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Zito ends his 0-for-16 skid in Florida Derby
Published April 3, 2005
HALLANDALE BEACH - Nick Zito won his first Belmont and his first Travers Stakes with Birdstone last year, and his first Florida Derby on Saturday with High Fly.
The trainer hopes the next streak to fall is his 11-year drought without a Kentucky Derby winner.
Zito took a huge step in that direction on a cool, breezy day at Gulfstream Park, where High Fly beat stablemate Noble Causeway by 11/2 lengths in the $1-million Florida Derby, a major prep for the Kentucky Derby in five weeks.
Not only did Zito end an 0-for-16 run in Florida Derbys, he became the first trainer in 30 years to finish 1-2 in the race. If either of his 3-year-olds wins the Derby on May 7, it would mark the first time in nearly 50 years a horse wins the Run for the Roses off a layoff of five weeks or more.
"Maybe these are the horses that will show people that you can," Zito said in the winner's circle.
And why not? High Fly has won five of six career starts, earning $897,300, and took three stakes at Gulfstream: Aventura, Fountain of Youth and 11/8-mile Derby.
High Fly, ridden by Jerry Bailey, and Noble Causeway, with Edgar Prado aboard, are headed to Churchill Downs to prepare for the Derby. And Zito has three more hopefuls ready to run in the next few weeks: Andromeda's Hero, Bellamy Road and Sun King.
High Fly, the 8-5 favorite, returned $4.40, $2.60 and $2.60. Noble Causeway paid $3.60 and $2.80. B.B. Best was third and paid $3.80.
As he did in the Fountain of Youth on March 5, B.B. Best set the pace, then gave way to High Fly, with Noble Causeway coming on strong in the end. High Fly, a Kentucky-bred son of Atticus, won in 1:49.43, and earned $600,000 for Campbell Soups heiress Charlotte Porter. The chestnut colt would be Porter's second Derby starter. Laser Light finished second to Gato Del Sol in 1982.