Trainer Nick Zito didn't really want to do it, but his decision to bypass an allowance event nine days earlier for the $400,000 Holy Bull Stakes (gr. III) (VIDEO) looks pretty good after the inexperienced Dialed In swept to an impressive win at Gulfstream Park Jan. 30.
Facing an accomplished field in just the second start of his career, the late-running Dialed In will no doubt go to the top of the list of leading 3-year-olds with his 1 1/2-length win over Sweet Ducky, who held off Gourmet Dinner for second. Mucho Macho Man, the 2-1 favorite, finished fourth in the one-turn mile which was timed in a solid 1:35.19.
Robert La Penta's Mineshaft colt will still need to prove his ability around two turns but with $240,000 in graded earnings from the Holy Bull win, Dialed In is well on his way to a slot in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum Brands (gr. I).
Zito intended to run Dialed In in a Gulfstream allowance race Jan. 21 but changed directions when the track came up sloppy.
Sent off as the second choice off only a maiden victory, Dialed In broke slowly from the far outside for Julien Leparoux and dropped to the rear of the field while angling to the inside some 10 lengths off the pace.
Black N Beauty, after dueling early for the lead, had the advantage over 60-1 outsider Ribo Bobo and Mucho Macho Man. He took the field well into the homestretch while clicking off sharp fractions of :23.96, :46.24 and 1:10.33. Mucho Macho Man was the first to challenge the pacesetter, but Sweet Ducky, up on the outside approaching mid-stretch for Joe Bravo, took over on the outside with a furlong to run.
It was to no avail, however. Dialed In launched his bid along the inside on the far turn and was angled to the outside in the lane by Leparoux. The long-striding colt mowed down his rivals one by one and swept past Sweet Ducky with ease on the grandstand side after switching leads in deep stretch, quickly drawing away. He appeared to be geared down in the last 50 yards in an amazing performance.
“He’s very special," Zito said. "I’ve never had a horse do this, go from a maiden special race to jump up and win a race like the Holy Bull. I wasn’t that surprised that he was so far back early. I had a good feeling and confidence in Julien to let him be in the right place and then get into the mix. I just wanted him to get out (of gate) clear and settle. I’m not sure what will be next. The idea is just to get him there (Kentucky Derby).”
“There’s a long way to go, but this certainly puts him on the (Derby Trail)," added LaPenta, a longtime client of Zito's. "Nick did an incredible job training this horse up to this race, getting him ready and not rushing him. This had to be one of Nick’s best training jobs.”
Leparoux said the plan was to let Dialed In drop back and see what happens.
"Nick told me just to leave him alone and drop to the rail and that’s what I did. He said just to be patient. When I asked him, he really ran on well. This is obviously a very nice horse.”
Sweet Ducky finished a head in front of Delta Downs Jackpot (gr. III) winner Gourmet Dinner, ridden by Sebastian Madrid.
"We weren’t going to beat the winner today," said Bravo, who nonetheless applauded the effort of Sweet Ducky. "They paid half a million for him for a reason. Hats off to Nick Zito.”
“He was a little sharp today," jockey Eibar Coa said of Mucho Macho Man. "He’s been working sharp and came out a little sharp. Breaking from the outside, I didn’t really have a place to cover him up so he went a little too fast too soon. I was never able to get him to relax.”
Coa said he believes the grand-looking colt will be better around two turns.
Dialed In came into the race off of three consecutive bullet workouts at Palm Meadows Training Center, most recently breezing a half-mile there in :47 2/5 Jan. 24. In his only prior start, the $475,000 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga 2009 Select Yearling Sale purchase scored a resounding win over maidens over 6 1/2 furlongs at Churchill Downs Nov. 12 when he came from 10th while weaving between horses to a half-length triumph.
W.S. Farish, Madeleine Pickens and and Skara Glen Stables bred the winning dark bay or brown colt in Kentucky. He is out of Miss Doolittle, by Storm Cat.
Dialed In, who carried 116 pounds, paid $7.40, $4.80 and $3.60. Sweet Ducky, who ran a big race in defeat for trainer Kelly Breen, returned $13 and $6.60. Gourmet Dinner was $3.60 to show.