08/25/2012 4:54PM

Saratoga: Zagora takes Ballston Spa in record time

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Barbara D. Livingston
Zagora, with Ramon Dominguez riding, wins the Ballston Spa.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - "Do you think she's lost a step?"

Those were trainer Chad Brown's first thoughts as he walked into the winner's circle following Zagora's record-setting 1 1/2-length victory over Hungry Island in Saturday's $250,000 Ballston Spa at Saratoga.

Anybody who felt Zagora might not be quite the same filly she was a year ago after failing to kick on in defense of her title in the Grade 1 Diana had to believe otherwise after her performance on Saturday against a Grade 1 quality field in the Grade 2 Ballston Spa.

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Ridden confidently by Ramon Dominguez, Zagora rated within striking distance of a lively pace set by the Grade 1 winner Summer Soiree. Dominguez called upon Zagora as the field approached the stretch and she responded readily, rallying down the center of the firm course to easily wear down the tiring leader near midstretch and quickly pull well clear. 

Hungry Island put in a strong late run of her own but proved no match for the winner. Summer Soiree gradually weakened to finish third while making her first start since November.

Zagora's final time of 1:39.07 shattered the old track standard of 1:39.92 for 1 1/16 miles over the inner course established by Leroidesanimaux on Travers Day in 2005.

Zagora, a 5-year-old daughter of Green Tune owned by Martin Schwartz, paid $5.

[Complete coverage of racing at Saratoga: News, PPs, and video]

"This filly has had two really good works since the Diana, and in hindsight she probably really needed the race," said Brown.

"She loves Saratoga, especially when it's firm, and she just exploded today. Ramon rode her beautifully. Down the backstretch I was feeling pretty good. The field was pretty strung out, that was the only concern for me, but those fractions were pretty demanding and I knew she was ready to run, so when he tipped her out I figured it was pretty much over."

Brown said he might consider putting Zagora on the Polytrack for her next start, in Keeneland's Grade 1 Spinster.

Gee More than 1 year ago
Closers really run well when turf is firm. Handicapping 101 I singled Z to fit in Willie Beamin, worked out great
Edward Kelly More than 1 year ago
But you always have to call into question a track record when the second place horse also beats the record. The track must have been blazing bc the chance of two horses running a track record(on a 100+ year old track) are beyond infinitesimal unless the track was souped up.
Big Jeff More than 1 year ago
souped up grass?
Grass Is Greener More than 1 year ago
The previous track record was only 7 years old. This was run on the inner turf. The distance of the rail tends to change all the time, on top of an unusually dry summer for normally the start of the high precipitation season in upstate NY. Simple explanations, not everything has to be so hard to explain.
Kalar Walters More than 1 year ago
Great little horse!!! Gutsy Zagora!!! You go, girl!!