There was a stirring of excitement in the paddock at Santa Anita on Thursday before the seventh race, an allowance optional claiming race for fillies and mares 4-year-olds and up. Call it the Zenyatta effect.
Zenyatta's half-sister, Eblouissante, was set to run in her second race, a 1 1/16-mile test on the dirt, and fans of the 2010 Horse of the Year wanted to see her half-sister up close.
Eblouissante didn't disappoint, improving her race record to 2-0 after 1 3/4-length triumph over second-place Pink Blossom under jockey Corey Nakatani.
John Shirreffs, who trained Zenyatta, also trains Eblouissante, a 4-year-old by Bernardini out of Zenyatta's dam, Vertigineux.
"Zenyatta had so many great fans and a lot of them have grown fond of Eblouissante, so it's great," Shirreffs said. "I saw a bunch of the ladies I saw during Zenyatta's days supporting Eblouissante. It's great to have fans out here supporting horses."
Said Nakatani: "She's such a big filly. She may look like she breaks slow, but she doesn't. She actually breaks very well. They ran away from her a little, so I just dropped her steady inside. The plan was to see how she handled the dirt today, and she handled it better than we thought. Obviously, it didn't bother her. What more can you say, except that I'm ecstatic she's back and in John's care. She's tremendous."