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'Ebby' cruises in debut

Though not as massive, 'Ebby' bears a striking resemblance to her famous sister Zenyatta (Benoit Photos)

Eric N. Kronfeld's homebred Eblouissante, a Bernardini half-sister to Horse of the Year and equine star Zenyatta, made her much anticipated debut in the 4TH race at Hollywood Park on Friday and, just like her big sis, flew home to score by 4 1/4 lengths on the wire.

Making her racetrack bow almost exactly five years after Zenyatta posted a three-length victory on November 22, 2007, Eblouissante settled near the rear of the eight-filly field under jockey Corey Nakatani as Saturday Nite Ride took command out of the gate. The dark bay lass saved ground down on the rail through splits of :23 4/5, :48 and 1:13 before tugging her way forward nearing the turn.

Eblouissante easily cruised up to the outside of the leaders rounding the turn about three wide and kept motoring to run down Chestnut Moon and Saturday Nite Ride. The Kentucky-bred sophomore kept right on running once passing the duo, finishing 1 1/16 miles on the Cushion Track in 1:45 1/5, and was far in front on the gallop out as well.

Eblouissante, or "Ebby" as she's known in trainer John Shirreffs' shedrow, earned $27,000 for her initial victory. Sent off the 7-5 favorite, she paid $4.80, $3.60 and $2.80 for the win.

Does trainer John Shirreffs have another equine star in his barn? (Benoit Photos)

"She has so many mannerisms like Zenyatta, so when she left and Eblouissante came in, it was like she was still there," remarked Shirreffs, who conditioned Zenyatta to not only Horse of the Year but three straight championships as older female. "It's a thrill, it really is. We're very excited about her. She's such a beautiful race horse.

"I thought she handled everything well. As a first time starter she didn't really know what was going on. Going a mile and a sixteenth the first time, that was really something. It's like something clicked and she knew she was supposed to catch the horses in front of her.

"Each succeeding workout was a little better than the prior one and we saw that turn of foot in the mornings. We've been waiting for this day a long time."

Nakatani was likewise impressed.

"It felt so easy it was scary," he stated. "In the mornings, getting on her, she did everything right. It was similar to what we did with her this afternoon -- walk her down, jog her past the starting gate, walk some more and keep her nice and composed.

"She was actually more alert and into the race than we actually thought she would be. Turning for home, I let her out a little bit to get to the position where I wanted to be where she can kick on and do her thing.

"She did everything I asked. Anytime you get to ride a sister of a champion like Zenyatta, it's a pleasure, especially at this stage in my career. I'm excited right now and that's an understatement."

Corey Nakatani was all smiles after Ebby's effortless debut win (Benoit Photos)

"With John running (Zenyatta) the way he did, you know he's going to do the right things and make all the right moves."

Following Chestnut Moon and Saturday Nite Ride under the wire was Belonging, who interestingly enough, is campaigned by Jerry and Ann Moss, owners of Zenyatta. Spin the Blues, Urania, Playful Humor and Out for Revenge completed the order of finish.

Eblouissante's owner bred both Zenyatta and Eblouissante under the stable name Maverick Productions Ltd. The sisters are out of the prolific Kris S. mare Vertigineux, who found the winner's circle only twice in her time on track but has been a homerun in the breeding shed. In addition to Zenyatta and Eblouissante, the 17-year-old mare has also produced multiple Grade 1-winning millionaire Balance and stakes queen Where's Bailey.

Vertigineux was honored as Broodmare of the Year in 2008 following Zenyatta's unbeaten championship season, and this black-type rich female family also boasts Canadian champion Sweetest Thing, 1997 Grade 2 Kentucky Oaks queen Sweet Alliance, Grade 1-winning sire Mizzen Mast and Shareef Dancer, a champion in both England and Ireland.

Since Eblouissante, Vertigineux has foaled a juvenile filly and a yearling filly, both by Henrythenavigator.

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