The Brock Talk

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Zenyatta, Mine That Bird Top Big Names In Big Weekend

Just as we're getting over the excitement of Super Saturday at Belmont Park, Summer Bird, Sea the Stars, Lookin at Lucky and everthing else grand last week, here we go with Zenyatta, Mine That Bird and a host of other stars and great races this weekend.

Like the Norfolk Stakes (gr. 1) last week at Santa Anita's Oak Tree, the Champagne Stakes (gr. 1) at Belmont has championship implications, Breeders' Cup Juvenile implications and alerts the CDC offices in Atlanta of the first signs of Kentucky Derby fever which hits pandamic levels each spring in America. Fans watching the 2-year-old fillies in the Frizette at Belmont and Alcibiades at Keeneland will be wondering if they might be gettng their first glimpse of the next Princess Rooney, Meadow Star or Rachel Alexandra. Grade 1 races are scattered throughout the world on turf, dirt, Polytrack and Pro-Ride.

Zenyatta has the most on the line this weekend when she tries to equal the unbeaten streak of the great Personal Ensign by winning her 13th straight in the $300,000 Ladies Secret Stakes at Santa Anita. She'll face her usual cast of challengers plus one in the Ladies Secret, but it is a cast that seems to be getting closer to pulling an upset. Zenyatta barely won her last race, the Clement L. Hirsch Stakes (gr. 1) at Del Mar, by a head over Anabaa's Creation and Lethal Heat.

But perhaps her biggest competition will come from Life Is Sweet, who lives just a few stalls down from Zenyatta in trainer John Sherriffs barn. Life Is Sweet returns to Santa Anita's Pro-Ride where she won the El Encino (gr. II), La Canada (gr. II) and Santa Margarita Handicap (gr. I) consecutively earlier this year for Shirreffs. Zenyatta defeated Life Is Sweet in both the grade 1 Milady at Hollywood Park and in the Hirsch at Del Mar. But Life Is Sweet is perhaps more comfortable on Santa Anita's Pro-Ride surface.

The "plus one" will be an old nemisis from last year's Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic when Cocao Beach returns to Southern California from New York. Although runner-up to Zenyatta in the Breeders' Cup and later the winner of the grade 1 Matriarch at Hollywood Park, Cocao Beach has since been a bit shuffled back in the Godolphin Stables behind Beldame (gr. 1) winner Music Note. Last year Cocao Beach won the Beldame, but the New York race was given to Music Note - who won the race easily last Saturday - and Cocao Beach was shipped to Santa Anita for the Ladies Secret.

Like Summer Bird last Saturday in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, Mine That Bird will be facing older horses for the first time in the $350,000 Goodwood Stakes (gr. 1) at Santa Anita Saturday. It will be his first start since finishing third in the West Virginia Derby in August. He has not won since his surprising victory in the Kentucky Derby, but was a troubled second in the Preakness behind Rachel Alexandra and third in a mistimed ride by Calvin Borel in the Belmont Stakes. Mine That Bird, the king of equine adversity, also missed the Shadwell Travers (gr. 1) due to throat surgery. Summer Bird of course, won the Travers.

Borel reunites with Mine That Bird for the second time in the Goodwood where they will face Pacific Classic (gr. 1) upset winner Richard's Kid, San Diego Handicap (gr. 1) winner Informed as well as Chocolate Candy and 2008 Santa Anita Derby (gr. 1) and Travers Stakes (gr. 1) winner Colonel John. This will be the fifth rider change among three jockeys in seven races this year for Mine That Bird.

No comments: