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Z Fortune shown working at Churchill Downs.
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Anne M. Eberhardt

Z Fortune Looks For Return to Form

The 3-year-old colt faces seven rivals June 27 at Prairie Meadows

After his gutsy runner-up effort in the Arkansas Derby (gr. II) April 12, Z Fortune seemed on his way to becoming one of the best 3-year-olds in the country. But lackluster performances in both the May 3 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) and the May 31 Ohio Derby (gr. II) have raised more questions than answers.

On June 27 in the $250,000 Iowa Derby at Prairie Meadows, the son of Siphonlooks to turn his season around when he faces seven rivals in the 1 1/16-mile main track event.

If he were on the top of his game Z Fortune would seem to be a cinch in the Iowa Derby, as no other entrant even has a competitive graded stakes start this season. But after finishing a non-factoring tenth in the Kentucky Derby and weakening in the stretch to finish a well-beaten third in the Ohio Derby, it is uncertain what kind of form the gray-roan colt is in. Most recently, he turned in a pair of average works at Churchill Downs, including a four-furlong breeze in :52.80 June 9, which was next to last at that distance for the day.

Owned by Zayat Stables and trained by Steve Asmussen, Z Fortune’s biggest win came in the Jan. 12 LeComte (gr. III) at Fair Grounds. He was also second to Pyro in the Feb. 9 Risen Star (gr. III). In all, the New York-bred is 3-2-1 from eight starts and has earned $416,600. Shaun Bridgmohan will get the call on the 2-1 morning line favorite, who will carry a race-high 122 pounds.

Sebastian County, Maya’s Storm or Tiz Now Tiz Then would seem to have the best chance at knocking off Z Fortune.

Dream Walkin Farms’ Sebastian County is the only other Iowa Derby entrant who has finished in the money in a graded stakes event. That came on the Polytrack in the Arlington-Washington Futurity last September when he finished third. This season the son of Hennessy has been steady, recording a 1-1-1 mark from four starts. The Don Von Hemel trainee scored by a head in the Northern Spur Stakes April 12 at Oaklawn Park and most recently was sixth in the May 24 Arlington Classic on the turf. Eusebio Razo Jr. will ride the 4-1 second choice.

Local favorite Maya’s Storm has never been off the board in eight starts, all but one which has come at Prairie Meadows. The Stormy Atlantic  colt won a pair of restricted stakes at the Altoona, Iowa track, but most recently has fared well in open company. He captured the April 26 Golden Circle Stakes by three lengths and then missed by just a neck in the June 7 Prairie Meadow Mile – his first test at more than six furlongs. Richard Monterrey will ride the Iowa-bred for Kelly Von Hemel.

Zabeel Racing International’s Tiz Now Tiz Then makes his first start in stakes company, this coming after a 2 1/2-length victory in allowance competition May 8 at Churchill Downs. That start was also his first effort on traditional dirt after seven maiden efforts on synthetic surfaces. The son of Tiznow  is trained by Eoin Harty. Miguel Mena will be aboard.

Robert Holthus’ Day of Victory is cross-entered in both the Iowa Derby and Iowa Oaks (gr. III).

Post time is 10:17 p.m. EDT.

$250,000 Iowa Derby (Race 9, 10:17 p.m.), Three-Year-Olds, 1 1/16 Miles (Dirt)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey, Odds
1. Repenting (FL), 119, Alex Birzer, 8-1
2. Day of Victory (KY), 114, Calvin Borel, 5-1
3. Sebastian County (KY), 119, Eusebio Razo Jr., 4-1
4. Tiz Now Tiz Then (KY), 116, Miguel Mena, 6-1
5. Z Fortune (NY), 122, Shaun Bridgmohan. 2-1
6. Acting Zippy (FL), 113, Shane Laviolette, 15-1
7. Maya's Storm (IA), 119, Richard Monterrey, 9-2
8. Rich Young Ruler (FL), 113, Dylan Williams, 15-1