Owner Jerry Moss announced Saturday at Santa Anita he and trainer John Shirreffs think the 6-year-old mare, a finalist for 2009 Horse of the Year, "looks too good" to be kept off the track.
"We saw her gallop today and I talked to Ann (his wife and co-owner) and then I talked to John and she looks too good. It's what she likes to do and that's what we decided to do and we're going to run her," he said Saturday.
The decision reopens the possibility that the finalists for last year's Horse of the Year honors -- Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra -- might finally face off on the track. Rachel Alexandra didn't run in November's Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita because her owners don't like artificial surfaces. This year's Breeders' Cup will be run on the real dirt at Churchill Downs.
The winner of the 2009 Horse of the Year honor will be announced Monday night.
"It has nothing to do on whether she is Horse of the Year or not," said Jerry Moss. "If she's Horse of the Year, she'll run as Horse of the Year. If not, she'll run as not Horse of the Year."
The Mosses also are finalists for the owner of the year Eclipse Award and Jerry Moss showed why. "I love racing and also I believe racing needs stars and we've got one," he said. "I love to see her run. She's healthy and well and I think she's going to carry on very well."
"We'll pick a spot" for Zenyatta's comeback, he said.
Along the Kentucky Derby trail:
-- Conveyance, one of trainer Bob Baffert's stable full of contenders, got his third win without a loss -- and a bit of an education -- in Saturday's $100,000 San Rafael Stakes at Santa Anita. The Kentucky-bred Indian Charlie colt went to the lead under jockey Garrett Gomez and looked to be on cruise control. But on the second turn, Gomez let Conveyance drift off the fence a bit and Victor Espinoza sent longshot Cardiff Giant right through the hole to a short lead. Conveyance had to regroup to regain the advantage and won by 1 3/4 lengths. "I came off the fence going down the backside," Gomez said, "and I decided to leave it open going to the far turn because I didn't want my horse to be down on top of the fence with another horse pressing me. He got a little tired the last sixteenth. This race was a good learning curve for him." Baffert said Conveyance "did get a little tired today. But I didn't get a chance to work him a mile. I thought he was good enough to win this without working him too far, and he was." He said he hasn't decided where to continue Coneyance's campaign as he tries to keep some separation among his stars, including Derby favorite, Loookin at Lucky.
-- Ranger Heartley ranged right up to the lead in Saturday's $100,000 California Derby at Golden Gate Fields, turned back multiple challenges and got home first, 3/4 length ahead of odds-on favorite, Connemara. Thomas Baines finished third. Ranger Heartley, a Kentucky-bred Lost Soldier gelding, ran the 1 1/16 miles on the all-weather track in 1:45.4. Owned by Herb and David Alpert and trained by John Sadler, Ranger Heartley was ridden by Julio Garcia. The gelding now has three gate-to-wire victories in his last four starts. "Believe me, this horse can run," Garcia said. "When they came up to him at the eighth pole, he dug in and surprised me. The track is slow today. I think if the track was faster he would have won easier." Russell Baze, who rode the previously undefeated Connemara, said the son of Giant's Causeway still has a future. "We needed a little help with the pace and obviously we didn't get any," Baze said. "He has to see daylight in front of him or he'll only give you 80 percent, and 80 percent wasn't good enough today."
-- On the Gulfstream Park turf, Nordic Truce rallied from next-to-last at the top of the stretch to win Saturday's $100,000 Dania Beach Stakes by a neck over Bim Bam. Call Shot finished third. Nordic Truce, a Kentucky-bred Yes It's True colt, went to the post as the favorite and finished 1 mile of firm turf in 1:33.66 under Julien Leparoux. Winning trainer Christophe Clement said he doesn't "have anything in particular in mind for his next start. Hopefully, he will have a long successful career ahead of him."
-- Uptowncharliebrown stalked the pace in Saturday's $75,000 Pasco Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs, got to the front with a three-wide move around the turn and drew off easily, winning by 6 lengths as the odds-on favorite. Big Looie was second after setting the pace and Black Diamond Cat finished third. Uptowncharliebrown, with Daniel Centeno up, got the 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:24.28. Winning trainer Alan Seewald said he ran Uptowncharliebrown in the Pasco "to get the money earnings to get into the Sam Davis and I didn't want to enter him off of a maiden race. We needed a race in between. I think the further he runs the better he'll be." Asked if Uptowncharlybrown might have the ability to compete on a national level, Seewald said, "We hope. We hope. You gotta have a dream."
-- Coyote Legend lagged well off the pace early in Friday night's $60,000 Triple Sec Stakes at Delta Downs, worked past the leaders on the outside around the turn and jetted off in the stretch to win by 6 1/2 lengths. The odds-on favorite, Big Texas Daddy, also made a late move to finish best of the rest. Perfect Lou was third. Coyote Legend, a Texas-bred Gold Legend gelding, ran the 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:26.5 under Bobby Walker Jr. Brett Calhoun trains.
