10/02/2010 6:36PM

Zenyatta runs unbeaten streak to 19 races

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Benoit & Associates
Zenyatta, racing at a distance than is less than she prefers, surged in the final sixteenth of a mile to capture the Lady's Secret, her final prep before the Breeders' Cup Classic.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Zenyatta stretched her unbeaten streak to 19 in Saturday’s $250,000 Lady’s Secret Stakes at Hollywood Park.

Fortunately for the well-being of her backers, not all of her wins have been as dramatic as Saturday’s race.

Zenyatta trailed Switch, the 3-year-old stakes winner, by two lengths with a little less than a furlong remaining and did not making a sufficient rally. Through the final sixteenth, and particularly the last 30 yards, Zenyatta lengthened her stride and took the lead, winning by a half-length to the delight of her thousands of supporters.

“It was a heart stopper,” trainer John Shirreffs said. “She does some amazing things in the last sixteenth of a mile. Her heart must be huge. She finds a little more and never gives up.”

Zenyatta’s victory equaled the 19-race modern-day winning streak of Peppers Pride, who exclusively raced in New Mexico from 2005 to 2008.

The Grade 1 Lady’s Secret was Zenyatta’s final career start in California, and her prep race for the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs on Nov. 6. Last year at Santa Anita, Zenyatta became the first female to win the BC Classic.

In Saturday’s Lady’s Secret, Zenyatta took her customary position at the back of the field in the 1 1/16-mile race. Ridden by regular rider Mike Smith, Zenyatta was last for the first six furlongs, trailing pacesetter Moon de French, who set a moderate pace of 24.67 and 48.70 seconds.

Zenyatta began making progress on the leaders at the end of the backstretch and loomed wide on the second turn. Zenyatta had moved into third by the eighth pole. At that point, Switch led by 1 1/2 lengths, having moved up from third after a half-mile. Switch, who won the Grade 2 Hollywood Oaks here in June, gave jockey Alonso Quinonez a thrill in the stretch. For a moment, Quinonez thought Switch could hold off Zenyatta.

“I didn’t think she could get me,” Quinonez said. “Then, here she came. You could feel it.”

Zenyatta ($2.20) reached the front with about 20 yards to go and won by a half-length over Switch, running 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.97.

Shirreffs admitted to being worried in the stretch.

“You never give up until they hit the wire,” he said. “Everything was a blur to me. Where’s the wire? You’re looking at her, looking at the wire. I can’t begin to describe it.”

Moon de French and Satans Quick Chick finished in a dead heat for third, 4 3/4 lengths behind Switch. Emmy Darling was last in the field of five.

Rinterval, second to Zenyatta in the Grade 1 Clement Hirsch Stakes at Del Mar on Aug. 7, was scratched in the paddock after flipping in a saddling stall, according to track stewards.

Zenyatta has earned $6,404,580 for owners Jerry and Ann Moss. The win left Jerry Moss amazed, especially since the race came over a distance that he insists is below her best.

“She keeps lengthening her stride,” he said. “A mile and a sixteenth is tough for her. The mile and a sixteenth comes up pretty fast for her. I felt like she’d get there.”