10/29/2010 1:41PM

Zenyatta impresses with gallop as final drill nears

Benoit & Associates
Zenyatta, shown working earlier this summer, is "training really forwardly," said exercise rider Steve Willard.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Zenyatta galloped approximately 1 1/2 miles on the main track at Hollywood Park on Friday, continuing a week-long theme of exercising with enthusiasm under rider Steve Willard.

Unbeaten in 19 starts and the favorite for the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs on Nov. 6, Zenyatta was scheduled to have her final workout at Hollywood Park on Saturday. She will be flown to Churchill Downs on Tuesday.

As Zenyatta walked off the track following Friday’s gallop, Willard emphasized how impressed he has been with her recent activity.

“Is superb adequate enough?” Willard said, describing the gallop. “Judging by her aggressiveness, she’s training really forwardly. If I gave her her head, she’d go [three furlongs] in 35 and change. Her mind is in a different place.”

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Trainer John Shirreffs was not at Hollywood Park on Friday. He was at Keeneland where another of his Breeders’ Cup horses, Harmonious, had a workout in advance of the BC Filly and Mare Turf at Churchill Downs on Friday.

When Zenyatta arrives at Churchill Downs, it will be her second journey to the track, but the first time she will race there. She was sent there in April 2009 for the Louisville Breeders’ Cup Handicap but did not start because of wet conditions on race day.

Willard exercised Zenyatta in the days leading up to that race and said she handled the dirt surface at Churchill Downs without difficulty. Of Zenyatta’s 19 races, 17 have been on synthetic tracks in Southern California, with the two other on a dirt track at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark.

“I know she’ll handle it because she handled it last time we were there,” Willard said of Churchill Downs. “The track is similar to Hot Springs. She got it over it terrific.”