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Zenyatta the favorite in Breeders' Cup Classic

ARCADIA, Calif. (AP) - Zenyatta was made the early 5-2 favorite
Tuesday in a field of 13 for the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic,
where she'll put her 13-0 record on the line against the boys for
the first time.
Zenyatta will break from the No. 4 post in Saturday's 1¼-mile
race at Santa Anita.
She had also been pre-entered in Friday's $2 million Ladies'
Classic, which she won last year.
But owners Jerry and Ann Moss, along with trainer John
Shirreffs, had a bigger goal in mind for the 5-year-old mare, who
has won all four of her starts this year.
"There's an opportunity to make history in the Classic, that's
why we chose the Classic," Shirreffs said, referring to the fact
that no female horse has ever won in the race's 25-year history.
Zenyatta will be just the fourth female to run in the Classic.
Jolypha had the best result, finishing third in 1992. Azeri was
fourth in 2004 and Triptych was sixth in 1986.
"I believe she deserves this chance," said Hall of Fame jockey
Mike Smith, who rides Zenyatta. "If she gets her opportunity to
run her race and she runs it like I know she can, we might see
something pretty incredible."
With a victory, Zenyatta would better Personal Ensign's career
mark of 13-0 set from 1986-88. That filly retired as the first
undefeated champion in American racing in more than 80 years.
"I hope it gets more people interested," Jerry Moss said. "I
hope it gets more people watching. I hope they get to appreciate
Zenyatta for what she is - a great, unique, special equine
athlete."
Missing from America's richest race is Preakness winner Rachel
Alexandra, the 3-year-old filly who won all eight of her races this
year, including three victories over male competition.
Her owner, Jess Jackson, shut her down for the year because he
doesn't like Santa Anita's synthetic surface, where his two-time
Horse of the Year Curlin faded to fourth in last year's Classic.
Zenyatta has won 11 races on synthetic surfaces, including three
on Santa Anita's Pro-Ride. Her lone win on traditional dirt came at
Oaklawn Park in Arkansas.
She will take on a loaded field that includes 12 Grade 1
winners, including Ireland-bred Rip Van Winkle, the 7-2 early
second choice, and Summer Bird, the 9-2 third choice who swept the
Belmont, Travers and Jockey Club Gold Cup but will test himself on
synthetics for the first time.
"He's handled this from day one when we first brought him out
over the racetrack," said Tim Ice, who trains Summer Bird. "He's
feeling out-of-this-world. He's coming into this race as good as
he's come into any race."
Rip Van Winkle will try to give Europe a second straight win in
the Classic, where Raven's Pass triumphed last year and European
horse Henrythenavigator finished second.
Mine That Bird, winless in four races since his stunning upset
in the Kentucky Derby, was listed at 12-1, along with six other
horses.
Trainer Chip Woolley Jr. shrugged off his colt's long shot
status, saying, "He won the Derby at 50-1."
Trainer Bob Baffert, who will saddle Pacific Classic winner
Richard's Kid, saluted the Mosses for giving Zenyatta a shot at the
boys.
"That's pretty gutsy," he said. "That's what our sport needs.
We need a big boost right now and she's going to be our boost.
Rachel (Alexandra) carried us to a certain point and this mare is
going to the rest of the way."
The 14 races to be run Friday and Saturday for the second
consecutive year at Santa Anita are worth $25.5 million. A total of
149 horses were entered, including 30 from Europe.
Without Zenyatta, the Ladies' Classic attracted a field of
eight, led by early 9-5 favorite Music Note.
Baffert will try to repeat in the $2 million Juvenile, where his
colt Lookin at Lucky was installed as the 8-5 early favorite. He
won a year ago with Midshipman.
The Hall of Fame trainer also has the morning line favorite in
the $2 million Sprint with Zensational, who drew the No. 1 post and
is listed at 7-5. Baffert is going for his third consecutive win in
the six-furlong race.
Ireland-bred Goldikova is back to defend her title in the Mile
on the turf as the early 8-5 favorite. Two other Ireland-breds are
favorites in their races. Mastercraftsman is the 6-5 choice in the
Dirt Mile, while Conduit is listed at 7-5 in the Turf.
Ventura is the defending champion and 8-5 early favorite in the
Filly & Mare Sprint for ailing Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel,
who has been away from his stable most of the year because of an
undisclosed illness.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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