Confronted with a series of obstacles that included a sloppy track, six competent rivals, and the possible negative effects of returning from an 11-week layoff, Herman Van Den Broeck’s Angelica Zapata overcame all potential pitfalls to show once again why she is Calder Casino & Race Course’s leading 4-year-old filly, winning the $75,000 Stage Door Betty Handicap by 7 ½ lengths on Saturday to capture her fourth straight south Florida stake.
“So easy,” winning rider Luis Saez said after guiding Angelica Zapata to victory in his first start aboard the filly. “When I worked her the other day, I could tell how good she was. I was impressed then; even more now.”
Ridden from post four by Saez, who replaced jockey Jose Ferrer on Angelica Zapata when that rider moved his tack north last month, the Ron Pellegrini trainee settled comfortably in third as Beloveda and Annie Roe took turns on the lead through opening splits of :24.20 and :48.29.
As the field continued down the backstretch, Angelica Zapata was no longer content to let another filly have the lead and began to move aggressively towards the front. Within a few jumps, the filly had seized control of the race, opening up a clear advantage on her rivals that would extend itself down the stretch and through the wire.
“When she’s on the track, she knows what to do, and when we made our move, that was all her,” Saez said. “I never had to ask. She is so good that she knows exactly what she needs to do and when to do it.”
Sent from the gate as the overwhelming favorite, Angelica Zapata returned $2.40, $2.20, and $2.10 for her popular victory. Last year’s Stage Door Betty heroine My Pal Chrisy gave chase late and paid $7.40 and $3.80 for second, while Callmethesqueeze returned $3.80 when getting up for third.
The final time for the 1 1/16-mile distance was 1:44.86.
With her win in the Stage Door Betty, Angelica Zapata has prevailed in four of her five starts this year, with each of those victories coming in succession. The filly began her current streak with a mid-May score in the $55,000 Sara’s Success before returning with summertime triumphs in the $55,000 Emergency Nurse and the $75,000 Nancy’s Glitter.
Following her Saturday win, the daughter of Sharp Humor now boasts a career record of six wins from 19 starts, with a lifetime bankroll of $279,100.