HOLLYWOOD OAKS | PURSE: $150,000 | GRADE: 2 | 3-YEAR-OLDS | 1 1/16 MILES
INGLEWOOD, Calif. -- Zazu was behind pacesetter Wallstreeter and Kentucky Oaks winner Plum Pretty on the final turn of Saturday's $147,000 Hollywood Oaks when jockey Joel Rosario decided he would stay inside in early stretch.
There was just enough room to sneak through, so tight that it appeared Zazu almost hit the rail, but the ground-saving move turned out to be successful. Closing steadily in the final sixteenth, Zazu ($4.20) caught 3-5 Plum Pretty and won the Grade 2 Hollywood Oaks by 1 1/2 lengths.
Zazu ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.36. Plum Pretty held second, finishing 4 1/4 lengths in front of Love Theway Youare, who was clear of Wallstreeter in the field of four 3-year-old fillies.
Rosario said his filly did not hit the rail, but came very close. "Maybe a little bit," he said.
Turning for home, I was waiting," he said. "I knew the horse in front was done. I waited for her to come out and I moved up."
Zazu won her second major stakes of the year in the Hollywood Oaks, having won the Grade 1 Las Virgenes Stakes at Santa Anita in February. She was later second in the Santa Anita Oaks and third to Plum Pretty in the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs on May 6, losing that race by 2 3/4 lengths.
Zazu and Plum Pretty had vastly different weeks leading up to the Hollywood Oaks. Plum Pretty was an intended starter in Saturday's Grade 1 Mother Goose Stakes at Belmont Park, but trainer Bob Baffert did not put her on a plane early in the week after she was found to have an elevated temperature.
Plum Pretty recovered quickly, Baffert said, enough for the Hall of Fame trainer to enter her for the Hollywood Oaks on Wednesday. He waited until Saturday morning to confirm her participation in the race.
By comparison, Zazu had no mishaps in the days leading to the race.
Plum Pretty was second for the first six furlongs of the Hollywood Oaks and took the lead on the turn. She led by a half-length with a furlong remaining and lost for the first time since a third in the Las Virgenes Stakes. "She doesn't have a kick," Baffert said. "Zazu is a nice filly. She got beat."
Zazu, by Tapit, has won 3 of 9 starts and $472,985 for owners Jerry and Ann Moss and trainer John Sadler.
Sadler was quick to praise Rosario's ride, specifically the way he kept Zazu within four or five lengths of the leaders on the backstretch. "I left it up to him," Sadler said. "I said, 'You may have to move a little early.' It was a heckuva ride by Joel. He cut the corner, and that made the difference."