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Zapper Belle Gets First Stakes Win in Saturday's Pago Hop for 3-Year-Old Fillies

NEW ORLEANS (Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012) – Robert and Lawana Low’s Zapper Belle, allowed to settle behind the early leaders, commenced a rally in mid-stretch, got up to gain the advantage in the late stages and then withstood a late bid from John Chandler’s Francisca for a three-quarter-length tally in Saturday’s $75,000 Pago Hop Stakes at Fair Grounds.

Restricted to sophomore fillies, the 27th running of the Pago Hop was contested at about one mile over Fair Grounds’ Stall-Wilson Turf Course. Zapper Belle, trained by Danny  Peitz and ridden by Leandro Goncalves, who is hanging his tack in New Orleans for the first time this season,negotiated the distance in 1:39.36 over firm going and paid $10.60, $6 and $4.40. The daughter of Ghostzapper out of Grade I winner Capote Belle was winning her third race from 10 career starts and increased her career earnings to $140,086.

“Down in the lane I had more horse but she lugged in a bit and gave me a harder time to keep her straight,” said Goncalves. “If she ran straight she probably would have won easier than she did. This is my first win over the grass here, and it’s important for me to get off to a good start because I want to establish myself with good connections here.”

After launching a belated bid along the inside, Francisca closed well to gain the place by a neck over Stone Farm’s Cat Lore.  Francisca returned $9.40 and $4.20 while Cat Lore, who got the lead in the stretch before weakening against the top two, paid $5.60 to show.

“Capote Belle was probably the best horse that I ever trained,” Peitz said by phone from Churchill Downs. “She was a Grade I winner that the Lows had, a very good sprinting filly, and she’s had very few foals even make it to the races so it’s nice to finally get one that could really run a little bit and win a little stake with her.”

Peitz said Zapper Belle’s next start is still under consideration but there is a strong possibility she will stay in New Orleans to compete in turf stakes for older females after the New Year.

Racing resumes Sunday at Fair Grounds with a nine-race program with a 12:45 first post.

Pago Hop Stakes Quotes

Jockey Leandro Goncalves (Zapper Belle, winner): “She broke pretty good and Jack told me before the race just lay second or third or wherever she is comfortable … she doesn’t have a big kick. Everything worked out good for me outside.

“Down in the lane I had more horse but she lugged in a bit and gave me a harder time to keep her straight.  If she ran straight she probably would have won easier than she did.”

Trainer Danny Peitz (Zapper Belle, winner), by phone from Churchill Downs: “Capote Belle was probably the best horse that I ever trained. She was a Grade I winner that the Lows had, a very good sprinting filly, and she’s had very few foals even make it to the races so it’s nice to finally get one that could really run a little bit and win a little stake with her. The Lows have been pretty proud. We’d been knocking at the door and we finally found the right spot.

“He gave me just the trip I wanted. I told him to try to lay about third or fourth and try to stay off the inside. I thought with Donnie K.’s filly in there that there would be some speed and I didn’t want to be up that close. She’s pretty tractable and that’s the good thing about her, that you can just put her wherever you need to.

“I’ll probably look to see what else they have down there but we haven’t discussed looking any further than this. Right now our thought is probably just to stay there and race at the Fair Grounds this winter.”

NOTE: Zapper Belle’s dam, Capote Belle, was a three-time graded stakes winner, including the 1996 Grade I Test Stakes at Saratoga.