The Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” Zenyatta S. (G2) anchored a five-stakes Sunday card at Santa Anita.
Zenyatta S. (G2)
Bob Baffert ruled Private Mission out of the Sept. 25 Cotillion (G1) at Parx when he canceled Medina Spirit’s trip to the Pennsylvania Derby (G1). Their parallel trajectory continued this weekend in Breeders’ Cup Challenge events at their home base. Just as Medina Spirit ran away with Saturday’s Awesome Again (G1) to advance to the Classic (G1), Private Mission likewise lorded it over elders in the $201,500 Zenyatta to earn a free ride to the Distaff (G1).
The Baoma Corp. filly went off at a slightly shorter price than Medina Spirit, as the 11-10 favorite, and worked out a pace-tracking trip for Flavien Prat. Gliding forward from the gate, Private Mission let 21-1 shot Samurai Charm do the pacesetting job through fractions of :23.21 and :46.87. Samurai Charm could no longer keep up the gallop on the far turn, and Private Mission took over on her own volition by the six-furlong mark in 1:11.45.
Older stablemate As Time Goes By, the 17-10 second choice, was driven along to try to cover her move. But As Time Goes By didn’t get any closer, as Private Mission padded her margin to 2 1/4 lengths and finished 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.77.
As Time Goes By completed the Baffert exacta, with the same margin to spare over the troubled Miss Bigly in third. Stellar Sound, Lady Kate, Samurai Charm, Miss Stormy D, and the ever-trailing California Kook rounded out the order under the wire.
“Private Mission, I’m glad I stayed home with her,” Baffert told Santa Anita publicity. “I decided this would be best for her with the Breeders’ Cup in mind. We didn’t want to stress her. She’s on the improve, getting better and better. I’m really happy with the way both fillies ran.”
Prat agreed about her progression, mentioning that the Zenyatta was even better than her romp in the Aug. 21 Torrey Pines (G3), her two-turn debut versus fellow sophomores.
“She relaxed well and took a nice breather going to the three-eighths pole and ran good when I asked her to make her move,” her rider said. “I thought this race was better than last time, for sure.”
Private Mission’s only loss was a fourth in last fall’s Desi Arnaz S., and she was sidelined thereafter. The well-bred daughter of Into Mischief is making up for lost time, earning $256,800 from her 4-for-5 line.
Bred by Mt. Brilliant Broodmares in Kentucky, Private Mission sold for $750,000 as a Fasig-Tipton Saratoga yearling. She is out of the stakes-winning Unbridled mare Private Gift, who is also the dam of Grade 3-placed multiple stakes scorer Secret Someone and ancestress of Grade 1-winning millionaire Dunbar Road. Private Gift is herself a half to multiple Grade 1 star Secret Status.
Multiple Grade 1-winning millionaire Ce Ce was using the $100,000 Chillingworth (G3) as her tune-up for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1), and the 6 1/2-furlong dash was essentially a practice session.
The 1-5 favorite with Victor Espinoza, Ce Ce enjoyed the proverbial garden trip behind dueling leaders. The Michael McCarthy trainee was relaxed in third as Eyes Open and Scotish Star matched strides through splits of :21.99 and :45.15. Treating them like rabbits to be caught, Ce Ce smoothly advanced on the far turn, strode right past in the stretch, and widened under good handling in 1:16.00.
Five lengths adrift came On Deck, who rallied to grab second by a neck from Scotish Star. Proud Emma was outpaced in fourth, and Eyes Open was last of the quintet. Bella Vita was scratched.
Bo Hirsch’s homebred Ce Ce has now bankrolled $1,233,100 from her 15-7-1-3 record. The daughter of Elusive Quality scored her initial stakes coups around two turns in the 2020 Beholder Mile (G1) and Apple Blossom H. (G1), but reinvented herself as a one-turn aficionado this season. A convincing winner of the July 3 Princess Rooney (G2) at Gulfstream Park, she was coming off a third to reigning divisional champion Gamine in the Aug. 28 Ballerina (G1) at Saratoga,
“This is great – I couldn’t have written this up any better,” McCarthy said of her Chillingworth excursion. “She had a couple of easy weeks after Saratoga, I thought she was doing well enough today to do it in the fashion she did it. Especially when I wasn’t sure how the pace would wind up early. I couldn’t be happier with her. We are looking forward to getting her to Del Mar.”
The five-year-old Kentucky-bred is out of Grade 1 vixen Miss Houdini, a Belong to Me mare who is also responsible for multiple Grade 2-winning sire Papa Clem.
Promising turf two-year-olds auditioned for their respective Breeders’ Cup races in a pair of stakes. Both winners count the late Pioneerof the Nile as their paternal grandsire.
The American Pharoah colt Mackinnon extended his winning streak to three in the $202,500 Zuma Beach S., despite clipping heels on the clubhouse turn. The 6-5 favorite was shuffled further back as a consequence, but he was unfazed. Recovering position in preparation for the stretch drive, the Doug O’Neill pupil stormed past Silver Surfer to win going away by 2 1/4 lengths.
“We didn’t get the most ideal trip,” O’Neill noted. “He was a little green early, but (jockey) Juan (Hernandez) said once we got the first half-mile behind us, he settled nicely and as you could see, he finished up real well.”
“He’s getting better every race,” said Hernandez, who provided some context for why he had to check early. “He broke good, there was little speed, and he felt a little tired on the right side, so he changed leads to the right side. That’s why I had to check a little bit and decided to stay inside and save ground and make one run. He came with a huge run today.
“He’s improved a lot because the last couple of time I rode him, I had to work a little hard in the stretch with him, today I asked him a little and after that he just took off again.”
Mackinnon advertised his Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) credentials by reeling off the firm-turf mile in 1:33.80. Owned by ERJ Racing, Madaket Stables, and Dave Kenney, the chestnut colt sports a mark of 5-3-1-0, $237,860.
In the companion $203,000 Surfer Girl S., the Cairo Prince filly Cairo Memories remained unbeaten from two starts with another power-packed move. Trained by Bob Hess Jr. for David A. Bernsen and Schroeder Farms, the 4-1 chance blew the race open from just off the pace. Under Kent Desormeaux, she held sway by 2 1/4 lengths from 3-2 favorite Helens Well and finished the mile in 1:34.27.
Cairo Memories crushed her Del Mar debut by 4 1/2 lengths in blinkers, but took the headgear off Sunday as it proved superfluous. The Brereton Jones-bred will return to the scene of that maiden voyage for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1).
“She brought some new energy from her first start,” Desormeaux said. “I think she was excited. I spent more time in the post parade calming her down.
“I worked her at Del Mar and before I ever rode her I thought she was great…I was with the owners in the paddock and that was the longest wait because I wanted to see how deep the water was, and she’s shown that she could really swim.”
The Sunday opener showcased trainer Peter Miller’s newest turf sprinter, as Zero Tolerance prevailed in the $82,000 Unzip Me S. on the downhill course. A 2.90-1 chance off her maiden win, the Mizzen Mast sophomore was off a beat slow, and went wide on the turn, but had the talent to overcome it. Prat guided her to a rallying one-length victory in 1:11.67 for about 6 1/2 furlongs.
A half-sister to El Tormenta, last year’s Canadian champion turf male, Zero Tolerance was unlucky to miss by a nose in her belated unveiling at Del Mar. The gray is worth watching with a line of 3-2-1-0, $104,600.