05/17/2012 10:53AM

Pimlico: Zagora should get better setup in Gallorette Handicap

Barbara D. Livingston
Zagora will try to bounce back in Saturday's Grade 3, $150,000 Gallorette Handicap at Pimlico.

BALTIMORE – If pace does indeed make the race – as many are insisting will be the case Saturday with Bodemeister in the Preakness – then Chad Brown has a viable excuse for the disappointing last start from one of his stable stars, Zagora.

Zagora, a Grade 1 winner and earner of $868,589, was never a threat in finishing fifth as the favorite behind wire-to-wire winner Daisy Devine last month in the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley at Keeneland.

“I’m putting a line right through that race,” Brown said. “It was such a paceless race. Except for the winner, nobody else had much chance. They were so out of position.”

Zagora, with Javier Castellano to ride, returns to action Saturday when facing six other fillies and mares in the 61st running of the Grade 3, $150,000 Gallorette Handicap on the Preakness undercard at Pimlico. The pace in the 1 1/16-mile turf race could unfold more favorably for Zagora, given that Speak Easy Gal surely will set an honest pace but probably won’t be allowed to get away with anything easy when pressed by the likes of Camelia Rose, Smart Sting, and Laughing.

Zagora, a 5-year-old French-bred mare, has used her potent stretch kick to win three graded stakes, most notably the Grade 1 Diana at Saratoga last summer, since owner Martin Schwartz imported her from her native land in fall 2010.

“She came out of the last race good, so we’re expecting a big race from her Saturday,” Brown said.

Of the others, perhaps Laughing, an Irish-bred filly trained by Alan Goldberg, has the best chance at a mild upset. After winning twice from four starts overseas, she made her North American debut by finishing a decent seventh in the Grade 1 E.P. Taylor last fall at Woodbine, then returned to action last month at Aqueduct by winning a second-level allowance on the turf. Ramon Dominguez has the call.

The Gallorette, named for the Hall of Fame racemare of the 1940s, goes as the first stakes of the day and the third of 13 overall races, with post time set for 11:30 a.m. Eastern.