10/07/2007 12:00AM

Zanjero impressive in Indiana Derby

EmailOne week after guiding Preakness winner Curlin to victory over Lawyer Ron in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, jockey Robby Albarado found himself in the winner's circle again on another Steve Asmussen-trained 3-year-old.

This time the race was the Grade 2, $510,600 Indiana Derby at Hoosier Park, and the horse, Zanjero, won like a colt whose best races might be yet to come.

Last early in the field of nine in the 1 1/16-mile race, Zanjero steadily advanced up the rail and was fifth when the field reached the top of the stretch. Steered off the rail by Albarado for running room, Zanjero easily put away pacesetting Flashstorm with a furlong to go and drew off easily to win by 3 1/2 lengths over Bwana Bull.

Bwana Bull ran a solid race but was no match for Zanjero, who had beaten Bwana Bull by a nose in the West Virginia Derby and had finished ahead of him on two other occasions this year. Flashstorm ran a credible third, 2 3/4-lengths behind Bwana Bull, after setting a pressured pace through the opening seven furlongs.

Zanjero paid $5.40 as the favorite and covered the derby distance in 1:43.95 over a fast track.

The two disappointments in the Indiana Derby were second choice Medici Code, a turf specialist who wound up fifth, and Sedgefield, who was making his first start since finishing fifth in the Kentucky Derby, but ended up trailing in ninth.

The Indiana Derby was Zanjero's most convincing performance to date, suggesting he might be a serious player in the handicap ranks next year.

Zanjero has now won 4 of 13 starts for his owner, Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC, and the winner's share of the Indiana Derby purse made Zanjero racing's newest millionaire. The Indiana Derby was also the second graded stakes win of the day for the stallion Cherokee Run, whose 2-year-old son War Pass won the Grade 1 Champagne at Belmont Park

Casino Evil wins Schaefer

A patented ground-saving ride by jockey Calvin Borel helped propel longshot Casino Evil to victory in the $104,050 Schaefer Mile for older horses, the highlight of the Indiana Derby undercard.

Making only his second start of the year and his first since March, Casino Evil was switched off the inside in deep stretch and split pacesetting Unbridled Behavior and the closing Simon Pure to win the Schaefer by a length, with Simon Pure besting Unbridled Behavior for second by three-quarters of a length. Wiggins, the 2-1 favorite, raced wide and finish sixth in the field of nine.

Casino Evil, whose only previous stakes win was last year in the Round Table at Arlington Park, paid $35.60 and covered a mile in 1:37.40. The winner is trained by Mike Tomlinson.

Father John beats older statebreds

Father John, 3, proved his superiority over his Indiana-bred elders by winning the $45,000 Gus Grissom Stakes. After dueling with longshot Love This Trick much of the way, Father John finally dispensed with that rival at the top of the stretch and found another gear to draw off for a 5 1/4-length score.

Laz Has Risen finished second, a half-length ahead of second choice Liepers Fork, who had defeated Father John in their two previous encounters.

Ridden by Terry Thompson and trained by Mike Nance, Father John paid $3.80 and covered 1 1/16 miles in 1:46.43.