12/05/2012 2:07PM

Gulfstream Park: Zero Rate Policy takes distinct class drop in wake-up attempt

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Barbara D. Livingston
Zero Rate Policy, who lost a photo finish in the Mr. Prospector at the last Gulfstream Park meet, tries to regain his form while meeting far softer competition on Friday.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Zero Rate Policy was one of the stars during the opening month of the 2011-2012 Gulfstream Park meet, winning the Sunshine State Stakes before missing by a nose in a game effort behind Apriority in the Grade 3 Mr. Prospector. Trainer Terri Pompay is hoping to rekindle some of that same late-season Gulfstream magic when she sends Zero Rate Policy out under a $62,500 price tag in the first of two mid-level optional claiming races that highlight Friday’s nine-race program.

Zero Rate Policy has gone winless in nine starts since capturing the seven-furlong Sunshine State, although he ran a winning race in the Mr. Prospector, contesting a hot pace from start to finish before coming out on the short end of a photo behind the multiple graded stakes winner Apriority.

Zero Rate Policy survived a frightening experience last summer at Monmouth Park when he took a bad step and fell while on the lead in the Decathlon Stakes. The incident kept him sidelined for 10 weeks and Pompay said she believes he hasn’t been quite the same since.

“He took a bad step, fell, and everybody ran over him in the race at Monmouth,” Pompay recalled. “He got lucky not to have been more seriously injured but came out of it with a lot of scars and it took a while for him to recoup. I’m happy he came back after that and showed me he still wanted to go out and run but his last two efforts were sub-par for him and I believe he’s probably lost a step or two since the incident at Monmouth.”

Zero Rate Policy will get some class relief in Friday’s $57,500 headliner after competing in the Grade 1 Vosburgh and Grade 3 Bold Ruler Handicap in his last two starts.

“I just tried to pick a spot for him here where he’ll be more competitive and try to pick up his head a little if he can run well against some lesser competition,” said Pompay.

Zero Rate Policy will take on just five rivals in the second-level optional claimer, a group led by Bull Dozer, who is also looking to rebound after finishing third as the 3-5 favorite behind Close It Out and Bahamian Squall in Calder’s Jack Dudley Sprint Handicap. Bahamian Squall returned to win the Sunshine State impressively here last Sunday.

Bull Dozer has proved to be one of the top claims of the 2012 season in south Florida, having won three straight starter allowance races by an average margin of five lengths and finishing second in the Ponche Handicap since being haltered by trainer Luis Ramirez for $25,000 at Calder in May.

Abdel’s Ghost, who stopped badly after setting the early pace in the Jack Dudley, restricted stakes winner Escrow Kid, Harbor Breeze, and Voodoo Storm complete the field.

◗ Our Year, who won her maiden impressively here last winter, tops a field of eight fillies and mares in Friday’s co-featured fifth race, a second-level optional $62,500 claimer at six furlongs. Our Year has not started since finishing a tiring sixth at Laurel on Oct. 5, a race her trainer, Tim Hills, says handicappers should discount.

“She got hooked in a pretty good speed duel over a deep track that favored closers and then bled through Lasix,” said Hills. “We gave her some time off and treated her for that issue and she’s been working real well here, especially when going five-eighths in 58 [seconds] with Elvis up back in November.”

Hills was referring to jockey Elvis Trujillo, who will be re-united with Our Year for the first time since the pair teamed up to win an allowance race this past summer at Monmouth Park.

Our Year will likely be favored in a field that includes two-time stakes winner Beso Grande, recent allowance winner Maelys Hope, the stakes-placed Klondike Kate, Posh Sox, Gob Smacked, Appealing Stella, and Henny’s Hurricane.