Kentucky Derby Maiden Watch: Nick Zito returns to the spotlight with Hunt the Front
A weekly series analyzing recent maiden winners poised to join the Road to the Kentucky Derby:
Bank: Bank showed promise last fall, finishing third on debut behind future stakes performers South Bend and Answer In, but after taking the winter off he’s come back better than ever this spring. Favored at 3-2 in a 6-furlong maiden dash on Saturday at Oaklawn, Bank rated in midpack early on behind fast fractions of :21.69 and :45.16, then rallied with determination under jockey Ricardo Santana to win by a head in 1:10.44.
Trained by Steve Asmussen for owners Alex and JoAnn Lieblong, Bank is a son of Bernardini out of the Gone West mare Quality Warrior, making Bank a half-brother to Blue Grass (G1) winner Brilliant Speed. From top to bottom, Bank is bred to thrive running long, so look for this $275,000 yearling purchase to take another step forward when stretching out in distance down the road.
Hunt the Front: Two-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Nick Zito could be back on the trail with Hunt the Front, a stoutly-bred son of Revolutionary out of a Mineshaft mare. Owned by Dream Walkin Farms, Hunt the Front showed gradual improvement in his first five starts, finishing second three times before breaking through on Saturday at Oaklawn Park.
Stretching out over 1 1/8 miles may have made the difference for Hunt the Front, who was content to settle 10 lengths off the early lead through a quick opening quarter mile in :22.96. The pace remained testing through a half-mile in :47.61 and 6 furlongs in 1:11.97, after which Hunt the Front came sweeping down the homestretch under a casual ride from Joel Rosario to score by a length in 1:49.97.
With this confidence-boosting maiden win under his belt, further improvement could be on the horizon for Hunt the Front.
Superfecto: After finishing sixth in his debut sprinting at Gulfstream Park, beaten 13 1/4 lengths by future stakes winner Dr. Post, Superfecto took a significant step forward when stretching out to 1 1/16 miles on Saturday at Gulfstream. Disregarded at 13-1, he was eager to run in the early going, pulling his way to a decisive early advantage while posting fractions of :23.57, :47.89, and 1:11.70. Despite this less-than-relaxed journey, Superfecto had plenty left for the stretch run, opening up a six-length lead at the eighth pole before cruising home 3 1/2 lengths on top in 1:43.39.
Conditioned by Ralph Nicks for owner/breeder Irving Cowan, Superfecto is a son of hot young sire Constitution out of the Ghostzapper mare American Angel, a pedigree geared toward success around two turns. You can bet Superfecto won’t be 13-1 next time he runs.