Ziconic Eligible to Move Up in Turf Debut at Del Mar
Ziconic Eligible to Move Up in Turf Debut at Del Mar by Reinier Macatangay: Ah, turf racing. Inexperienced American bettors might have problems with turf, because the importance of speed figures lessens in favor of overall class and trips, yet some people do not approach these races with a different mindset. To survive turf handicapping, it requires more time to watch replays and search for hidden angles.
Ziconic, a 3-year-old son of 2010 Horse of the Year Zenyatta with four losses, attempts to break his maiden on the grass Sunday in Race 4 at Del Mar Racetrack, when he competes in a full field of 11 at the one-mile distance.
To help with the analysis, here are a few lines pulled from “The Ultimate Guide to Handicapping Turf Route Races” on Equinometry:
“Turf route races usually have much slower paces than dirt route races, which would leave many to believe that front runners would have an advantage. This is not the case.
With a slow pace comes a bunched field. The horses coming from off the pace will not have to run as fast to keep up and will therefore have more energy in reserve for the stretch run.
The off the pace runners normally finish faster than front runners and with less ground to make up they are actually at an advantage in slow paced turf races. The one exception would be the classy front runner that is able to finish equally as fast.”
Zenyatta never competed on turf, but she possessed the perfect style for grass racing with her come-from-behind closing kick. The move worked beautifully during the synthetic era and helped the mare become a legend.
Her son Ziconic owns the same running style. Unfortunately, at least on dirt, he has lacked the ability to close out the deal and win races. In fairness, Ziconic has shown ability by placing third in two starts out of four tries.
Because the field tends to spread out on dirt, a closer will experience more problems making up ground because the front pack is already several lengths ahead. On turf, as pointed out, the situation usually runs different.
If the field can stay more compact, and Ziconic is provided a clear run by the well-known Victor Espinoza, then the John Shirreffs-trained colt can win and finally break his maiden this weekend.
There are several challengers to think about though, including the rail gelding Blue Navy Blue, who returns to turf after two unsuccessful outings on dirt. Even on turf though, he failed to win a maiden 50k claimer down the hill at Santa Anita Park, and carries a lot of speed which may not be as effective going longer on turf.
Ironically, one of Ziconic’s challengers in this maiden race is Dark Energy from post position two, a son of Zenyatta’s former stablemate Zardana. Both Ziconic and Dark Energy are trained by Shirreffs, although Mr. and Mrs. Moss owns Ziconic and Arnold Zetcher owns Dark Energy (the original owners of Zenyatta and Zardana).
While Zardana excelled in dirt racing during her career, it is possible Dark Energy can excel on grass because the sire Giant’s Causeway creates winners on either surface. Forgive his poor June 4 effort at Santa Anita. If Dark Energy runs back to the May 13 race at the same distance as this race where he closed gamely, he can win.
Down the list, Exhale makes his second career start for trainer Peter Eurton. Note this son of Scat Daddy cost $500,000 at auction, and his progeny excel just as well on turf as on dirt. One concern is the dam Siren Serenade, who has produced the distance-challenged Luminance and The Pulse.
Further down the list of entrants, the ridgling Flash of Thunder makes his debut for Ron McAnally after running under Todd Pletcher’s name at Gulfstream Park West. He closed well in Florida and should not be ignored.
If bettors are interested in a foreigner, the filly Angel Eria makes her North American debut. She lost six different times in Europe, and not every European or former European is superior to American horses.
Stop and consider these words though, also from Equinometry:
“Good jockeys have a big advantage and bad jockeys are at a big disadvantage.”
Flavien Prat rides Angel Eria, and at times he seems invincible in turf races. He puts the horse in the right position early on, which is very important in grass racing. If one must bet turf races blind, find out the horse Prat is on.
On an opposite note, Ral Rue finished in front of Dark Energy three starts ago, but can Ignacio Puglisi be trusted?
Give Bedeviled a look from the far outside as well. His two turf starts resulted in him closing within less than a length of the leader, and Exaggerator fans will like the brother team of Keith and Kent Desormeaux.
In conclusion, yes Ziconic can win this race despite the non-believers, and his stablemate Dark Energy is capable as well. The “second start theory” also applies to turf horses, so keep an eye on Flash of Thunder too, and Angel Eria because of Prat. Plus, acknowledge that Bedeviled probably has the best chance out of all of them.