09/04/2013 7:02PM

Del Mar: Private Zone returns to best in Pirate's Bounty

Benoit & Associates
Martin Pedroza and Private Zone hold off Ain't No Other to win the Pirate's Bounty Stakes on Wednesday,

DEL MAR, Calif. – Private Zone, in his first start since a disappointing try in the Dubai Golden Shaheen in March, returned in top form on Wednesday at Del Mar by holding off Ain’t No Other to take the $123,400 Pirate’s Bounty Stakes for older sprinters.

Private Zone went right to the front, turned back 7-5 favorite Roman Threat after a half-mile in 45.21 seconds, then bravely staved off Ain’t No Other to win by a neck in 1:09.03 for six furlongs on Polytrack.

Ain’t No Other finished 1 1/4 lengths in front of third-place Chiloquin. So Brilliant was fourth and was followed, in order, by Roman Threat, Rail Trip, Koast, Longview Drive, and Ruler of Dubai.

The win was the first in the United States for Private Zone, 4, since being brought here from Panama, but he had finished second in several stakes, most notably the Grade 1 Malibu last December. A gelding, Private Zone is owned by Good Friends Stable, a partnership put together by former rider Rene Douglas, who was responsible for finding Private Zone in Panama and bringing him here.

Doug O’Neill, who trains Private Zone, said a vacation after the Dubai trip proved invaluable.

“He definitely seems like he’s improving,” O’Neill said.

Martin Pedroza, who rode Private Zone, was bullish on Private Zone’s chances of making it into, and winning, the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.

“I hope the man upstairs heard him. Goldencents might be listening, too,” said O’Neill, who trains Goldencents.