08/03/2010 1:50PM

Zenyatta's last time before home fans?

Tom Keyser
Oak Tree renamed the Lady's Secret Stakes in honor of Zenyatta (above).

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – The $300,000 Clement Hirsch Stakes on Saturday may be the last career start in California for Zenyatta, if the undefeated two-time champion runs as expected in the Grade 1 race at Del Mar.
While watching Zenyatta jog and gallop on Hollywood Park’s main track on Tuesday, trainer John Shirreffs said the popular 6-year-old mare was scheduled to be entered for the Hirsch on Wednesday, with a decision on her participation to be finalized after she trains on Del Mar’s Polytrack synthetic surface on Thursday and Friday.
“We won’t know until Thursday or Friday what we’ll do,” he said.
Unbeaten in 17 starts, Zenyatta, who races for Jerry and Ann Moss, will be retired after this season. After the Hirsch, she will race in early October and then attempt to defend her title in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs in November. Zenyatta became the first female to win the BC Classic at Santa Anita last year.
One possibility for October is the $350,000 Beldame Stakes at Belmont Park on Oct. 2, or the $250,000 Zenyatta Breeders’ Cup Stakes at the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting the same day. The Zenyatta Stakes was formerly known as the Lady’s Secret Stakes until the race was renamed last year following Zenyatta’s win in the BC Classic and retirement. Jerry and Ann Moss reversed that decision in January, giving Zenyatta another season of racing. Zenyatta has won three Grade 1 races this year.
Asked if the Hirsch could be Zenyatta’s farewell start in California, Shirreffs said, “It could be.”
Shirreffs has expressed reservations about running Zenyatta at Del Mar, but has arranged her training in recent weeks to prepare for Saturday’s race. Zenyatta has won the Hirsch the last two years, but won last year by a head, the smallest margin of her wins.
Shirreffs said he is anxious to see how the Del Mar track responds to a power harrowing procedure conducted earlier this week that mixes the top layer of the surface and is designed to eliminate compaction.
“Everything is different all the time,” Shirreffs said. “I know they’re doing a power harrow there, so we’ll see.”
Regarding her recent training, Shirreffs said Zenyatta is approaching the Hirsch in ideal form, following a six-furlong workout in 1:13.60 last Friday.
“The work was absolutely flawless,” he said. “She couldn’t have gone any better.”