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SANTA MARGARITA INVITATIONAL QUOTES
MIKE SMITH, ZENYATTA, WINNER: “I don’t know what to say, I’m like a fan. This was her first race back and I wanted to make it as easy as possible. I thought I would be able to follow Striking Dancer and wheel out wide when I needed to, but when Alex (Solis) didn’t move on I eased back and decided to follow Pretty Unusual. I could’ve wheeled wide when we turned for home, but I decided to follow Chantal (Sutherland, aboard Pretty Unusual) as far as I could. I cut some corners and gambled a bit, but I was confident at all times that if she needed to make room, she could. She’s a bit of a bully. This was a great, great race for her and it wasn’t taxing at all. We got enough out of this race to move forward.”
JOHN SHIRREFFS, ZENYATTA, WINNER: “Obviously, he (Mike Smith) went to the inside, and then had to come back out, so . . . I just have a lot of faith in Mike. I know once he gets her in the clear, he has a good chance. She’s cut in between horses and everything, but when you have a big X on your back, a lot of places don’t open up that normally would.”
Asked if everything was OK if she would go to Oaklawn for the Apple Blossom (April 9) no matter what: “Yeah, yeah. I didn’t get a chance to see it (the New Orleans Ladies Stakes), but I heard it, and it sounded great . . . She’s (Zardana) tough. California’s tough . . . We’re tough. Don’t take us short. Zenyatta will run in the Apple Blossom regardless. That was never really the thing, for us. It really wasn’t. Zenyatta came back so we could have some fun with her and other fans could see her. That was the whole thing. She’ll go back to Hollywood (Park) and get ready for Oaklawn.”
Asked if she was better now than she was before: “That’s hard to say. How can you be better than perfect.”
CO-OWNER JERRY MOSS: “We’re just excited she’s back. She looks amazing. Everybody’s happy. We watched Rachel’s race in the paddock. I’m sorry she lost, but she lost to a better horse today. We’ll see what happens the next race. Zardana might try to get to that same race (Apple Blossom) and that would be fine . . . Rachel was a little short today, perhaps. You could see that Calvin (Borel) wasn’t really pushing her a whole lot . . . He held back a little bit. I don’t think he wanted to exhaust her on this race, and if he lost, he lost. Hopefully, she’ll come back a stronger race horse in a month, and we’ll see the real Rachel, so to speak.
“Everybody really loves her. Everybody’s so pleased to have her back and to root for her, and when she wins, she makes everybody happy. It’s sort of like something going on inside each and every one of us. She’s perfect. She’s the idol of perfection we all strive for. That’s about as profound as I get.”
NOTES: Winning owners Jerry and Ann Moss are from Beverly Hills. This is the fifth Santa Margarita win for Shirreffs. He won with Manistique in 1999, Starrer in 2003, Tarlow in 2005 and Life Is Sweet in 2009.