05/08/2008 11:00PM

Red Zipper following winning pattern


ELMONT, N.Y. - Red Zipper ended his 3-year-old season with a victory in the Cormorant Stakes, part of the New York Stallion series, and came back six months later to win the Kingston Handicap at Belmont Park.

Red Zipper ended his 4-year-old season with a victory in last November's Cormorant Stakes and hopes to complete the cycle with a repeat score in Sunday's $100,000 Kingston for statebreds at Belmont. A field of 10 was entered in the Kingston, run at 1 1/16 miles over Belmont's Widener turf course.

John Morrison, the trainer of Red Zipper, feels his horse is coming up to this year's Kingston as good if not better than last year.

"We're ready," Morrison said. "The horse has always run well fresh. He's worked well, so we'll give it a go."

Morrison added that he thinks Red Zipper at 5 is "a sturdier animal than he was last year."

Red Zipper, a gelded son of City Zip, has 5 wins and 2 seconds from 11 starts on turf. He usually races on or near the lead, but won't be on the pace Sunday with the presence of Retribution in the field.

John Velazquez rides Red Zipper from the rail.

Retribution is strictly runaway speed. He carried that speed to an upset victory in the Ashley T. Cole here in September 2006, but has not won since. He has been transferred from trainer John Hertler to Gary Contessa, who will also start the classy Mission Approved in the Kingston.

Mission Approved won two open-company stakes in a span of 12 days last September. He defeated New York-breds the only time he faced them on turf. He has not raced since finishing fifth in the Grade 1 Turf Classic Invitational last Sept. 30.

"His best game is a mile and a quarter, mile and a half - and there's a lot of those out there," Contessa said. "This may or may not be the last time he ever sees New York-breds this year if he's as good as he was last year. He can win it because it's New York-breds and he's got class, but if it turns out to be a prep for bigger and better things so be it."

Dave won the Ashley T. Cole here last September and also captured the Grade 3 Red Smith. Dave has a strong closing kick, but is winless in five tries at the 1 1/16-mile distance.

Classic Pack, sidelined since winning the West Point last August, and Spurred, a hard-luck third to Dave in the Ashley T. Cole, are other contenders in the field.