Lovely Leo!

Jan 18, 2017

Winning a city race with a home-bred galloper is always a thrill - and bigger still when you also raced not only the dam but also the sire!

That was the buzz enjoyed by the Zito, Cichello and Button families at Sandown on Wednesday, their talented five-year-old Leodoro breaking through for his first well deserved metropolitan victory.

Sent out favourite in a 1300m contest at Sandown, Leodoro had been a game and somewhat unlucky second at his previous start having won so well first up at Cranbourne in late December.

Beautifully handled by our in-form apprentice Ethan Brown, Leodoro travelled well behind the leaders along the rails and stayed there into the straight.

Whilst there did not look to be a lot of room there, Ethan bided his time until a gap appeared and when it did Leodoro was happy to take the run - poking his nose out at just the right time.

It was an exciting bob of the head finish and Ethan admitted that he did not know who had won - "I had to wait till we got back to scale to find out!" he said.

It was Ethan's second city winner (his first was at Sandown last week) and his first for the stable, making it a special one for us.

"I have always had a lot of time for Ethan," Michael Kent said - "he has got that rare ability for a young kid to wait in a race, he doesn't get flustered in a finish and that is something that helped him out there today."

"It was great to get one up for the boss," Ethan said.

Also very happy were Leodoro's owners who were cheering home their stallion Jayemzed's first mainland metropolitan winner.

Now in Victoria having initially stood in Tasmania, the Group placed Jayemzed has had just eight runners - four of whom are winners with another two placegetters.

Until Wednesday the three times winner Bee Jay Zed (also bred by the Zito family) had been his highest prize money earner but with his fourth win from just 13 starts, Leodoro has now overtaken him with over $72,000 in stakes.

And Kent is confident that the best is still to come.

"He is a horse who has always shown us a lot on the track," he said, adding that the sparingly raced bay has taken a while to figure things out.

"He has just been a bit tense around other horses so he works on his own now. Ethan gets on really well with him which has helped, he is a bit softer on him - he is not a horse who responds to being manhandled."

"And he can run incredible times at home, he has always worked like a very good horse."

Kent added that he is looking forward to getting Leodoro up to the mile at some stage - "I can just see him bowling along in front over the mile at Flemington and not giving anything else a chance."

A keen student of pedigrees, Ralph Zito was happy to send his two times winning Colombia mare White Gold (a full sister to the stakes placed dual city winner Oronero) to Jayemzed four years running.

Three foals have resulted from those matings, Leodoro the first - the second sold to China whilst the third, the three-year-old Gold Phoenix is close to debuting in Tasmania having won a recent trial.

Ralph and his fellow owners have been happy to give Leodoro the time he has needed, noting that from birth he looked the type to take a while to mature.

"He was a lovely foal but always looked a bit gaunt. I remember when we took Mick to see him for the first time as a yearling - he was just all height and skinniness!"

But, having had a good feeling about the Jayemzed - White Gold cross - Ralph was always confident and pedigree was one of the first things he talked about after his horse's first city win.

"It was that Somethingroyal influence kicking in!" he laughed, noting that whilst Jayemzed is bred on a 4 X 6 cross of that influential matriarch via her legendary son Secretariat and her grandson Super Gray, White Gold is bred on a 5 X 5 cross of her other prolific son Sir Gaylord.

White Gold is also interestingly bred with her sire Colombia (full brother to Octagonal) and dam L'Anello hailing from the same family.

Photo courtesy of Ralph Zito - Leodoro as a foal alongside fellow multiple Jayemzed winner Bee Jay Zed.