Zito Eyes Schedule for A P Valentine; Florida Derby Out

Zito Eyes Schedule for A P Valentine; Florida Derby Out
Photo: Barbara D. Livingston
A P Valentine, who will not contest the Florida Derby, may take the Kentucky route along the Triple Crown trail.
Almost immediately after A P Valentine's third-place finish in an allowance race Feb. 17, trainer Nick Zito began having second thoughts about running him in the Florida Derby, which in the past has been his traditional target before heading to Kentucky.

Now that Zito has conferred with co-owners Rick Pitino and the Coolmore people and officially ruled out the Florida Derby as A P Valentine's next start, he must find an alternate route to the Kentucky Derby.

"Times have changed," Zito said. "More and more horses no longer are using the traditional preps. Just look at Charismatic, who used the Lexington Stakes. I've got to protect this horse the best way I can. I said he was very special, and I still believe that. I'm not going to do something that's going to hurt his chances of peaking on Derby Day. That's always our goal. There are so many races you can run in. The Spiral Stakes (Mar. 24) is now three weeks before the Blue Grass, so you can run in both of those, and as I said, there's nothing wrong with waiting an extra week if you have to and run in the Lexington."

Other options for Zito are the Gotham Stakes on Mar. 18 and the Tampa Bay Derby the same day.

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