Zenyatta takes the G2 Milady Handicap with a hand ride.
Zenyatta overcame being bumped at the start of the Grade 2 Milady Handicap at Hollywood Park on Saturday, as well as extremely slow early fractions to waltz away under a hand ride from jockey Michael E. Smith while running her unbeaten record to 5 for 5 lifetime.
“She was squeezed at the start and I just did not want her to fall,” Smith said. “I knew if she stayed up she was going to be tough to beat. Amazing. All I can say is amazing. There are no words in my vocabulary to describe her.”
“She’s special,” Shirreffs said of his powerful filly. “She was lucky because she got really squeezed coming out of the gate, and Mike was saying he just closed his eyes and hoped she didn’t clip heels. She picked up her feet and got over it alright. She’s breaking better and is a little lighter on her feet. “
Right out of the gate Zenyattawas knocked around by Romance is Diane and Double Trouble. The crew covering the race on TVG noted how Romance is Diane and Double Trouble seemed to bounce off of Zenyatta, who appeared totally unfazed by the contact. This may be no surprise to some, as Zenyatta is an absolutely enormous specimen, and is rumored to be nearly 17 hands.
Trailing the field into the stretch, Zenyatta responded by chewing up ground when asked by Smith. With absolute ease she coasted past her challengers, and then cruised straight to the finish line without so much as a tap from the whip. Perhaps most impressively, despite the slow early fractions of 24.74 and 48.19, Zenyatta wound up covering the 1 1/16 miles of the Milady Handicap in 1:41.17 – or roughly a half second off from the track record.
The daughter of Street Cry prevailed by 2 1/2 lengths over Santa Teresita and returned $2.60 for the win. Kris’ Sis got up in time for third. Zenyatta has now defeated her opponents in all 5 lifetime starts by a combined 15 1/2 lengths.
Her rise to fame has also coincided nicely with the creation of this blog. One of my initial handicapping posts gave out Zenyatta as a contender in her maiden race – most likely the most value we’ll ever catch on her at 5/1. Watching her meteoric rise to fame as perhaps the top older female in the country has been extremely entertaining thus far.
If you were not a Zenyatta fan before Saturday, I strongly suggest you take notice. She’s blown away everything she’s faced thus far, including the mare many will say is the 2nd best in the country at the moment, Ginger Punch. According to the article from Bloodhorse linked to above, Zenyatta will next point to the Grade 1 Vanity Handicap on July 15.
Perhaps most touching of all, after the race Smith stated that Zenyatta had “told him she wanted to dedicate this race to Nashoba’s Key.”