Zito seeks another Belmont
Advertiser News Services
No one is in more of a New York state of mind these days than Nick Zito.
And why not?
The Brooklyn-born Hall of Fame trainer will be looking for his third win in six years in the $1 million Belmont Stakes today, and he has two of the three favorites for the final leg of the Triple Crown.
Ice Box, the Florida Derby winner who staged a tremendous rally to finish second in the Kentucky Derby, is the 3-1 morning-line choice. Fly Down, a lightly raced colt who blew away the field by six lengths in winning the Dwyer last month, is the 9-2 third choice.
The 142nd running of the Belmont may lack Derby winner Super Saver and Preakness winner Lookin At Lucky, but Zito says the Belmont is, well, the Belmont.
"It's big," he said. "It's a classic race. It's the Belmont."
Zito's pair tops a field of 12 3-year-old colts and geldings who will try to ace racing's "Test of the Champion," a 1 1/2-mile lap around Belmont Park in the longest of the Triple Crown races.
"It's a tricky kind of race," Zito said. "Our horses are fine with the distance, we just want to see if they kick in. You have to fire at the right time, too."
First Dude poses a huge threat as the 7-2 second choice. Probably the biggest horse in the field, the colt trained by Dale Romans is coming off a gallant runner-up effort in the Preakness.
"The Belmont will be this horse's race because he wants to go a mile and a half," Romans said, "and he'll love the track."
A hot and muggy day is forecast, with temperatures in the mid-80s and a 50 percent chance of scattered thunderstorms.
BOREL HITS MILESTONE
Calvin Borel has ridden Gray Hart's Girl to a 7 3/4-length victory at Churchill Downs, his 1,000th career win at the Louisville, Ky. track.
Borel won yesterday's fourth race, making him the second rider to reach 1,000 wins at Churchill Downs. Hall of Famer Pat Day won 2,482 races beneath the Twin Spires.
Borel notched victory No. 999 in yesterday's second race with Brown Eyed Baby, trained by his brother Cecil Borel.
The 43-year-old jockey from Louisiana has 4,767 career victories during a 28-year career that began in 1983. Borel has won the Kentucky Derby three of the last four years, including last month with Super Saver.
KYLE BUSCH ON POLE
Kyle Busch will start his 200th career Sprint Cup race at the front of the field.
Winner of two of the last four races, Busch turned a lap at 169.485 mph yesterday to win the pole for tomorrow's Gillette Fusion Pro Glide 600 at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa., and extend a midseason hot streak that has lifted him to second in the points standings.
Now the driver whom fans love to hate hopes to parlay his first pole at the 2.5 mile-long Tricky Triangle into a respectable finish. His best finish at Pocono was fourth in 2005, and he hasn't finished higher than 16th over the last two years.
"It would mean a lot," Busch said when asked about getting a win in his milestone start. "This is a place I've struggled at ... You can come around here and it can be really, really frustrating at this place because it is so long."