Z Humor controls the pace to win the Maxxam Gold Cup.

Z Humor controls the pace to win the Maxxam Gold Cup.

Coady Photography

No Catching Z Humor in Maxxam Gold Cup

Front-running 6-year-old draws off by 2 1/4 lengths at Sam Houston Race Park March 5.

Z Humor went gate to wire to win the $150,000 Maxxam Gold Cup at Sam Houston Race Park on the night of March 5, turning back a serious challenge in the stretch for an 11-1 upset.

Zayat Stables' 6-year-old son of Distorted Humor  dictated a moderate pace and had a strong response when challenged in upper stretch by 3-1 favorite Max Me Out and Join in the Dance.

Z Humor's lead had dwindled to a head at the eighth pole but, under rousing from jockey Gerard Melancon, he drew off in the final furlong to win by 2 1/4 lengths over the late-gaining Stachys. The final time for the 1 1/8-mile distance on a fast track was 1:50.84.

Join in the Dance finished a neck behind Stachys in third, while Max Me Out came up empty and finished fourth.

Bred in Kentucky by Jayeff "B" Stables, Z Humor ended a four-race losing streak for trainer Steve Asmussen. The victory, his sixth in 34 lifetime starts, boosted his career earnings to $970,163.

He was coming off a fourth-place finish in the Mineshaft Handicap (gr. III) at Fair Grounds Feb. 19 when he set the pace and faded. This time, Z Humor cut moderate quarter-mile fractions of :23.46, :48.38 and 1:13.67 while maintaining a one-length advantage over Join in the Dance.

Z Humor won the Boyd Gaming's Delta Jackpot Stakes (gr. III) as a 2-year-old in 2007. The Maxxam Gold Cup was the fourth stakes win for Z Humor, a $240,000 Keeneland 2006 September Yearling Sale purchase. He ran third in the 2008 Illionois Derby (gr. II). The bay horse is out of Offtheoldblock, by A.P. Indy.

The eighth choice in the field of 10, Z Humor carried 117 pounds and paid $25.80, $9.60 and $6 while topping a $172.20 exacta. Stachys, who toted 120 with Eddie Martin Jr. aboard, returned $8 and $4.60. Join in the Dance, ridden by Shaun Bridgmohan, was $3.80 to show.

Max Me Out was followed by Harmonizer,Schramsberg, Black Hills, Red Lead, Fifteen Love, and Barrier Reef. Glamour Guy scratched.