02/25/2012 3:45PM

Fair Grounds: Derby runner-up Nehro strong in comeback victory


NEW ORLEANS - Nehro, second in last year’s Kentucky Derby, on Saturday at Fair Grounds served notice that he will be a force among this year’s older horses when he scored an impressive, 7 1/4-length victory in his first start since last year’s Belmont Stakes.

Granted, Nehro ($2.80) was only beating a first-level allowance field, and was heavily favored to do so, but he could not have looked better. He rated kindly under jockey Shaun Bridgmohan while fourth in the early going, and roared past front-running Majestic Harbor with a devastating turn of foot heading into the homestretch.

Majestic Harbor held on for second, with Adirondack Express third.

Nehro completed one mile and 70 yards in 1:41.88. The track record is 1:41.

Steve Asmussen, who trains Nehro for Ahmed Zayat’s Zayat Stables, said Nehro would come back in the New Orleans Handicap here on April 1 on the Louisiana Derby undercard.

“This keeps him right on schedule,” Asmussen said.

Asmussen said Zayat deserved credit for “all the time they gave” Nehro.

“It was tempting to try and bring him back last fall for the Breeders’ Cup, for the Classic, which looked wide-open, at Churchill Downs, a mile and a quarter, but he just needed a little more time,” Asmussen said.

Instead of trying to make the Classic, Nehro was put away for the remainder of the year, then was pointed for this meet.