Zito Brigade Dominates Palm Meadows Work Tab

Zito Brigade Dominates Palm Meadows Work Tab
Photo: Bill Denver
Birdstone leads Zito contingent in '04 Quest for the Crown.
The "NPZ" saddlecloths of Nick Zito whizzed by one after another Saturday morning, as Zito sent out virtually his entire 3-year-old force for five-furlong breezes at Palm Meadows training center, in preparation for their upcoming preps.

Heading the group was Birdstone, who breezed his five panels in 1:00 4/5 for the Lane's End Stakes (gr. II) on March 20. Zito's other big Kentucky Derby (gr. I) contender, Eurosilver, went his five furlongs in 1:01 2/5 for next Saturday's Swale Stakes (gr. II).

Zito could be represented in allowance races Saturday by Royal Assault, who breezed in 1:01 2/5; Pies Prospect, who went in 1:01; and El Prado Rob, who also went in 1:01. Stakes-placed Ghost Mountain breezed in 1:03. The only one of Zito's 3-year-olds who didn't work was The Cliff's Edge, who is scheduled to run in the Florida Derby (gr. I).

Also on the Florida Derby front, Winchell Thoroughbreds' Tapit will make his 3-year-old debut in the 1 1/8-mile race and will have his final work Monday at trainer Michael Dickinson's Tapeta Farm. Although no rider has yet been named, Edgar Prado, who had been scheduled to ride Master David, could pick up the mount.

One trainer on the fence between the Florida derby and Swale Stakes is Bob Durso, who sent out Frisky Spider for a bullet five-work work from the gate in :58 4/5 at Gulfstream, with regular rider Eddie Martin Jr. aboard. The colt ran poorly in the Fountain of Fountain of Youth (gr. II), but came down with a cough shortly after the race.

"His work was awesome," Durso said. "We'll see how he is and decide on which race to try. I wish I had a little more time before going a mile and an eighth after being sick."

On hand to watch Frisky Spider's workout were owners Martin Friedman and Durso's wife, Carol Dender. Friedman, a former New Jersey electrical contractor now living in Coral Springs, is savoring every moment of his experience with Frisky Spider this winter.

"I've been in this game for 33 years," said Friedman, who once headed-up the leading horsemen's organization in New Jersey. "I've been waiting the whole time for a horse like this. This has just been fabulous."

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