According to a report by the Star Tribune, Kentucky Derby third-place finisher, Zandon will bypass the final two legs of the Triple Crown to point toward the Aug. 27 Travers Stakes in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
Owner Jeff Drown of St. Cloud, Minn., said in a phone interview with the Star Tribune on Thursday, that his colt had been shipped to Belmont Park after the Derby and “looks fantastic.”
Drown and trainer Chad Brown decided not to run in the May 21 Preakness because of the quick two-week turnaround after the Kentucky Derby.
“If he had won the Derby, we’d be talking about the Preakness,” Drown said. “But we didn’t, so we’ll make another decision.
“We love this horse a lot, and we think being very patient is the right decision. He’s at Belmont now, and he’s a happy horse. We’ll just give him the time to hopefully do well in the other [races],” he told the Star Tribune.
Brown has yet to make an official statement regarding the plans. His last statement was a decision would be announced this weekend after he observed Zandon’s workout.
Brown’s latest statement in a Maryland Jockey Club press release: “I’m going make a final decision (about Zandon) this weekend,” Brown said. “It has nothing to do with who’s running, not running. I just want to observe the horse and I’m leaning strongly against running. I just want to be thorough and make sure I’m not making a mistake not running, looking at the horse. All signs point to him benefiting from a little time now in between starts, but I want to be sure, and I’ll decide by the end of the weekend for sure.”
The $1.25 million Travers, known as the “Midsummer Derby,” is the centerpiece of Saratoga Race Course’s prestigious summer season.
In an interview with Past The Wire in February 2021 I asked Chad Brown if one of the big races yet on his resume was the Kentucky Derby. Brown replied he had a greater desire to win the Travers as it was his home track where it all began for him.
Zandon will race again before the Travers, though Drown said the horse’s schedule hasn’t been determined.
Two likely races in Zandon’s future are the G1 Hill ’n’ Dale Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont June 11 at eight furlongs, and the G1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap at Saratoga on July 10 at six furlongs. Although Zandon hasn’t run six furlongs since his debut win at Belmont Oct. 9, 2021, the Vanderbilt might be a nice warmup for the Travers. All of his subsequent races have been 1 1/8 miles graded stakes except the Derby at 1 ¼ miles.
Brown said in a post-Derby comment: “We really had a great trip. Epicenter was in front of us closer to the pace and Flavien (Prat) really just followed Joel (Rosario) all the way. Turning for home he was in a great position and was really battling with Epicenter. (Rich Strike) just snuck up our inside and we were third best.”
The Upstart colt won Keeneland’s $1 million Toyota Blue Grass (G1) in April and was awarded 100 points for the Kentucky Derby. Zandon also garnered $300,000 for his third-place Derby finish making him a million-dollar earner. He has not finished out of the money in five lifetime starts.
Out of Creative Cause mare Memories Prevail, Zandon was purchased for $170,000 at the 2020 September Sale from breeder Brereton C. Jones and his Airdie Stud.
Brown won the Preakness in 2017 for Klaravich Stable with Cloud Computing. He has Klaravich’s Early Voting entered in the Preakness and several entries on the undercard.
Early Voting turned in his final work for the Preakness covering five furlongs in a bullet time of 1:00.63 on the main track at Belmont Park Friday morning.
Jockey Jose Ortiz, who will ride the Chad Brown-trained son of Gun Runner in the Preakness, was aboard. Early Voting worked in company with Brown’s 4-year-old Miles D, who is scheduled to run in the $300,000 Pimlico Special (G3) on May 20.
“He breezed fine, and he galloped out very strong, three quarters in 1:13,” Brown said. “I’m very pleased with the work and he’s cooled out fine here at Belmont. He looks good.”
Brown decided to work Friday, exactly a week after his last breeze, rather than wait for the weekend.
“I thought the track conditions were perfect today,” he said. “I wanted to take advantage of that.”
Early Voting will be making his first start since finishing second by a neck in the Wood Memorial (G2) on April 9. The colt was considered for the Kentucky Derby (G1) and had enough qualifying points to get into the field, but Brown decided to wait for the Preakness. Brown followed a similar path with Cloud Computing.
By Maribeth Kalinich (with Maryland Jockey Club Press Release, edited)
Photo: Zandon looked primed and ready in a pre-Toyota Blue Grass work. (Coady Photography)