02/18/2010 12:00AM

Zenyatta work 'absolutely beautiful'


ARCADIA, Calif. - Zenyatta breezed six furlongs in 1:14 at Hollywood Park on Thursday, leaving trainer John Shirreffs with glowing compliments about the condition of his unbeaten champion.

"She just galloped around there," he said. "She looked absolutely beautiful."

Zenyatta worked in company with El Vino, an unraced 4-year-old. El Vino worked six furlongs in 1:14.20. Shirreffs said Zenyatta worked in company "just to keep her comfortable with horses around her. I usually work her with another horse."

Zenyatta has not started since winning at Santa Anita last November. She is scheduled to make her 2010 debut in the $250,000 Santa Margarita Invitational Handicap over 1 1/8 miles at Santa Anita on March 13.

The Santa Margarita is a prep for the Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn Park on April 9, when Zenyatta is scheduled to have an eagerly awaited showdown with 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra.

Owned by Jerry and Ann Moss, Zenyatta was the champion older female of 2008 and 2009 and is unbeaten in 14 starts. Zenyatta was a finalist for Horse of the Year in 2009.

Dubai World Cup still on Life Is Sweet's radar

Shirreffs said Life Is Sweet, the winner of last Saturday.

Making her first start since the Breeders' Cup in the Santa Maria, Life Is Sweet closed from last in a field of six and finished 1 3/4 lengths behind St Trinians.

"We're leaning a little toward Dubai," Shirreffs said.

Mullins filly leads strong China Doll field

It takes a filly with a habit for winning to rank among the top contenders for Saturday's $60,000 China Doll Stakes.

The field for the one-mile turf race comprises eight 3-year-old fillies, including In the Slips, the winner of the Blue Norther Stakes here Jan. 1; Andina, the winner of an optional claimer Jan. 29; and Bab At the Bowster, who won two handicap races for 2-year-olds in England last fall.

In the Slips will go favored. Trained by Jeff Mullins for Michael House, she was second in the Grade 3 Miesque Stakes at Hollywood Park in November.

Mullins said he would like to try a different race strategy and have jockey Victor Espinoza keep In the Slips closer to the leaders on the final turn than Garrett Gomez did in the Blue Norther, in which In the Slips rallied late to win by a head. Gomez is riding at Oaklawn Park on Saturday.

"I think she needs to make her move a little sooner," Mullins said.

Ben Cecil trains Bab At the Bowster and Andina. Like Mullins, Cecil said he is hoping wet weather will not interfere with the surface used for the China Doll.

"I would hope it stays on the grass," he said.

Andina is unbeaten in two starts in the U.S., having won a maiden race last October.

"She's lightly raced, and she's improved," Cecil said. "This will be her first time to put together two races relatively close together. She's done well since the last race."

Bab At the Bowster, purchased last year for approximately $185,000, won 3 of 5 starts in England, all over seven furlongs on turf.

"She was a little rank in a couple of races [in England], and we've tried to get her to relax," Cecil said.

Track to be aerated after Friday races

Track superintendent Richard Tedesco said a half-inch to an inch of rain is expected from late Friday into Saturday. As a precaution, he said, the track will be aerated after the races Friday in an effort to ensure drainage.

Santa Anita has lost four days of racing at this meeting because of poor drainage on its Pro-Ride brand synthetic track.

Tedesco said a plastic tarp will be placed on a portion of the track, near the winner's circle, that has caused the most drainage problems in recent weeks. He said an assessment on whether training will be conducted on the main track Saturday morning will be made before dawn that day.