Spot Likely for Florida Derby After Big Work
by Blood-Horse Staff
Date Posted: 3/22/2014 3:16:53 PM
Last Updated: 3/23/2014 2:53:42 PM
Spot worked four furlongs in :47.70 on March 22.
Gulfstream Park Photo
After producing a bullet workout at Palm Meadows the morning of March 22, Spot was added to the list of probables for the upcoming $1 million Besilu Stables Florida Derby (gr. I) at Gulfstream Park.
Spot was purchased privately and turned over to trainer Nick Zito before his dominant 2 1/2-length victory in the seven-furlong Swale Stakes (gr. II) at Gulfstream March 1.
The 3-year-old son of Pulpit breezed four furlongs in :47.70 at Gulfstream's satellite training facility in Palm Beach County Saturday, the fastest of 74 drills recorded for the distance.
"It was huge, very huge," Zito said. "I'm very, very happy with it. He's a horse that keeps improving, knock on wood."
Zito conferred with owner Joseph Moss following the workout, in which regular exercise rider Maxine Correa was aboard. The Hall of Fame trainer indicated afterward that the 1 1/8-mile Florida Derby March 29 was in their sights.
"I just got off the phone with Mr. Moss. He said to me, "Nick, I obviously want to run in the big race with him. I want to try. It may be too early, but it also might be too late, but there isn't anything against trying,' " Zito said. "So he's leaving it up to me.' I told him, 'I'm leaning towards the Florida Derby.' He just said, 'Just use good judgment.' "
Jose Lezcano, who rode Spot to victory in the Swale, is scheduled to ride Twilight Eclipse in the $5 million Dubai Sheema Classic (UAE-I) in Dubai next Saturday.
"I don't have Lezcano, but I've never seen a horse go out for a big race without a jockey on it," Zito said. "Right now I'm leaning toward Corey Lanerie. He rides there all the time. He's a good rider, a good guy."
Spot won once in four starts as a 2-year-old and finished fifth in the Hutcheson Stakes (gr. III) in his 2014 debut at Gulfstream before joining Zito, for whom he continues to blossom.
"That's a good thing. That's the whole key. I've been in enough of these things to know that you need to get good at the right time," said Zito, who has saddled three Florida Derby winners: High Fly (2005), Ice Box (2010) and Dialed In (2011). "Let's just hope he's getting good at the right time."
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