Zito to Take Patient Course with High Star

Kentucky Derby winning trainer Nick Zito is enthusiastic about 3-year-old High Star's future, but Zito says his plan is to go slow with the colt.

High Star won a recent allowance race at Gulfstream Park, and Zito was happy with the way the colt drew off by 2 3/4 lengths in the victory.

"He showed his class as a 2-year-old and I think he has a future," Zito said. "I was really pleased with the race he won at Gulfstream. It was his first start in a couple of months and he won over a track that is on the heavy side."

Prior to that Jan. 26 race, High Star (Private Terms--Polember, by Polish Navy) last started in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (gr. II), finishing third on a sloppy Churchill Downs strip, 1 1/2 lengths behind Repent. Repent is currently the 6-1 co-favorite for the Kentucky Derby in Bally's future book wagering (odds as of Jan. 30). High Star is available at odds of 100-1.

Zito said it is unlikely the Buckram Oak Farm's color bearer will start in the Feb. 16 Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. I).

"I'll consider our options and see how things go," he said. "I like to go slow with my young horses at this time of the year and I'll probably pass the Fountain of Youth with him. The only race to really think about is the Florida Derby (gr. I) and that's my goal for him at this time."

Zito won the 1994 Kentucky Derby with Go for Gin, and on Saturday at Gulfstream Park a 3-year-old son of that horse trained by Zito earned his first career win.

Mary Lou Whitney Stable's Straight Gin broke his maiden in his fifth career start, going wire-to-wire to win a 1 1/16-mile race on a track listed as "good." The bay colt completed the distance in 1:49.68 in winning by 3 3/4 lengths over second betting choice Blueformer, a half-brother of Exogenous by Dynaformer. Favored Essayons (by Deputy Minister) was a head-length farther back in third. Straight Gin is out of the Procida mare Valeta.

Both High Star and Straight Gin sold at the 2000 Keeneland September yearling sale, with High Star fetching $130,000 and Straight Gin $80,000.

Later on the card, the Whitney-Zito combination hooked up for another 3-year-old winner with a horse sired by a Zito-trained classic winner. Aly Quatorze, a daughter of 1996 Preakness winner Louis Quatorze, won a one mile and 70 yards allowance race by a head. The bay filly is a daughter of the Saratoga Six mare Aly Sara. She earned her second straight win Saturday. Jorge Chavez rode both Straight Gin and Aly Quatorze to victory.

(Derby Odds, Bally's)