10/03/2010 1:45PM

Zenyatta to train in California for BC Classic

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Benoit & Associates
Zenyatta runs her career record to a perfect 19 for 19 in Saturday's Grade 1 Lady's Secret Stakes at Hollywood Park.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Zenyatta was on a personal public-relations mission on the Hollywood Park backstretch Sunday, a day after she extended her unbeaten streak to 19 races with a thrilling finish in the $250,000 Lady’s Secret Stakes.

Zenyatta was walked at trainer John Shirreffs’s barn early Sunday morning and then was taken out a second time to graze in a small patch of grass outside the barn. It was then that Zenyatta was the subject of hundreds of photos from a revolving group of well-wishers, including several owners and trainers, who dropped by the stable.

Saturday’s Grade 1 Lady’s Secret Stakes was Zenyatta’s final start in California and her final race before a trip to Kentucky for the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic over 1 1/4 miles at Churchill Downs on Nov. 6. Last year, Zenyatta became the first female to win that race against males when it was run at Santa Anita. She won the 2009 Lady’s Secret as a prep to that race. In 2008, Zenyatta won the Lady’s Secret as a prep for the BC Ladies’ Classic.

In Saturday’s Lady’s Secret, Zenyatta closed from last in a field of five to beat the 3-year-old filly Switch by a half-length. Zenyatta trailed by three lengths at the eighth pole and by about two lengths with a sixteenth of a mile remaining. She rallied to take the lead in the final 25 yards.

“You can tell when she puts in gear, she just lowers her head and goes vroom,” Shirreffs said.

Her winning rally was met with an enthusiastic response by an ontrack crowd of 25,837.

“It’s so much fun to feel the energy of the crowd and the excitement,” Shirreffs said Sunday morning.

Zenyatta was timed in 1:42.97 and ran the last sixteenth in approximately 5.7 seconds.

“She just put it in gear,” Shirreffs said.

After the race, winning jockey Mike Smith stressed that the race distance of 1 1/16 miles is at the lower end of Zenyatta’s best trip.

“I was a little concerned with the distance,” he said. “I felt pretty confident through the lane. I was starting to hit my best stride toward the end, and she galloped out strong.”

Owned by Jerry and Ann Moss, Zenyatta will remain in Southern California through the end of October, Shirreffs said Sunday. She is likely to have her workouts for the BC Classic at Hollywood Park and ship to Churchill Downs early on the week of the Breeders’ Cup.

“Not knowing what the weather will be [in Kentucky], we’ll probably wait and go late,” Shirreffs said.

While the small crowd gathered outside the barn to admire Zenyatta, Shirreffs went about his morning, walking to and from the racetrack to observe his team’s last workouts of the day. Earlier in the morning, he stood before Zenyatta’s stall and admired the mare who was furiously pawing the ground, anxious to get out for a walk.

“She shown so many dimensions,” Shirreffs said. “She’s truly a blessing.”