Anak Nakal

Anak Nakal

Anne M. Eberhardt

Belmont Profile: Anak Nakal

Zito-trained colt seeks to duplicate Birdstone's upset.

In 2004, it was the Nick Zito-trained Birdstone  who played the role of spoiler by defeating Smarty Jones  in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I), denying the people’s favorite the Triple Crown.

Four years later Zito would love to play spoiler again, as he will send out Four Roses Thoroughbreds’ Anal Nakal in the Belmont in hopes of rejecting Big Brown’s bid for racing immortality. But if he is going to pull the upset, Anak Nakal will have to show much more than he has in his disappointing 3-year-old campaign so far.

“He’s taken longer to develop than we had hoped,” Zito said. “Some horses do that. He didn’t have the greatest of winters, but neither did Birdstone.”

Like Birdstone, who won the Champagne (gr. I) and finished eighth in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), Anak Nakal fared much better as a 2-year-old than he has on the Triple Crown trail. Anak Nakal was 2-1-0 from three starts as a juvenile, including a half-length victory in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (gr. II) at Churchill Downs. He was also runner-up in the Nashua (gr. III) at Aqueduct.

But Anak Nakal has struggled as a sophomore, missing the board in all four starts. In fact, the dark bay colt has done no better than fifth in all of his efforts, which have included the Fountain of Youth (gr. II), Rebel (gr. III), Wood Memorial (gr. I) and Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I). Under the handing of Rafael Bejarano, Anak Nakal was seventh in the Derby.

Another reason Anak Nakal fans may have reason to hope for a Belmont upset is because of his sire, Victory Gallop. In 1998 it was Victory Gallop who denied Real Quiet the Triple Crown, coming from four lengths back at the top of the stretch to catch him by a nose under Gary Stevens. Of course, Victory Gallop had shown much more promise than Anak Nakal leading up to the Belmont, winning the Rebel and Arkansas Derby (gr. II), and finishing second to Real Quiet in both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes (gr. I).

“We know he’s a mile-and-a-half horse,” Zito said. “His daddy won this race and he will run all day. He proved that in the Derby when he kept coming. He’ll certainly have to improve, but he’s a tough little horse. You never know unless you try.”

Anak Nakal was bred in Kentucky by Buckram Oak Farm, which was previously owned by the late Mahmoud Fustok. After Fustok died in 2006, his horses were acquired by long time friend and business partner Kassem Masri, who controls Four Roses Thoroughbreds.

Anak Nakal is out of the Quiet American mare Misk. He has earned $243,416 from seven starts.