11/24/2012 7:51PM

Fair Grounds: Zapper Belle stays outside on way to win in Pago Hop Stakes

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Lynn Roberts/Hodges Photography
Zapper Belle, with Leandro Goncalves up, wins the $75,000 Pago Hop Stakes at Fair Grounds.

NEW ORLEANS – Jockey Leandro Goncalves, spending his first meet at Fair Grounds, started off riding turf races here like he was taught, saving ground along the fence for as long as possible. While so doing, he saw something strange happening around him.

“I looked around, everyone else was six or seven wide, and I was the only one on the inside,” Goncalves said. “I thought I was doing the right thing, but I was doing it wrong.”

Credit Goncalves, who won his first-ever Fair Grounds turf race, for learning. The Fair Grounds turf course has favored outside paths for years, particularly the last two racing seasons, and in the Pago Hop Stakes here Saturday, Goncalves put his knowledge to work. He kept Zapper Belle on the outside for the entire trip and won the $75,000 turf race for 3-year-old fillies by three-quarters of a length over fast-closing Francisca.

Zapper Belle was dropping in class from a pair of Grade 3 races, having turned in creditable efforts in the Pucker Up and the Valley View stakes. Breaking from post 8 on Saturday, she stalked the pace of Soonerette, who set splits of 23.88 seconds, 49.14, and 1:15.04. Cat Lore came up to take the lead in upper stretch, but Zapper Belle, coming outside Cat Lore, quickly came to the attack, seizing the lead in the final furlong and holding clear Francisca, who finished fastest. Winning time for one mile on firm turf was 1:39.66.

Zapper Belle is trained by Dan Peitz for owners and breeders Robert and Lawana Low. The 3-year-old filly is by Ghostzapper and out of the Lows’s excellent racemare Capote Belle.