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Zofelle Remains Undefeated in the U.S. With Pago Hop Score
Tracksmith Takes Woodchopper, Sir Winston Disappoints in Return
Eleventh of 13 early under jockey Florent Geroux, Heider Family Stables LLC’s Zofelle (IRE) (5-2 second choice) uncorked a serious rally in the stretch to run down the longtime leader and 27-1 longshot Elle’s Town to take the $75,000 Pago Hop Stakes at Fair Grounds Racecourse by a length. The final time for the about one mile journey over a turf course labeled as yielding was 1:37.61. She’sonthewarpath finished third and the 8-5 post time favorite Dalika (GER) checked in fourth.
Imported from England this summer, the 3-year-old daughter of Zoffany (IRE) is now perfect from three starts in the U.S. for trainer Brendan Walsh. Her bankroll stands at $114,789.
“She was great today,” Geroux said. “Back a little quick with her in three weeks (Fair Grounds allowance win on Dec. 5), but she obviously has a lot of talent. She’s really laid back. She likes to take her time early on and she has a really good turn of foot. When you ask her, she is very decisive and gives you everything she has. We’re really happy to get a stakes win with her here in the United States.”
“We always had confidence,” Brendan Walsh’s assistant trainer Paul Madden explained. “We knew what we had in the mornings but you never really know until you get to race day. She’s gotten more and more impressive. She was really good at Keenland and we really liked the cut back to a mile with her here today.”
“She was recently purchased by the Heider Family and we’re really excited we were able to get a stakes win for them,” Madden continued. “We were coming back quickly in three weeks. “This (race) was the early target but I think she can go on to face graded stakes company.”
Corey Lanerie, jockey for runner-up Elle’s Town – “My horse ran great. I quickly found myself on the lead, a little quicker than I wanted, but she was still there for me all the way to the wire. She ran a great race, just got outrun late today.”
In what was the last of three stakes races on the day, Calumet Farm’s Tracksmith, the lukewarm 3.40 post time favorite, overcame a messy first turn to take the $75,000 Woodchopper Stakes at Fair Grounds Racecourse.
Around the first turn, Tracksmith was forced out seven-wide by Irish Heatwave before settling into an outside stalking position. Turning for home, jockey Adam Beschizza let the 3-year-old son of Street Sense grind home. He wore down Clint Maroon, then held off the tandem of Flying Scotsman and Spectacular Gem, who dead-heated for second. The winning margin was a ½ length and race was clocked in 1:39.07 for the about one mile distance on the yielding turf.
“A rough beginning,” Beschizza said following the win. “Luckily he was able to put himself in a good position afterward and he’s very competitive and was ready to go today. Joe Sharp prepped him very well for this race and for this horse I think it was a really impressive win considering the horses that were in it. Horses aren’t making up too much ground over this turf today but for the really good ones it’s not an issue.”
“One of the top five favorite horses I’ve ever had in my barn,” trainer Joe Sharp said. “Just an honest horse day in and day out. Shows up every day with his ears pricked and just ready to do his job. Mr. (Brad) Kelly and the (Calumet Farm) team has been patient with him and given him time to develop he’s paid them dividends. He’s a pleasure to train.”
“I think a freshening is in order for him,” Sharp continued. “The John B. Connally Turf Cup Stakes at Sam Houston will be a possibility next with him. I also think added distance won’t be an issue. We’re looking forward to watch him mature and grow but for now we’re sure enjoying the process with him.”
In his first race since winning the Belmont Stakes (G1), Tracy Farmer’s homebred Sir Winston finished last of 12, beaten roughly ten lengths. According to Mark Casse’s assistant trainer David Carroll, he cooled out fine after the race and scoped clean.
“He had to check a little bit early in the race and never really felt comfortable out there,” Carroll said. “His ears were flat back and he never really took part in the race at all. You could tell wasn’t happy. We are disappointed. He trained too good to run that poorly and didn’t get much out of the race.”
The Pan Zareta
Klein Racing’s Play On sat just off the early pace, took command off the turn for home, and then held safe of the hard charging Change of Control to take the $75,000 Pan Zareta Stakes at Fair Grounds by 1 ¼ lengths as the 7-2 second choice. The pacesetting Ruby Trust checked in third. The Brad Cox trained 3-year-old daughter of Country Day covered about 5 ½ furlongs a turf course labeled yielding in 1:04.31.
Play On has now won two of three career starts over the Fair Grounds turf course and the stakes score was the second of her career, having bagged the Milady of Colors in February at Gulfstream. Her career earnings stand at $152,883.
Jockey Shaun Bridgmohan, who has now been aboard Play On in seven of her eight lifetime starts including a recent narrow defeat behind Hotshot Anna in the $75,000 Richard Scherer Memorial Stakes on opening weekend, was pleased with the effort.
“There is some give in the turf today,” Bridgmohan said after the win. “My horse handled it well. Her being tactical I thought she could sit off the pace and wanted to try to sit back today. She’s a smart filly and it obviously came together perfectly.”
“She didn’t have to run against Hotshot Anna today,” Brad Cox’s assistant trainer Ricky Giannini said. “She was a winner that day until the last jump, and she ran her race again today and got the win. It’s nice to see her still being 3-years-old and being able to step up compete successfully against older. Hopefully bigger and better things are ahead for her.”
The Michelle Lovell trainee Change of Control, who was making her first start since an impressive allowance win at Fair Grounds just two weeks ago, gave Play On all she could handle with Gabriel Saez aboard.
“Michelle Lovell did a tremendous job running her back in just two weeks in a stake,” Saez explained. “She broke on top, I saw the inside horses kind of going a little bit, so I just stuck behind the speed. We turned for home and came up to the Play On but I knew I was never going to beat that one today, she ran a huge race. I was really happy with my filly and thankful for Michelle. She has done a great job with her.”
About Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots: Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, one of the nation’s oldest racetracks, has been in operation since 1872. Located in New Orleans, LA, Fair Grounds is owned by Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ Global
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