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Zarina Surges to Victory in 100k Martha Washington

Jul 6, 2019
Stirling Drive Prevails in Co-Featured $100,000 Not Surprising   

– Robert Roffey Jr.’s Zarina took advantage of a perfect set-up in Saturday’s $100,000 Martha Washington Stakes at Gulfstream Park, closing from far off the pace to register her first stakes victory in the mile turf stakes for 3-year-old fillies.

“This is a filly we’ve always liked a lot. The pace is what we worry about. Last time there was no pace,” trainer Chad Stewart said. “We always had this race in mind. The race three weeks ago didn’t go, so we ended up running [June 22], which we hadn’t planned on. We’ve always had stakes on our minds with this filly.”

Zarina ($34.40), who closed mildly for fourth in an optional claiming allowance last time out, settled well off the pace contested by Bello Porte and La Australiana around the first turn and along the backstretch while posting fractions of 24.52 and 48.47 for the first half mile. Kelsey’s Cross, who finished third in the Wonder Again (G3) at Belmont last time out, made a sweeping move to the lead on the turn into the homestretch but was no match for Zarina, who wore her down inside the eighth-pole while holding off a late surge by Red Rounder.

Zarina, who won three of her first six starts at Tampa Bay Downs, ran the mile in 1:35.57 over a firm course while prevailing by a neck over Red Rounder, who finished a half-length.ahead of Kelsey’s Cross.

“She’s not real fast, but she tries hard, and she never gets tired,” said Stewart, who is looking a stakes locally and at Colonial Downs for the daughter of Temple City’s next start.

Stirling Drive Prevails in Co-Featured $100,000 Not Surprising 

N. T. S. Stable Inc.’s Stirling Drive ($23.40) made a few lane changes on his way to victory in the $100,000 Not Surprising Stakes at Gulfstream Park, surviving an inquiry and an objection to prevail in the mile turf stakes for 3-year-olds.

Trained by Milt Wolfson, Stirling Drive was prominent throughout Saturday’s co-feature, pressing the pace set by Sovereign Warrior, who posted fractions of 23.89 and 48.13 seconds for the first half mile. The son of Verrazano took the lead on the turn into the homestretch and continued on to score by a neck after drifting to his outside on a couple of occasions.

Art G Is Back closed with a rush along the rail after trailing early to finish second, a neck ahead of Forever Mo, who altered course inside the eighth pole.

“I wanted to try to take the lead or be right there. I tried to get the lead, but he took a good position outside [pacesetter Sovereign Warrior]. At the half-mile pole, I didn’t see anyone to give us pressure. At the three-eighths pole I asked him to go,” jockey Samy Camacho said. “At the top of the stretch, he took the lead and kept on going. The last furlong, it got a little tight, but we won the race.”

Stirling Drive ran the mile over a firm turf in 1:36.37 to win his second career stakes. The Florida-bred gelding captured the Juvenile Turf for state-breds at Gulfstream Park West under Camacho last fall.

“He’s a nice little horse, and those horses who beat him before [in the May 4 English Channel] are tough horses,” said Wolfson, referring to Stirling Drive’s third-place finish behind Vow Me Now and Art G. Is Back the last time Camacho had ridden him. “The jock gave him a great ride. He knows him, he’s ridden him before. Unfortunately, he went to Tampa. But he rides him the best.”

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