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Ziconic Gives Zenyatta Fans New Hope

Ziconic Gives Zenyatta Fans New Hope: Followers might remember an article from last summer titled “Cozmic One and Second Start Theory,” where it was pointed out how most horses use their career debut as a learning experience and improve next time. For betting purposes, this remains true, although the son of Zenyatta failed to back up the claim by not improving.

Ziconic Horse

Zenyatta has another foal at Santa Anita Park preparing to race named Ziconic, a 3-year-old son of leading sire Tapit. Zenyatta’s former connections, trainer John Shirreffs and owners Mr. and Mrs. Moss, manage both famous colts.
Photo: Susie Raisher, Coglianese/NYRA

Cozmic One, sired by Bernardini, remains in training and worked five furlongs on Jan. 18, but Zenyatta has another foal at Santa Anita Park preparing to race named Ziconic, a 3-year-old son of leading sire Tapit. Zenyatta’s former connections, trainer John Shirreffs and owners Mr. and Mrs. Moss, manage both famous colts.

According to Daily Racing Form’s Steve Andersen, Ziconic is “likely to make his career debut before the end of February.” Furthermore, Shirreffs believes Ziconic “trains differently than Cozmic One.”

In other words, Shirreffs sounds more encouraged by Ziconic’s progress than Cozmic One at this stage. Is this accurate? Well, most fans are not at Santa Anita to watch him train, but there are clues.

First of all, Tapit progeny achieve more success than the majority of Bernardini horses. While in recent years, Bernardini improved, he does not cross well with the Zenyatta family (see Eblouissante). Plus, Tapits seem likely to display speed, which Zenyatta babies need, and still cover a route distance.

In the same update, Andersen quotes Shirreffs as mentioning “He’s got a little more gas.”

Yet ironically, none of Ziconic’s morning workouts appear zippy at first glance, not that it matters much.

Bettors hold the common belief that faster workout times on paper equal better speed and talent. Fans know Ziconic recently worked five furlongs in 1:02.20 for five furlongs and may judge the work “slow” because of the final time. Without the context though, it is difficult to judge whether the 1:02 means anything.

For what it is worth, respected clocker Bruno De Julio watched Ziconic at Saratoga Race Course last summer and wrote on Twitter that Ziconic had “much more energy at Saratoga than I ever saw from Cozmic One.”

In addition, if a horse works every seven days, or close to the number, then the horse is probably healthy. Ziconic stopped for a while after the Saratoga meet, but began his weekly schedule again in November.

If Ziconic truly starts in February, it gives reason to think Shirreffs believes in Ziconic’s talent by starting him sooner. In Cozmic One’s case, he never debuted until April, and then waited until July for another failed attempt, almost as if Shirreffs wanted to delay the inevitable loss by pushing back the unveiling, and the second start as well.

Of course, the legendary Zenyatta never debuted until November of her 3-year-old season, possibly debunking the theory. She turned out okay, for a horse who started kind of late.

To go back to the earlier point though, of hiding a horse who lacks talent in the barn, Cozmic One worked 19 times since his last race. It is theoretically possible normal growth and maturity helped in the time period, but unlikely.

In contrast, a different air surrounds Ziconic. His connections, experienced observers and various fans are all enthusiastic about this horse’s chances to succeed. The signs are good from more than one viewpoint this time. Zenyatta’s latest active son offers new hope for fans, and unlike Cozmic One, he can deliver.

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