Zenyatta, Tiago try for a repeat

Times Staff Writer

Things worked out very well the last time owners Jerry and Ann Moss and trainer John Shirreffs started Tiago and Zenyatta on the same day.

A half-brother to 2005 Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo, Tiago won the Oaklawn Handicap on April 5 at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark.

This narrow victory over Santa Anita Handicap winner Heatseeker came about one hour after Zenyatta remained unbeaten with another powerful victory in the Apple Blossom Handicap.


The two stars of the Shirreffs stable will be on stage again today at Hollywood Park.

Zenyatta is the opening act, although she is in every way the headliner. Unquestionably the best older main-track filly or mare in the country, the 4-year-old daughter of Street Cry will be heavily favored to defeat seven opponents in the $175,000 Milady.

In a career that began in late November, Zenyatta, a half-sister to the multiple stakes winner Balance, has won her four races by a combined 12 1/2 lengths.

Three races later, Tiago will seek his second win on the Inglewood main track in the $250,000 Californian, the last major prep for the $750,000 Hollywood Gold Cup on June 28.

“Both horses are doing very well, but every race is a hurdle,” said Shirreffs, who won the 2006 Milady with Proposed.

As he did in Arkansas, Mike Smith will ride Zenyatta and Tiago. A victory on the colt would be his second -- his first came with Concern in 1995 -- in the Californian, a Grade II at 1 1/8 miles. If he does the expected with Zenyatta, the Hall of Fame jockey will pick up his third Milady win. Smith won the Grade II at 1 1/16 miles in consecutive years with Azeri (2002-2003).

Only three others -- Heatseeker, Surf Cat and likely pacesetter Albertus Maximus -- are scheduled to start in the Californian.


Shamdinan, who would have been the longest shot in the field, was scratched Friday morning.