Angelica Zapata has been the star in trainer Ronald Pellegrini’s barn since she was young. After a short rest, the 6-year-old mare is looking better than ever according to Pellegrini, and is set to return to defend her reign in this Saturday’s $75,000 Nancy’s Glitter Handicap at Calder Casino & Race Course.
“I think Angelica is destined to finish the year on a very strong note,” said Pellegrini. “I think this is going to be the best year she’s ever had. The way she is right now, I think we’re still going to see better things from her. We’ll find out; it’s still in the stars.”
“Angelica Zapata was pre-destined for greatness when she was named by co-breeder and owner Herman Van Den Broeck for the best wine in Argentina,” according to Pellegrini. She returns to race at her home base for the first time since a second-place finish by ½ of a length in the1 1/8-mile Grade III My Charmer Handicap on the turf last December.
For the past two years, Angelica Zapata has captured six stakes victories at Calder from seven stakes wins in South Florida to add to her first career stakes score, which came in 2011 at Turfway Park, giving her eight career stakes victories in total. She is already twice a victor in the Nancy’s Glitter – first by a dominant nine lengths when the race was held at the 1 1/16-mile distance in 2012, and then won by ¾ of a length in 2013 at the 1-mile distance by stalking the pace as opposed to pressing it. The 2014 running will once again be held at one mile.
“I wouldn’t trade places with anybody,” said Pellegrini. “She’s an honest horse. She’s carrying good weight, she’s training really good, she’s the most relaxed she’s ever been in her whole life. We’re very happy with the way she’s going.”
Angelica Zapata kicked off her 2014 season with a third-place finish in the 1 1/16-mile Grade III Marshua’s River Stakes on the turf at Gulfstream Park. She has not raced since February 16 in the 1 1/16-mile Grade II Sabin Stakes at Gulfstream, where she finished fourth to trainer Martin Wolfson’s Devil’s Cave.
“Angelica came out of the race with a little issue and we gave her 30 to 40 days off,” said Pellegrini. “She’s ready to run, so we’ll see what happens.”
Devil’s Cave is also entered for the Nancy’s Glitter and heads into the race off of a third-place finish in the 1 1/16-mile Grade I La Troienne Stakes at Churchill Downs, a race in which Pellegrini said Angelica Zapata would have run had she not needed the brief rest.
The timing of the break thus set up perfectly for the Nancy’s Glitter for Angelica Zapata, allowing her to enter fresh into the stake.
“I think she appreciated it,” said Pellegrini of the short rest. “Every time we have waited on her a little bit, she has rewarded us very well on her return to racing, so hopefully the third time will turn out to really be the charm.”