From Turfway Park
Benefiting from a patient ride by Shaun Bridgmohan, Zanjero bided his time early, then split horses decisively in mid-stretch to score a 1 1/2-length victory in the $350,000 Kentucky Cup Classic (gr. II) (VIDEO) at Turfway Park Sept. 27.
Owned by Winchell Thoroughbreds and trained by Steve Asmussen, Zanjero was never more than five lengths off the lead. Even so, he sat next to last and away from the early pace set by 8-5 co-favorite Honest Man. As the horses continued down the backstretch Zanjero inched his way gradually up the rail.
The final time for 1 1/8 miles on Polytrack was 1:49.27.
Extreme Supreme, a 12-1 longshot, made a menacing middle move on the far turn to temporarily take command and finished second, four lengths ahead of 42-1 rank outsider Canela in third. Honest Man faded to fourth, a length and a half ahead of Yate’s Black Cat. Stream Cat, the 8-5 co-favorite, never threatened from the back of the pack and finished last of six.
“The race went just as I hoped it would,” said winning owner Ron Winchell. “He broke clean and was close to the pace. It looked like that’s where you wanted to be all day. He has a good late kick as long as he doesn’t use it too early.
It was a big afternoon for Asmussen, who spent the day at Belmont and later saddled Curlin to victory in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I). The win vaulted the reigning Horse of the Year past Cigar as the all-time richest North American-based Thoroughbred racehorse. But Asmussen did find time to get to a TV for Zanjero’s impressive performance at Turfway, and he elaborated on Breeders’ Cup plans for the colt.
“That horse ran great,” said Asmussen, pumping his fist. “I did get to see it. Yes, this horse is going to the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.”
At the Breeders’ Cup, Zanjero will undoubtedly be ridden once again by Bridgmohan. “I was very confident at the top of the stretch,” he said. “I got him settled behind the leaders and waited for a seam to open up, and once it did, it made my job a lot easier. He went on like a true professional.”
Extreme Supreme ran a very good second and trainer John Ward thought his horse was expertly guided in the 5-year-old’s first effort in stakes competition.
“I thought this jockey (Otto Thorwarth) put him in a spot he could win, and it was up to the horse and the horse didn’t win," he said. "Credit the jockey (for the good finish).”
One of the race’s biggest surprises was show horse Canela, who was entered in both the Classic and today’s Hawthorne Gold Cup (gr. II).
“He was cross entered at Hawthorne because we didn’t think there would be a lot of speed in there,” said trainer Michael Maker. “But there turned out to be, so this was a better spot.”
Sent off as third choice, Zanjero paid $7.40 to win while registering his sixth victory in 18 lifetime starts. The Kentucky Cup win sent the 4-year-old son of Cherokee Run past the $1.5-million mark in career earnings. It was the second win of 2008 for Zanjero, who last time out captured the ungraded West Virginia Governor’s Stakes on Aug. 2 at Mountaineer Park.
Zanjero is out of the A.P. Indy mare Checkered Flag. He was bred by Tony Holmes and Walter Zent.
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