Saturday at Santa Anita Park, it took just a few ticks over a minute for first-time starter Paynter to go from being an “unknown” 3-year-old to becoming another potential player on the 2012 Triple Crown trail for Zayat Stables.
Paynter, a bay 3-year-old colt, was an authoritative 4 1/4-length winner in the 5 1/2-furlong contest, getting the distance in a quick 1:02.98. While it's a long way from his sprint victory to the 1 1/4-miles of the Kentucky Derby (G1) in May, Paynter is certainly bred for the distance. He is by Awesome Again, who won the 1998 Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) at Churchill Downs, and is out of a full sister to Tiznow, the only two-time winner of that same race.
Paynter is one of 13 Zayat sophomores nominated to this year's classics, and is one of several full of promise. Just a week ago, Bodemeister, like Paynter, is trained by Bob Baffert, destroyed a field of maidens and is likely to make his next start in a graded stakes within the next month.
Zayat also has Z Dager pointed at the Grade 3 Risen Star S. at Fair Grounds Feb. 25 and Dan and Sheila for the Grade 3 Gotham S. March 3 at Aqueduct.