A year and a half after rallying to victory in the 2022 Blue Grass (G1), four-year-old Zandon returned to the winner’s circle with a blowout victory in Sunday’s $400,000 Woodward S. (G2) at Aqueduct.
The victory ended an eight-race losing streak that included top-three finishes in such important prizes as the 2022 Kentucky Derby (G1), 2022 Travers (G1), 2022 Pennsylvania Derby (G1), 2023 Metropolitan H. (G1), and 2023 Whitney (G1).
“He’s been a horse that’s been knocking on the door and he’s had a little bit of bad luck running into really, really top horses in some of these races,” said winning trainer Chad Brown. “I felt a little bad for him because he’s run such fast numbers in defeat that would have been good enough to win a lot of these races any other year when you really look at it… This horse is a really consistent horse and has been a pleasure to train.”
Zandon caught an easier field in the 1 1/8-mile Woodward and delivered a resounding performance. Traffic trouble around the first turn left the son of Upstart racing in sixth position while longshot Pipeline carved out fractions of :23.43, :46.66, and 1:10.52, but Zandon hit top gear in the homestretch and launched a strong rally to win going away by 4 1/4 lengths in 1:48.48.
“We were all trying to be in the same position, pretty much (into the first turn),” said jockey Flavien Prat, who rode Zandon to victory. “I was trying to get position, but my horse didn’t want to be there so we went to ‘Plan B.’ I grabbed a hold of him and got him to settle down and from there I was traveling super. A bit worried when we hit the turn, it looked like he wasn’t going anywhere and then as soon as he got into a rhythm, he kicked on well.
“From the five-sixteenths to the quarter-pole he was really grabbing the bridle and making a nice move. As soon as I tipped him out and he swapped leads, he really made another good move.”
The pace-tracking longshots Film Star and Law Professor were separated by a neck while finishing second and third. Charge It, O’Connor, Tyson, Costa Terra, and Pipeline completed the order of finish, while Algiers and Un Ojo scratched.
Owned by Jeff Drown, Zandon is tentatively slated to race once more in the Nov. 4 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Santa Anita before retiring to stud at Spendthrift Farm.
“He’ll probably have his last career start in the Breeders’ Cup Classic,” said Brown. “Obviously, it’s going to be a much, much tougher race than today, but at least we’re going in off of a decisive victory and a horse that’s had a very consistent year. That’s all you can ask for and anything can happen in a horse race.”