Zito Again Off to Good Start On Derby Trail

(from Gulfstream Park notes)
Trainer Nick Zito, always a threat along the Triple Crown trail, was sitting comfortably Sunday after two of his 3-year-olds posted wins Saturday and a third, High Fly, cruised through his workout and into the picture for the $300,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II) on March 5.

Tracy Farmer's Sun King took the 10th race at Gulfstream by 5 ¾ lengths, looking impressive against a field of promising 3-year-olds while getting the mile in 1:36.03. Sun King defeated Shug McGaughey's Survivalist, who was second, and Todd Pletcher's Monarch Lane, who finished third.

Earlier in the day, Robert LaPenta's Andromeda's Hero won the Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa by 2 ¾ lengths over the 50-1 Summer Legacy with Captain Lindsay third. Andromeda's Hero ran the 1 1/16 miles in 1:46.63.

"I couldn't have asked for anything more than this," Zito said Sunday. "We'll talk to Mr. Farmer and see what we're going to do (with Sun King). I want to get two more races into him before May. We got this race and now we move on. It was extremely impressive."

"Andromeda's Hero ran a big race in Tampa," said Zito, who then joked about his luck last year when he campaigned three well-regarded Kentucky Derby prospects: The Cliff's Edge, Birdstone, and Eurosilver. The Cliff's Edge ran fifth and his shoes came off running over the muddy track. Birdstone was steadied early and shuffled back, struggling home eighth. Eurosilver didn't make the race.

"The main thing I want is to get four horses to the Derby, and then have two of them keep all their shoes. Then I think we'll have a pretty good chance," Zito said.

High Fly, who was transferred to Zito's barn after his third-place finish in the Holy Bull Stakes (gr. III) Feb. 5, worked five furlongs at Palm Meadows in a bullet :59 2/5.

Zito considered shipping High Fly to Aqueduct for the Gotham Stakes (gr. III), which is traditionally a one-turn mile. But bad weather in New York may force racing officials there to delay the opening of Aqueduct's main track, which would leave the Gotham as a two-turn race on the winterized inner-dirt oval.

"I know my horse is ready for either the Fountain of Youth or the Gotham," said Zito. "A one-turn mile would be ideal for my horse, but it doesn't look like he'd get that in New York. The main thing is getting these horses to these races and seeing what we've got. We'll see what he can do around two turns here. If he doesn't draw well, I don't want to set anything in stone, but it's time to see what he can do."

High Fly was compromised by a wide trip when he drew the outside post in the Holy Bull.