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Posted by Brian Mulligan on 4/4/2011 3:06:12 PM

The Florida Derby winner Dialed In punched his ticket to Louisville and the Kentucky Derby by swallowing up his rivals in the last 100 yards to win the million-dollar race on Sunday.

Okay, he got kind of a set up as the pace was live but nobody else could get by the pacesetter Shackleford, who ran his eyeballs out in defeat.

The inside runner, Soldat, never really threaten and to be frank, the race did not set up well for him from the get go. He got away with a comfortable 1:12 and change pace winning the Fountain of Youth but besides Shackleford, the outside rival Flashpoint brought :44 3/5 speed to the table.

Connections decided to take Soldat back and that is just not his game.

As for Dialed In, he came from far, far back on a speed-favoring track to post a winning 93 Beyer and has every right to get the classic distance. He overcame two bad trips to win his first 2 races and was getting to the winner in his first start at 9 furlongs but just ran out of real estate.

Dialed In’s sire Mineshaft banked over $2.2 million in his fine career. He won the Suburban and the Jockey Club Gold Cup, both at the same distance of the Kentucky Derby.

His Grade 2 placed dam just won 2 sprints and was never sent long. But she is kin to a runner that made over $700,000 in the Orient and to Country Song, who won at a mile and an eighth on grass. Dialed In’s half brother Mambo Master was stakes placed and a winner at 9 furlongs.

As bright a future that Dialed In has going for him, the best thing in his corner is his trainer Nick Zito.

Zito knows his way around a good horse. He saddled the 1991 Kentucky Derby winner Strike the Gold, and hit pay dirt three years later when Go for Gin succeeded the first Saturday in May.

He won the Preakness, the Belmont Stakes twice and also has won a couple of Breeders’ Cup races.

Like many kids, Zito was introduced to the sport of horse racing by his father, who took him to the track at the tender age of 9.

Zito proved his good eye for a horse when he bought Thirty Six Red for a client in 1988 for less than $100,000 and watched that runner take the Wood Memorial, run second in the Belmont and third in the BC Classic.

He has trained for popular college hoop coach Rich Pitino and the The Boss himself, George Steinbrenner.

Going into the Florida Derby, Zito offered some thoughts about his entrant on Brisnet.

Zito: “I'm still a firm believer in developing horses. I'm still a believer in that. It's important to get the seasoning. But the modern-day owner has a different philosophy, and a lot of times he's proven right. You see these horses break their maidens and win stakes. Lightly raced horses do things they never used to do."

Talking about the race Dialed In had before the Florida Derby, Nick had this to say, Zito: “It was no easy race. He ran against four-year-olds, and if you look at it, it's hard for three-year-olds to beat four-year-olds this time of year.”

One thing is sure, this is not Zito’s first trip to the rodeo and he will have his horse as good as it is possible on May 7.



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