The $75,000 Decathlon Stakes, a
six-furlong event that headlines the opening day card at Monmouth Park, drew a
field of nine older horses who look very well matched.
The race is a true handicapping
puzzle with the presence of such veteran runners as Congressional Page, who won
the Decathlon in 2010, and Wildcat Brief, who ran second in last year’s running
of the stakes.
A relative youngster in the field is
Klaravich Stables and W. H. Lawrence’s Zero Rate Policy, who showed his love
for the Monmouth strip last year as a 3-year-old when he won the Rumson Stakes
and two allowance sprints.
Trainer Terri Pompay had him ready
to roll in Florida last December, and the son of Trippi captured the Sunshine
State Stakes at Gulfstream, and then was beaten an inch by Apriority in the
Grade 3 Mr. Prospector Stakes after six furlongs in 1:09 1/5.
“That race took a lot out of both horses,”
Pompay said. “We both went in the Sunshine Millions Sprint in January, and we
thought we’d be the top two, but we were both out of the money.”
Zero Rate Policy was given a break after
that, and on April 1 made his most recent start in the Duncan F. Kenner Stakes
at Fair Grounds. He finished fifth after six furlongs in 1:08 2/5.
“They were going really fast,”
Pompay said, “and Zero was having trouble on the tight turn. He’s a big,
long-striding horse and he didn’t handle the turn well at all. But he came out
of that fine, and he’s been doing great since we shipped back to Monmouth.”
That could be an understatement. The
4-year-old gelding has had two works over the Monmouth track since arriving in
late April, and both were bullets. He drilled a half-mile in :48 3/5 on April
30, and followed with three-eighths in an eye-opening :35 2/5 on May 6.
“He loves it here,” Pompay said,
“and I expect a big effort from him Saturday.”