Zenyatta gets company in workout

INGLEWOOD, Calif. -- It took two stablemates to work with Zenyatta at Hollywood Park on Friday and achieve the objectives that trainer John Shirreffs intended for the undefeated mare's second-to-last workout before the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic at Churchill Downs on Nov. 6.

Zenyatta worked with Sarbonne and El Vino, two horses owned, like Zenyatta, by Jerry and Ann Moss. They served as a tag-team of sorts during the seven-furlong workout. Ridden by Mike Smith, Zenyatta was timed in 1:27.20, and she was the only horse to work that distance on Friday.

Zenyatta began the workout at the six-furlong pole, starting about three lengths behind Sarbonne. The margin stayed close to the same down the backstretch as El Vino joined the team near the half-mile pole.

As Sarbonne was eased toward the outside rail at the end of the backstretch, El Vino took over, leading Zenyatta by two lengths on the turn. Zenyatta caught her near the finish line. The pair worked a furlong past the wire with Zenyatta finishing about a neck in front. El Vino, Zenyatta's regular workmate in recent months, was timed in 50 seconds for a half-mile, while Sarbonne worked the same distance in 49.40 seconds.

"The main thing was we wanted her to stay focused for the seven-eighths of a mile," Shirreffs said. "I didn't want her to get to the lead at any time in the work and lose her focus, because she lets up.

"Each of them worked hard enough so they could stay in front," he said of the stablemates.

Shirreffs said he was not concerned about the final time, saying that overnight rain had made the track tiring.

"I thought the synthetic track was soft, and when it's like that they're laboring a little more in the longer works," he said. "You can't skip over it."

Smith described the work as "dynamite" and said that Zenyatta was far from extended through the stretch.

"I was moving a little toward the end, but she was well within herself," Smith said. "If I'd have reached back and asked for more, she would have given another one. She was still pricking her ears."

Zenyatta, 6, has won 19 races and earned $6,404,580. The BC Classic will be her first start at Churchill Downs.