DIALED IN HAS ZITO LOOKING FOR BIG THINGS – When Robert LaPenta’s Dialed In broke his maiden at first asking on Friday afternoon, trainer Nick Zito was presented with a trophy signifying success in the third annual American Farm Mortgage Classic.
“I told ‘Stace’ (assistant Stacy Pryor) to leave it in the tack room and let’s hope next spring we can get the real hardware,” Zito said.
That’s real hardware as in Kentucky Derby-type hardware, something Zito has collected twice before in his Hall of Fame career.
"He is a horse that’s got a future,” Zito said. “I was very happy with him yesterday. He will go to Florida and we will do right by the horse and hope he gets enough points (graded-stakes earnings) for the first Saturday in May.”
Dialed In had shown a steady stream of works dating to July at Belmont Park and had had one local work before his debut.
“He is so big and he was not ready to run (earlier),” Zito said. “He’s a Mineshaft and you’ve got to give them time. We have had a lot of success with the Mineshafts; Cool Coal Man, Coal Play, Miner’s Reserve and don’t forget Fly Down, who broke his maiden here last fall.”
Fly Down, third to Blame and Zenyatta in last week’s $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI), won the Dwyer (GII) and was runner-up in the Travers (GI) and Belmont Stakes (GI) this year.
Dialed In overcame a bad start that left him last in the field of 12 in the 6 ½-furlong sprint and was rank in the run down the backstretch in which he was 11 ½ lengths behind the leader. Turning for home, jockey Julien Leparoux angled Dialed In out five wide for clear running and the colt got up in time to win by a half-length despite lugging in.
“If he is good enough, he will get his chances,” Zito said of running in major preps for the Kentucky Derby, a race he won in 1991 with Strike the Gold and in 1994 with Go for Gin.
Zito started three horses in last Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup races and earned healthy checks from all three with Fly Down running third in the $5 million Classic and Morning Line and Cool Coal Man finishing 2-4 in the $1 million Dirt Mile.
The latter two horses are nominated to the $500,000 Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare (GI) to be run Nov. 26, but Zito said it was doubtful either would come back in less than three weeks. Zito did say that Our Dark Knight, also owned by LaPenta is a possibility for the Clark.
SIGN OF THE TIMES: ALBARADO GETS 900TH CD VICTORY – For the second time in two years, jockey Robby Albarado collected some signage signifying a milestone mark in his 21-year riding career.
On Friday, it was for career victory No. 900 at Churchill Downs. In June 2009, Albarado rode his 4,000th career winner here, with the milestone duly noted in a winner’s circle ceremony.
So, how many milestone reminders do you have at the house?
“None. I leave the signs in the (jocks’) room,” Albarado said. “I like to put Grade I’s in the house.”
Albarado is off to a fast start with 14 winners over the first nine days and a five-win lead in the race for leading rider. It marks a turnaround from the Spring Meet when Albarado led all riders with runner-up finishes with 56 and finished third in wins with 35.
“I am just riding the right horses at the right time,” Albarado said. “My agent, Lenny Pike, has been putting me on good horses and I just have to go out and execute. But the bottom line is that you have to have the horse.”
Albarado added another winner to his total Friday after hitting No. 900 with Strike Impact in the sixth race. The 37-year-old Louisiana native ranks fifth all time at Churchill Downs in victories and is closing in on Larry Melancon (914) and Don Brumfield (925).
Only Pat Day (2,482) and Calvin Borel (1,030) are in the 1,000-victory club. And when would Albarado like to join that club and collect more signage?
“Hopefully next fall or the following spring,” said Albarado, who is second to Day all time in stakes wins with 66. “The next two or three meets.”
BARN TALK – Jockey Julien Leparoux will be headed to Hong Kong the week after the meet closes on Sunday, Nov. 28 for the Hong Kong Jockey Challenge in which he will represent the United States. Agent Steve Bass said that after the Challenge, which takes place Dec. 8, Leparoux will head to Florida for the winter on Dec. 15. Other riders scheduled to participate in the Challenge are Christophe Lemaire (France), Christophe Soumillon (Belgium), John Murtagh (Ireland), Ryan Moore (Britain), Anton Marcus (South Africa), Nash Rawiller (Australia), Hiroyuki Uchida (Japan), Joao Moreira (Singapore) and Douglas Whyte (Hong Kong). Leparoux, who has six victories so far this meet, is a couple of good days away from moving up two spots on the all-time rider standings at Churchill Downs. Leparoux, who has 428 victories here, stands 14th all time. Willie Martinez is 12th with 434 victories and Keith Allen is 13th with 431 wins. …
Few bettors have warmed to jockey Rosemary Homeister Jr., but those that have have been rewarded with an average win payoff of $19.90 on Homeister’s seven winners. That payoff figure dwarfs the next highest average ($10.50) for Garrett Gomez’s eight winners among riders with five or more victories through the first nine days of the meet. …
Joining the riding colony for the final two weeks of the meet will be William Antongeorgi. The 23-year-old, who began his career in California and for the past couple of years has ridden in the Mid-Atlantic region, rode last month at Keeneland and plans to ride at Turfway Park when the meet closes and then go to Oaklawn Park for the winter.
WORK TAB – Two fillies nominated to Thanksgiving Day’s Falls City Handicap (GII), turned in Saturday morning works over a fast track. Quiet Temper worked five furlongs in 1:01, third fastest of 34 at the distance, for trainer Dale Romans and Ravi’s Song worked the same distance in 1:01.60 (12th best of 34) for trainer Carl Bowman.