10/21/2008 12:00AM

Zenyatta forced to start from rail


ARCADIA, Calif. - With her perfect record and stylish way of winning, Zenyatta has ascended to the leadership of the nation's older fillies and mares. And on Friday, in the $2 million Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting, Zenyatta will, truly, be No. 1. She wound up in the inside post in a field of eight when the Ladies' Classic field was drawn on Tuesday at Santa Anita.

This will mark the first time in her nine-race career that Zenyatta will start from the rail. She also will be the one with a target on her back, which goes with being the heavy favorite. Jeff Tufts, Santa Anita's morning-line maker, made her the 3-5 choice, the heaviest favorite among the 14 Breeders' Cup races, and Daily Racing Form's Brad Free has her at 4-5.

Zenyatta does her best running when allowed to rally outside horses, so jockey Mike Smith will have to extricate Zenyatta from the rail at some point during the 1 1/8-mile trip on Santa Anita's synthetic Pro-Ride surface.

"More important than the post is having a little racing luck," John Shirreffs, who trains Zenyatta, said right after the race was drawn.

Zenyatta was scheduled to travel by van from her base at Hollywood Park to Santa Anita on Wednesday. Shirreffs said he wanted to school Zenyatta in the paddock on Wednesday afternoon in preparation for Friday's race. It's a step he has taken for all her races, especially after Zenyatta struggled to win the Vanity Handicap at Hollywood Park on July 5.

"She got really excited before the Vanity," Shirreffs said.

Between the Vanity and the Clement Hirsch Handicap on Aug. 2 at Del Mar, Shirreffs extensively schooled Zenyatta.

Eight horses were entered in the Ladies' Classic, the fewest among the 14 Breeders' Cup races.

Carriage Trail traveled to California this week, making her the last to arrive in this time zone. She comes off a win in the Spinster Stakes at Keeneland on Oct. 5. She returned to trainer Shug McGaughey's barn at Belmont Park following the race, then headed west.

"She's done really well," McGaughey said Tuesday morning at Santa Anita. "I kept her in New York to see. I think she came out of it great. Would I like another week? Yes. But I don't have another week."

Though based in the East, Carriage Trail has extensive experience on synthetic surfaces. She has raced over Polytrack at Keeneland four times, winning three. The Ladies' Classic will be her first race on Pro-Ride

"I think it will be about the same" as at Keeneland, McGaughey said.