ARCADIA, CA – Gary and Mary West homebred Fighting Mad will go for her third straight graded score in Sunday’s $200,000 Zenyatta Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita Park.
The winner of the Zenyatta will receive an automatic position in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Longines Distaff (G1) this fall at Keeneland. 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 Kentucky will receive a travel allowance of $10,000 if based in North America and $40,000 if based Internationally.
The Zenyatta is a 1 1/16-mile dirt route restricted to fillies and mares ages 3 and up, with the 2020 edition attracting five.
Let’s look at the full field:
#1 Fighting Mad – After finishing third in the 6-furlong Desert Stormer Stakes (G3) here in mid-May while making her 2020 debut, she won the Santa Maria Stakes (G2) and the Clement L. Hirsch Stakes (G1) – the latter another Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” for the Distaff. She’s blossomed into one of the nation’s best dirt route females as a 4-year-old, and a victory here would put her Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert into a four-way tie for the most (4) in this race.
#2 Proud Emma – She steps back up to the graded ranks after a career-best effort helped her win the Tranquility Lake Stakes at Del Mar last time out. Her victory came in a dead heat in a race restricted to non-stakes winners and she’ll need to greatly improve upon the 82 Beyer Speed Figure that she earned, but this marks the third start of her current form cycle and she possesses tactical speed that should give new jockey Ricky Gonzalez options out of the gate.
#3 Harvest Moon – The field’s lone 3-year-old faces the tough task of defeating a group that features multiple Grade 1 winners, but she’s done little wrong thus far in her career, winning all 3 dirt routes to date. The Simon Callaghan trainee won the Torrey Pines Stakes (G3) last time out and defeated elders in her other 2 attempts while improving her Beyer Speed Figures with every start, garnering a 90 for the recent Torrey Pines score.
#4 Hang a Star – She’ll take another shot at trying to defeat several of these rivals after collecting checks in minor stakes during her last 4 outings. Her best effort in that stretch saw her finish second in the local Desert Stormer, so after failing to make an impact at Los Alamitos and Del Mar in her 3 subsequent appearances, perhaps returning to the site of both career wins is what she needs.
#5 Hard Not to Love – The one-eyed wonder returns after missing the board for the first time in her 9-race career, running last of six from start to finish in the Clement L. Hirsch, which followed a two-month break. All 5 of her career victories have come over this track, including the La Brea Stakes (G1) and the Santa Monica Stakes (G2), but both of those were 7-furlong sprints; she’s yet to finish within 3 lengths of the winner when routing.
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The Zenyatta serves as race 4 and is one of 3 stakes on the Sunday card at Santa Anita Park, including the Santa Anita Sprint Championship (G2), a “Win and You’re In” for the Sprint. The American-based Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” events continue October 2 at Keeneland with the Alcibiades (Juvenile Filles) and the Phoenix (Sprint).
The Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series is presented by America’s Best Racing.