Tidal Dance Clearly The Best
Tidal Dance clearly best in Affectionately
Tidal Dance looked best on paper and proved to be just that on the track, romping to an easy 2 1/2-length victory under Ramon Dominguez in Sunday's $65,000 Affectionately Stakes over a muddy Aqueduct inner track.
Pumpkin Shell, with Chuck Lopez up, rallied from well off the pace to finish second by 8 1/2 lengths over the pacesetting Yes She's a Lady. Saxet Heights, All Night Labor, and Yet Again, the defending Affectionately winner, completed the order of finish. By the Light scratched.
Tidal Dance, who began her career in south Florida before relocating to Southern California, captured her first stakes victory in her fourth start since coming to the New York barn of trainer Mike Hushion. Tidal Dance, a 5-year-old daughter of Pleasant Tap, was coming off a second-place finish in the Snit Stakes over the inner track, a race in which she was beaten 1 3/4 lengths by Life at Ten while finishing nearly four lengths clear of the field.
Sunday, Tidal Dance raced in third position behind Yes She's a Lady, who ran opening-quarter mile in 23.84 seconds and a half-mile in 48.18 while being chased by All Night Labor. Entering the far turn, Dominguez guided Tidal Dance into second place and Tidal Dance bolted past Yes She's a Lady outside the quarter pole. Tidal Dance opened a 3 1/2-length margin by the eighth pole and was taken in hand by Dominguez for the last sixteenth of a mile. Tidal Dance, owned by Marc Ferrell, covered the 1 1/16-miles in 1:46.64 in the mud and returned $4.70 as the favorite.
"I was happy with where we were early in the race," Dominguez said. "It actually set up exactly the way I thought it would. She took the lead a little earlier than I wanted to, but she was doing it easily. I saw [Pumpkin Shell] making a run at me on the [television] screen, but I knew we were home safe so I didn t really get after her the last bit of the race."
Hushion said he would talk to Ferrell about whether to keep Tidal Dance in New York for the $65,000 Rare Treat here on Feb. 20 or head out of town for richer and more prestigious stakes.
By David Grening
Santa Margarita may be Zenyatta's next
Zenyatta could make her 2010 debut in the $250,000 Santa Margarita Handicap at Santa Anita on March 13, trainer John Shirreffs said on Sunday.
Saturday, owners Jerry and Ann Moss announced that the undefeated Zenyatta would stay in training as a 6-year-old in 2010. Unraced since winning the Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita on Nov. 7, Zenyatta was expected to be retired and bred until the Mosses reversed their decision. Speculation that she would stay in training had been fueled in recent weeks by three half-mile workouts.
Zenyatta was a finalist for the Eclipse Award for 2009 Horse of the Year, along with the star 3-year-old filly Rachel Alexandra. The award was scheduled to be presented in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Monday.
Acknowledging that no definite racing plans have been finalized, Shirreffs said the Grade 1 Santa Margarita would be an ideal prep for the $500,000 Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark., on April 3.
"The logical thing is the Santa Margarita, but I don't know," Shirreffs said. "That's talking off the top of my head. We'd like to go back to Oaklawn."
Zenyatta has raced primarily in California throughout her 14-race career. In her only start outside of California, she won the 2008 Apple Blossom Handicap, which remains her only start on a conventional dirt surface. Her starts in California have been on synthetic tracks.
Zenyatta has never run in the Santa Margarita, but has recorded five of her wins at Santa Anita, all in graded stakes.
Shirreffs did not mention any potential races for Zenyatta beyond early April, but the Breeders' Cup Classic at Churchill Downs in early November is a long-term goal.
Sunday, Zenyatta breezed five furlongs in 1:01.40 at Hollywood Park under exercise rider Isabelle Bourez. It was her fourth workout since the Breeders' Cup Classic, and first over five furlongs.
Working alone, Zenyatta started slowly and had quickened by the end of the backstretch. Shirreffs timed Zenyatta through a half-mile in "50 and change" and galloped out six furlongs in "1:15 and change."
by Steve Andersen
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