Champion mares double up for Darley

Darley shuttlers Medaglia d’Oro and Street Cry dominated the headlines out of North America on the weekend when Rachel Alexandra returned to winning form in Kentucky and Zenyatta scored another record-breaking victory in California.

Rachel Alexandra (4m  Medaglia d’Oro – Lotta Kim by Roar) served notice she is back in peak form with a 10 length runaway in the G2 Fleur de Lis Handicap at Churchill Downs on Saturday.

The 2009 Horse of the Year rebounded following two losses at the start of her 2010 campaign.  With regular rider Calvin Borel aboard, Rachel Alexandra shook free from four overmatched opponents at the top of the straight to win in convincing fashion.  She finished with plenty in reserve.

“I’m very proud for everybody that she won,” trainer Steve Asmussen.  “Rachel’s a machine and hopefully this is a step in the right direction for the rest of the year.  It’s an honour to train a horse like her.”

Rachel Alexandra’s connections had to deal with questions regarding her fitness level and competitive drive compared with last year when she won the G1 Preakness Stakes and G1 Haskell Invitational against the colts and then took the G1 Woodward Stakes against all ages.

Her sire Medaglia d’Oro (El Prado) was a G1 winner of the Travers Stakes, Whitney Handicap and Donn Handicap.  He will shuttle to Darley’s Kelvinside property in NSW this year and will stand for a $88,000 (inc. gst) fee.

Zenyatta improved her winning streak to 17 in a row with a narrow victory in the G1 Vanity Handicap at Hollywood Park on Sunday.  The unbeaten John Shirreffs trained mare reeled in British bred mare St Trinians to win her third Vanity.

Zenyatta (6m Street Cry – Vertigineux by Kris S) passed champion gallopers Cigar and Citation who held the previous record at 16 in a row.  “She’s just amazing.  She just doesn’t want to get beat,” owner Jerry Moss said.  “I’m in love with her.”

The perfect record looked like it might be in serious jeopardy at the 100m mark in the Vanity when St Trinians held a clear lead.  The Piccolo mare was in receipt of 4kg but America’s pin-up lengthened stride under regular rider Mike Smith to take charge close to the finish.

“Oh my lord, St Trinians ran her eyeballs out, she really did,” Smith said.  “We just kept on grinding and kept on grinding and she finally hit her stride.  I knew we had it then.”

St Trinians was six lengths clear of third-placed Zardana.  The latter is also trained by Shirreffs and she hit the headlines earlier this year by defeating 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra in New Orleans.

Jerry Moss purchased Zenyatta for $60,000 at the 2005 Keeneland September yearling sale.  She is by Darley shuttler Street Cry who was denied another Group 1 in Australia on Saturday when Whobegotyou was injured in the Stradbroke Hcp.

Street Cry will stand at Darley’s Kelvinside Stud in NSW for the forthcoming breeding season at a fee of $137,500 (inc gst).