Zito Adds Indy Storm to Belmont Cast

(from Belmont Park notes)
Trainer Nick Zito says he'll probably start recent allowance winner Indy Storm in next Saturday's $1 million Belmont Stakes (gr. I), giving him three contenders for the final jewel of the Triple Crown.

Zito made his decision Saturday morning after Andromeda's Hero, one of three horses Zito plans on running in the Belmont, breezed an easy seven furlongs over Saratoga's training track in company with Indy Storm. Both colts were credited with a time of 1:30.

After the work, Zito said Indy Storm would likely join Andromeda's Hero and Pinpoint in the 1 1/2-mile event.

"With strangles, with herpes and Iraq, what's the big deal if I run three horses in this race?," joked Zito this morning. "It's the last race in the Triple Crown and a lot of (my) horses have pedigrees (to go a mile and a half)."

Indy Storm is the least accomplished Belmont starter in the Zito trio. A son of 1992 Belmont Stakes winner A.P. Indy, Indy Storm recently won an allowance race at Pimlico on the Preakness undercard by two lengths. Gary Stevens was aboard that day.

"He won the race pretty convincingly," Zito said. "I know Gary Stevens really liked him, but unfortunately Gary's got to ride Chekhov. I think he's a mile and a half horse. Right now the horse is telling me to take a shot."

Zito said Edgar Prado, who won the Belmont Stakes last year aboard the Zito-trained Birdstone, would ride Indy Storm.

"I think Edgar still has some faith in me," Zito said.

Andromeda's Hero finished eighth in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and appears to be Zito's strongest player. Prior to the Derby, Andromeda's Hero won Tampa Bay Downs' Sam Davis, finished fifth in the Lane's End (gr. II) and third to eventual Preakness (gr. I) champ Afleet Alex in the Arkansas Derby (gr. II).

"He's very fit and he's doing very well," Zito said. "Hopefully, a mile and a half will suit him well. He's got a great female line, and I think he'll run all day. I think we'll have a chance."

Zito skipped the Preakness and won the Belmont Stakes last year with Birdstone. Coincidentally, Birdstone, like Andromeda's Hero, finished eighth in the Kentucky Derby.

Zito said that all three of his Belmont horses would ship south from Saratoga Wednesday.

"I'll school them in the paddock and gallop them over the main track," he said.