07/05/2008 12:00AM

Zenyatta stands in everyone's way


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Tough Tiz's Sis has had a fine career so far - 7 wins in 17 starts, a Grade 1 win, and earnings of $627,792. Shame she won't be adding to that win total in Saturday's $300,000 Vanity Handicap at Hollywood Park.

"I think we're all running for second money," said Bob Baffert, who trains Tough Tiz's Sis.

Such is the outlook for horsemen in the Vanity, a race led by the remarkable Zenyatta. Unbeaten in five starts, including three stakes, Zenyatta will be heavily favored to win her second Grade 1 in the Vanity, which is run at 1 1/8 miles. So far, she has been untested, winning all of her races by at least 1 3/4 lengths.

Trained by John Shirreffs for Jerry and Ann Moss, Zenyatta, 4, is the 124-pound topweight in the Vanity, carrying 3 to 11 pounds more than her six rivals. She faces such accomplished fillies as Tough Tiz's Sis and the Canadian invader Sealy Hill.

Zenyatta should get a good trip. She is best when stalking the pace and unleashing a rally from the three-furlong pole, a strategy jockey Mike Smith is almost certain to employ.

"It's a matter of when you tell her to catch them," Smith said. "When you tell her, she's there. She seems to break and get into a long stride."

Smith has ridden Zenyatta in two of her three stakes wins - the Apple Blossom Handicap in April and the Milady Handicap in May. David Flores rode Zenyatta in the El Encino Stakes in January. Smith does not feel Zenyatta has reached her limit of ability.

"Hopefully we won't find out," Smith said. "She could be a bottomless filly. I think all of her races have been amazing."

The distance is a new test for Zenyatta, but not a concern to Shirreffs.

"I think it will be in her favor," he said. "She's a big filly and she takes time to get moving. Once she gets her legs out in front of her, she can make up the ground."

Zenyatta is likely to be rated in the middle of the field for the first half of the race, chasing the speedy Silver Z, who is making her graded stakes debut, and Fleetheart, who was third in the Desert Stormer Handicap for sprinters in May.

Tough Tiz's Sis will not be far off the pace. She used that style to win the Grade 1 Lady's Secret Stakes at the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting last fall and two stakes this year, the Harry Henson Handicap at Sunland Park and the Grade 3 Hawthorne Handicap here on May 4. Tough Tiz's Sis has been first or second in her last five starts, following a seventh in the Breeders' Cup Distaff at Monmouth Park last October.

"Tough Tiz's Sis is very consistent," Baffert said. "Zenyatta, if she brings her 'A' game, she's tough to beat. If she doesn't bring her 'A' game, you have to be ready. On paper, we can't beat her, but funny things happen in racing. We're in a position to win, but we have to be lucky."