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Zardana Eyes Bayakoa Repeat

Zardana shocks Rachel Alexandra in the New Orleans Ladies at the Fair Grounds

Sunday, December 5, will be an emotional and meaningful day on two fronts for trainer John Shirreffs at Hollywood Park.

In addition to seeing retired superstar Zenyatta make her final public appearance in a ceremony between races, Shirreffs will also saddle defending champion Zardana in quest of a record sixth victory in the $150,000 Bayakoa Handicap.

Zenyatta, the glamour queen of racing with 19 victories in 20 starts, grazed outside Barn 55 South Sunday with groom Mario Espinoza as 25 adoring fans admired and photographed her.

“Zenyatta will be flown to Kentucky on the 6th,” said Shirreffs of the 6-year-old mare who will leave a gaping hole not only in his barn but in the entire industry. Zenyatta will go Lane’s End Farm for breeding next year to a stallion yet to be determined.

Zardana will try to provide the Z power in the Shirreffs barn with a repeat victory in the Bayakoa, a Grade II test for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on Cushion Track.

Zardana, a 6-year-old Brazilian-bred mare owned by Arnold Zetcher, defeated Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra in the New Orleans Ladies Stakes at Fair Grounds in March but is winless in three races since.

Zardana sandwiched two troubled trips in the La Troienne Stakes at Churchill Downs and the Spinster Stakes at Keeneland around a creditable third-place finish in the Vanity Handicap here behind Zenyatta and St Trinians.

“She still has to breeze seven furlongs,” said Shirreffs of a final work for Zardana before the Bayakoa. She will again be ridden by Victor Espinoza, who was aboard in the Bayakoa last year and seeks a record-equaling fifth victory in the race to tie Chris McCarron.

Espinoza also won the Bayakoa aboard Star Parade in 2003, Hollywood Story in 2004 and Foxysox in 2006.

Shirreffs previously won the Bayakoa with Manistique in 1998 and 1999, Starrer in 2002 and Hollywood Story.

Other probable starters include 2009 runner-up Silver Swallow (Mike Smith), Life Is Sweet Stakes winner Washington Bridge (Rafael Bejarano) and It Tiz, who worked a bullet six furlongs in 1:12.60 Saturday.




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