A horse making their first start for a trainer can come with some question marks, but trainer Brad Cox got all the right answers his a pair of new acquisitions ran one-two in the $75,000 Pan Zareta Stakes. When the blades of grass settled, Heider Family Stable's Contributing scored a head decision over Goldberry for the two-time defending Fair Grounds training champion.
Guided by jockey Joe Bravo, the 5-year-old daughter of Medaglia d'Oro was placed on the rail and sat well off the pace which was led by Brielle's Appeal who laid down opening fractions of 21.93 and 46.15. At the top of the stretch, Contributing began weaving her way through traffic and drifted out towards the center of the track and made a winning move at the sixteenth pole. Duking out the last half furlong with stable mate and post time favorite Goldberry, Contributing get her head down on the wire first and stopped the timer in 1:03.85. Excessivespending, who had the lead at the top of the stretch, finished third.
One Last Shot, La Dame Blanche, She's All Skeet, Upset Brewing, Brielle's Appeal, Persephone's Dawn, Touch of Bling and Stonefactor completed the field.
“Brad was real confident and said that she was training real well,” Bravo said. “She acted well the entire time. She was just confident and relaxed. When we turned for home, she split horses nicely and got up underneath us.”
Cox reiterated such confident sentiments following the race.
“They both worked extremely well last week,” Cox said. “They actually worked together. She ran extremely well. Joe did a good job of just letting the speed duke it out up front and save the ground to get her a clean run down the lane. She responded really well.”
Goldberry did not receive the best of trips and stumbled coming out of the gate and was last throughout the first portion of the race.
“Goldberry ran a tremendous race,” Cox said. “She stumbled leaving the gate and was kind of taken out of her game in last going into the turn. Obviously we just inherited that. On paper that's not how she wants to run. It was just bad racing luck on her part, but she made a huge run down the center of the track. I'm real pleased with her effort. I think the longer we have her, the better she can get.”
Cox indicated that the $75,000 Mardi Gras Stakes on March 3 could be the next start for both Contributing and Goldberry.
The Pan Zareta triumph brought Contributing's career earnings up to $147,540. In addition the Pan Zareta was her first stakes victory but was stakes placed on two occasions, including a runner-up finish in last year's Pan Zareta Stakes.
Contributing paid $22.40, $8.80 and $5.40 while Goldberry returned $3.80 and $3.00. Excessivespending brought back $5.60.
Bred in Kentucky by Mt. Brilliant Farm, Contributing is by Medaglia d'Oro out of the Halo broodmare Taegu. She is a half-sister to two-time graded stakes winner Classic Elegance as well as El Fasto – the dam of 2012 Grade I Kentucky Oaks winner Believe You Can. She was purchased for $220,000 from the Keeneland September Yearling Sale in 2012 where she was consigned by Gainesway.
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