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HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Robert Roffey Jr.’s Zarina took advantage of a perfect setup in Saturday’s $100,000 Martha Washington Stakes at Gulfstream Park, closing from far off the pace to register her first stakes victory in the mile turf stakes for 3-year-old fillies.
“This is a filly we’ve always liked a lot. The pace is what we worry about. Last time there was no pace,” trainer Chad Stewart said. “We always had this race in mind. The race three weeks ago didn’t go, so we ended up running [June 22], which we hadn’t planned on. We’ve always had stakes on our minds with this filly.”
Zarina ($34.40), who closed mildly for fourth in an optional claiming allowance last time out, settled well off the pace contested by Bello Porte and La Australiana around the first turn and along the backstretch while posting fractions of 24.52 and 48.47 for the first 1/2-mile. Kelsey’s Cross, who finished third in the Wonder Again (G3) at Belmont last time out, made a sweeping move to the lead on the turn into the homestretch but was no match for Zarina, who wore her down inside the 1/8 pole while holding off a late surge by Red Rounder.
Zarina, who won three of her first six starts at Tampa Bay Downs, ran the mile in 1:35.57 over a firm course while prevailing by a neck over Red Rounder, who finished a 1/2-length ahead of Kelsey’s Cross.
“She’s not real fast, but she tries hard, and she never gets tired,” said Stewart, who is looking a stakes locally and at Colonial Downs for the daughter of Temple City’s next start.
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