Zaftig Zooms, 'Blessing' Second in Acorn
Updated: Wednesday, June 11, 2008 11:26 AM
Posted: Saturday, June 7, 2008 4:54 PM
Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt
Zaftig cruises to victory in the Acorn under John Velazquez.
Zaftig roared past last year’s 2-year-old champion Indian Blessing to pull away to a 4 1/2-length win in the $250,000 Acorn Stakes (gr. I)(VIDEO) June 7 at Belmont Park, nabbing her second consecutive score this season.
Game Face was another 17 1/4 lengths back in third, with Golden Doc A finishing last in a field of 3-year-old fillies that consisted of just four runners due to the scratch of Dance Gal Dance.
Zaftig, trained by Jimmy Jerkens, is owned by Susan Moore and M and M Thoroughbred. The filly is a daughter of Gone Westout of the grade I stakes-winning Cozzene mare Zoftig. She was bred in Kentucky by Top Notch Farms.
Golden Doc A stumbled out of the gate, but did break first in the one-mile Acorn. Then Indian Blessing went for the lead, and got it easily while setting quick fractions of :22.85 and :45.34 under Garrett Gomez. She was tracked by Zaftig and jockey John Velazquez. Game Face sat a few lengths back in third while Golden Doc A trailed the field.
On the turn, Velazquez nudged Zaftig out after the leader, who clocked six furlongs in a quick 1:09.68, and the filly got within a half-length of the leader as they straightened out in the lane.
"Every time the filly tried to sprint away from her, we were right on her again," Jerkens said. "She set fractions, but we weren’t far behind. I thought it might be telling on us, too.”
"She stumbled a bit coming out of the gate," Velazquez said. "I wanted to be close. I was pretty confident. I shook my hands and showed her the way. She did it pretty easily.”
Zaftig and Indian Blessing raced as one briefly, but as Velazquez lost his whip near the eighth pole, Zaftig pulled away from her rival and cruised to the wire, getting the final quarter-mile in :24.82.
"I think she can go farther," Jerkens said. "There are a lot of great races for 3-year-old fillies out there."
Trainer Bob Baffert had no excuse for Indian Blessing, who rated much better in this start than in her previous attempt, the March 3 Fair Grounds Oaks (gr. II), in which she was rank early and lost by 2 1/4 lengths to Proud Spell.
"She’s just so fast," Baffert said. "You hate to lose, but she ran her race. I thought I had her relaxed enough, so she would kick on. But she won’t do that. She’s like, 'Point me in the right direction and I’ll give it to you.’ You can’t be mad at her for what she has done. We’re disappointed, but we’re not disgusted.”
"It has been a while since she ran," Gomez said. "She relaxed well, but no one was going to give her a break. I thought she was fast enough to shake loose. But Johnny wouldn't let me get away.”
Zaftig paid $7.50 and $3.10 in the short field. Indian Blessing paid $2.40. The 1-2 exacta paid $14.
After breaking her maiden at Gulfstream Park Feb. 23 in her second attempt, Zaftig shipped to New York and ran fourth in the one-mile Comely Stakes (gr. III) at Aqueduct. Prior to winning the historic Acorn, the gray/roan filly came from off the pace to win the seven-furlong Nassau County Stakes (gr. III) by 5 ¼ lengths May 3 at Belmont Park.
The Acorn winner is the third foal out of Zoftig, winner of the Selene Stakes (Can-I) in 2000. Bred by Glencrest Farm, Zoftig was second behind Rings a Chime in the 2000 Ashland Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland.
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