Impressive debut winner Zaikov returns to scene of triumph

Zaikov 615 X 400
Photo: Coglianese Photos
Arindel Farm’s stunning gray-roan colt Zaikov could only have been more impressive in his career debut if he had sprouted wings and literally flew across the finish line of Gulfstream Park’s main oval back in March. The talented colt, by Distorted Humor and out of the Maria’s Mon champion mare, Wait a While, broke from about the middle of the field and quickly moved up to settle just off the flank of pace-setting Trinni Heart. As the duo entered the far turn, Zaikov inched up to race in tandem with his foe before switching gears leaving the turn. With devastating ease, the flashy gray pulled away to cross the wire a winner by 14 ¼ lengths, completing the 6 furlong affair in 1.09:78.
Zaikov’s eye-catching debut romp quickly elevated him to the “it” colt of the hour as he set tongues a wagging. Speculation centered on whether or not trainer Todd Pletcher and owner Arindel Farm would try to hustle the colt into a Kentucky Derby prep in hopes of qualifying for the big dance, but those hopes were quickly dashed. The colt developed a shin problem and was sent to an Ocala, Florida farm to recover. Pletcher had hoped to have him ready to go for the Saratoga meet, but things did not quite work out in favor of Plan A.
Now the wait is over. Zaikov is set to return in Race 6 at Gulfstream Park on Friday, December 13. Along with nine other colts and geldings, Zaikov is entered in a 6 furlong NW1X on the main track. This time the colt gets jockey Javier Castellano as his pilot and will break from post 6 in the field of 10. Under the conditions of the race, the colt will tote 116 lbs, five less than the trio of top weighted, older geldings. Don’t be fooled into thinking this return will be easy, though. He faces a very salty field, and though the conditions are billed as a NW1X, several foes have been in excellent form lately.
Black Karma, a gelded 3-year old son of Black Mambo, enters this race with almost as little experience as Zaikov. In three lifetime starts, he has fallen just a nose shy of being undefeated and has shown a strong affinity for both Gulfstream Park and Calder Race Course. He will likely try to contest the lead and is drawn just to the inside of Zaikov. Megalith threw in a clunker last out after finding trouble early, but before that 6th place finish, he had rattled off 4 wins from 5 starts. Defend and Noble Prince are another two that will likely show up in a big way. Both have been running well and like the South Florida track.
Talented Zaikov will have to bring his very best to the starting gate in order to reign supreme over this field. It is hard to overlook a Todd Pletcher trainee at Gulfstream, but I have my doubts about this one. After examining the recent past performances of the field he beat back in March, it became apparent why he so easily demolished that field. Of the eight foes he faced that day, only runner-up Trinni Heart came back to win in his next outing. A couple, including Havre de Grace’s half-brother Brabbham, have yet to reach the winner’s circle. This is not to detract from Zaikov. He is clearly talented and has been training well at Palm Meadows, his last three works earning bullet status. However, he will find this field more formidable than the last and will likely have to work harder in order to prevail. But with Pletcher as the trainer and Castellano in the irons, he has an excellent chance of making it two in a row. 


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Older Comments about Impressive debut winner Zaikov returns to scene of triumph...

Ashley, I have the program for that race, The Rapid Transit (ungraded stakes). The horse must have been withdrawn from the race prior to the printing of the program. I guess he still is not ready to race.
  • terri.zeitz · Please disregard my comment, I was looking at the wrong racing program. Zaikov won in this $25,000 allowance race at Gulfstream Park. · 1431 days ago
Ran a hole in the wind first time out . Hope Todd has him right.
It was a visually stunning maiden, and he's bred to the moon. I'm glad he's back.

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