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Angelica Zapata Proves Trainer Right in $100,000 Wasted Tears
By Angelica Zapata Proves Trainer Right in $100,000 Wasted Tears
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Angelica Zapata was one of only two horses in Saturday’s $100,000 Wasted Tears Stakes at Gulfstream Park that had never won on turf, but trainer Ron Pellegrini was hardly discouraged about his 5-year-old mare’s chances in the 1 1/16-mile turf stakes.
“I told Juan, ‘We’ve got the best horse,’” said Pellegrini, recounting his pre-race chat with jockey Juan Leyva in the walking ring.
The bettors, who made Angelica Zapata their 5-2 favorite in a strong field of seven fillies and mares, agreed, and the multiple-stakes winner on dirt didn’t disappoint them. After making a three-wide bid on the far turn, the daughter of Sharp Humor kicked in through the stretch to score by 1 1/4 lengths over the late-running Ann of the Dance, who was coincidently the other horse looking for her first win on turf.
“I’ve always thought this filly could run as good on turf as the dirt. In fact, when she was 3, I thought she was a better turf horse,” Pellegrini said. “That’s why I kept pointing her for turf races. She got a clean trip. Every other race on turf, she’s had a bad trip.”
Leyva gave Angelica Zapata a perfectly executed ride, saving ground around the first turn after breaking from an outside post position, swinging three wide leaving the backstretch in pursuit of pacesetter Miss Montreal and urging her on to victory in the stretch run.
“Ron told me to ride her like she was the best horse in the race, and I did. I had to redeem myself for the last time (on turf), and I think I did,” said Leyva, referring to a third-place finish in the Hollywood Wildcat Stakes in which Angelica Zapata lost by only a neck despite a wide trip.
Angelica Zapata, who has six stakes scores on dirt, captured her first race on turf in five starts, prevailing against a late-closing Ann of the Dance and jockey Edgard Zayas. Team, ridden by Jesus Rios finished third, a nose in front of Celestial Kitten. Miss Montreal faded to fifth.
Angelica Zapata earned $60,000 for her eighth career triumph in 23 starts, boosting her bankroll to $398,070.
“She’s just highly competitive. This year, she’s really learned to relax. She’s really mellowed out and running good. Our goal is to make it to Gulfstream for the winter. Last year, we had an issue with one of her legs and had to stop on her for five months,” said Pellegrini, who has his goals set on the graded stakes during Gulfstream’s Champion’s Meeting.