Photo: Coglianese Photos
Nine months after his impressive maiden victory, Zaikov
returns to Gulfstream Park in an optional claiming allowance on Friday.
The Arindel Farm homebred will break from post six of 10 under jockey
Javier Castellano in the sixth race, going six furlongs on the main
With Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez aboard, Zaikov romped by 14 ¼
lengths in his unveiling on March 15, running six furlongs in 1:09.78.
He has tuned up for his return with three consecutive bullet works at
Palm Meadows, including five furlongs in 1:01.20 on Dec. 7.
“We had a shin issue that he ended up getting quite a bit of time off
for,” trainer Todd Pletcher said. “They did a really good job at the
farm with him and he’s come back and he’s training well.”
Pletcher also considered bringing Zaikov, a Distorted Humor colt, back
in a similar spot going one mile two races later, but opted for the
“If there was one at seven-eighths, I probably would have went that
way, but I figured we’d just ease him back into it. He’s obviously a
very talented horse. He showed a lot in his debut, and we hope he
continues moving forward.”
Meanwhile, Pletcher plans to set the bar higher for Hierro, a Grade 3
winner on dirt who won for the first time on turf on Sunday at
Gulfstream, a professional effort in his second career start on grass.
Hierro finished fifth of eight in his turf debut at Belmont Park on
Oct. 14, beaten less than two lengths. He won the Derby Trial (G3) at
Churchill Downs last April for previous trainer Steve Asmussen.
“His first out I wasn’t sure how well he handled it,” Pletcher said.
“John Velazquez came back and said the race was better than it looked.
He said he handled the grass well and wouldn’t be afraid to run him back
on it. We kind of trained him on both and were looking for the right
spot. We’re running out of allowance options for him, so we’ll probably
have to look next at some sort of stake.”