I’m not ready to call him another Funny Cide just yet, but I really like what I see from the winner of today’s feature at Aqueduct. Displaying a powerful late rally, Zetterholm ran right by the entire Patsyprospect Stakes field in the stretch, rolling to a 2 ¼ length win. Left in his wake was the lukewarm favorite Sportswriter and three others in the one-mile race for New York-bred 3-year-olds. The winner completed the distance in 1:37.75 with Junior Alvarado aboard for trainer Rick Dutrow. With the victory, the attractive bay colt by Silver Train out of Holy Wish, by Lord At War, extended his winning streak to three races.
Sent off as the 8-5 second choice today, Zetterholm is now three for five lifetime. After a disappointing debut last year at Calder, the Winter Park Partners owned sophomore was transferred to the Dutrow barn, and responded with a second place finish to begin 2012. Since then he has done nothing but win, and he has looked progressively better with each start. Today’s race was so impressive in large part because for most of the race he looked like anything but an easy winner. Languishing on the inside and at the back of the pack, Zetterholm stayed that way until late in the far turn. Showing a lot of confidence in his mount, Alvarado waited as long as he could to ask for the late run. On cue, Zetterholm swung to the outside and started to pick up ground. Even at the eighth pole though, things did still not look good, as Sportswriter spurted clear of the field. A change of leads later, and Zetterholm had his sights set on the leader, quickly rushing by to win going away. The victory was no surprise, especially to the winning connections.
Clearly his team has some faith in him, and are willing to keep their minds and wallets open to what his future may hold. Zetterholm was one of 20 horses who were made eligible for all three legs of the Triple Crown by paying a $6,000 late nomination fee.
With zero graded stakes earnings so far in the bank, you will not find Zetterholm in this year’s Kentucky Derby field, and that’s OK. He beat a couple of decent statebreds today in Sportswriter, and third place finisher, Coalition, but this type of field is worlds away from horses like Union Rags, Hansen, and Creative Cause. Even projecting today’s performance of Zetterholm into tomorrow’s Grade 1 Wood Memorial would take a pretty big leap of faith, but this horse gives the impression of a horse really coming into himself, and this is the time of year when three-year-olds can make large jumps up the class scale as they mature.
Will Zetterholm make his presence felt in the Preakness or Belmont? Well, stranger things have happened, and keep in mind that the last horse to win a Triple Crown race, Ruler On Ice, in the Belmont Stakes, was one of these late nomination horses.
Photo courtesy of Adam Coglianese/NYRA