02/04/2012 5:44PM

Tampa Bay: Zagora capitalizes on perfect trip to capture Endeavor

Tom Cooley Photography
Zagora, making her first start since September, posts an easy victory in the Grade 3 Endeavor.

Take the best horse, give her the best trip, and the ultimate results are usually fairly obvious.  Case in point is Martin Schwartz’s Grade 1 winner Zagora, who parlayed a perfect trip under jockey Javier Castellano into an easy 2 1/4-length victory over Exclusive Love in Saturday’s $150,000 Endeavour Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.

Zagora entered the Grade 3 Endeavour idle since finishing seventh in Woodbine’s Grade 2 Canadian on Sept. 18.  In her previous start, Zagora gave trainer Chad Brown his first Grade 1 victory by capturing the Diana at Saratoga.

Zagora rated off the early pace of Exclusive Love in the 1 1/16-mile Endeavour, eased out approaching the stretch, and then readily ran down the leader to win going away. Exclusive Love held on willingly once displaced on the lead to finish second, 1 1/4 lengths in front of the wide-running Keertana.

The race was marred when Abuela collapsed and died before finishing the race.

Zagora, a French-bred daughter of Green Tune, completed the distance in 1:44.58 over a firm course and paid $3.80.   

“I spoke to Javier last night. We had a plan and he executed it perfectly,” said Brown, who watched the Endeavour from the dining room at Gulfstream Park. “He gave the horse a beautiful ride. He fits this filly very, very well.”

Brown said the Endeavour was a perfect place to get Zagora’s 2012 campaign started.

“I only worked her five times, just half-miles, because I didn’t want to go to the well the first time out. It’s a long year and this race wasn’t my main objective although naturally we wanted to win. I think the race did put the finishing touches on her fitness-wise. We’ll be careful where we place her for a while because I’m primarily focusing on a summer campaign but bringing her back to Tampa for the Hillsborough would be the obvious spot.”

The Hillsborough, another Grade 3 stakes, will be run on March 10.