Zito: 'Cliff' Needs a Miracle to Make Belmont

Trainer Nick Zito says he has until Saturday to get a work into The Cliff's Edge, who suffered a foot bruise before the Preakness Stakes (gr. I), or he will be forced to miss the Belmont Stakes (gr. I). The son of Gulch's problems started when he lost both his front shoes during the running of the Kentucky Derby (gr. I).

"We actually squeezed more liquid out of foot," Zito said. "A miracle is going to have to happen by the weekend. If I can't work him that's the end, that's it. The one thing is, he has to be 100%. He was ready to run Preakness morning, so I wouldn't need more than one work in him. He had three beautiful works before the Kentucky Derby. so, he actually could make it with the one work. We'll see what happens by Saturday.

"Look, we got a bad break. We got a bad break when the rains came and when the shoes came off. What can you do? The blacksmith is the same guy who shod Quest last fall in a snowstorm and mud up to his ears. And his shoes stayed on. Shoes are supposed to stay on, that's all there is to it. It's part of the business. You look at the Phippses, C.V. Whitney, Vanderbilt. What are the odds of adding them all up and you can't come up with one Derby winner? We'll keep playing and that's it."

Zito said Royal Assault is set for the Belmont, and there is also a chance he will run Marylou Whitney's Birdstone, whom Zito says has been training "like a champ."

"His Kentucky Derby gives him a right to run in the Belmont Stakes," Zito said. "He definitely has a right. He finished eighth, not 18th. He can run off five weeks, and that's actually better for him. If the horse looks good and he's eating everything, why not? Marylou and John (husband John Hendrickson) would like to run, but they would never ever push me to run if I didn't want to."

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