Along the Kentucky Oaks trail:
-- Amen Hallelujah raced off the pace in Saturday's $150,000 Santa Ynez Stakes at Santa Anita, swung wide into the stretch and ran down the leaders, winning by 3/4 length over Fanny Freud. Switch finished third, another 1/2 length back. Amen Hallelujah, a Florida-bred Montbrook filly, ran the 7 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:21.39 while toting Chantal Sutherland. "I hate to say it," Sutherland said, "but she's really easy to ride. She's calm, cool and you don't have to do much as a jockey. I could see they were really going fast on the lead, and I loved it. It was like watching a movie, the way it set up. It couldn't have been any better. The move my filly made was just fantastic." Amen Hallelujah, who started her career at Arlington Park, picked up her third win in seven starts. Richard Dutrow Jr. trains.
-- Sunday's $100,000 Sweetest Chant Stakes at Gulfstream Park was moved from the turf to the sloppy main track and Sassy Image emerged as the victor. After stalking the pace set by Blackwell, Sassy Image got through at the top of the stretch and went on to win by 4 1/2 lengths. Blackwell held second, 5 1/4 lengths better than Check the Label. Sassy Image, a Kentucky-bred Broken Vow filly, finished the 1 mile in 1:37.42 with Robby Albarado in the irons for trainer Dale Romans. Romans said it "worked out fine" that the race came off the grass because he is pointing Sassy Image to the Kentucky Oaks. "The big question is her next race, which might have to be on the turf, and then have one more race before the Oaks in the Bonnie Miss" at Gulfstream on Florida Derby Day, March 20. Romans has another Oaks contender, Quiet Temper, in training at Fair Grounds.
-- Shotgun Gulch rallied around rivals on the turn in Friday's $50,000 Dixie Belle Stakes at Oaklawn Park, gained steadily down the stretch and was just up in the final stride to nip favorite Decelerator by a nose. Shotgun Gulch, with Luis Quinonez up, ran the 6 furlongs on a fast track on the Arkansas oval's opening day in 1:13.35. The Oklahoma-bred Thunder Gulch filly picked up her fourth win from five starts. Her only loss came on the grass in the La Senorita at Retama. Trainer Kim Ewing indicated she will try to stretch Shotgun Gulch out. Decelerator is one of trainer D. Wayne Lukas's sophomore hopefuls.
-- Diva Delite surged to contention at the top of the stretch in Saturday's $75,000 Gasparilla Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs, dueled with early leader Dattt echo, then shook clear to win by 1 3/4 lengths. Dattt Echo held second, 1 length to the good of Miss Aristocrat. Diva Delite, a Florida-bred Repent filly, finished the 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:25 for jockey Rosemary Homeister Jr. Winning trainer David Vivian said he was "pretty confident coming in. You know, she tries hard every time, but over this new track I was a little worried. But she runs turf, dirt, short, long. She's been a very good filly." Vivian said he plans to keep running Diva Delite at Tampa Bay, pointing toward the Suncoast Stakes Feb. 13 and the Florida Oaks a month later.
-- Cactus Cadillac caught pace-setting favorite Henry's Posse in the stretch run in Saturday's $50,000 Cincinnati Trophy Stakes at Turfway Park and won by 1 1/4 lengths. Helen Belen finished third, 1 length farther back. Cactus Cadillac, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Cactus Ridge, got the 6 1/2 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:19.45 under Ben Creed.
-- Tin Top Cat pressed the pace in Friday night's $60,000 Genesis Stakes at Delta Downs, the battled to the wire to edge favorite Bella Diamante by a neck. Bronx City Girl finished third. Tin Top Cat, a Texas-bred Supreme Cat filly, ran the 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:28.35. Bobby Walker Jr. rode for trainer Brett Calhoun.
-- Glory Be Mine led all the way around in Saturday's $125,000 LaSenora Stakes for New Mexico-breds at Sunland Park, dominating at the end to win by 4 1/2 lengths. King's Water Lily was second and Favorite Flag finished third. Glory Be Mine, a daughter of Dome, ran the 6 furlongs in 1:11.13 with Jorge Bordieu up.
In other weekend racing:
Papa Clem picked up his first win since last year's Arkansas Derby in Saturday's $150,000 San Fernando Stakes, stalking the pace set by Smart Bid, then going by to win by 1/2 length over that rival. Rendezvous ran evenly to finish third. Papa Clem, a Smart Strike colt, finished the 1 1/16 miles on the all-weather track in 1:42.64. Tyler Baze rode for trainer Gary Stute. The bay colt finished fourth in last year's Kentucky Derby and Haskell. After a freshening, he came back to finish third in the Malibu stakes the day after Christmas and had been working up a storm ever since. During the stretch run, "I was a little nervous," Stute admitted, "just because he doesn't remind me of a horse that's going to open up on them. I was afraid somebody that he wouldn't see might come get him late. But he showed a lot of heart, so I was really happy."
