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Belmont Friday Stakes
Jockey Mike Smith celebrates aboard Zenyatta after winning the Ladies' Classic
The $2 million Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic (G1), formerly known as the Distaff, is the highlight of the new "Ladies' Day" format for Championship Friday at the World Championships. 31,257 fans were on hand at a sun-drenched Santa Anita Park in California, braving the dry 90-degree heat. A field of 8 assembled for the Ladies' Classic, but the eyes of the racing world were on undefeated, locally based Zenyatta, sent off as the 1-2 choice off her 3 1/2 length romp in the Lady's Secret at Santa Anita. In to challenge the John Shirreffs stable star included 6-1 second choice Carriage Trail, winner of the Spinster at Keeneland last out, and 8-1 third choice Cocoa Beach, winner of the Beldame at Belmont Park.
Zenyatta circles the field in the stretch, quickly moving from last to first.
Canadian hope Bear Now was sent to the front by regular rider Eurico Rosa da Silva and she set a pace of 23.71, 48.08, and 1:11.08 while as many as 1 1/2 lengths in front of 61-1 Santa Teresita who stalked her in second. Turning for home, the two pacesetters tired, while jockey Mike Smith aboard Zenyatta, who was unhurried at the tail end of the field early, asked the daughter of Street Cry for run and got it. Zenyatta circled the field 6 wide into the lane and took over the lead with 3/16 of a mile remaining. She pulled away late to win by 1 1/2 lengths over late-running Cocoa Beach in 1:46.85, just 0.05 seconds off the track record. It was another 1 1/2 lengths back to 9-1 Music Note third.
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 1 Zenyatta Smith 3.00 2.60 2.10 3 Cocoa Beach Dominguez 4.60 3.80 4 Music Note Castellano 3.80 Winning Time: 1:46.85 $1 Exacta 1-3 6.70 $1 Trifecta 1-3-4 34.30 $1 Superfecta 1-3-4-5 116.80Results chart
Right: Owner Jerry Moss, jockey Mike Smith, and trainer John Shirreffs celebrate at the trophy presentation. Shirreffs said, "Having a horse like Zenyatta is obviously very special. Jerry loves the Yankees, so I think of Mario Rivera, right, the stopper. So Zenyatta's the ultimate stopper. Whatever's going on, you can always look to her, and something fantastic's going to happen. So she's just like the ray of sunshine in whatever cloudiness may come our way."
Two views of Zenyatta in the post parade. Winning jockey Mike Smith said, "People always try to compare Azeri, Inside Information, all the great mares that I've ridden, to Zenyatta. I don't think it's fair, because in their time they were unbeatable. I don't like to compare them. Zenyatta has the size over all those other fillies, and she seems to do things easier than they did. But during their time, there was no one to beat those fillies. So I don't really care to compare them. As far as going (6) wide, I really only came wide to make my run. I wasn't really wide around the turn. I was the last horse making the run, so I'm not concerned about going wide. Who is going to run by me and get through? I've already passed everybody."
Zenyatta heads back to the barn after the race. Winning owner Jerry Moss was asked if he would run Zenyatta in the Classic if it was possible. He answered, "Well, I don't think so. You know, she's never run a mile and a quarter before. And to do it against the best horses in the world, that would be tough. Besides, we've got a pretty good chance tomorrow. We think we've got a really nice horse in that race (Tiago, who finished third)."
Left: Second place finisher Cocoa Beach gallops out after the finish. Her jockey Ramon Dominguez said, "I was just second best today. I was real proud of the way she ran. I felt the winner moving on the outside. I knew she was going to be circling horses. I just tried to save ground and give my horse her best shot, but she was just second best."
Right: Third place finisher Music Note returns after the race with stablemate Cocoa Beach. Her jockey Javier Castellano said, "I had the perfect trip, right where I wanted to be. I was following horses all the way around and happy with my spot. At the quarter pole, I wanted to get the jump and I did. But then I saw the big filly go by. She just went. She was much the best today. My filly ran great, but we got beat."
Saeed bin Suroor, trainer of both Cocoa Beach and Music Note said, "We're happy with how they ran. That is a star filly they ran behind. It's hard to beat a horse like that. They both ran very well."
Sixth place finisher and last year's Distaff winner Ginger Punch coming on to the track before the race and returning to be unsaddled after the race. Her jockey Rafael Bejarano said, "She didn't like the track at all. She, herself, feels fine. There's nothing wrong with her. But she must have changed leads four or five times down the backstretch. She had her head cocked like she wanted to go to the outside and was just very uncomfortable. It seemed like she was jumping. She didn't show me anything."
Left: Zenyatta trails as they come down the stretch the first time. She was as far as 8 1/2 lengths off the lead early on.
Right: Zenyatta making her wide move around the turn. Unfortunately, this one was such an extreme zoom that I couldn't make a larger version but still wanted to be able to show just how she circled the field as it was quite an impressive move.
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