12/04/2011 6:41PM

Gulfstream: Zero Rate Policy handles extra yardage of Sunshine State

Bob Coglianese
The 3-year-old Zero Rate Policy, racing beyond six furlongs for the first time, takes the Sunshine State under jockey Paco Lopez.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla.-  Any doubts about Zero Rate Policy’s ability to stay seven furlongs were erased in the 1:21.57 it took the improving 3-year-old to cover the distance en route to his 1 1/4-length victory over a late-running Manicero in Sunday’s $60,000 Sunshine State Stakes at Gulfstream.

Zero Rate Policy, a Florida-bred son of Trippi, stalked the early pace of Our Edge under jockey Paco Lopez, gained command in early stretch, and  then withstood a belated final surge from Manicero to register the second stakes victory of his career. Zero Rate Policy, who had never been beyond six furlongs in eight previous starts, also won Monmouth Park’s Rumson in June.

Manicero, turning back to a sprint off a series of two- turn races at Calder, dropped near the rear of the pack during the early stages of the Sunshine State while racing far behind the leaders. A seven-time stakes winner, Manicero angled to the outside leaving the final turn and finished full of run but could not catch the winner. It’s Never to Late, winner of the first edition of the restricted Sunshine State decided earlier this year, rallied mildly to finish third.

Zero Rate Policy is trained by Terri Pompay for owners William Lawrence and the Klaravich Stables. He paid $6.40 as the tepid favorite in a field of nine Florida-breds.

“I really liked this horse today,” said Pompay. “He’s been training great, improving all the time and I didn’t think the seven furlongs would bother him.”

Pompay said she has nothing specific picked out for Zero Rate Policy’s next start but hinted the Florida Sunshine Millions Sprint on Jan. 26 could be an option.

“There are so many spots for a horse like this down here during the winter and one thing we do know is that he loves this track,” said Pompay.

Jockey Jose Lezcano said Manicero didn’t like the dirt hitting him in the face during the early stages of the race.

“He had a little trouble in the gate and didn’t break that sharp, then when the dirt started hitting him in the face he started to back up even more,” said Lezcano. “Once we got to the quarter pole, he just took off but we ran out of room.”