Michael Tabor's Zavata and jockey Jerry Bailey won a speed duel with Trust N Luck and pulled away in the stretch for a comfortable victory in Saturday's $150,000 Amsterdam Stakes (gr. II) for 3-year-olds at Saratoga.
Zavata, who won the Saratoga Special (gr. II) by 7 1/4 lengths at 2, won by 5 1/4 lengths over late-closing Great Notion, who edged Trust N Luck for the place spot by a half-length. Even-money favorite Posse ran on from last in the seven-horse field to finish fourth. The final time on a drying out main track was 1:08 3/5.
Trust N Luck, making his first start since a fourth-place finish in Keeneland's Lexington (gr. II) on April 19, hustled to the front with Cornelio Velasquez aboard while racing slightly off the rail through an opening quarter mile of :22. Zavata on the inside, raced on even terms with Trust N Luck through the opening half of :44 3/5 before taking command after five furlongs in :56 2/5. Great Notion overcame a slow start and a brush with First Blush in the stretch to get second.
"This was a real powerful race from him," Bailey said of the winner. "He really had no problem relaxing down inside. He was there the whole time, but was waiting for me to ask him to run. That was an explosive finish."
Zavata, a son of Phone Trick, was injured while pulling up in last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I), in October. The bay colt was making his first stakes appearance for trainer Patrick Biancone in three starts this season. He won an optional claiming allowance event at Monmouth on June 26.
"Everything worked like a dream," Biancone said. "If the track hadn't dried up, I would have scratched him. The sunshine came out and I thought the track might be fast for us, and it was.
"We are going to discuss about the King's Bishop (gr. I on Aug. 23). We will talk with Jerry and see how the horse comes back. The aim is to have him ready for the Breeders' Cup (Oct. 25th at Santa Anita). I know he loves Santa Anita. We should be in good shape with him."
Zavata earned $90,000 for third graded stakes victory. He has a career mark of 9-5-1-1 with career winnings of $342,320. He has won two of three at Saratoga, finishing third in the Hopeful (gr. I) in his other Spa start.
"I think today's elements didn't favor us," said Posse's trainer, Steve Asmussen. "I was a little concerned about running him in this race because he was backing up in distance. But, I didn't think we would have him tight enough for the Kings' Bishop if we didn't run. He got a lot out of the race and Corey (Lanerie) said the horse felt good galloping back. Now, we have to move forward in a big way for the King's Bishop."
Bailey won his fourth race on Saturday's Saratoga card.
Mill Ridge Farm Ltd, Jamm Ltd. and Dr. John A Chandler bred Zavata in Kentucky. He was a $575,000 Fasig-Tipton purchase in February 2002.
The 3-1 second choice, Zavata paid $8.30, $4.70 and $4.30. Great Notion, ridden by Pat Day, returned $12.80 and $6.80. Trust N Luck showed for $6. The $2 exacta was worth $127.