Zenyatta to take 16-0 streak on the road again

Zenyatta is going to take her winning streak on the road.

The 6-year-old mare who tied 1948 Triple Crown winner Citation

and two-time Horse of the Year Cigar with her 16th consecutive

victory, in the Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park, is going to travel

more outside of California this year.

Her trip to the resort city of Hot Springs was just her second

ever outside her home state. She won the same race on dirt two

years ago; her other 14 wins have been on synthetic surfaces in

California.

Some critics believe Zenyatta’s stay-at-home campaign cost her

Horse of the Year honors last year, when she finished runner-up to

Rachel Alexandra, who went 8 for 8 while running in six different

states.

Zenyatta will be jetting to more destinations because the

Breeders’ Cup is at Churchill Downs after two consecutive years at

Santa Anita.

“We’ve always looked at the Breeders’ Cup as our focus,” owner

Jerry Moss said. “The Breeders’ Cup, just for what it’s worth, was

in LA for two years in a row. That wasn’t our choosing. Did it make

it easier to run there and train there? Sure.”

His wife Ann added, “Would we have rather run on dirt?

Absolutely. Would we still rather run on dirt? Absolutely.”

They’ll get their wish on Churchill’s dirt track.

The Mosses and their team will plot a schedule for Zenyatta

based on the goal of having her defend her title in the $5 million

BC Classic, in which she beat the boys last year.

“We want to let everybody see her, we’re proud of her,” Moss

said. “It’s exciting when she appears somewhere. She’s a star, no

doubt about her.”

And an obliging one, too.

After trouncing four other horses by 4 1/4 lengths under an easy

gallop in Friday’s Apple Blossom, Zenyatta faced the cheering

grandstand and bowed her head twice while extending one of her

front feet as if to curtsy.

“It’s a great feeling to be around something as important as

she is,” Moss said. “It is a responsibility, it’s a great joy.

It’s just nice to have someone that’s such a crowd-pleaser.”

Moss said Zenyatta could run at Belmont Park in his native New

York and in a prep race at Churchill ahead of the Breeders’ Cup in

November. Without specifying any particular races, he said he likes

those that are Grade 1 with distances of 1 1-8 miles.

“If Rachel Alexandra wants to join us any time she’d like we’d

welcome that idea,” he said.

Racing’s other female superstar is training at Churchill Downs

after spending the winter at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans, where

she lost her season debut on March 13. That surprise result

convinced principal owner Jess Jackson to pull the plug on Rachel

Alexandra running in the Apple Blossom, which would have carried a

$5 million purse if both she and Zenyatta had competed.

There is speculation that Rachel Alexandra’s next start may be

the $400,000 La Troienne Stakes on the April 30 Kentucky Oaks

undercard. But no one in her camp has confirmed she’ll run in the 1

1-16-mile race.

Trainer Steve Asmussen saddled War Echo in the Apple Blossom,

but he declined to discuss Rachel Alexandra after his horse

finished last to Zenyatta.

He shook hands with Zenyatta’s jockey Mike Smith beforehand, and

afterward said, “That was incredible.”

Zenyatta ran five races last year, two fewer than in 2008. Both

years she won the Vanity and Milady handicaps at Hollywood Park,

her home track. Under handicap conditions, Zenyatta could be forced

to carry the highest weight because of her impressive record. The

Grade 2 Milady at 1 1-16 miles is May 16; the Grade 1 Vanity at 1

1-8 miles is June 13.

“Whatever they weight her for that will probably determine

whether we ship again,” trainer John Shirreffs said. “If you have

to ship all the time to run, it makes it difficult to have too many

races.”

Zenyatta’s immediate destination is a return to Hollywood Park.

She spent her final day at Oaklawn on Saturday calmly posing for

photos with a stream of visitors to her barn.

“I think wherever we go, people will be happy to see

Zenyatta,” Moss said.

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