04/15/2006 12:00AM

Sun King puts spring in Zito's step

Pat Lang
Sun King wins the Commonwealth Breeders' Cup on Saturday at Kenneland.

LEXINGTON, Ky. - One year after having a record-tying five starters in the Kentucky Derby, Nick Zito may not have even one this year. But that hasn't stopped the veteran trainer from enjoying a sensational spring in Kentucky.

Indeed, when Sun King came through with a blistering stretch run to capture the Grade 2 on the Saturday undercard at Keeneland, Zito broke into his familiar "I love Kentucky" refrain, singing the praises of springtime in the Blue Grass state.

"I'm surrounded by angels when I come back here," said Zito, who leads the spring meet with nine winners going into Wednesday.

Sun King, dismissed at 7-1 in a field of 12 older horses, trailed in the early going after breaking from post 2 in the $443,200 Commonwealth. Ridden by Corey Nakatani, Sun King still only had one horse beaten on the far turn, but after making his way through traffic and cutting the corner inside the quarter pole, he suddenly was in striking range behind Kazoo and Spanish Chestnut, who had pulled clear from the field.

"When I needed him in spots, he was there for me," said Nakatani.

In the final yards, Sun King blew past to win by 2 3/4 lengths, finishing seven furlongs in 1:23.30 over fast going. He returned $16.40 to win.

Kazoo held second by a diminishing nose over Spanish Chestnut. Saintly Look was another 1 1/2 lengths back in fourth, while Kelly's Landing, the lukewarm 3-1 favorite, finished last.

Sun King, who finished 15th as one of Zito's five horses in the 2005 Derby, is a 4-year-old Charismatic colt owned by Tracy Farmer. He entered as easily the leading earner in the 12-horse Commonwealth field, and the $274,784 winner's share lifts his bankroll to more than $1.65 million.

Kazoo broke sharpest to set a torrid pace in fractions of 21.81 and 44.25 seconds, while Spanish Chestnut emerged from a group of chasers to loom the greatest threat. In midstretch, after getting six furlongs in 1:09.46, Kazoo appeared to be holding Spanish Chestnut and the others safe, but Sun King surfaced, seemingly from nowhere, to pull out a dramatic victory.

Jenny Wiley: Another style for Wend

Edgar Prado said earlier in the week that Wend was versatile enough to win the Grade 2 . Those words were prophetic, as Wend ($4.60), a wire-to-wire winner of her previous start, made a huge run from fifth to capture the $200,000 Jenny Wiley by 1 1/2 lengths.

After breaking from the far outside post in the 1 1/16-mile turf race, Wend, a 5-year-old Pulpit mare bred and owned by Claiborne Farm, settled beautifully through the early stages while Brazilian and Zona dueled for the lead. Then, midway through the far turn, Prado asked his mount for her best, and she went into high gear to put the race away.

"She came back real good this year," said Prado.

Asi Siempre, the 7-2 second choice in a field of eight fillies and mares, rallied to finish second despite an awkward start. She had a length on Mirabilis, who was followed by her Bobby Frankel stablemate, Amorama, in fourth. Then came Ambitious Cat, Miss Mambo, Zona, and Brazilian.

Bill Mott is the trainer of Wend, who now has won 7 of 11 career starts. Mott said tentative plans for Wend call for the May 5 Churchill Downs Distaff Turf Mile, followed by the June 10 Just a Game at Belmont.

"Then we'd have to look at the Diana at Saratoga, assuming she stays in good form," he said.

The winning time was 1:41.34 over firm turf.