Linda's Lace seems to be getting better with age

The Bob Zahl owned and trained Linda's Lace has been a consistent performer at the racetrack. (Submitted photo)

She possesses all of the attributes you would expect to find in a great athlete, a huge heart, a determination and willingness that can't be tangibly measured, and she's demonstrated a level of consistency found only in those special performers who are able to take their game to another level. Linda's Lace seems to be getting better with age. The 6 year old mare made 7 starts in 2008, and was in the money 6 times, The Bob Zahl charge also won her first stakes race during her 5 year old campaign, establishing a new stakes record in the 1 1/16 miles Frances Slocum Stakes, Nov. 22 at Hoosier Park, under the confident handling of jockey Leandro Goncalves, who rated the mare behind the pace before making her move, as she uncoiled a powerful turn of foot late to score a 1 1/4-length victory. Goncalves has been in the irons on the dark bay mare in all of her last five starts. "We're really happy." said Zahl, in an interview Wednesday at the Sugar Magnolia Cafe. "She's a nice filly, and she never gets beaten by very much. She's always within striking distance." Zahl broke, trained and conditioned the horse over the Aiken Training Track, and rider Bo Burns has played a critical role in the mare's development. Linda's Lace has made 22 starts, and has only been off the board 5 times during her career. "I own her, train her, and I know exactly when she's peaking," said Zahl, who seems to have an intuitive sense when reading through the condition books, and selecting what races are best suited for the mare. Linda's Lace placed third in the 6 furlong Merrillville Stakes over an off track at Hoosier Park on Oct. 24. She had also placed third in the slop at Indiana Downs on July 4 in the 1 1/16 miles Florence Henderson Stakes. It was during her 4 year old campaign that Zahl could see her mature into a stakes caliber performer, and began pointing Linda's Lace toward stakes races. She also finished 2nd in the Merrillville Stakes at age 4. "Aiken is a great place to break and train horses," said Zahl, who worked for Mike Freeman, Sally Cluff and the late Bobby Dotter, and has been training horses on his own for the past 25 years. "The training track has a good surface, and there's plenty of good food and water. We have a good facility, with the mile track and 5/8 mile track. It's a good place to get the horses relaxed and properly prepared." The mare is an Indiana-bred and was bred by Randy Haffner, Zahl's late brother, Buzz Zahl, was responsible for breeding the Nostrum broodmare Rosie's Lace to Marshall Lamb's Aiken-based stallion Is Sveikatis, who stands at Lamb's Outaways Farm. "I'm hoping now we'll be able to get some more good mares to him," said Lamb. "Bobby's mare is the nicest mare we've bred." Linda's Lace has demonstrated her penchant for the turf and is 4 for 5 on the grass. She has made all 22 of her lifetime starts in Indiana. It was an inauspicious beginning as she placed 6th in her first start on June 13, 2006 during her sophomore campaign, but would break her maiden convincingly in her second start, winning by 4 lengths at 5 1/2 furlongs at Hoosier Park on Sept. 3, 2006. She would score consecutive wins in her next two starts, both in allowance company. "She's only 5 years old, and she's going to be 6, and she's lightly raced," said Zahl, who believes he has found the right jockey in Goncalves who compliments her running style. "She's just basically finding out what it's all about right now. She's an extremely good closing horse, she likes to relax and come from off the pace." Linda's Lace from 22 lifetime starts, has 6 wins, placed 2nd 9 times, and has finished 3rd twice, en route to bankrolling $160,989.