06/01/2008 11:00PM

Zenyatta headed to Vanity


NGLEWOOD, Calif. - Aside from being the trainer of Zenyatta, John Shirreffs may be the undefeated filly's biggest fan.

"She just amazes me like she does everyone else," Shirreffs said.

Saturday, Zenyatta stretched her unbeaten streak to five with a convincing victory in the $183,300 Milady Handicap at Hollywood Park. Zenyatta was bounced around at the start, and lagged at the back of the field of five until the final turn, when she unleashed a rally that quickly carried her to the front. Zenyatta won by 2 1/2 lengths, virtually unchallenged.

Zenyatta, a Street Cry filly, will make her next start in the $300,000 Vanity Handicap over 1 1/8 miles on July 5, the championship race for fillies and mares at the spring-summer meeting.

For the record, the runner-up in the Milady was Santa Teresita, whose trainer, David Hofmans, felt like he had won the race.

"It was a graded stakes-winning effort," he said. "I feel I have a really good filly. The other filly is a freak. We had a head start and we couldn't beat her."

Zenyatta has already won a Grade 1 - the Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn Park in April, a victory that came at the expense of Ginger Punch, the 2007 Eclipse Award winner as the nation's outstanding older female.

If the balloting for the 2008 award were held today, Zenyatta would win in a landslide. Fortunately for her rivals, those votes are not due until late December, with plenty of important races still to be run, including the Breeders' Cup Distaff at Santa Anita on Oct. 25.

The BC Distaff will be the focal point of Zenyatta's autumn campaign. Another contender for that race had been Nashoba's Key, who was euthanized on May 28 as a result of injuries suffered in a stall accident. Nashoba's Key won the 2007 Milady Handicap.

Zenyatta has won three stakes, including the Grade 2 El Encino Stakes at Santa Anita in January. Owned by Jerry and Ann Moss, Zenyatta has won her five starts by a combined 15 1/4 lengths. She has not been vigorously ridden in the final furlong of several of those races, which has kept her winning margins smaller than they could have been.

Asked whether Zenyatta had displayed her best effort yet, Shirreffs had a quick answer. "No, not yet," he said. "She's still goofing around."

Heatseeker looking more confident

Heatseeker did little goofing around when he won his third stakes in the last six months in the Grade 2 Californian Stakes on Saturday.

Instead, he hugged the rail throughout the Grade 2 race over 1 1/8 miles, and pressed the lead through a slow pace before pulling clear to win by 5 1/4 lengths, his biggest margin of victory in a stakes.

"That was a lot of fun," trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said.

"He showed he was comfortable being down on the inside, and I was pleased with that. In the past, he might not have been that comfortable. He has more confidence in himself."

The victory has left Hollendorfer confident that Heatseeker can run well in the $750,000 Hollywood Gold Cup on June 28. The winner of the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap on March 1 for owner William de Burgh, Heatseeker is the leading older male in California.

"He looks fabulous," Hollendorfer said. "He's a versatile horse."

Lava Man vs. Champs Elysees in Whittingham

Lava Man, the winner of the Santa Anita Handicap and Hollywood Gold Cup in 2006 and 2007, will start in Saturday's $300,000 Charles Whittingham Handicap over 1 1/4 miles on turf. He won the 2006 Whittingham, but will not be favored to do so this year.

That role will go to Champs Elysees, the runner-up in the Jim Murray Memorial Handicap last month. Champs Elysees won the Grade 2 San Marcos Stakes on turf in January and was a troubled third in the Santa Anita Handicap in his main-track debut in March.

The other probable starters in the Grade 1 Whittingham are Artiste Royale, who was third in the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs on May 5; Mr. Wolverine, the winner of the Khaled Stakes for California-breds on April 27; as well as Monzante, Plug Me In, and Warning Zone.

Artiste Royale won the Grade 1 Clement Hirsch Stakes over 1 1/4 miles on turf at Santa Anita last fall, but is winless in four subsequent starts.

"The course was too soft for him at Churchill," trainer Neil Drysdale said of the Woodford Reserve.

There are three other stakes on Saturday, including the $175,000 Honeymoon Handicap. The stakes winners Bel Air Sizzle, Gorgeous Goose, Magical Fantasy, Missit, and Sweeter Still are probable starters for the Grade 2 Honeymoon, which is run over 1 1/8 miles on turf for 3-year-old fillies.

The $100,000 Ack Ack Handicap, which is run over 7 1/2 furlongs, is expected to include Rebellion, the winner of the Grade 2 Commonwealth Stakes at Keeneland in April. Rebellion was considered for the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile here on May 26 before he was sidelined briefly by a foot injury.

Wake Up Maggie, the winner of two stakes in England last year and the Long Beach Stakes on May 14, is likely to be favored in the $75,000 Redondo Beach Stakes over a mile on turf for fillies and mares.

Kilderry headed for Oceanside/

Kilderry is bound for the $100,000 Oceanside Stakes on July 16 after winning an optional claimer in Sunday's third race. Trained by Mike Mitchell, Kilderry ($3.40) ran 1 1/16 miles on turf in 1:42.22, winning by 1 1/2 lengths over 41-1 Dusty Trail.

The Oceanside, which is run over a mile for 3-year-olds, is on the opening day of the Del Mar meeting.

Kilderry was claimed for $100,000 from a win in a maiden race at Santa Anita in April. He later won a maiden special weight and finished second in an optional claimer before Sunday's race.