08/05/2017 6:01PM

Zennor upsets Lure for first stakes win

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Barbara D. Livingston
Zennor returned $30.60 for his one-length victory in Saturday's Lure Stakes at Saratoga.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin thought running Zennor in the restricted Lure on Saturday at Saratoga was a good way to ease the 5-year-old gelding into stakes company.

On paper, there was nothing easy about the Lure, whose field included a bevy of graded-stakes-type horses including a trio from the powerful stable of Chad Brown.

“On paper it was a Grade 2,” McLaughlin said.

But Zennor continued to raise his game, taking over from the pace-setting Macagone in midstretch and persevering to the wire to win the Lure by a length over 6-5 favorite Projected. It was a half-length back to Takeover Target as Brown runners finished second and third. Camelot Kitten, Brown’s other runner, finished seventh.

Takeover Target was third by a neck over Ring Weekend, who was followed, in order, by Blacktype, Camelot Kitten, Our Way, Macagone and Aubenas.

The win was the third straight and fourth from the last five starts for Zennor, a gelding by Medaglia d’Oro owned by Godolphin Racing.

Zennor had shown versatility in his three prior victories, sitting a pace-pressing second in winning an allowance at Gulfstream in January, rallying from 10th in an April allowance at Keeneland, and next-to-last in a five-horse field in a June allowance at Belmont.

:: Saratoga Clocker Report: Get in-depth workout analysis for the 2017 summer meet

On Saturday, jockey Joe Bravo had Zennor sitting second, about three lengths behind Macagone, who was running loose on the lead through fractions of 23.92 seconds for the quarter and 47.00 for the half-mile. Bravo had Zennor on the move into the fastest quarter of the race – 22.88 seconds – and he was within of Macagone at the top of the stretch.

Zennor collared Macagone by the eighth pole and he was never seriously threatened late as Projected and Takeover Target followed him home.

Zennor covered the 1 1/16 miles over firm turf in 1:39.23 and returned $30.60 to win.

“The most impressive thing about the race today is he came back like he did nothing,” Bravo said. “He tipped [out] at the top of the lane, he kicked all the way throughout it, but he still had horse underneath him. He’s stepping it up every time. As he gets better, his confidence is getting better too.”

McLaughlin gave credit to Bravo for deciding what the best strategy was for the Lure.

“He told us there wasn’t much pace so we might be closer,” McLaughlin said. “Whatever he did today, he did right.”

For Projected, it was his third consecutive second-place finish in a stakes race.

“Projected was disappointing,” Brown said. “I thought he had every chance to win, but he didn’t get there, so I’m disappointed with his effort.”

McLaughlin said Zennor will likely be pointed to a graded stakes for his next start, but where and when is yet to be decided though this race was designed as a prep for the Grade 2, $250,000 Bernard Baruch here on Sept. 4.