into perspective, saying, "She's really relaxed and happy right now."