Private Zone runs away from Forego rivals

Profile Picture: Vance Hanson

August 29th, 2015

Private Zone made short work of his rivals in Saturday's $700,000 Forego (G1) at Saratoga, taking an uncontested lead and running them off their feet in the seven-furlong, "Win and You're In" prep for the Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1).

Under Martin Pedroza, the six-year-old Macho Uno gelding burst out of the gate and set strong fractions of :22.67 and :45.10. With no serious challenge coming in the stretch, Private Zone won in hand by 3 3/4 lengths in a time of 1:21.08 over a fast track. The 8-5 favorite, he paid $5.20.

Second choice The Big Beast edged longshot Viva Majorca for second by a head. Jockey Joel Rosario fell off Bourbon Courage around the far turn, resulting in him missing the ride aboard Frosted in the Travers (G1).

Owned by Good Friends Stable, a partnership that includes former jockey Rene Douglas, Private Zone is trained by Jorge Navarro. A champion in Panama at two, the Canadian-bred Private Zone has developed into one of this nation's leading sprint specialists in recent years.

Anything from six furlongs to one mile is in Private Zone's wheelhouse. He's won the six-furlong Vosburgh (G1) the last two years, romped by five lengths in the Cigar Mile (G1) last November, and the Forego was his third graded stakes win of the year over seven furlongs following the Churchill Downs (G2) and Belmont Sprint Championship (G3).

Although Navarro said after the Forego that Private Zone is likely to train up to the Breeders' Cup rather than seek an unprecedented third straight Vosburgh on September 26, six furlongs arguably isn't Private Zone's very best distance. He often finds himself pressing the pace in those shorter sprints, and seems to do better when setting his own tempo going longer. Indeed, he had to gut out those two Vosburgh wins by a neck each time, and he's finished 10th and third in his last two Breeders' Cup Sprint attempts.

There will be a lot of comparisons between Private Zone and Runhappy, who captured the King's Bishop (G1) in stakes-record time one race before the Forego. The three-year-old set a swifter pace and finished up quicker, too, getting seven furlongs in 1:20.54.

For what it's worth, Private Zone toted seven more pounds than Runhappy and is a more proven commodity against the best sprinters in the Eastern half of the country. The 11-1 Runhappy, although extremely progressive, was beating a field of three-year-olds while making only his second appearance in stakes company.

Although it's somewhat disappointing he likely won't attempt to make history at Belmont next month, the Breeders' Cup  has always been the main goal. He'll be tough, and perhaps the third time will be the charm.

(Private Zone photo: Adam Coglianese Photography/Courtney Heeney)