Zenyatta zeroing in on G1 Hirsch


INGLEWOOD, Calif. -- A decision on whether Zenyatta will start in the $300,000 Clement Hirsch Stakes at Del Mar on Aug. 7 will be made before entries are due on Wednesday, and indications are that the undefeated two-time champion will start in that Grade 1 race.

Friday at Hollywood Park, Zenyatta worked six furlongs in 1:13.60 under jockey Mike Smith, a workout designed to have her ready for the Clement Hirsch, which is run over 1 1/16 miles. Furthermore, trainer John Shirreffs said there are few other races in the near future that are suitable for Zenyatta's 18th career start.

"My only influence is that we want to run her a couple of times in preparation for the Breeders' Cup," Shirreffs said after the workout. "The options aren't that many."

Shirreffs said the decision on whether Zenyatta will start will be made in consultation with owners Jerry and Ann Moss. Jerry Moss attended Friday's workout at Hollywood Park.

Shirreffs said that how his horses perform on the Del Mar Polytrack in the next few days will influence whether Zenyatta runs in the Hirsch. On Sunday, Shirreffs starts Breakmark in a maiden claimer and Scenic Blast in the Grade 1 Bing Crosby Stakes.

"Everybody has to feel good about it," Shirreffs said of running Zenyatta in the Hirsch.

On Friday, the connections of Rachel Alexandra said her next start would come in the Personal Ensign Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 29. Shirreffs said that race is not being considered for Zenyatta, but that the $350,000 Beldame Stakes at Belmont Park on Oct. 2 is a "possibility." Zenyatta has not started since she won the Grade 1 Vanity Handicap at Hollywood Park on June 13.

If Zenyatta starts in the Clement Hirsch, she will spend the first half of the week training at Hollywood Park, where she is based year-round, and be sent to Del Mar most likely on Wednesday. "I'll take her down as late as I possibly can," Shirreffs said. "I would want to school her one day."

Zenyatta has won the last two runnings of the Clement Hirsch and appears to be approaching the race this year in peak form. Friday, she worked in company with Galayo, a 4-year-old maiden half-brother to 2005 Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo and the 2007 Santa Anita Derby winner Tiago. Galayo has not started since December 2008.

When the workout began, Zenyatta was in front for a few strides, but was quickly passed by Galayo, who led by four lengths on the turn. Zenyatta caught her stablemate in early stretch, drawing off to finish about six lengths in front. Sherriffs timed Zenyatta galloping out seven furlongs in 1:27.19. Galayo was timed in 1:15.40.

"I thought that was a really good work," Shirreffs said. "She does it so easily. She was really relaxed today."