Veteran sprinter Zaratone will return to racing in the 2014 Ortensia Stakes at Scone on Saturday after recording three straight barrier trial wins in the lead-up to his winter campaign.
Zaratone has not been seen at the races since he failed to beat home a single runner in the Listed Carrington Stakes (1100m) at Royal Randwick on January 1, but based on his barrier trial performances looks to have returned in excellent condition.
The Zariz gelding defeated a strong field, including subsequent T.J. Smith Stakes runner-up Rebel Dane, in a barrier trial over 900 metres at Rosehill Gardens on March 31 and claimed victories in trials at Warwick Farm on April 11 and Royal Randwick ten days later.
Trainer Bjorn Baker told Racing Ahead that Zaratone missed the Hawkesbury Rush (1100m) just under a fortnight ago because of a minor virus, but said that the eight-year-old had recovered well from the setback and is going into the Listed Ortensia Stakes this weekend in excellent condition.
“He has actually been going really well and he was going to run at Hawkesbury, but he got an infection and never went there unfortunately; I thought that he would have been hard to beat,” Baker said.
“This race last year was his first run for me and he ran fourth and I think that he is going pretty good.
“Hopefully he can put his best foot forward and be competitive.”
Zaratone joined the stable of Baker just over a year ago, after previously being prepared by Nick Olive, and has raced consistently in 11 race starts for his new trainer.
The gelding scored his first win for Baker when he scored a dominant all the way win in the Alpha Flight Services Handicap (1100m) at Rosehill Gardens on July 20 and recorded the third win of his career at black type level when he defeated Heart Testa and Safeguard to take out the Listed Starlight Stakes (1100m) at Rosehill Gardens on November 30.
Zaratone will need to be at his very best to score the third first-up win of his career in the Ortensia Stakes this weekend; with a number of talented gallopers set to contest the Listed event.
Lionel Cohen-trained Aeronautical will carry the top-weight of 59.5 kilograms if he runs in the $140,000 event, while talented mares Ichihara and Satin Shoes, Queensland speedster Adebisi and Chris Waller-trained Masthead have also been included in the nominations for the race.