Zito's Not Jumping Over The Cliff's Edge

It must be nice to win a $200,000 stakes and say the winner is the third best juvenile colt in your barn. Just ask trainer Nick Zito.

The Cliff's Edge won the $222,200 Kentucky Jockey Club (gr. II) at Churchill Downs Saturday, after which Zito said he would still rank the colt behind Eurosilver and Birdstone.

"He's third best, but those are some pretty nice horses," Zito said after The Cliff's Edge beat Gran Prospect and Proper Prado in the Kentucky Jockey Club.

Jockey Shane Sellers thinks so much of The Cliff's Edge he pushed himself to return early from an injury. "This is the reason I'm back," Seller said. "He is the reason I've been riding the last three weeks. I would ride this horse if I couldn't walk."

Sellers kept The Cliff's Edge sitting in third early behind moderate fractions of :24.23 and :48.44 on a chilly day in Kentucky. Sellers moved him three wide in the turn to take the lead, but said he was worried at the eighth pole when Craig Perret had Gran Prospect to his outside.

"I was a little worried, but then I asked him, 'Are you a man or a mouse?' He answered: 'Man.' "

The Cliff's Edge, owned by New Yorker Robert La Penta, held off Gran Prospect by three-quarters of a length in 1:45.50 for the 1 1/16 mile. The heavy favorite, he paid $3.80, $2.60 and $2.20. Gran Prospect was worth $7.40 and $3.60 and Proper Prado, 2 1/2 lengths behind the winner, returned $3.20.

The Cliff's Edge was bred in Kentucky by Stonerside Stable. He is by Gulch out of the Danzig mare Zigember.

The dark bay's third win in five starts was worth $137,764, more than doubling his career earnings to $255,258.

Zito has his sights set on returning to Churchill next spring for the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), but he insisted he is not counting his chickens before they hatch.

"The whole thing is we have to have a good winter," Zito said. "But we're not even to the first Saturday in December, much less the first Saturday in May."

Commendation, Mach Speed, Saltire, Jamian and Trust Me completed the order of finish.

(Chart, Equibase)