Zan­otti can end vic­tory drought

Daily Racing Form National Digital Edition - - News - MIKE WATCH­MAKER

The Breed­ers’ Cup may be be­hind us but there is some fun rac­ing to look for­ward to Satur­day. The Grade 3, $100,000 Com­mon­wealth Turf at Churchill Downs is the only graded stakes event on the sched­ule, but Lau­rel has an in­ter­est­ing card on its Salute the Troops Day with five $100,000 stakes, os­ten­si­bly led by the Richard W. Small. Aque­duct has a turf stakes dou­ble­header sched­uled in the $150,000 Ar­tie Schiller and the $100,000 At­lantic Beach, while the fea­ture at Del Mar is the $75,000 Let It Ride.

Richard W. Small Stakes

Some­thing Awe­some was good to me when he won the Charles Town Clas­sic April at 9-1 as a Week­end War­rior play. He had pre­vi­ously been a non­de­script per­former on syn­thetic sur­faces, but he mor­phed into a dif­fer­ent horse over the win­ter when given an ex­tended op­por­tu­nity on dirt, and that rich score at Charles Town capped a se­ries of ca­reer-best per­for­mances.

Un­for­tu­nately, some­thing may have gone wrong with Some­thing Awe­some when he was eased in the sub­se­quent Pim­lico Spe­cial on May 18, and this will be his first start since. Some­thing Awe­some hails from a Jose Cor­rales barn that is good with lay­off horses and he is clearly the one to beat here on his best. But even if I’m pre­dis­posed to like him, the six-month lay­off af­ter a bad out­ing makes me wary.

There are sev­eral other ways to go in this over­flow field (14 are in the body of the race with two also-el­i­gi­bles, just as in the Breed­ers’ Cup), in­clud­ing, among oth­ers, the steady Name Changer, who is 3 for 5 this year with two thirds, in­clud­ing a win in the Mon­mouth Cup two starts back, and Dal­more, who suit­ably stretches back out to two turns in his sec­ond start off a fresh­en­ing, and who was sec­ond in the Corn­husker three starts back. But they haven’t been on my bet-back list for the last seven weeks as Zan­otti has.

It’s usu­ally not my style to throw in with a horse who has zero wins and six sec­onds from eight starts on the year, which is Zan­otti’s 2018 record. But Zan­otti is not a hanger. He won five of eight starts last year, and this year he has sim­ply run into some hot horses or ad­verse cir­cum­stances.

No cir­cum­stances were more ad­verse for Zan­otti than when he ran most re­cently in the Penn­syl­va­nia Derby Cham­pion Stakes on the Cotil­lion/Penn­syl­va­nia Derby un­der­card at Parx Rac­ing. As is of­ten the case at Parx, the in­side on the main track that day was dead, yet Zan­otti was on or right near it all the way around the track. It was much to his credit that he man­aged to get sec­ond, but even that doesn’t il­lus­trate how coura­geously he ran. Name Changer, who was wide and in by far the best foot­ing, ac­tu­ally passed Zan­otti in mid­stretch to take sec­ond, but Zan­otti some­how fought back and re­claimed the place.

City of Lau­rel Stakes

Rug­by­man has shown flashes of real abil­ity and he’s dan­ger­ous in this spot de­spite his fad­ing third in an al­lowance route at Keeneland last time out. That is be­cause Rug­by­man’s best per­for­mances – a 14-length maiden romp and a sec­ond in the Easy Goer at Bel­mont, and a solid al­lowance win over Lau­rel’s track two starts back – essen­tially came in ex­tended one-turn events, so the cut­back to seven fur­longs Satur­day ide­ally suits him.

That said, I pre­fer Old Time Re­vival. Old Time Re­vival was speed crazy ear­lier this year, run­ning off early in the Wood Me­mo­rial, but he has learned to har­ness his run, as ev­i­denced by his win last time over older Mary­land-breds in the Challe­don. Old Time Re­vival ac­tu­ally stalked and pounced to get up in that one, his best ef­fort yet, and was flat­tered when the third fin­isher came back to win his next start.

Let It Ride Stakes

Aque­duct’s Ar­tie Schiller is an in­ter­est­ing race, but with even more rain in the New York fore­cast for Fri­day and Fri­day night – per­haps more than an inch – I didn’t want to risk us­ing that turf race, so I’ll go with this one in bet­ter weather in­stead.

Prince Earl won his first two starts as a nice prospect, but I’ll opt for a horse with stakes ex­pe­ri­ence and go with Calex­man. Calex­man fin­ished third in both the La Jolla and Ocean­side over the Del Mar course last sum­mer, and now, with blink­ers on and af­ter a sprint sharp­ener, he’s as loose early here as he wants to be.

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