Her name is Stardom Bound, but her handlers refer to the 2-year-old filly as Baby Zenyatta, or “Baby Z.”
And on a blazing Friday afternoon at Santa Anita, Stardom Bound showed why she has drawn comparisons to Zenyatta, a 4-year-old who would later remain undefeated after winning the $2-million Ladies’ Classic.
Running from off the pace, as is her custom, Stardom Bound made her move to challenge at the top of the stretch, then charged into the lead and held on to win the $2-million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies by 1 1/2 lengths.
“I didn’t have to do much,” Jockey Mike Smith said after the 1 1/16 -mile race. “The main thing I did was stay aboard when she got pinched [in traffic at the start], and the other was to pull the trigger, and I pulled it a bit early on because I knew she could handle it.”
Off to action
It was a bittersweet triumph for Stardom Bound trainer Christopher Paasch. Owner Charles Cono is putting the filly up for auction at Keeneland in Kentucky on Nov. 2.
It remains unclear how large a price Stardom Bound, who previously had won the Del Mar Debutante and Oak Leaf Stakes, will bring.
Said Paasch: “I can’t even imagine what she will be like as a 3-year-old.”
Ventura high way
Ventura, winner of Friday’s $1-million Filly & Mare Sprint, won the first race on the Breeders’ Cup card but also the only seven-furlong race in Breeders’ Cup history.
Her time of 1:19.90 was a whisker shy of the Santa Anita track record of 1:19.89, set by Indian Blessing on Jan. 13.
Indian Blessing finished second to Ventura, failing to become the only horse in Breeders’ Cup history to win different races. Garrett Gomez rode Indian Blessing to victory in the Juvenile Fillies in 2007.
Said John Velazquez, who was aboard Indian Blessing on Friday: “That horse ran right by me. I couldn’t believe it. I was running too.
Maram, which loosely translates in Arabic to wish, or dream, prevailed in a photo finish with Heart Shaped in the $1-million Juvenile Fillies Turf.
Afterward, Chad Brown, who became the second-youngest trainer to saddle a Breeders’ Cup winner, said he was mourning the death Tuesday of his grandfather.
“Losing my grandfather was tough,” Brown said. “But he wanted me to be here.”
Brown, 29, was for years an understudy to Bobby Frankel, who trains Ventura.
PETA to the whip
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals will be at Huntington Drive and Holly Avenue today at 9:30 a.m., 30 minutes before the first post, displaying a banner that reads, “Horse Racing Is Animal Abuse.” Specifically, PETA is against drugging and whipping, and the running of young horses.
The crowd Friday was 31,257. The on-track mutuel handle was $6,852,096 and the overall handle was $47,863,774.