Two noses were all that separated the first three finishers in a desperate finish to Sunday's $100,000 Oceanport Handicap (gr. IIIT). Gulch Approval, ridden by Pat Day, eked out a victory over favored Kathir and Stormy Roman on the grass at Monmouth Park.
The $600,000 West Virginia Derby (gr. III) was the major mid-season test for Sir Shackleton, and he passed it with flying colors with a resounding victory over six other foes in the 1 1/8-mile event for 3-year-olds at Mountaineer Race Track & Gaming Resort.
The second season begins in earnest for the 3-year-olds the weekend of Aug. 7-8, with the runnings of the Haskell Invitational Handicap (gr. I), Jim Dandy Stakes (gr. II), and West Virginia Derby (gr. III). If there is even the slimmest chance of dethroning Smarty Jones for the title, someone is going to have to run the table.
Marylou Whitney's Birdstone, who denied Smarty Jones the Triple Crown with his victory in the June 5 Belmont Stakes (gr. I), will make his first start back in the $1-million Travers Stakes (gr. I), trainer Nick Zito said July 23.
Robert N. Clay's homebred Medallist, ridden by Jorge Chavez, romped and stomped at Belmont Park Sunday, winning the $150,000 Dwyer (gr. II) for 3-year-olds at Belmont Park over The Cliff's Edge, flying to the lead and never looking back.
Robert LaPenta's The Cliff's Edge, winner of the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland and fifth in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) despite a rough trip in his last start, is scheduled to begin his second season at Belmont Park July 11 in the $150,000 Dwyer Stakes (gr. II) for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles.
Robert LaPenta's Pies Prospect became trainer Nick Zito's fifth 3-year-old colt to win a stakes this year, as he drew off to a 5 1/2-length victory in the $50,000 Floor Show Stakes at Delaware Park Tuesday.
Nick Zito has been busy recently trying to come up with a schedule for his talented arsenal of 3-year-olds. Even with the loss of Eurosilver, Zito is loaded as he sets his sights on a number of major stakes, beginning with the July 11 Dwyer Stakes (gr. II) at Belmont Park.
This year's Belmont Stakes (gr. I) in the end was not about two jockeys ganging up on Smarty Jones. It wasn't about the ride by Stewart Elliott. It was all about class, as was the entire Triple Crown.
By Steve Haskin -- Birdstone wins the Belmont, denies Smarty Jones the Triple Crown.
Trainer Nick Zito says he has until Saturday to get a work into The Cliff's Edge, who suffered a foot bruise before the Preakness Stakes (gr. I), or he will be forced to miss the Belmont Stakes (gr. I). The son of Gulch's problems started when he lost both his front shoes during the running of the Kentucky Derby (gr. I).
Marylou Whitney's Champagne (gr. I) winner Birdstone breezed five furlongs in 1:02 3/5 over Saratoga's Oklahoma training track Saturday morning.
Robert LaPenta's The Cliff's Edge has been scratched from Saturday's Preakness Stakes (gr. I). The official word came from trainer Nick Zito Friday morning on the backside at Pimlico Racecourse.
Imperialism, third in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), joined the list of probable starters in Saturday's Preakness Stakes (gr. I), which is expected to feature four of the top five finishers from the May 1 Derby.
Mahmoud Fustok's Buckram Oak horses in trainer Nick Zito's care have been relocated to other conditioners. The horses left Zito's barn, stayed briefly at Fustok's Buckram Oak Farm near Lexington, and have since been distributed to other trainers. Neither racing manager Mohammed Moubarak nor farm manager Michael Albina would elaborate.
Trainer Nick Zito, who saddled two horses in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), could have two or even three in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I). Zito said owner Tracy Farmer and racing manager Lincoln Collins are seriously considering the second leg of the Triple Crown for Sir Shackleton and/or Royal Assault.
There were plenty of quips and comments from trainers and connections with Kentucky Derby (gr. I) hopefuls Tuesday night at the annual Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders trainers' dinner in Louisville.
A field of nine will try the Churchill Downs turf Friday in the $100,000 Crown Royal American Turf Stakes (gr. IIIT), the race immediately preceding the headliner on the day, the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I).
Favored Sir Shackleton, making his stakes debut, repelled the challenge of Courageous Act in the stretch and went on to post a convincing victory in Saturday's $110,800 Derby Trial (gr. III) on opening day at Churchill Downs.
Although the final time might have been a little faster than he would have preferred, trainer Nick Zito was pleased with Monday's workout by The Cliff's Edge as the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) winner continued to prepare for the May 1 Kentucky Derby (gr. I).
Marylou Whitney Stable's Birdstone, who was scratched from last week's Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland, resumed serious preparation for Kentucky Derby 130 (gr. I) May 1 with a five-furlong workout on Thursday at Churchill Downs.
The Nick Zito-trained Toyota Blue Grass (gr. I) winner The Cliff's Edge and Champagne (gr. I) winner Birdstone arrived Tuesday afternoon at Churchill Downs after a brief van ride from Keeneland.
With the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) only three weeks away, NBC Sports kicks off coverage of horseracing's 3-year-old picture on Saturday, with the 90-minute telecast of "NTRA Road to the Kentucky Derby."
Dogwood Stable's Limehouse, the recent winner of the Tampa Bay Derby (gr. III), breezed an easy five furlongs just after the track renovation on Sunday morning, his final work for the $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass (gr. I) to be run Saturday.
Trainer Nick Zito said Buckram Oak Farm's Eurosilver, one of the leading candidates for the Triple Crown events, is being treated for an infection and will miss the April 10 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland.
