10/30/2010 1:36PM

Zenyatta given stiff final drill in company

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Tom Baker
Zenyatta finishes her Saturday workout with jockey Mike Smith aboard.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Mike Smith had Zenyatta’s saddle and reins in his hands, walking down the shedrow of trainer John Shirreffs’s stable at Hollywood Park when he stopped and watched the 6-year-old walk by on Saturday morning. He had just climbed off of the unbeaten winner of 19 races after a six-furlong workout in 1:11.80.

“Look at her – 1:11 and four,” Smith said. “I thought it was brilliant, better than last year before the Classic.”

Saturday’s workout was Zenyatta’s final major exercise before Saturday’s $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs. She won the 2009 running at Santa Anita and will be favored this year. Smith expects a win.

“She’ll be ready to go a mile and a quarter,” Smith said.

For the second consecutive work, Zenyatta worked in company with two stablemates, Sarbonne and El Vino, neither of who ran with Zenyatta through the entire workout. Sarbonne was the backstretch pacesetter, beginning the workout 5 1/2 furlongs from the finish three lengths in front of Zenyatta.

When Sarbonne and Zenyatta passed the five-furlong pole, El Vino was guided from the outside of the track to the rail and was in full stride when Sarbonne caught up at the half-mile pole. Sarbonne and El Vino led by about four lengths on the turn, when Sarbonne began to lose touch, having finished her workout. Zenyatta, racing three-wide, joined El Vino and the two ran together through the stretch with Zenyatta finishing a sixteenth of a mile past the wire a neck in front.

Smith said Zenyatta accelerated when asked. “I bowed forward and whoom, she caught up,” he said. “They were running good together and went through the wire.”

Shirreffs said the team concept of the workout provides Zenyatta with the necessary test for a major race such as the BC Classic.

“We wanted a fresh horse at the end of the workout,” Shirreffs said. “We wanted her to finish.”

Shirreffs timed the last quarter-mile in 23.60 seconds. Owned by Jerry and Ann Moss, Zenyatta is scheduled to be flown to Churchill Downs on Tuesday.

“We’re ready,” Shirreffs said. “Done and happy. Now, it’s just a matter of making sure things go smoothly.

El Vino worked three furlongs in 36.20 seconds, while Sarbonne went five furlongs in 1:01.60.