Private Zone

Private Zone

Benoit Photo

Private Zone to Skip Donn, Romansh on Target

Vosburgh winner gets time off; grade III winner to open 2014 campaign Feb. 9.

Private Zone, who had been ticketed for the $500,000 Donn Handicap (gr. I) at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 9, has been turned out at Sunshine Farms in Bradbury, Calif.

"He'll have a couple weeks off," said Steve Rothblum, assistant to trainer Doug O'Neill. "He had a hard campaign flying around the country so we decided to give him a little breather."

A 5-year-old gelded son of Macho Uno , Private Zone was second in the grade I Cigar Mile last out on Nov. 30 after finishing 10th in the Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) at Santa Anita Park on Nov. 2. Prior to that he captured the Sept. 28 Vosburgh Invitational (gr. I) at Belmont Park for Good Friends Stable.

Meanwhile, Romansh, runaway winner of the Discovery Handicap (gr. III) in his last start, is on track to open his 4-year-old campaign in the Donn.

"He's more mature now as an older horse," trainer Tom Albertrani said. "He's doing fine and he's been working well, so we feel very good about running him in the Donn."
Owned by Darley Stud Management, the son of Bernardini  was unraced at 2 before debuting last March at Gulfstream, where he pressed the pace but tired to finish fourth of 10 in a seven-furlong maiden event. He broke his maiden in May and ran second as the favorite in the Curlin Stakes at Saratoga Race Course in July, where he stumbled twice at the break and raced wide before being promoted to the win following the disqualification of Darley entrymate Transparent.
From there, Romansh was fifth, beaten four lengths by Will Take Charge  in the Travers (gr I), and sixth behind the eventual 3-year-old male champion in the Pennsylvania Derby (gr. II) before getting a short vacation.
"He had a pretty light 3-year-old campaign and it looked like he was making some forward steps after every race," Albertrani said. "We always had high regard for the horse, but things were moving along a little quick for him so we gave him a little break. He came back and ran a huge race last time out."
In the Discovery, Romansh settled off the leaders before taking command at the quarter pole and sprinting clear for a 9 1/4-length score in 1:48.28 for 1 1/8 miles, same distance as the Donn.
"We're looking at a horse that's maturing and could be a very talented older horse for us," Albertrani said. "That's why we're pointing for the Donn, just kind of knowing the horse and looking at what he accomplished in his last race. He ran huge that day, so we're hoping he makes a move forward off of that."
Romansh will see a familiar face in the Donn in Will Take Charge, making his season debut for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas. Other horses targeting the Donn are graded stakes winners Lea , Revolutionary , and River Seven.
"He wasn't beaten very far in the Travers and he ran well," Albertrani said. "He had only run four times prior to that and we were kind of moving forward a little too quick with him, but we always thought the horse could compete in those kinds of races. That's why we're hoping a year later he's going to mature even more and go forward."