Good Friends Stable’s Private Zone put away longshot Nates Mineshaft at the eighth pole and drew off to post a 4 ¼-length victory and ruin the 2015 debut of Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) winner Bayern in the 81st running of the $500,000 Churchill Downs (GII) Presented by Twinspires.com for 4-year-olds and up.
Trained by Jorge Navarro and ridden by Martin Pedroza, Private Zone covered the seven furlongs on a fast main track in 1:22.54.
Private Zone and Nates Mineshaft dueled through early fractions of :22.38 and :44.64 as Bayern raced in tight next to the rail in the second flight. The two leaders continued their duel to midstretch when Private Zone began to draw off while Bayern faded to last in his first start in six months since winning the Classic.
The victory was worth $282,100 and increased Private Zone’s bankroll to $1,863,320 with a record of 27-8-8-2. Private Zone is a 6-year-old Canadian-bred son of Macho Uno out of the Siphon (BRZ) mare Auburn Beauty.
Sent off as the second choice in the field of six, Private Zone returned $7.40, $4.40 and $3. Nates Mineshaft, ridden by Florent Geroux paid $19.80 and $6.20 in saving the place spot by a head over Pants On Fire, who paid $2.80 to show under Paco Lopez.
It was 4 ¾ lengths back to Gentlemen’s Bet, who was followed by C. Zee and Bayern.
CHURCHILL DOWNS PRESENTED BY TWINSPIRES.COM QUOTES
MARTIN PEDROZA, jockey of PRIVATE ZONE (winner)
“This is my first stakes win on Derby Day; my first stakes win at Churchill. (He is based in Southern California.) I am so happy to win this race for my good friend (former jockey) Renee Douglas (stable manager for the owners, Good Friends Stable). I am blessed that I am healthy and doing well and I can win a race like this for him. I’m 48, but I feel like I’m 21. This is some horse. He is so good. When that horse went by me (Nates Mineshaft on the turn for home), I didn’t get nervous. I just let my horse do what he does, and I knew he’d be game. Then I hit him left handed and it was all over. He’s just so tough.”
JORGE NAVARRO, trainer of PRIVATE ZONE (winner)
“He’s been training really well coming into this race. I knew when the other horse came he would dig in. He’s a fighter. I just let (jockey) Martin (Pedroza) ride his race.”
FLORENT GEROUX, jockey of NATES MINESHAFT (second)
“Great trip from the outside post. He ran his heart out, he’s a very nice horse it was a tough loss today but he always tries hard."
MARTIN GARCIA, jockey of BAYERN (sixth as beaten favorite)
“He felt really good, he broke really sharp. He didn’t have the kick that he usually does. He was done at the half mile. He didn’t handle the track at all, he didn’t like it.”