Zenyatta commands attention

April, 8, 2010
04/08/10
11:30
PM ET
HOT SPRINGS, Ark. -- There's this race. It's called the Arkansas Derby. Nine horses are entered to run in it on Saturday. Around here, you wouldn't necessarily know.

You wouldn't know because the people of Hot Springs have fallen head over heels with Zenyatta, as, in fact, have the trainers of several Arkansas Derby contenders. Take Patrick Biancone for instance. He'll saddle Pulsion in Saturday's 1 1/8-miles test. He needs the race. His horse was sixth in the Florida Derby last time out, and sixth in the Fountain of Youth before that.

Thursday morning, however, Biancone could be found railside with trainer Tim Ice, who will send out long shot New Madrid in the Arkansas Derby. Their horses were actually back at the barn. They just wanted to get a glimpse of Zenyatta.

"She is like Marilyn Monroe," the Frenchman remarked. "Marilyn Monroe would walk into the room and -- boom! Everyone just stopped to stare. Zenyatta is the same. She has the presence, she is unbelievable. For me, I love just to watch her."

Later, Biancone changed his assessment to a comparison of Whitney Houston. And when Zenyatta only completed one lap of the Arkansas oval, he was severely disappointed.

"Oh please, I would have liked to see her just one more time," he said.

Morning gallops

Pulsion was feeling good in his pre-race gallop, bounding down off the turn with a few good-natured leaps and bucks on Thursday morning. Back at the barn, which he shares with Ice's horses, he cooled out nicely and got his legs hosed.

New Madrid, a few stalls down, is a slight but muscled runner -- rather crabby to visitors but perhaps willing to channel that gumption into competitive edge. Let's not forget Ice's maiden winner who entered the Arkansas Derby last year -- oh, yes, his name was Summer Bird.

Noble's Promise should have been the morning-line favorite in the Arkansas; he was runner-up by a nose to Lookin at Lucky in the tough Rebel Stakes last time out, he's geared to go and there's no Lookin' At Lucky this time -- so he could have it sewn up. Noble's Promise looked like a million bucks on the track this morning.

Winner of the unimpressive award was Super Saver, his morning gallop seemed to lack gumption.

Northern Giant was among the first set out on the track for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who prides himself on being the first trainer at the chute every morning when the track opens for training. Stablemate Dublin followed in a later set and will need a solid performance in this race to send him on to the Kentucky Derby.

For more comprehensive information on horse racing, visit Helloracefans.com and Horseracingnation.com and be sure to follow Novak on Facebook and Twitter, @ClaireNovak.

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