It seems as if each Monday brings with it a new set of excuses for beaten favorites in Kentucky Derby (gr. I) preps. Some will prove to be legitimate and some won't. But the bottom line is no one has a clue who is going to win this year's Derby, which is as muddled as any in memory at such a late date.
Fred F. Bradley's homebred maiden Brass Hat, ridden by Jason Lumpkins, took command in the stretch and rolled to an easy 3 3/4-length victory over a suspect field of 3-year-olds in the $100,000 Rushaway Stakes at Turfway Park.
Trainer Nick Zito is beginning his assault on the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) by shipping three of his top contenders to Keeneland. The plane carrying Eurosilver, Birdstone, and The Cliff's Edge was expected to land in Central Kentucky today.
Marylou Whitney's Birdstone was installed the even-money favorite against 10 rivals for Saturday's Lane's End Stakes (gr. II) at Turfway Park. The 3-year-old son of Grindstone drew post one for the 1 1/8-mile race.
A familiar television sports program dedicated to Thoroughbred and Harness Racing, is returning to the airwaves. Horsin' Around TV returns March 20. The half-hour program will air twice each Saturday on Fox Sports Net Chicago, at 5:30 a.m. and again at 11 a.m.
With Bob Baffert pairing up over the past two weekends, and Nick Zito still sitting with three of a kind, it should be quite a game of cat and mouse if the two born again Kentuckians meet at Churchill Downs with their hands intact.
This is the first of a two-part column on this past weekend's races. The first will deal with Saturday's card at Gulfstream Park, featuring the Florida Derby (gr. I) and Swale Stakes (gr. II). The remainder of the Derby preps will be discussed in part two.
The "NPZ" saddlecloths of Nick Zito whizzed by one after another Saturday morning, as Zito sent out virtually his entire 3-year-old force for five-furlong breezes at Palm Meadows training center, in preparation for their upcoming preps.
Almost all of the leading contenders for the Visa Triple Crown Challenge, including trainer Nick Zito's highly regarded twosome of Birdstone and Eurosilver, are among 157 nominees to Keeneland's $750,000, Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I). The 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds will be run on Saturday, April 10, three weeks before the Kentucky Derby (gr. I). It will be televised live on NBC from 4:30-6 p.m. (ET).
Robert V. Lapenta has a successful racing stable, and he also wa the owner of the Fusaichi Pegasus colt that bought a world record price of $4.5 million for a 2-year-old in training.
Marylou Whitney's Birdstone, winner of his 3-year-old debut in allowance company, may skip the March 13 Florida Derby and run in the following week's $500,000 Lane's End Stakes (gr. II) at Turfway Park instead, trainer Nick Zito said Monday.
Kaufy Mate tallied a stunning upset at odds of 34-1 over grade II winner The Cliff's Edge in the $100,000 Sam F. Davis for 3-year-olds at Tampa Bay Downs Saturday.
Buckram Oak Farm's Eurosilver, runaway winner of the Lane's End Breeders' Futurity (gr. II), had little trouble in his 3-year-old debut, winning a seven-furlong allowance race at Gulfstream Wednesday by five lengths.
Buckram Oak Farm's Eurosilver, runaway winner of the Lane's End Breeders' Futurity (gr. II) at Keeneland, has been entered in a seven-furlong allowance race at Gulfstream on Feb. 4. The son of Unbridled's Song will face five opponents.
Trainer Bob Durso said he will start his undefeated Frisky Spider in either the Hutcheson or the Fountain of Youth, while Nick Zito is considering those races and allowances for Birdstone, Eurosilver, and The Cliff's Edge.
The electricity that once rippled throughout Gulfstream Park each winter has moved north to Palm Meadows training center in Boynton Beach, where many of the country's top 3-year-olds prepare in style for their arduous journey to Churchill Downs.
Silver Wagon will hit the trail toward Churchill Downs when he takes the gate against at field of 10 runners in Saturday's $100,000 Holy Bull Stakes (gr. III) at Gulfstream Park. The 15th running of the Holy Bull goes as the 10th event on an 11-race card with a first post time of 1 p.m.
The Cliff's Edge won the Kentucky Jockey Club (gr. II) at Churchill Downs Saturday, after which trainer Nick Zito said he would still rank the colt behind two of his other juveniles, Eurosilver and Birdstone.
Quest was the declared the winner of Friday's $582,000 Clark Handicap (gr. I) on a sloppy track after Churchill Downs stewards disqualified favored Evening Attire from his nose victory for drifting out in the stretch run and repeatedly bumping with the 17-1 upstart.
Trainer Nick Zito looks for another big effort by The Cliff's Edge, the odds-on favorite for Saturday's $200,000-added Kentucky Jockey Club (gr. II) for 2-year-olds at Churchill Downs
This is the first in a series of early looks at next year's 3-year-olds and where they might stack up on the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) trail. Right now, it is Nick Zito, Richard Mandella, and Todd Pletcher who have the numbers.
Stakes-placed Ballado Chieftan, a promising 3-year-old trained by Nick Zito, was seriously injured in a Saturday training mishap at Churchill Downs and was scheduled for surgery later in the day.
Favored The Cliff's Edge took the lead at the top of the stretch under jockey Shane Sellers and steadily drew away for an easy victory in Sunday's $113,700 Iroquios (gr. III) for 2-year-olds at Churchill Downs.
Nick Zito, who already trains Kentucky Derby hopefuls Birdstone and Eurosilver, seeks to add to his riches Sunday when he saddles The Cliff's Edge in the $100,000 Iroquois (gr. III) at Churchill Downs.
A newly formed organization that hopes to garner public support for an eventual ban on horse slaughter in the United States, announced on Oct. 28 two-time Kentucky Derby winning trainer Nick Zito (Strike the Gold 1991, Go for Gin '94) would be the group's national spokesperson.
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