Fox Hill Farm's favored Zonk allowed Pocus Hocus and With Ability to duel themselves out of contention, then came with an uncontested rally to post a four-length victory in Saturday's $109,600 Affectionately Handicap (gr. III) for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 mile on the Aqueduct inner dirt track. The Affectionately is the first graded stakes race in New York this year.
It was a repeat victory in this race for Zonk, a 5-year-old Farma Way mare who notched her seventh win in 19 career starts to move beyond the half-million dollar mark in lifetime earnings.
Zonk and jockey C.C. Lopez had it made when Pocus Hocus, breaking from post 2, and With Ability, out of post 8, opened daylight on their five rivals and dueled through splits of :22 1/5 and :45 4/5 on the fast track.With Ability, the second betting choice of the on-track crowd of 7,471, quickly backed up. Pocus Hocus was tired, too, and Zonk kicked in to bring the matter to rest early. She cruised home a winner in 1:44 2/5.
"She didn't break real sharp, and Persky kind of hung her out there a little bit," said trainer John Servis. "She recovered very nicely. I thought Chuckie (Lopez) might have moved a little too soon at first, but you could see that as soon as she got to running, she was just galloping along.
Servis said he is considering Laurel's $200,000 Barbara Fritchie (gr. II) at seven furlongs Feb. 15 for Zonk. Should Zonk run there, she will likely hook Wilzada, winner of Aqueduct's Interborough Handicap on New Year's Day.
Wishful Splendor got up to neck Kiss a Miss for the place. With Ability trailed.
Sent off at 2-1 in the field of seven, Zonk paid $6, $3.50 and $2.70. Wishful Splendor returned $10.80 and $4.60. Kiss a Miss's show price was $3.60.(Chart, Equibase)