06/23/2012 6:06PM

Belmont Park: Zo Impressive shows she fits with the best in Mother Goose score

Adam Mooshian/NYRA
Zo Impressive holds off Disposablepleasure to win the Mother Goose.

ELMONT, N.Y. - The Mother Goose was more than a two-horse race after all.

Zo Impressive, a well-beaten second to Contested in the Grade 1 Acorn last month, rebounded with a gritty three-quarter-length victory over Disposablepleasure in Saturday’s Grade 1, $300,000 Mother Goose Stakes at Belmont Park.

It was 8 1/2 lengths back to Kentucky Oaks winner Believe You Can in third. Wildcat’s Smile, a 35-1 shot, was fourth while Contested, the 1-2 favorite, finished last after leading to the quarter pole.

The win was the first stakes victory for Zo Impressive, a daughter of Hard Spun owned by Live Oak Plantation and trained by Tom Albertrani.

“It was probably the four best fillies you got in the country right now, that’s what made the race pretty special today,” Albertrani said. “We always had confidence in our filly. She was very sharp and gave us a lot of confidence going into the race today.”

Zo Impressive had to withstand an objection from Ramon Dominguez, the rider of Disposablepleasure, for a brushing incident in deep stretch. But after reviewing the replay, the stewards let the result stand, a decision with which Dominguez even agreed.

“I felt like he came out into me and there was a little bump to the point where my filly switched back to her left lead,” Dominguez said. “In a race like this you want to do everything you can and cover all your bases. When I watched the replay it was fair for the result to stand.”

In the Acorn, run over a fast and speed-favoring Belmont surface, Zo Impressive was taken six lengths off the pace while Contested got loose on the lead and won by five.

The Mother Goose was run over a harrowed track labeled good but one that was significantly slower based on more than 2 1/2 inches of rain that fell Friday.

Rajiv Maragh kept Zo Impressive within two lengths of the lead while racing three wide down the backside. Contested, under Javier Castellano, made the lead and set fractions of 23.08 seconds for the quarter, 46.47 for the half-mile and 1:11.28 for six furlongs while being stalked by Wildcat’s Smile.

Believe You Can bobbled at the break under Rose Napravnik and bumped with Contested and was fourth and along the inside early on.

At the quarter pole, Contested was empty and Zo Impressive was in front having confronted Contested at the five-sixteenths pole. Zo Impressive had a one-length lead at the eighth pole and was able to keep Disposablepleasure at bay after the two brushed at the sixteenth pole.

Zo Impressive covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.28 and returned $14.60 to win.

“In the Acorn it was a very speed-favoring track and Contested got an uncontested lead,” Maragh said. “Now, a couple of horses gave her more respect and put a little pressure on and that helped me beat her.”

Castellano said Contested “was dead” by the quarter pole.

“It could be the track, I was inside, the rail was very deep, maybe she struggled and she got tired today,” Castellano said.

Napravnik concurred with Castellano’s assessment of the inside, but she had little choice but to be there after breaking from the rail and stumbling.

“It was bad luck drawing the one hole, but stumbling out of the gate was even worse,” she said. “We were just forced in the only position we possibly could have been. The rail’s been heavy all day and it’s not been the place to be and she was struggling on the track. The filly has more guts and grit than any other horse I ride because she tried anyway and still ran a decent race.”

Zo Impressive and Believe You Can are likely to come back in the Coaching Club American Oaks at Saratoga on July 21.