by Jim Freer
On Saturday at Gulfstream Park, Angelica Zapata showed that she is not "just a Calder horse" and that she is far more than a dirt track specialist. She did that with an impressive win in Gulfstream’s $100,000 Wasted Tears Stakes at 1 1./16 miles on turf for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up. The 5-year-old Angelica Zapata beat the fast-closing Ann of the Dance by 1 1/4 lengths and accomplished two goals for her trainer Ron Pellegrini and her owner Herman Van Den Broeck.
The win was Angelica Zapata’s first in five career races on turf and it came in her first Gulfstream race.
That added to the resume of a horse that became a local star last year when she reeled off four straight stakes wins at Calder Casino & Race Course. All were one mile or longer on dirt.
"She got a clean trip," Pellegrini said following the Wasted Tears. "Every other race on turf, she’s had a bad trip." He added: "I’ve always thought this filly could run as good on turf as the dirt. In fact, when she was three, I thought she was a better turf horse."
The Wasted Tears had what could be described as a decent and deep field of nine horses, including five that had won one or more turf races at Gulfstream.
Bettors made Angelica Zapata the 5-2 favorite. They apparently noted that she had two seconds and a third place finish in four career turf starts. Jockey Juan Leyva kept Angelica Zapata on the outside during most of the race. She was in third after a half mile, a half length behind Creative License who led with a time of 49.34 seconds. Angelica Zapata took the lead coming around the final turn and pulled away.
Ann of the Dance was eighth after a half mile. She rallied along the inside to finish second, 1 ¾ lengths ahead of Team. Celestial Kitten finished a nose behind in fourth.
Angelica Zapata won in the good but not spectacular time of 1:42.57 on a course that was listed as firm even though some rain fell earlier in the afternoon. It was her eighth win in 23 starts.
Pellegrini trains exclusively for Van Den Broeck, who last year moved from Indiana to Panama.For proximity reasons, Pellegrini last year moved Van De Broeck’s stable of about a dozen horses from Kentucky tracks to Calder.
Because of foot problems, Angelica Zapata did not race during the Gulfstream meet early this year. Pellegrini said he expects to bring her back to Gulfstream for graded stakes, on dirt or turf, during its December through March race meet. Her sire is Sharp Humor, a horse that raced mostly on dirt and is best known for finishing second by a half length to Barbaro in the 2006 Florida Derby at Gulfstream.
Gulfstream had eight races on Sunday with no stakes. On Monday, Gulfstream will have nine races including the $100,000 the The Vid stakes. It is 1 1/16 miles on turf for 3-year-olds and up. First post is 1:15 p.m. each day.
Calder finished its annual Calder meet on Saturday and opened its annual Tropical at Calder race meet on Sunday.
The Tropical meet will extend until Dec. 29 with racing every Friday through Sunday and first post time of 12:30 p.m. Calder will not have racing this Monday, but will be open for simulcasting of races from Gulfstream and other tracks.