Jealous Again: won for US at Royal Ascot in 2009 - will Zenyatta in 2010?PICTURE: Edward Whitaker/racingpostpix.com
Ascot will pull out all the stops to attract Zenyatta
ASCOT officials will leave no stone unturned in a bid to attract superstar mare Zenyatta to Britain this summer - though they admit the likelihood of her crossing the Atlantic must be regarded as a longshot.
Following Sunday's news that retirement plans had been abandoned for the spectacular Breeders' Cup winner, her connections have named a Grade 1 event at Santa Anita in early March as a possible comeback race.
Speaking in the Daily Racing Form, trainer John Shirreffs suggested Zenyatta could return in the Santa Margarita Handicap, a 1m1f event on the all-weather on March13 - the same day that Rachel Alexandra may reappear in a specially framed race at Fair Grounds in New Orleans.
Zenyatta: "our number one target"PICTURE: Edward Whitaker
The Santa Anita option would seemingly preclude any suggestion of Zenyatta competing in the inaugural Dubai World Cup at Meydan two weeks later, despite the enthusiasm of Dubai officials to attract her.
Later this year, though, Ascot is keen to tempt Zenyatta. Ascot head of public relations Nick Smith will jet out to California to try to persuade owners Jerry and Ann Moss to send their superstar to Royal Ascot or the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
"Let's be honest, it's a longshot," admitted Smith. "But she is our automatic number one target and it would be ground-breaking if we could get her over to the royal meeting or the King George.
"It is a big ask for a horse like that to come to Britain but there will be no lack of financial incentives to encourage connections - we would take care of all their costs. If she came it would be the biggest single moment of the international season."
Zenyatta, undefeated in 14 starts, worked five furlongs in 1m01.40s at Hollywood Park on Sunday, after which Shirreffs nominated the $250,000 Santa Margarita as a potential target before a crack at the Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn on April 3.
The latter event, won by Zenyatta in 2008, offers an intriguing option as they race on dirt at Oaklawn and the race is a possible target for Rachel Alexandra.