Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Santa Anita: Adare Manor cruises to Zenyatta Stakes victory

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ARCADIA — Adare Manor’s connections sent the 4-year-old filly by Uncle Mo out for a little jog over overcast skies Sunday. She loves Santa Anita’s main track like mice adore cheese, and she left her three rivals in her wake with a gate-to-wire effort in the $200,000 Grade II Zenyatta Stakes.

Talk about your paid workouts. Juan Hernandez, who had the privilege of riding Adare Manor, glanced over his shoulder at the top of the stretch, saw that the nearest challenger was barely in the same area code, and put his stick away aboard the 1-9 favorite.

Adare Manor might not be the best filly in the country, but she’s going to enjoy a huge home-track advantage in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff on Nov. 4 at Santa Anita. She’s won five consecutive overall and six of nine at Santa Anita. She’s never been worse than second at her favorite track. Heck, they might consider giving her opposition a handicap at the Breeders’ Cup.

“She had been training really well,” winning trainer Bob Baffert said. “(Exercise rider) who gets on her in the morning said she couldn’t get any better. She just keeps improving and we wanted to see something like this to see if we were going to take a crack at the Breeders’ Cup. So I think if she comes out of it well we will go for it.”

Hernandez, who’s been aboard the filly in her past six races, unabashedly admitted he was just along for the ride Sunday. The winner did all the work after Baffert had her ready to go.

“Today all the credit goes to my filly, to Bob and his team. They brought her ready today,” he said. “She broke a little slow the last couple of times, but today she broke on her own. I didn’t even have to push her. She was just galloping around on the lead and I didn’t do much today.”

The official winning margin was 5 1/4 lengths over Desert Dawn, but it could have been much larger if Hernandez had asked more from the winner in the stretch. But that would have been like asking Patrick Mahomes to go out for another series of downs with the Chiefs up 56-0.

The final time of 1:43.70 for the mile and a sixteenth over a track labeled good after some overnight rain was not indicative of how much she dominated the race. Poor Desert Dawn, Micro Share and Window Shopping were plainly overmatched. When Adare Manor pranced around through soft fractions of 23.71, 47.91 and 1:11.96, bettors could have been in line to collect their winnings before the race was over.

JOHN HENRY TURF

Victor Espinoza guided Balladeer, the 6-1 third choice, to a gate-to-wire, half-length victory over Masteroffoxhounds in the $200,000 Grade II turf race for 3-year-olds and older, carving out fractions of 23.36, 47.41 and 1:12.07 en route to a final time of 1:58.94 for the mile and a quarter over a firm course for trainer George Papaprodromou.

TOKYO CITY CUP

Missed the Cut, the 3-5 favorite, rallied from third in the short four-horse field to win the $100,000 Grade III 1 1/2-mile marathon under Umberto Rispoli for trainer John Sadler.A 4-year-old Quality Road colt, Missed the Cut won for the fifth time in 10 starts but the first time on dirt in three tries. He ran the distance in 2:32.78 while beating Kiss Today Goodbye by 5 1/2 lengths.

UNZIP ME STAKES

Edwin Maldonado won the $100,000 ungraded stakes for 3-year-old fillies down the hillside turf course with Ruby Nell, the 8-5 favorite, while running the 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:11.35. The daughter of Bolt d’Oro went into the race off a fourth-place finish in the Grade I Del Mar Oaks on Aug. 19. Ruby Nell beat Fast and Shiny by one length.

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