Sycamore: Maker turns ex-claimer Marzo into graded-stakes winner

Keeneland media recap:

  • Click here for a replay of the race and the post-race interview with the winning connections
Ricardo Santana Jr. guided Marzo to victory in Keeneland’s Grade 3 Sycamore in his second start after being claimed. Coady Photography

LEXINGTON, KY (Oct. 17, 2019) – Three Diamonds Farm’s Marzo stalked the early pace, moved to the lead inside the three-sixteenths pole and drew away to a comfortable 1¼-length victory over Nakamura to win the 25thrunning of the $150,000 Sycamore (G3) for 3-year-olds and up before a Thursday afternoon crowd of 11,390.

Trained by Mike Maker and ridden by Ricardo Santana Jr., Marzo covered the 1½ miles on a turf course labeled as good in 2:32.72. The Sycamore victory is the second for Maker, who also won in 2012 with Kindergarden Kid.

“We claimed him (in August at Kentucky Downs) with this idea: stretch him out with this race in mind if another horse, Bigger Picture, didn’t make it,” Maker said. “With the purses in Kentucky, it was a no-lose situation. Hats off to Mr. (Kirk) Wycoff for picking him out.”

Changi set the early pace with Midnight Tea Time tracking in second and Marzo saving ground along the rail in third through fractions of :25.56, :51.26, 1:17.09 and 1:42.24.

Turning for home, Santana moved Marzo into the four path, passed the leaders inside the three-sixteenths pole and then kicked clear at the eighth pole to cruise to victory.

“The horse broke really sharp. I stuck him behind the pace,” Santana said. “The horse traveled really good. I was really happy with his position. At the three-eighths pole, he was pulling, saying ‘let me go.’ I let him go.”

A two-time Keeneland sales graduate, Marzo is a 4-year-old Kentucky-bred gelded son of Medaglia d’Oro out of the Smart Strike mare Spring Party. The $90,000 winner’s share boosted his earnings to $263,527 with a record of 16-4-4-3. It is Marzo’s first stakes victory.

Marzo returned $31, $13.80 and $9.20. Nakamura, ridden by Javier Castellano, returned $6.20 and $4.20 in finishing 1¾ lengths in front of Postulation, who paid $6 to show under Julien Leparoux.

It was another 1½ lengths back to Midnight Tea Time with Zumurudee, favored Focus Group, My Boy Jack, Space Mountain, Blended Citizen, Changi and Golden Dragon following in order.

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Female jockeys ran 1-2 in the final race Thursday as Sophie Doyle rode the winner, Poseidon’s Passion, for owners John Marks and Jeanne Martin and trainer James Gulick. Bred by Gulick, the 2-year-old filly by Poseidon’s Warrior won the 6-furlong race by three-quarters of a length from Don Mills’ Kitty Promise with Virginia Tormey aboard for trainer Aveory Faircloth. Time was 1:12.70.

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Friday is College Scholarship Day, which will award 18 scholarships worth a total of $70,000 – more than double the $30,000 offered in the past. Full-time students can register to win scholarships and prizes from local vendors beginning at 11 a.m. ET in the College Zone in the North Terrace.

Racing continues with a 10-race program beginning at 1:05 p.m. The afternoon’s highlight is the 29th running of the $150,000 Pin Oak Valley View (G3) for 3-year-old fillies going

1 1/16 miles on the turf. The Pin Oak Valley View is the ninth race with a 5:30 p.m. post time.

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Jennie Rees