12/08/2012 2:08PM

Parx: High-percentage trainer Zulueta bears watching in feature

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Even to Philadelphia-area fans who follow Parx Racing closely, Marcos Zulueta isn’t a well-known trainer.

Zulueta didn’t win his first race until June 2011. He saddled just 34 horses in his rookie season last year and has sent out only 76 starters so far in 2012.

But based on what he has done in that short span of time, Zulueta is a trainer who should not be flying under the radar for much longer.

Winning at a high percentage, Zulueta looks poised to strike with former claimer Lady Repent in Monday’s $47,000 sprint feature at Parx.

The 4-year-old Lady Repent, 2 for 2 since she was claimed for $16,000 in mid-September by Zulueta for his M-Z Racing Partnership, steps up in class for a six-furlong, first-level allowance for fillies and mares that goes as race 8 on Monday’s nine-race card.

Although Zulueta ranks 19th in the Parx trainer standings based on total wins, his 29-percent hit rate – 20 wins from 69 starters – puts him fifth among local trainers with at least 10 winners this season.

Even more impressively, Zulueta has gone 11 for 28 (39 percent) with a $3.28 return on investment with horses he has run in non-claiming events, mostly in starter allowances.

Lady Repent has earned back-to-back Beyer Speed Figures of 75 for her two wins since coming to Zulueta’s barn, which matches the par for Monday’s class level.

Among her seven opponents are stakes winner Spring Dance and Love Your Smile, runner-up at this same level last time out.

The 3-year-old Spring Dance, winner of a six-furlong stakes for Pennsylvania-breds that does not count against her eligibility, cuts back in distance following a pair of one-mile races. She was on the lead of within a half-length of the leader at the six-furlong call in both those starts.

Fellow 3-year-old Love Your Smile, 4 for 9 lifetime, won a pair of $16,000 starter allowances before taking her first crack in allowance company on Nov. 19. She led until deep stretch before finishing second, earning a 72 Beyer.

The field also includes Mayville, who has been Miss Popularity at the claim box in 2012. Since February, she has been claimed six times, including twice by her current trainer Keith Lebarron. The 3-year-old Mayville has four wins this season – two for Lebarron – but has not finished better than fifth in three attempts to clear her first allowance condition.