Nine months after his impressive maiden victory, Zaikov returns to Gulfstream Park in an optional claiming allowance on Friday.
The Arindel Farm homebred will break from post six of 10 under jockey Javier Castellano in the sixth race, going six furlongs on the main track.
With Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez aboard, Zaikov romped by 14 ¼ lengths in his unveiling on March 15, running six furlongs in 1:09.78. He has tuned up for his return with three consecutive bullet works at Palm Meadows, including five furlongs in 1:01.20 on Dec. 7.
“We had a shin issue that he ended up getting quite a bit of time off for,” trainer Todd Pletcher told Gulfstream Publicity. “They did a really good job at the farm with him and he’s come back and he’s training well.”
Pletcher also considered bringing Zaikov, a Distorted Humor colt, back in a similar spot going one mile two races later, but opted for the shorter trip.
“If there was one at seven-eighths, I probably would have went that way, but I figured we’d just ease him back into it. He’s obviously a very talented horse. He showed a lot in his debut, and we hope he continues moving forward.”