After a very disappointing run at the 2015 Cigar Mile, Private Zone is headed to The Sanctuary in Florida for some much needed rehab. It’s been a gruelling year for the six-year old, and Rene Douglas wants her rested for what we can only assume will be another year of competition in 2016.
Is that the right move?
Private Zone was 3-2-1 in seven races this season, and ended her campaign by trailing 5th at the Cigar Mile. She won the Forego Handicap, a GR1 stakes race, while also capturing wins at the Churchill Down Stakes (GR2) and the Belmont Sprint Championship (G3). An early season, second place finish at the Gulfstream Park Handicap (GR2) was coupled with her disappointing second place finish at the Breeders’ Cup Spring, which is another GR1 race. Her other run at a grade one was at the Metropolitan Handicap where she showed at third.
Seven races is a lot for any horse, especially a six-year old gelding and Douglas admitted that the Cigar Mile may have been a mistake. “I blame myself, I don’t blame the jockey or the trainer. That’s got nothing to do with it,” Douglas noted. “The horse was tired after the Breeders’ Cup and only went in to the [Cigar Mile] with four or five days of galloping. You’re not going to win a race like that.”
Douglas has been known to give Private Zone about 90 days off in the winter, and the idea is that the attention the horse enjoys at The Sanctuary in Florida will rejuvenate her in time for the Dubai Golden Shaheen in late March. Private Zone has competed at this race one time in the past, placing 9th back in 2013.
By no means does that guarantee that Private Zone will be ready for the 2016 season. Right now, the intention is to give him the rest he has rightfully earned and asses from there. If her handlers do decide that it’s time to retire him by the conclusion of winter, Private Zone’s career will still be served well. The Good Friends Stable that owns her, and trainer Brian A. Lynch have enjoyed a career record of 7-7-3 in 24 races.
Private Zone has plenty of fans that are eager for a return in 2016, but that news will have to wait. The prize of Good Friends Stable will no doubt enjoy some much deserved, and needed, rest and relaxation as she snowbirds in Florida.