10/08/2008 11:00PM

Zenyatta drills a quick six furlongs


ARCADIA, Calif. - John Shirreffs is not the sort of trainer to demand fast workouts from his horses. So when Zenyatta, his undefeated 4-year-old filly, worked six furlongs in 1:11.20 at Hollywood Park on Thursday, even Shirreffs took notice.

"We didn't expect her to go that fast," he said. "She worked very good. I think the track is pretty fast today."

The workout is one of two that Zenyatta will have in October before she starts as a strong favorite in the $2 million Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic at Santa Anita on Oct. 24. Shirreffs said Zenyatta will work again Friday, seven days before the ninth start of her career.

"We're sort of in the countdown mode," Shirreffs said.

The countdown began in earnest when Zenyatta won her sixth consecutive stakes in the Grade 1 Lady's Secret Stakes at Santa Anita on Sept. 27. Owned by Jerry and Ann Moss, Zenyatta won by 3 1/2 lengths under a confident ride from jockey Mike Smith. "She's still pretty sharp," Shirreffs said Thursday.

Zenyatta worked in company with stablemate Bronzino, starting behind her stablemate. He was timed in 1:12.

Zenyatta's time equaled the fastest of 13 recorded works at the distance. Dearest Trickski, a multiple stakes-winning filly and a candidate for the BC Filly and Mare Sprint, worked in 1:11.20.

Daytona's style worries trainer

Daytona's workout at Santa Anita on Thursday did not go as planned.

A hopeful for the BC Mile on turf on Oct. 25, Daytona worked seven furlongs in 1:25.20, which equaled the fastest of three works at the distance. But the style of the workout did not please trainer Dan Hendricks.

"He went off a little strong and got tired," Hendricks said. "He's on tilt. He's full of himself."

Hendricks said he has two more workouts planned for Daytona before the BC Mile, but admits that the colt has a one-dimensional style of setting the pace. Daytona won six graded stakes from October 2007 until May of this year, but has lost his last two starts. He was fourth in the Del Mar Mile on Aug. 24, leading to the eighth pole before finishing 1 1/2 lengths behind Whatsthescript.

Hendricks fears that Daytona could be too fast for his own good in the BC Mile, which is expected to have a large field.

"There will be a lot of speed," Hendricks said. "We don't have much choice - that's his style. We'll go as fast as they want to go."

Curlin gallops, stands in gate

Curlin, the reigning Horse of the Year, galloped a mile and stood in the starting gate at Santa Anita on Thursday, according to assistant trainer Scott Blasi.

The winner of the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park on Sept. 27 in his last start, Curlin is being pointed for the BC Classic on Oct. 25. Trained by Steve Asmussen, Curlin is scheduled to work between races Monday.

Race Caller Luke wins maiden claimer

Race Caller Luke, a colt named in honor of the late track announcer Luke Kruytbosch, won a one-mile maiden claimer in Wednesday's third race. Race Caller Luke is co-owned by Mike Pegram, a friend of Kruytbosch, and is trained by Bob Baffert.

Thursday, Baffert said he hopes that Race Caller Luke will improve enough to start in a stakes at Turf Paradise, one of the tracks at which Kruytbosch was an announcer. Kruytbosch was best known as the announcer at Churchill Downs from 1999 until his death earlier this year.

* Idiot Proof, the runner-up in the 2007 BC Sprint, worked five furlongs in 1:00.60 on Thursday, preparing for the inaugural BC Turf Sprint at about 6 1/2 furlongs on the hillside turf course on Oct. 25.

* Jockey Kayla Stra escaped injury when she was unseated from the 71-1 outsider Half Wit in Wednesday's eighth race. Half Wit clipped heels with a rival, and Stra was unable to stay aboard.

Stra, who did not have any mounts Thursday, said she escaped with bruises. A 23-year-old native of Australia, Stra worked two horses at Santa Anita on Thursday and was scheduled to resume riding Friday.

* Awesome Empress, a 5-year-old mare trained by Kathy Walsh, was euthanized Thursday after suffering a hind leg injury during morning exercise at Santa Anita.

Awesome Empress won 2 of 7 starts and $83,988 but had not started since finishing fourth in an allowance race at Hollywood Park in July.