SUBURBAN STAKES | PURSE: $500,000 | 4-YEAR-OLDS & UP | GRADE 2 | 1 1/4 MILES
New York-bred Zivo came with a powerful late run up the rail and snatched away victory from pacesetter Moreno in the $500,000 Suburban Stakes July 5 at Belmont Park.
Guiding in his third straight stakes winner on the card, Jose Lezcano brought son of the True Direction from last for a convincing three-length victory at 13-1 odds in the 1 ¼-mile race.
In a strong performance after leading throughout, Moreno held on for second, with Prayer for Relief three-quarters of a length back in third.
Facing open company after five consecutive wins in state-bred contests for owner-breeder Thomas Coleman, Zivo proved much the best over 10 rivals, finishing the distance in 2:00.43 on a fast track. The win was his fourth in a stakes, following a neck triumph in the Commentator Handicap May 31. He also captured the Kings Point Stakes Feb. 22 and the Whodam Stakes Jan. 19, both at Aqueduct.
Lezcano bided his time with Zivo, who was last of 11 through six furlongs as Moreno stepped a swift six furlongs in 1:10.70, and then moved him into striking distance in fourth after a mile in 1:35.56.
"Jose rode [Zivo] perfectly," said winning trainer Chad Brown, who also sent out ninth-place finisher Last Gunfighter, the 3-1 second choice "We've always put him in races we think fit him. This horse has really come around well and it was time to step out of New York-bred company and try him in an open company race with a big purse."
Stormin Monarcho was first to lead but Junior Alvarado hustled Moreno to the front before the opening quarter to take charge. He clipped off quick opening fractions for :23.58 and :46.92, pressured by Stormin Monarcho with Prayer for Relief chasing from third then second for a mile.
Zivo took to the two path nearing the five-sixteenths pole just long enough to dispatch tiring Stormin Monarcho and re-tucked on the rail to rally. Prayer for Relief found him too strong but held on for third.
"Chad told me the horse was doing very good," Lezcano said. "He told me to let him break and sit and make one run. He gave me what I needed to win the race. I had plenty of horse. [Moreno] kept going, but my horse came running."
Lezcano also won the Belmont Sprint Championship with Clearly Now and the Belmont Derby Invitational Stakes with Mr Speaker. Brown enjoyed a stakes double on the card, following up in the next race when Minorette won the Belmont Oaks Invitational.
Zivo returned $29.40, $12.60, and $8.10 while Moreno paid $10.40 and $7.90, combining for a $382.50 exacta. Prayer for Relief paid $11.89 to show.
Ever Rider finished fourth, followed by 2-1 favorite Romansh, who flattened out after advancing into third at the quarter pole. Then came Mylute, Micromanage, Norumbega, Last Gunfighter, and Stormin Monarcho. Vyjack, weakening to last on the far turn, was eased in the stretch.
"Once I saw the strong pace, I knew he'd come running," Brown said of Zivo, whose lifetime bankroll increased to $782,300 with the $275,000 winner's share of the Suburban purse. "That last eighth was definitely as strong as I've seen from him. But then again, he's a horse that's only gotten better."
Coleman bred Zivo out of the winning Quiet American mare American Skipper. The extended family includes Japanese Horse of the Year Symboli Kris S and 2009 Emirates Airline Dubai World Cup winner Well Armed.