Bettors made Zagora the even-money favorite in the $150,000 Gallorette Handicap (gr. IIIT) and she rewarded their faith in her. Even though she broke slowly and left the starting gate last, the 5-year-old daughter of Green Tune came from off the pace with ease and rolled to a 1 3/4 -length victory at Pimlico Race Course May 19 (VIDEO).
“It was a great performance,” said Zagora’s jockey, Javier Castellano. “The pace was pretty fast and she didn’t break that good. I was a little concerned about that, but the bottom line is that it worked out good. They spread out and I saved all the ground and she finished great.”
It was the eighth win in 18 career races for the French-bred Zagora, who raised her earnings to $958,589. Martin Schwartz owns the chestnut mare, whose winning time was 1:41.73 for 1 1/16 miles over a firm turf course.
“Once she gets settled and gathers herself together, she really has a strong kick,” said Chad Brown, who trains Zagora. “Javier’s a top rider and when he’s on my horses, I’m a lot less nervous. Nine times out of 10 he finds a way. She didn’t break that well, but I thought Javier did a great job today to stay on the inside. He knew he was on the best horse.”
Carrying the top weight of 121 pounds, Zagora conceded from eight to five pounds to her rivals.
Speak Easy Gal held the lead most of the way under Joel Rosario, leading Laughing and Ramon Dominguez while setting fractions of :23.80, :48.02, and 1:12.02. Zagora, meanwhile, lacked speed and was sixth early along the inside and then moved up to fifth on the far turn. At the stretch call, she was rallying and in second. She caught Speak Easy Gal, who had drifted out in upper stretch, from the inside and then drew clear late.
Zagora was a group III winner in France before she captured the Diana Stakes (gr. IT) at Saratoga Race Course last summer. This year she won the Endeavour (gr. IIIT) and Hillsborough (gr. IIIT) stakes at Tampa Bay Downs. In her most recent start April 14, the chestnut mare finished fifth in the Jenny Wiley Stakes (gr. IT) as the 7-5 favorite at Keeneland.
E. Puerari and Oceanic Bloodstock bred Zagora, who is out of the Mtoto mare Zaneton.
Zagora paid $4, $2.60, $2.20. Speak Easy Gal returned $8.20, $4.60. The Irish-bred Laughing paid $2.60 as the second choice in the field of seven.