King Zachary Goes For Indiana Derby Crown

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King Zachary | Sarah Andrew

Unknown to most of the racing world heading into a sweltering mid-June night at Churchill, Thomas Conway’s King Zachary (Curlin) announced his arrival emphatically under those Twin Spires with a 4 3/4-length score in the GIII Matt Winn S. Under the lights once more this Saturday at Indiana Grand, the pricey chestnut will look to solidify his credentials as a dangerous second-half sophomore when going postward as the likely favorite in the GIII Indiana Derby.

Bought for $550,000 as a Keeneland September yearling, King Zachary broke his maiden by 7 3/4 lengths third out Mar. 18 at Gulfstream, but was a non-factor sixth when stepped up into the GII Wood Memorial Apr. 7 at Aqueduct. Narrowly victorious in a sloppy Churchill allowance May 5, he ran away with the Matt Winn at over 12-1.

“He’s a good horse, just coming into his own,” trainer Dale Romans told the Indiana Grand notes team. “I think the Matt Winn is going to be his breakthrough race. He came out of there training like a man, like he’s figured the game out. I think he’ll just keep moving forward. I look for him to run a huge race.”

The third and fourth-place finishers from the June 23 GIII Ohio Derby return in this spot. Brinley Enterprises’ Trigger Warning (Candy Ride {Arg}) broke through at the stakes level in the Tom Ridge S. May 21 at Presque Isle and nearly pulled off a shocking upset at Thistledown, leading into deep stretch at 86-1 before just succumbing to be third. Charles Fipke’s Title Ready (More Than Ready), not particularly fancied that day either at 15-1, also hung in through the lane to be fourth, beaten just 1 1/2 lengths for the money.

Sharon Alesia, Mike Burns, Ciaglia Racing and Robin Christensen’s Dark Vader (Tale of Ekati) is a progressive sort who merits attention. Third as a maiden at 36-1 in the GIII Robert B. Lewis S. over the winter, the $150,000 OBS March pickup earned his diploma with a 95 Beyer May 11 at Santa Anita, and validated that effort with a narrow third in the Easy Goer S. last out June 9 at Belmont.

Calumet Farm’s Funny Duck (Distorted Humor) will look to turn the tables after finishing a well-beaten fourth behind King Zachary in the Matt Winn. Prior to that, the chestnut scored a near 40-1 shocker in the GIII Pat Day Mile May 5 at Churchill.

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