08/08/2010 4:35PM

Zenyatta's next stop could be the Zenyatta Stakes

Benoit & Associates
Zenyatta, with Mike Smith up, could make her next start in the Zenyatta Breeders' Cup Stakes, formerly the Lady's Secret Stakes, on Oct. 2.

DEL MAR, Calif. - Zenyatta may run in the Zenyatta Stakes in her next start.

A day after the wildly popular 6-year-old mare extended her unbeaten record to 18 races in Saturday’s $300,000 Clement Hirsch Stakes at Del Mar, trainer John Shirreffs hinted that Zenyatta will make her next start in Southern California in October.

The most likely spot is the $250,000 Zenyatta Breeders’ Cup Stakes at the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting Oct. 2. The Zenyatta Stakes was previously known as the Lady’s Secret Stakes when Zenyatta won the race in 2008 and 2009. The race was renamed in Zenyatta’s honor by Oak Tree officials last fall after owners Jerry and Ann Moss announced Zenyatta was retired following her historic win in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, the first time a female had won that race.

Oak Tree officials stuck with the plan to call the race the Zenyatta Stakes even after the Mosses reversed their decision in January and said Zenyatta would race this year.

Sunday, Shirreffs said Zenyatta will remain in the female division for her next start.

"We'll follow the script as much as possible as we did last year," he said.

In 2009, Zenyatta won the Hirsch Stakes and the Lady's Secret Stakes as preps for the Breeders' Cup Classic. This year's BC Classic at Churchill Downs on Nov. 6 will be Zenyatta's final career start.

Shirreffs seemed cool to the idea of sending Zenyatta to Belmont Park for the $350,000 Beldame Stakes on Oct. 2, saying he did not want to be away from his horses for too long.

"The only thing that concerns me is if I go to New York, do I go directly to Kentucky?" he said. "And how long do I stay away from the [California] stable? I'm not a good telephone trainer. We have to decide the best decision."

Zenyatta was scheduled to be shipped to Shirreffs's year-round base at Hollywood Park on Tuesday and will be walked this week. Later this month, she will begin more extensive training for her October race.

"Now we have some spacing between races," Shirreffs said.

Sunday's Clement Hirsch Stakes was Zenyatta's 12th win in a Grade 1. Making her fourth start of 2010, Zenyatta closed from fifth to finish a neck in front of Rinterval, who set a slow early pace of 25.41 and 50.61 seconds. Zenyatta finished 1 1/16 miles in 1:45.03.

Jockey Mike Smith said Sunday that Zenyatta began to pull herself up when she made the lead in the final furlong.

"She thought the job was done," Smith said. "For as slow as they went, I know her, and she was out for a good cruise."

When Smith brought Zenyatta back to be unsaddled, he took her a sixteenth of a mile up the track, showing her off to an enthusiastic on-track crowd of 32,536 before taking her into the winner's circle.

The crowd's reaction left Shirreffs overwhelmed.

"When she came back, they really had a chance to show their appreciation," Shirreffs said. "No trophy can replace that."