Herman Van Den Broeck’s Angelica Zapata increased her distance Saturday morning in her final workout in preparation for the $75,000 U Can Do It Handicap at Calder Casino & Race Course, to be run as part of the Summit Preview next Saturday.
With jockey Juan Leyva aboard, Angelica Zapata worked six furlongs in 1:14.40. The six furlong distance is the same as the U Can Do It, and her longest since hitting the work tab for the stake. She worked a four furlong bullet in :48.60 on May 11, the fastest time of 78 workers at that distance, and went five furlongs in 1:03 flat on May 4.
While making her 2013 season debut in the U Can Do It, the 5-year-old mare will also be looking for her fifth-straight stakes win. She won four stakes races in a row at Calder last year that were held at one mile and longer. Angelica
Zapata’s first career stakes victory came in January 2011 at Turfway Park in the Cincinnati Trophy Stakes at 6 ½-furlongs. She returns to sprinting for the first time in more than two years for the 6-furlong U Can Do It, with the ultimate goal of reaching Grade 1-winning status one month later.
The U Can Do It Handicap is the major prep race for the Grade 1 Princess Rooney Handicap that is held on July 6 during the Summit of Speed – Calder’s biggest day of stakes races in the summer. With a successful run in the U Can Do It, Pellegrini plans on running Angelica Zapata in the Princess Rooney, also at 6 furlongs, with the hopes that the mare will receive Grade 1 winner status.
Although she has solely run in races held at one mile or more since the Cincinnati Trophy Stakes, trainer Ronald Pellegrini is not concerned about a return to a sprint distance.
"I think she’s pretty versatile," Pellegrini said. "She also won a stake as a 2-year-old sprinting, so that’s why we feel she can sprint."
In each of her victories, Angelica Zapata was close to or off the pace each time, but never far from the lead before taking over and winning impressively. In her Calder winning streak in the 1-mile Sara’s Success Stakes, 1 mile-70 yards Emergency Nurse Stakes, 1 1/16-mile Nancy’s Glitter Handicap, and the 1 1/16-mile Stage Door Betty Handicap she scored by approximately 18 lengths. Angelica Zapata has not raced since her victory in the Stage Door Betty Handicap last September.
"This is the second time we’ve given her some time but she seemed to reward us well last time and we’re hoping for the same results again," he said.
Pellegrini moved his string to Florida from Kentucky for the 2012 racing season, and with it came a change in fortune for Angelica Zapata, who last ran in October 2011 before coming back from a layoff for the 2012 season. She just could not get to the winner’s circle in eight starts after the Cincinnati Trophy Stakes in 2011.
"In 2011 she had a good year but a lot of bad racing luck," Pellegrini said. "She probably could have won three or four of the races she was in that year and just one bad accident after another would happen. But she could always run.
We weren’t surprised last year like ‘Oh, wow, we have a horse that can run.’ She just didn’t have any luck the year before."
Angelica Zapata has proven that she can be wild before her races, acting up in the paddock so much that Pellegrini had to design a special pre-race routine for her in order to even get her saddled to be in line with the rest of the field.
"She can’t go to the paddock anymore. We always saddle her up the horse path where the ponies stay in between races – we saddle her up there and then bring her into the paddock. Once she’s got the saddle on she’s fine. But putting a saddle on is that’s the problem. The First time we ran her she lost both hind shoes rearing up in the paddock. If you take her in the paddock she can be a real handful. She likes to rear up and wave at you with her front legs."
Once the saddle’s on, then Angelica Zapata becomes serious.
Pellegrini said that "Once she gets on the racetrack she’s all business."
Sr. Quisqueyano Returns to Shorter Distance for Unbridled Stakes
Rosa Stephany Taveras’ Sr. Quisqueyano has run yet to see a sprint race as a 3-year-old, but that will soon change next Saturday in the $75,000 Unbridled Stakes, to be held at 6 furlongs, at Calder Casino & Race Course as part of the Summit Preview.
The 6-furlong distance will be a change of pace for Sr. Quisqueyano, who last ran at 6 furlongs in the Birdonthewire Stakes at Calder last September, where he finished second to the Edward Plesa, Jr.-trained Brave Dave.
"I think he’s a better horse going long," Olivares said. "It’s more comfortable for him to run long than short because he has his own speed and he can lay close to the pace or in front going long."
Sr. Quisqueyano won the $250,000 Calder Derby at the distance of 1 1/16 miles on Calder’s opening day card, running away with the victory by 7 ½-lengths over the Plesa-trained stakes winner Speak Logistics. The Calder Derby was the first win for Sr. Quisqueyano since the Seacliff Stakes at Calder last August, where he earned his first career stakes victory following a 6-furlong allowance win at Calder and a maiden special weight victory in his racing debut.
Prior to the Calder Derby, Sr. Quisqueyano suffered six-straight losses that included four second-place finishes to Plesa’s Itsmyluckyday and Brave Dave. Itsmyluckyday, who most recently finished second in the Grade 1 Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course, has defeated Sr. Quisqueyano every time they have met at one mile and longer. Brave Dave, Sr. Quisqueyano’s sprint nemesis, was nominated for the Unbridled but is not expected to run.
Olivares said that Sr. Quisqueyano has grown since then, having gained a lot of experience by running against tough competition, and that "he’s a horse that matures a little longer and he’s coming along like he’s maturing right now and he’s doing very well."
On Saturday morning, Sr. Quisqueyano had his final workout in preparation for the Unbridled, going an easy four furlongs in :48.60 with jockey Carlos Olivero aboard. Sr. Quisqueyano has been very impressive in his morning training, flying through all of his workouts. He had three-straight bullet works prior to Saturday, working four furlongs in :47.80 while dominating 81 workers at that distance on May 4, going 1:01 flat at five furlongs on May 18, and topping 70 workers at four furlongs with a time of :47 flat on May 25.
"He likes to run. He likes to perform - a lot. Even in the morning he likes to go on all the time," Olivares said. "He wants to do things right."