Home of the Louisiana Derby

Groom Grins as Zardana Wins

Frankie Leal, stable foreman for California-based trainer John Shirreffs and the man who accompanied Arnold Zetcher’s New Orleans Ladies heroine Zardana to the Crescent City, was unsurprisingly all smiles Sunday morning outside his Brazilian-bred mare’s home-away-from-home in trainer Wally Dollase’s barn.

“That race yesterday was amazing,” said Leal as he accepted congratulation on Zardana’s accomplishment. “You know, I had a big feeling she might win because she had been acting so happy ever since she got here. I always thought she’d run real well on dirt. Her races in South America were on dirt and she won them all by big margins, but she hadn’t run on dirt in almost two years so I couldn’t be sure.

“I don’t think she likes that surface (Pro-Ride) at Santa Anita very much,” said Leal. “She doesn’t mind the track at Hollywood (Cushion) so much, but she just doesn’t look very comfortable when she gets on the track at Santa Anita. But she sure looks happy this morning. She ate up today and she seems to be enjoying your weather. I think she’s very proud of herself, but I’m wondering if she’s thinking, ‘What have I gotten myself into? I just beat the Horse of the Year, maybe now they’ll want me to go back and run against the big horse (Zenyatta) in our barn.’

“There’s not another flight back to California until the 18th,” said Leal, “so at least she’ll have a few days to relax and enjoy herself here, because she sure likes it here.”

Cincy Dollase was just getting back to the barn from the track just after Leal returned to his duties looking after Zardana, and was eager to relive the Dollase family’s moments with Arnold Zetcher in the paddock before the New Orleans Ladies and in the winner’s circle afterwards.

“Yesterday was so much fun,” she said. “Mr. Zetcher is such a nice, gracious man. He went up to Jess Jackson (Rachel Alexandra’s principal owner) in the paddock and complimented him on his filly before the race and told him how much he admired her and the way they have conducted her campaign. I thought that was a wonderful gesture.

“I really didn’t think Zardana could beat her,” Mrs. Dollase confided. “I thought the best Zardana could do was get second. I told Mr. Zetcher and Frankie that we might be the only people in the stands cheering for Zardana, but we’d give it our best.

“But you know who really had fun yesterday was our daughter Aimee,” Cincy Dollase concluded. “She got to put the saddle on Zardana and that was a big moment for her. Afterwards, she said, ‘Now, I’ll always be able to say I saddled a horse that beat the Horse of the Year.’”

Dallas Stewart Proud of Unforgotten
Robert Adams’ Unforgotten, who finished third in the New Orleans Ladies behind Zardana and Rachel Alexandra, left her trainer Dallas Stewart feeling “very good” Sunday morning at his barn.  “I was very proud of her and the way she ran,” Stewart said.

Marcelino Jacuinde, Stewart’s assistant trainer, reported that Unforgotten “ate up everything as usual” on Sunday morning. “She’s doing fine, said Jacuinde. “She always comes out of her races well. She’s always been a very sound mare.”

Fighter Wing in Fine Fettle
Jim Tafel’s Fighter Wing, who made the pace in the New Orleans Ladies before fading to fourth, also came out of the race in good order, according to trainer Greg Geier during training hours Sunday morning.

“She’s happy as a lark this morning,” said Geier. “That race yesterday didn’t take that much out of her. She’s doing just fine today.”

Clear Sailing Diagnosed With Lung Infection
Coteau Grove Farms’ Clear Sailing, who never entered the fray in Saturday’s New Orleans Ladies, was diagnosed with a low-grade lung infection, trainer Glenn Delahoussaye reported late Sunday morning.

“Right now, we’ve got her on a broad-based antibiotic,” said Delahoussaye, who hauled his filly back to the Evangeline Training Center Saturday night and was driving back to New Orleans Sunday morning to saddle two more Coteau Grove fillies on Sunday’s card. “Now, we’ll try to come back with a more specific antibiotic when we figure out the best way to treat it. We’re going to have to go over her with a fine-tooth comb.

“I thought she was going to run really well yesterday and when she didn’t I knew something must be wrong,” said Delahoussaye. “Shane Sellers (Clear Sailing’s jockey) said she never even picked up the bridle. She just didn’t show up, so he didn’t abuse her and I’m really grateful to him for that.

“I knew Rachel wasn’t quite at her peak in her training yesterday and I figured if there was ever a time to beat her yesterday was it. I was right about that but I was thinking it was going to be my filly that beat her. That’s the way this game is – chicken one day, feathers the next. Yesterday, I was hoping I was going to get chicken but it didn’t work out. We’ll back off on her for at least 30 days and then start back with her very slowly.

“Nevertheless, we were very proud to be there at the dance yesterday,” said Delahoussaye. “We really enjoyed being a part of the whole experience, and you’ve got to be able to take the good with the bad in this business.  

“Today, I’m saddling a filly that I have some high hopes for,” concluded Delahoussaye, “and she’s got one thing going for her that Clear Sailing did not have – she’s got that big ‘LA’ (Louisiana-bred) next to her name.”