Zagora Sets Course Record In Ballston Spa Presented By Jose Cuervo
By Jenny Kellner | 08/25/2012 06:33 AM ET
A fast early pace and a perfect trip under jockey Ramon Dominguez proved to be an unbeatable combination Saturday afternoon at Saratoga Race Course for Zagora, who rocketed to the lead in midstretch and went on to set a course record in the Grade 2, $250,000 Ballston Spa, presented by Jose Cuervo.
The 3-2 favorite in the field of eight fillies and mares, Zagora was away alertly and quickly settled in fourth behind the speedy Summer Soiree, who led through an opening quarter-mile in 23.70 seconds, with the half going in 46.35 and three-quarters in 1:09.44. Angled to the outside and into the clear with just over a furlong to go, the 5-year-old mare quickly surged to the front and hit the wire in 1:39.07, almost a full second faster than Leroidesanimaux’s 2005 mark of 1:39.92 for the 1 1/16 miles over the inner turf course.
“I had an absolutely beautiful trip,” said Dominguez, the Spa’s leading rider. “The filly with speed went at it, and I was able to sit back. When it was time, I went around, and she finished up very nicely for me.”
It was the second victory in three starts at the Spa for the French-bred daughter of Green Tune, who in the 2011 Diana gave trainer Chad Brown his first Grade 1 and who finished third in this year’s edition on July 28.
“This filly had two really good works since the Diana; in hindsight, she probably needed the race,” said Brown, a native of nearby Mechanicville, N.Y. “She loves Saratoga, especially when it’s firm. She just exploded today. Ramon rode her beautifully. Down the backside, I was feeling pretty good. She had a horse directly in front of her, but those fractions were pretty demanding. I knew she was ready to run. When he tipped her out, it was pretty much over.”
Owned by Martin Schwartz, Zagora returned $5.00 for a $2 win bet, and with the winner’s purse of $150,000 has now earned $1,168,589. Overall, she is 9-4-3 from 20 starts, including four victories in France, where she began her career.
Hungry Island closed from seventh to finish second, 1 ½ lengths back, with Summer Soiree holding on for third. Completing the order of finish were Ruthenia, Heavenly Landing, Tapitsfly, Thundering Emilia, and Mykindofladyfriend.