Middle Move Earns Zonk Affectionately Handicap Win

Fox Hill Farms' Zonk utilized a big middle move to win Saturday's $113,400 Affectionately Handicap (gr. III) at Aqueduct. Under C.C. Lopez, Zonk completed the 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.58 on a fast track to win by a length over People's Princess.

"She's usually the kind of horse that grinds out wins," said trainer John Servis. "I told Chuckie (Lopez) that she wasn't the kind of filly that makes a big, explosive move, but that's exactly what she did today. Sometimes, the less instructions you give, the better off you are."

"She was running over the top of horses," said Lopez. "I was doing all I could to restrain her. When I eased her out, she took off and almost rushed the two leaders. She went by them and then she started playing, looking and carrying on. I just said, `Don't get beat now, Mama!'"

Search Party came home third, 3 1/2 lengths behind People's Princess and well clear of fourth-place Rochelle's Terms. A. P. Andie, 11-10 favorite Tugger, Double Trick, Miss Splash, Strolling Belle, and A. O. L. Hayes completed the order of finish.

The win marks the second graded stakes win for the 4-year-old daughter of Farma Way. In July, she won the Delaware Oaks (gr. III) at odds of 29-1. She was sent off at only 5-1 in the Affectionately and returned $12.20, $7, and $4.70 and topped the $109.50 exacta. She earned $68.040 for her fifth win from 13 career starts.

"She came out of her last race with a little splint problem, which is why she hadn't run since (Nov. 23)," said Servis. "We got it straightened out and got her back on track. I think we'll keep her in this area. She's always trained like a better horse than she has shown in the afternoons. She's lightly raced. She's been pretty sound, other than the splint, so I think she can still improve."

Zonk is out of In Concert, by Riverman, and was bred in Kentucky by Vinery and Dale Nelson. She sold for $85,000 at the September Keeneland yearling sale of 1999. (Chart, Equibase)