Vanzzy makes Jersey Derby third stakes victory

Vanzzy scored the third stakes victory of his career with help from a ground-saving, well-timed ride from Monmouth Park leading rider Paco Lopez, taking the $100,000 Jersey Derby for 3-year-olds on the turf on Sunday.

Vanzzy ($7.20), who had been on the lead in his prior race, found some cover and saved ground along the inside early, never more thn two lengths off the lead. Graded stakes winner Island Commish took the field through an opening six furlongs in a moderate 1:13.16 on a turf course officially rated firm.

Vanzzy found room along the rail turning for home and shot through to take command in upper stretch. He continued to draw clear from there, hitting the wire 3 1/2 lengths in front.

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“[Trainer Michael Pino] left it up to me, but he said this horse can be on the lead if you need him to be,” Lopez said. “The turf course isn’t really fast – it’s a little soft. I was just so comfortable with him being on the rail and following horses. I just had to wait for the chance to move. He really responded when he got through and was able to run.”

Vanzzy finished the 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.30.

Bye Bye Melvin, who had tracked the pace in second throughout, gamely held off a late run from favored Irish Mias to be second by three-quarters of a length.

Vanzzy, a Verrazano colt who is trained by Pino for owner Daniel Ryan, added the Jersey Derby to two stakes victories on synthetic tracks, as he took the Display Stakes last December at Woodbine and the Rushaway Stakes in March at Turfway Park. He finished third in the Grade 3 Kent Stakes on July 4 on the Delaware Park turf, and was also stakes-placed on dirt as a juvenile.

“This was his best race yet,” Pino said. “You can see he is getting better with each race, especially when we can get him to settle like we did. I have to think about what is next for him, but maybe the [Grade 3] Virginia Derby at Colonial Downs [on Aug. 29]. We’ll play it by ear. He has become a real solid horse.”

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