05/26/2012 2:26PM

Belmont: Albertrani optimistic Zo Impressive can get job done in Acorn


ELMONT, N.Y. –Trainer Tom Albertrani said he believes Zo Impressive has the quality to win a Grade 1 race. He’s hoping to be proven right Monday when Zo Impressive takes on five other 3-year-old fillies in the $300,000 Acorn at Belmont Park.

In three career starts, Zo Impressive has already faced some of the best of her generation. In her second lifetime start, Zo Impressive won a first-level allowance race by 4 1/2 lengths over In Lingerie, who has come back to win two stakes, including the Black-Eyed Susan. In her most recent start, Zo Impressive finished second, beaten 6 1/2 lengths by the Grade 1 winner Grace Hall. Neither In Lingerie nor Grace Hall is in the Acorn field.

“Running second to Grace Hall and watching In Lingerie come back and win two stakes boosts your confidence,” said Albertrani, who trains Zo Impressive for Live Oak Stud. “I’m more concerned that she’s training well and her work the other day was about as good I’ve even seen from her.”

Last Monday, in a driving rain, Zo Impressive worked five furlongs in 1:01.23 at Belmont with a final three furlongs in 36.28 seconds.

Zo Impressive certainly has the pedigree for the Acorn as she is a half-sister to Zaftig, who won this race in 2008.

“Keep it in the family,” Albertrani said.

Zo Impressive, who will break from post 4 under Rajiv Maragh, will likely be forwardly placed, stalking Contested and/or Aubby K.

Contested, trained by Bob Baffert, has won three in a row, including a dominant 4 3/4-length victory in the Eight Belles at Churchill on May 4. She breaks from the rail on Monday under Javier Castellano.

“She has a lot of speed, she’s going to have to carry her speed,” Baffert said. “She handled that seven-eighths pretty well. I don’t like her post. She’ll leave away from there and whatever happens happens.”

On Fire Baby is a multiple graded stakes winner and coming out of a fifth-place finish in the Kentucky Oaks.

“She was a little rank at first but then he got her in perfect position, she just didn’t fire,” said Gary Hartlage, trainer of On Fire Baby. “She didn’t fire and only got beat five or six lengths, I’m okay with that.”

Hartlage said On Fire Baby has proven versatile enough to win from on or off the pace, but would leave the tactics up to jockey Joe Johnson, who rides On Fire Baby from post 3.

Aubby K won her career debut by 15 1/2 lengths here last September before finishing fourth to On Fire Baby in the Pocahontas. In her only start this year, she won a first-level allowance race by 9 3/4 lengths at Gulfstream on March 25. She figures to be the pacesetter under Edgar Prado.

Hardy Mystery and Sacristy complete the field.