Live Oak Plantation owner Charlotte Weber, left, with trainer Nick Zito.

Live Oak Plantation owner Charlotte Weber, left, with trainer Nick Zito.

Equi-Photo/Bill Denver

Zito Still Flying High Over Derby Trail

(from Gulfstream Park notes)
For the second straight week, trainer Nick Zito won a stakes race and an important allowance race with highly regarded 3-year-olds.

Thanks to High Fly's victory in the $300,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II) and Noble Causeway's stylish win in a $33,000 allowance Zito is building a stockpile of Kentucky Derby contenders and crystallized his hold on favorite status for the $1 million Florida Derby (gr. I) April 2.

"The Florida Derby is the next logical spot for High Fly," said Zito. "But you never know how things are going to work out. We'll talk with the owners and make a decision."

Live Oak Plantation's High Fly and Noble Causeway joined Andromeda's Hero, who won the Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs Feb. 26, and Sun King, who won an allowance race impressively the same day, at the top of Zito's Derby list.

The success has the superstitious Zito knocking wood with memories of last year when The Cliff's Edge, Birdstone, and Eurosilver all emerged from the winter among the Derby favorites but disappointed on the first Saturday in May.

"We hope we can keep it going, but things can change," said Zito. "You can't boast about tomorrow. You saw what happened last year. We're just hoping it stays the way it is right now."

While High Fly is the most likely of his stable stars to stay for Gulfstream Park's signature event, Noble Causeway should hold his own in major races, according to jockey Pat Day.

"What can I say about him? He's a real promising colt," said Day, soon after the Hall of Famer guided the son of Giant's Causeway  to his second straight Gulfstream Park victory. "He moved when I asked him to. I knuckled him somewhere on the (final) turn, and he responded like a real professional."