News and notes from around the Thoroughbred racing world, compiled by NTRA Communications.
ZENYATTA, GOLDIKOVA TOP HISTORIC BREEDERS’ CUP WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
Continuing her incredible quest for a 20th consecutive victory in Saturday’s $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, the undefeated Zenyatta has been installed as the 8-5 morning line favorite for the race to be run at 1 ¼ miles on the dirt at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. Under regular jockey Mike Smith, Zenyatta will break from post 8 in the field of 12.
A total of 14 Breeders’ Cup races will be run on Friday and Saturday, with aggregate purses of $26 million. Six events will take place on Friday, topped by the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic. Eight will be run on Sunday, including the $2 million TVG Breeders’ Cup Mile, the $3 million Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Turf, and the $5 million Classic. ESPN2 will televise Friday’s proceedings live from 4:00-8:00 p.m. (ET), while ABC provide live coverage of Saturday’s races from 1:30-3:30 p.m. (ET) before passing the baton to ESPN for live coverage from 3:30-7:00 p.m. (ET). The portion of the telecast featuring Zenyatta’s race in the Classic (6:15 -7:00 p.m. ET) will be presented by ESPN without commercial interruption.
In perhaps the most dramatic moment in Breeders’ Cup history, Zenyatta came from last to first to win the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Classic, becoming the first female to capture the race, and the first horse to win two different Breeders’ Cup races. (In 2008, she was the winner of the Ladies’ Classic.) Brought out of a brief retirement by her owners Jerry and Ann Moss, Zenyatta returned as a 6-year-old mare this year and has won all five of her starts to increase her unbeaten streak to 19 consecutive races. Tiznow, in 2000 and 2001, is the only horse to win back-to-back Classics.
“This is a great celebration,” said Zenyatta’s trainer, John Shirreffs. “She’s the love of our lives. She’s the fantasy. She’s everything we ever could have wanted, and to share her with everybody is just incredible. I don’t know how to describe the feeling when you bring her over for a race, you can feel the anticipation and energy.”
If Zenyatta is to repeat and stretch her record to 20-0 on Saturday, she will have to do it against one of the strongest Classic fields ever assembled. Among her opponents are Blame, winner of the Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs and the Whitney Handicap at Saratoga; the Bob Baffert-trained Lookin at Lucky, the nation’s top 3-year-old, who won the Preakness Stakes, the Haskell Invitational and the Indiana Derby; and the 4-year-old Quality Road, who has registered sparkling victories in the Donn Handicap, the Metropolitan Handicap and the Woodward Stakes.
Zenyatta is not the only superstar shooting for an unprecedented third consecutive Breeders’ Cup win Saturday. Alain and Gerard Wertheimer’s 5-year-old Goldikova is seeking her third consecutive victory in the $2 million TVG Breeders’ Cup Mile on turf, leading the charge of overseas participants in this year’s Breeders’ Cup. Goldikova, trained by Freddie Head, has won four of five starts this year, three of them over males in the Prix d’Ispahan at Longchamp, the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot, and most recently, the Prix de la Foret at Longchamp.
Another Saturday highlight is the Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Turf, a mile-and-a-half grass race that is scheduled to feature recent Arc de Triomphe winner Workforce (GB). No horse has ever won the Arc, Europe’s premier grass race, and the Breeders’ Cup Turf. Five previous Arc winners have tried, but to no avail.
On Friday, for the first time, the Breeders’ Cup will finish under the lights, and the focus will be on the female races, headlined by the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic at 1 1/8 miles. Leading the field is the fast closing 3-year-old filly Blind Luck, who has won five races this year, including the Kentucky Oaks, the Delaware Oaks and the Alabama Stakes for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.