Pompay Looks to 'Zero' in on Sunday Stakes
By Ed Gray
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – When Zero Rate Policy goes to post in Sunday’s $60,000 Sunshine State Stakes at Gulfstream Park, the 3-year-old gelding will have a lot going for him in the seven-furlong event for Florida-bred horses.
“He’s feeling good; his coat looks great; he’s happy; he loves this track,” said trainer Terri Pompay, listing the positives in the son of Trippi’s preparation for the Sunshine State. “I expect he’ll put in a really good effort.”
When last seen at Gulfstream Park on April 23, Zero Rate Policy drew off to an authoritative maiden victory by nearly four lengths in his second lifetime start, a month after debuting with a second place finish in his debut. The color-bearer of the Klaravich Stables and William Lawrence moved on to Monmouth to win an entry level allowance and the Rumson Stakes before regressing with a couple of fourth-place stakes finishes.
“He did really well here last year and looked like he was stepping up to be a really nice horse,” Pompay said. “But then he ran a couple races that weren’t as good as I would have wished. He got a little sick on me. I thought he was back to being 100 percent, but it took a little bit longer than I anticipated. I just think he wasn’t quite right.”
Zero Rate Policy began a fall campaign with a runner-up finish at Delaware Park before returning to peak form at Monmouth with a four-length allowance score under jockey Paco Lopez, who will have the return mount Sunday.
“Right now he’s doing terrific. He just went through a bad spell where he wasn’t feeling good,” his trainer said.
Although Zero Rate Policy demonstrated ability right from the start of his career at Gulfstream Park last March, Pompay had to be patient with the late-developing gelding.
“He was big and gawky as a baby. His stride is huge. It took him a long time to get his act together,” she said. “He was a big, gawky kid, that’s why he didn’t run until he was 3, because he didn’t know where he was putting his body.”
Even when she became satisfied that he was ready to embark on his racing career, Pompay was forced to wait a few more months to unveil the son of Trippi’s talents.
“We almost had him ready to run at the beginning of the meet. We went up to the starting gate and the outrider went to take a hold of him because there was a horse breaking from the gate, and he reared up and fell over,” Pompay recounted the accident in which her young horse injured his tailbone.
Now the picture of health, Zero Rate Policy has been installed as the 5-2 morning-line favorite in a field of nine horses 3 years old an older. The 3-year-old favorite will be challenged by four elders, including It’s Never To Late, a 6-year-old gelding with 15 lifetime victories. Rated second at 3-1 in the morning line, It’s Never To Late is coming off a victory over Zero Rate Policy at Delaware Park by more than two lengths. Santiago Gonzalez has the return mount.
Pashito the Che, rated third at 5-1 in the morning line, will get attention at the betting windows on the strength of the 5-year-old’s second-place finish last time out at Calder in the $125,000 Jack Dudley Sprint.
Our Edge, a veteran stakes performer trained by Nick Zito, and Manicero, a 3-year-old multiple stakes winner, are both rated at 6-1 in the morning line.