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Zazu, Turbulent Descent face-off in Santa Anita Oaks
ZAZU (Tapit) had fallen to TURBULENT DESCENT (Congrats) in their two meetings prior to the February 5 Las Virgenes S. (G1) at Santa Anita, and finally managed to turn the tables in that one-mile affair when scoring by 1 1/4 lengths over her rival. On Saturday, the pair will face-off for a fourth time in the $250,000 Santa Anita Oaks (G1) while stretching back out to 1 1/16 miles.
Zazu suffered her first loss to Turbulent Descent when the duo made their stakes debuts in the November 21 Moccasin S., with the John Sadler trainee running second by 1 1/2 lengths. She was never really into the race in their next meeting, the Hollywood Starlet S. (G1) on December, and finished fifth. The gray lass parted ways with her rival when going in the Santa Ynez S. (G2) at Santa Anita in her three-year-old bow, and just missed by a neck when rallying from last in that seven-furlong test. (Photo Courtesy Benoit Photos)
That was Zazu's first start on a conventional dirt surface and she proved it to be no fluke when holding off Turbulent Descent last out in the Las Virgenes.
"She has a short run and she wants to close," Sadler explained. "In some of those other races, it hadn't played that way."
Joel Rosario, aboard for Zazu's last two starts, retains the mount while going for two Grade 1 wins in a row.
Turbulent Descent entered the Las Virgenes undefeated, but probably needed the race off the break, according to trainer Mike Puype.
"She hasn't run in eight weeks," he said afterward. "She probably got a little tired. It was a good race. She just got outrun today."
The Florida-bred miss immediately posted a bullet workout when returning to the tab in late February, and will keep regular rider David Flores aboard as she stretches back out to the 8 1/2-furlong distance over which she captured the Starlet.
The Santa Anita Oaks drew only five runners, but three of those are already Grade 1 winners. A Z WARRIOR (Bernardini) completes the trio of top class runners as she makes her return to competition following a last-place finish in the November 5 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1). The Bob Baffert charge entered that event off an easy front-running score in the Frizette S. (G1) at Belmont Park. She's also been working bullets in preparation for her three-year-old debut, and will get a rider switch to Rafael Bejarano here.
Another familiar name in the Santa Anita Oaks is the Baffert-trained MAY DAY ROSE (Rockport Harbor). The bay lass went wire-to-wire in winning the Santa Ysabel S. (G2) on January 9 and dueled in the early going of the Las Virgenes before fading to fourth. Martin Garcia guided May Day Rose in her maiden victory and when she scored the Sharp Cat S., and will take back the mount from the Bejarano.
Completing the field is KILOGRAEME (Graeme Hall), who will be making her stakes bow in the Santa Anita Oaks for trainer Mike Mitchell. The chestnut lass posted a half-length win to take her maiden debut, then returned on February 13 to defeat the highly regarded Rumor (Indian Charlie) in an allowance test. Garrett Gomez has the return call.