Zaftig took full advantage of a nice set-up and overtook odds-on favorite Carolyn’s Cat in the lane en route to a 5 1/4-length victory in the $208,400 Nassau County Breeders' Cup (gr. III) (VIDEO) at Belmont Park May 3.
The Gone West filly, owned by Susan Moore and M and M Thoroughbred, earned her first stakes win in just her fourth race. She rated comfortably under jockey Jorge Chavez in the seven-furlong event for 3-year-old fillies as Carolyn’s Cat and Irish Smoke went at it from the start.
Carolyn’s Cat, who had won three of her last four starts, emerged with the lead entering the stretch. However, her earlier battle, fought through fractions of :22.57, :45.01 and 1:10.08, had taken a toll on both front-runners.
Carolyn's Cat offered no resistance as Zaftig came home the easy winner in 1:22.74.
“On paper, it didn’t look like there was anyone to go with the favorite,” said winning trainer Jimmy Jerkens. “Heading into the turn, I wasn’t feeling too confident. For some reason, she can’t hold her position around the turn. She kind of got sandwiched and was on the wrong lead. But then Jorge kind of pushed Joe Bravo (aboard J Z Warrior) out, and when she hit the straightaway, she got the job done.”
Chavez liked the response he got from Zaftig, who could appear next on Belmont Stakes Day, June 7, in the $250,000 Acorn (gr. I) for 3-year-old fillies at one mile. Sent off as the third choice in a field of seven, she paid $11.60, $4.80 and $4.70
“I knew the favorite was the only speed,” Chavez said of his second winner on the afternoon. “I was hoping someone would go with her, and that’s what happened. She kicked in really well at the end.”
Carolyn’s Cat, who carried high weight of 122, held for the place under Alan Garcia, 4 1/4 lengths ahead of J Z Warrior ($4.70) in third. Ready for Fortune, Dagger, Irish Smoke and Paint Me Red trailed.
Zaftig last raced in Aqueduct's Comely (gr. II) April 12, finishing fourth as the 7-5 favorite on the strength of an 8 3/4-length maiden score at Gulfstream Park in February. She has two victories and earnings of $158,700 after picking up the winner's share of $125,640.