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This Sunday’s $200,000 Zenyatta Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita Park will round out a busy weekend of Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” events. The final west coast prep for the Longines Distaff has drawn a field of six fillies and mares, each looking to stamp her ticket to the big event on the first weekend in November.
The top four finishers from the Clement L. Hirsch Stakes (G1) at Del Mar are entered for a rematch and are led by that race’s winner, Ollie’s Candy. She earned her berth in the Longines Distaff thanks to that “Win and You’re In” event at Del Mar. The 4-year-old daughter of Candy Ride’s win came in her first dirt start since winning the local Summertime Oaks (G2) last season. She was able to set the early pace without much pressure in the Hirsch, and that is exactly what could happen again here, unless Paradise Woods gets back to her old tactics.
The winner of the Zenyatta Stakes will receive an automatic position in the $2 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) this fall at Santa Anita Park. Pre-entry and entry fees will be paid and a nominator award of $10,000 will be given to the nominating person. Also, all Breeders’ Cup starters based outside of the state of California will receive a travel allowance of $10,000 if based in North America and $40,000 if based Internationally.
Here is a look at the full field:
#1 Secret Spice – This filly is having a tremendous season, with her biggest win coming by 2 1/4 lengths in the local Beholder Mile Stakes (G1). After that effort, she shipped to Churchill Downs for the La Troiennne Stakes (G1) and finished a solid second. Last time out, she was second once again, this time coming at Del Mar in the Clement L. Hirsch Stakes (G1). Santa Anita is her best track; all three career victories have come here.
#2 Mongolian Humor – She will try stakes company for the first time after two straight solid wins at Del Mar. The first came against claiming foes, after which she was claimed by Vladimir Cerin. She moved up in class next, taking an allowance/optional claiming event. That was the best effort of her career, suggesting that Cerin has her running in peak form heading into this challenge.
#3 Paradise Woods – New trainer John Shirreffs has trained this mare to relax early, something that had always been a big problem in the past. She subsequently dominated the local Santa Margarita Stakes (G2) and had many experts feeling that she was going to be a superstar, but she has struggled since. She stumbled out of the gate before running second behind La Force in the Santa Maria Stakes (G2), then ran fourth last time out in the Hirsch. She won this race in 2017 before finishing third in that year’s Breeders’ Cup Distaff.
#4 Ollie’s Candy – The likely favorite, her Hirsch victory was her second on dirt, along with the 2018 Summertime Oaks (G2). This filly continues to improve with each start, and it appears that dirt is her best surface, despite having made six starts on turf or synthetic surfaces. She’ll look to extend her dirt winning streak to three in this spot.
#5 La Force – She has entered nearly every big California stakes race for older females in the past two seasons. She failed to win one last year, but back in June, she won the Santa Maria Stakes (G2) over this course. That led to a third in the Hirsch before she made a failed turf try last time out in the John C. Mabee Stakes (G2). It will help that she is back on her favorite surface. She always puts her best foot forward at Santa Anita.
#6 Kaydetre – A second-place effort in the Tranquility Lake Stakes at Del Mar last time out earned her a shot against graded stakes company for the first time. This consistent runner has finished first or second in four of her five starts since she broke her maiden here on February 15. The jump up in class will be a challenge, but her 5-1-3-0 record on dirt shows that she likes to compete. Look for her to come with a closing kick from the back of the pack.
The Zenyatta Stakes serves as one of seven Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” events this weekend at Santa Anita Park and Belmont Park. Here is the full schedule for this coming weekend:
The American-based Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” events continue next weekend with an eye-popping 16 events, starting Friday at Keeneland on the Lexington track’s opening day. The Action will continue throughout the country on Saturday and Sunday, with more races from Keeneland, Belmont Park, and Santa Anita Park.
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