(Edited New York Racing Association press release)
Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito put the finishing touches on the second of his two Belmont Stakes (gr. I) candidates May 30, sending Dwyer Stakes (gr. II) winner Fly Down out for a bullet half-mile work over the Oklahoma Training Track at Saratoga Race Course in New York.
Under exercise rider Maxine Correa and working in company with 3-year-old maiden Kerouac, Fly Down (by Mineshaft ) covered the four furlongs in :47.50, galloping out in 1:01.15 in preparation for the June 5 Belmont. The move was the fastest of 25 at the distance.
“He looked pretty good to me this morning, so I was happy about that,” said Zito, a two-time winner of the Belmont. “The main thing is, he came home good, and he looked good doing it. That’s all you can ask for. I’m pretty happy about everything. He looked ready to me, and I hope we get a good week, that’s all.”
In addition to Fly Down, Zito will also send out Kentucky Derby Presented By Yum! Brands (gr. I) runner-up Ice Box in the 1 1/2-mile Belmont. Ice Box turned in a bullet four-furlong work in :46.65 May 27. Both 3-year-olds will ship to Zito’s Belmont Park barn June 2.
Zito has sent out 22 Belmont starters, winning in 2004 with Birdstone and in 2008 with Da' Tara.
“I think you have to put everything in proper perspective,” Zito said. “As long as they look good, as long as they run good, come back good, hit the board, whatever. And if they win, obviously, if they win, you have to thank your lucky stars.”
At Belmont Park May 30, Stay Put (by Broken Vow ) went an easy half-mile on the main track just after the renovation break under exercise rider Loren Diego, with New York Racing Association clockers catching the chestnut colt in :50.62.
“I liked the way he breezed this morning,’ said Diego, who is supervising Stay Put’s Belmont preparations until trainer Steve Margolis arrives in New York. “The main thing is to keep him happy, keep him fresh. I think he’s been handling the track well since he’s been here.”
Winner of an optional claimer at Churchill Downs on the Kentucky Derby undercard May 1, Stay Put arrived at Belmont Park May 27, galloping over the main track twice prior to his work. According to Diego, Stay Put will jog a mile May 31, walk or jog on June 1, and gallop into the race.
“I think a mile-and-a-half suits him,” Diego said. ”It’s going to help him because he comes from off the pace.”
Two other Belmont hopefuls who were going to work May 30 will instead work May 31 at Belmont Park. Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott will send out Dwyer runner-up Drosselmeyer over the main track after the renovation break, and trainer Alexis Barba will switch things up and prep Make Music for Me over the training track.
“It’s a change of scenery,” Barba said. “I think he’s had enough of getting used to the main track.”