INGLEWOOD, Calif. -- With her 2010 debut two weeks away, Zenyatta continues to impress jockey Mike Smith in her buildup to a highly anticipated spring campaign.
Friday at Hollywood Park, Zenyatta breezed six furlongs in 1:13.20 as she nears a scheduled start in the Grade 1 Santa Margarita Invitational Handicap at Santa Anita on March 13.
"That was unbelievable," Smith said, as he walked Zenyatta back to the barn. "Each work, she's getting fitter and better."
The champion older female of 2009 and 2010, Zenyatta has not raced since winning the Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita on Nov. 7, a win that extended her unbeaten streak to 14 races. Owned by Jerry and Ann Moss, Zenyatta will start in the Santa Margarita as a prep to the Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn Park on April 9, a race she won in 2008.
Rachel Alexandra, the 2009 Horse of the Year, is also being pointed for the Apple Blossom, with a scheduled start in the New Orleans Ladies Stakes at Fair Grounds on March 13. If both start in the Apple Blossom, Oaklawn Park will offer a $5 million purse.
Smith has been aboard Zenyatta for her last three workouts, all six furlong drills in February.
On Friday, Zenyatta started two lengths behind stablemate El Vino, with the pair beginning the workout at the 5 1/2-furlong pole. Zenyatta moved alongside El Vino on the outside in the stretch and pulled clear to finish 1 1/2 lengths in front. The workout ended a sixteenth of a mile past the Hollywood Park finish line.
Zenyatta finished the last quarter-mile in 24 seconds, trainer John Shirreffs said. Her final time was the fourth fastest of 15 works at the distance.
"Did you guys have as much fun watching her as I did riding?" Smith asked Shirreffs, Jerry Moss, and the Mosses' racing manager, Dottie Ingordo-Shirreffs after the workout.
Shirreffs said on Friday that Zenyatta will be ready for her comeback on March 13.
"I thought she worked really well, staying near the workmate," he said.
Moss said he was thrilled by Zenyatta's progress in recent weeks. He and Ann Moss made the decision last month leave her in training and not breed her until 2011.
"She's a delight," he said, watching her gallop out. "She does it for fun."
Life Is Sweet also makes work tab
Friday morning, Zenyatta was not the only member of the John Shirreffs all-stars on display.
Life Is Sweet, the winner of the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic last November, worked six furlongs in 1:12.60, preparing for a start in the $10 million Dubai World Cup on March 27.
Life Is Sweet worked in company with stablemate Possibly a Ten. Life Is Sweet started five lengths behind Possibly a Ten and finished a few lengths in front. Life Is Sweet has made one start this year, finishing second to St Trinians in the Grade 2 Santa Maria Handicap on Feb. 13. St Trinians will face males in the $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap on March 6.
St Trinians beat Life Is Sweet by 1 3/4 lengths in the Santa Maria over 1 1/16 miles.
"They both finished so well it's hard to be disappointed," Shirreffs said.
Shirreffs will have two runners in the Santa Anita Handicap - Neko Bay, who won the San Pasqual Handicap at Santa Anita on Jan. 9, and Mast Track who won the Grade 3 Native Diver Handicap at Hollywood Park on Dec. 12. Friday, Neko Bay worked six furlongs in 1:13.80, while Mast Track was timed in 1:12.80, the third quickest of 15 works at the distance.
The Big Cap will have a large field, with entries possibly exceeding the limit of 14 starters. The other candidates include Acclamation, Dakota Phone, Eagle Poise, Enriched, High Court Drama, Jeranimo, Loup Breton, Massone, Misremembered, Palladio, Philatelist, Pick Six, Pool Play, Tiger's Rock, and Unusual Smoke.
Black Bear Island euthanized
Black Bear Island, who won the Group 2 Dante Stakes in England in 2009 and was second in the Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes at Arlington Park last August, was euthanized on Thursday after suffering an ankle injury during a workout.
Trainer Julio Canani said the injury was too severe for the 4-year-old colt to be saved. Owned by a partnership led by former Hollywood Park chairman R.D. Hubbard, Black Bear Island was being prepared for a turf campaign this year. He had not started since finishing eighth in the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby last November.
In Europe, Black Bear Island was trained by Aidan O'Brien. Aside from the win in the Dante Stakes, Black Bear Island was 10th in the English Derby and third in the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot.