War Pass wins Juvenile to remain undefeated

Zito horse is likely early Derby favorite


October 28, 2007|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,[Sun reporter]

OCEANPORT, N.J. -- When trainer Nick Zito and owner Robert LaPenta emerged from the post-race interview after the victory by their juvenile colt War Pass, there was little doubt about how they had been touched by the colt's victory.

"This was the plan," LaPenta said, hugging Zito. "This was the plan."

"Yeah," said Zito, in a low voice, even more husky than usual. "It was."

With yesterday's victory in the $2 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile, the pair have the uncontested 2-year-old champion and the horse everyone will be watching next spring leading into the Kentucky Derby.

"He's going to get a long rest now and we're going to do everything we can come Derby day to see that he gets that mile and a quarter," Zito said.

War Pass completed a perfect, 4-for-4 season as a 2-year-old with a dominating victory, beating two Steve Asmussen-trained horses, Pyro by 4 3/4 lengths and Kodiak Kowboy, who was another 12 back. War Pass wired the 1 1/16th-mile course in 1:42.76.

Indian Blessing was equally impressive in the $2 million, Grade I Juvenile Fillies, beating Proud Spell by 3 1/2 lengths while leading wire-to-wire for her third win in three starts. Her trainer, Bob Baffert, also won with Midnight Lute in the $2 million Sprint.

Memorable moments

In the Filly and Mare Turf, Simply Perfect passed the field to go from sixth to first in a quarter mile but bolted wide on the first turn, carrying Precious Kitten with her. Simply Perfect was eventually pulled up when she came up on an outrider. Lahudood, bred in Great Britain, won as an 11-to-1 shot.

The Distaff was perhaps the most competitive race, with "Photo" going up on the board for first, second and third. Ginger Punch won by a neck over Hystericalady, who edged third-place Octave by a neck.

Kip Deville won the Mile by a length over Excellent Art.

"Kip Deville is not a people person, he's a horse. ... He just likes to show up on the big days," trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. said.

English Channel, a Kentucky bred, gave trainer Todd Pletcher his third career Breeders' Cup win with a victory in the Turf, winning by seven lengths over Shamdinan of France. Last year's winner, Red Rocks, was third, and 2004 winner Better Talk Now, who trains at Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland, was fourth.

"The pace wasn't fast enough," said Graham Motion, trainer of Better Talk Now. "I think he's every bit as good as he has ever been."

A good day

Maryland trainer Mike Trombetta had two top-three finishes in the three stakes races that led up to the Breeders' Cup races.

"It's my first time running horses on the Breeders' Cup race-day card," he said. "It has been wet and soggy, but my horses ran hard and I'm happy with them."

Now a Victor finished second by a neck to Actin Good in the $250,000 Grade III Pegasus Stakes for 3-year-olds, and Control System finished third in the $200,000 Miss Woodford Stakes.

Maryland fans

The Maryland Horse Breeders Association brought a busload of 50 fans to the races yesterday.

When Maryland racing was brought up, breeder Josh Pons said he is seriously considering taking a horse to the 9 a.m. rally at the State House in Annapolis Friday in support of slots legislation.

"I think we'll put him there and line up all the things it takes to raise a horse in Maryland," he said. "I think it's a point we need to make."sandra.mckee@baltsun.com

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