Zook, Wildwood Royal Add Another Iowa Notch

(from Prairie Meadows report)
The list of big-name trainers that Jimmy Zook outruns at Prairie Meadows just keeps growing.

Wildwood Royal -- a filly Zook trains -- used a front-running effort to earn a two-length win in Saturday's $122,500 Iowa Distaff Breeders' Cup. Among the rivals she outran in the 1 1/16-mile race is Cat Fighter, a Kentucky shipper trained by Bob Baffert.

"We beat (William) Mott and (Ken) McPeek last time. Now we beat a Baffert horse,'' Zook said. "That's got to be at the top of our list.

"Even though it's not his best, he doesn't have bad horses. We're pretty tickled about that.''

Horses trained by Mott and McPeek were no match for Wildwood Royal during her victory in the Wild Rose Handicap on June 12. Her latest win was just as impressive, as she inched away in the final turn then held her advantage late while prevailing in 1:41 3/5.

The win was worth $75,000. It raised the career earnings of the Kentucky-bred daughter of Royal Academy out of the dam Silk Masque to $311,250.

"I think she's Breeders' Cup material,'' said winning jockey Danush Sukie.

Wildwood Royal opened up a half-length lead against Cat Fighter and jockey Pat Day early and never gave up her advantage.

"There wasn't any speed in the race,'' Sukie said. "My anticipation was to go on the lead and then Pat tried to go with me. If I could have told him not to go I would have.''

Cat Fighter couldn't match strides with the winner in the final turn and wound up finishing third. Chance Dance and jockey Robby Albarado closed ground late against a field of four rivals and secured second.

Wildwood Royal was pressed by Chance Dance and Cat Fighter from the start. Zook's filly opened up a length lead, then increased her margin to 2 1/2 lengths entering the stretch.

"I looked at the Form. I thought she could set the fastest fractions,'' Zook said. "Then I see Mr. Day clocking us down the backside. You know, he has the great sense of pace but we just had the best horse it looked like to me.''

The second choice at 5-to-2 odds, Wildwood Royal paid $7.60, $3.60 and $2.20. Chance Dance returned $5.20 and $2.20. Cat Fighter paid $2.20 to show.

(Chart, Equibase)