Pretty Unusual got first run at the leaders in Sunday's $150,000 El Encino Stakes for 4-year-old fillies and, once she got the lead in the stretch, easily held off the late run of Stardom Bound to win by 1 1/4 lengths. Freedom Star finished third. Pretty Unusual, sent off at odds of nearly 30-1, ran the 1 1/16 miles on the all-weather track in 1:43.72 with Chantal Sutherland in the irons for trainer Barry Abrams. Pretty Unusual is a California-bred filly by Unusual Heat.
Quiet Harbor raced off the pace through the early furlongs of Saturday's $100,000 Marshua's River Stakes for fillies and mares, got to the outside for the stretch run and was just up in time to win a five-horse blanket finish by a head. Lady Shakespeare and Romacaca dead-heated for second and third, a head in front of Lomaki. Bluegrass Princess was another neck back in fifth. Quiet Harbor, a 5-year-old, Kentucky-bred Silver Deputy mare, ran the 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:41.02 under Eddie Castro. She now has won five in a row. "At the top of the stretch I waited and waited to come through on the inside, and when it opened she had a nice kick," Castro said. "I saw the other horses coming up on the outside but knew at the wire I was the winner. I've ridden her five times now, and I'm a five-time winner on her." Shug McGaughey trains.
Anything But Quiet rallied down the stretch and was just up in time to post a huge upset in Saturday's $60,000 Happy Ticket Stakes for state-bred fillies and mares. Winning by a neck over Yare, the 6-year-old Real Quiet mare provided a "happy ticket" indeed for her backers at odds of 59-1. Alphadoodle completed an all-longshot trifecta that returned $7,968.20 for a $2 investment. Anything But Quiet, with Billy Patin in the irons, ran the 5 1/2 furlongs on a sloppy track in 1:06.4.
Power Surge came from off the pace to win the companion $60,000 John E. Jackson Stakes by 3/4 length over Mr. Porter. Lee City Slew finished third. Power Surge, a 6-year-old Holzmeister gelding, finished the 5 1/2 furlongs on the slop in 1:04.96 with Jamie Theriot up.
Understatement led from gate to wire in Saturday's $65,000 Evening Attire Stakes, winning by 4 1/2 lengths over entrymate Well Positioned. Storm Play was third and Ah Day completed the trifecta. Understatement, a 5-year-old son of Distorted Humor, ran the 1 1/16 miles on the fast inner track in 1:42.94 with David Cohen up for trainer Todd Pletcher.
Tidal Dance surged past the early leaders turning for home in Sunday's $65,000 Affectionately Stakes for fillies and mares and drew clear, winning by 2 1/2 lengths. Pumpkin Shell rallied to take second, well in front of early leader Yes She's a Lady. Tidal Dance, a 5-year-old, Florida-bred mare by Pleasant Tap, ran the 1 1/16 miles on the muddy inner track in 1:46.64 under Ramon Dominguez.
On My Dime rallied five-wide around the turn in Saturday's $75,000 Cotton Fitzsimons Mile and outfinished Highland Games to win by a head. Yacht Spotter ran evenly to finish third. On My Dime, a 6-year-old, Kentucky-bred Mizzen Mast gelding, finished in 1:34.24 on firm going. Ry Eikelberry had the mount.
Dextera closed steadily along the outside in Saturday's $50,000 Glendale Handicap for fillies and mares and got there just in time, winning by a neck over Table Mesa. Rare Sunset led early and held third. Dextra, a 4-year-old, German-bred Royal Dragon filly, ran the 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:40.96 with David Flores up.
Northern Belle won a stretch battle with One Smokin' Lady in Saturday's $50,000 American Beauty Stakes for fillies and mares, scoring by a nose. But One Smokin' Lady was then set down to fourth for stretch interference, promoting Syriana's Song and Auspicious to second and third, respectively. Northern Belle, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred Northern Afleet filly, got the 6 furlongs over a sloppy track in 1:14.19 with Terry Thompson up.
Digger led the way in Saturday's $50,000 Fire Plug Stakes, opened a comfortable lead into the stretch and got home first, 3 3/4 lengths ahead of Celtic Innis. Malibu Kid was third and the odds-on favorite, Ravalo, faded to finish fourth. Digger, a 6-year-old, Maryland-bred Yonaguska gelding, ran the 6 furlongs in 1:09.13 with Mike Luzzi in the irons.