05/28/2008 11:00PM

Zenyatta figures as big favorite

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. - At 1,200 pounds and nearly 17 hands high, the imposing 4-year-old filly Zenyatta has grown into a beauty of a beast, with more going for her than just size and looks.

Four starts into a fairy-tale career, Zenyatta already has rocketed to the top of her division, and she will be heavily favored to make it 5 for 5 when she runs 1 1/16 miles in the Grade 2 Milady Handicap for fillies and mares Saturday at Hollywood Park.

All she has to do is just show up, right?

"I don't think a race is ever that easy," trainer John Shirreffs said. "It's not a walkover."

Not literally. But if the same Zenyatta that crushed the Apple Blossom Handicap by more than four lengths last month shows up Saturday, six others have no shot. That includes Grade 1 winner Romance Is Diane, trained by Mike Mitchell.

"If I run second to [Zenyatta], I'm not embarrassed," Mitchell said. "I honestly think she could beat colts in the Hollywood Gold Cup; she's big and gigantic."

And she is just getting started. Zenyatta was making only her fourth start when she won the Apple Blossom with a 104 Beyer Speed Figure. And she beat a good field - the second- through fifth-place finishers returned to win their next start, including two graded stakes.

Jerry and Ann Moss own Zenyatta, and though her large size and last-start speed figure would make her a threat against males, Shirreffs said he "is not looking to do that." The Grade 1 Vanity on July 5 at Hollywood would be Zenyatta's next start, according to Shirreffs; the Breeders' Cup Distaff is her long-range goal.

Romance Is Diane has not raced since January, but Mitchell said the 5-for-12 filly is "working super." Romance Is Diane has speed, but drew directly inside likely pacesetter La Tee, a turf filly racing on synthetic for the first time. Mark Glatt trains La Tee.

"Besides Romance Is Diane, there is not a lot speed in the race," Glatt said. "We realize Zenyatta is probably unbeatable, but if [La Tee] can run well and be second or third" it would open options.

La Tee finished second last time in the Grade 3 Wilshire Handicap on turf, and with a nine-pound weight break from Zenyatta (122 to 113), La Tee has a longshot chance to wire the field.