Saturday, October 04, 2008
ZITO REPLAYS STRATEGY AS DA’ TARA RETURNS TO BELMONT
When Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito entered Da’ Tara in the Belmont Stakes back on June 7, he did so simply because he saw opportunity. Even though Big Brown, the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner, looked ready to become racing’s 12th Triple Crown winner, Zito felt there was a lack of speed in the race.
And, if for some reason the favorite didn’t run his race. . . well, sure enough, Da’Tara scored a front-running, 5 ¼-length victory under jockey Alan Garcia as Big Brown was pulled up.
Since then, Da’ Tara has had two off-the-board finishes, but Zito is hoping that his speed will pay off again on Sunday when Da’ Tara goes to post in the 139th running of the Grade 2, $150,000 Jerome Handicap for three-year-olds at a mile.
Should Zito decide to run Da’ Tara in the Jerome, Channing Hill will have the mount, and Jose Lezcano will ride Cool Coal Man. They will run as an entry from posts 5 and 6, respectively, for owner Robert V. LaPenta.
The lack of speed in the Jerome has also lured Zayat Stable’s Z Humor for trainer Todd Pletcher, whose other entry is Harlem Rocker. On July 12, Z Humor woke up with the return of blinkers, pressed the pace and ran third in Monmouth’s Long Branch. Bravo has the mount on Z Humor, who drew the rail in the Jerome.
Stronach Stable’s Harlem Rocker was fourth in the Grade 1, 1¼-mile Travers presented by Shadwell Farm behind Colonel John, Mambo in Seattle and Pyro. He has won four of six career starts for Pletcher including Aqueduct’s Grade 3 Withers at the Jerome distance on April 26. Eibar Coa has the mount and will break from post 4.
Team Valor International’s Visionaire came out of the clouds and out of the fog on March 8 on Aqueduct’s inner dirt track to steal the Grade 3 Gotham by a nose from Texas Wildcatter. He then went to Kentucky, where he ran fifth in the Grade 1 Blue Grass at Keeneland, 12th in the Kentucky Derby and third in the Grade 3 Northern Dancer at Churchill Downs.
Back in New York on July 24, he won in the slop at Saratoga Race Course and then closed out his summer campaign by winning the Spa’s Grade 1 King’s Bishop on Travers Day, August 23.
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