After producing a bullet workout at Palm Meadows Saturday, Spot looks good to go for the Florida Derby, Nick Zito said.
The 3-year-old son of Pulpit was purchased privately and turned over to Zito before his dominant 2 1/2-length victory in the Swale Stakes. He breezed four furlongs in :47.70 (1/74) seconds under regular exercise rider Maxine Correa.
“It was huge, very huge,” Zito said. “I’m very, very happy with it. He’s a horse that keeps improving, knock on wood.”
Zito conferred with the owner following the workout.
“I just got off the phone with Mr. Moss. He said to me, “Nick, I obviously want to run in the big race with him. I want to try. It may be too early, but it also might be too late, but there isn’t anything against trying,” Zito said. “So he’s leaving it up to me.’ I told him, ‘I’m leaning towards the Florida Derby.’ He just said, ‘Just use good judgment.’”
Zito needs to find a new jockey. Jose Lezcano, who rode Spot in the Swale, is scheduled to ride Twilight Eclipse in the $5 million Sheema Classic in Dubai next Saturday.
“I don’t have Lezcano, but I’ve never seen a horse go out for a big race without a jockey on it,” Zito said. “Right now I’m leaning toward Corey Lanerie. He rides there all the time. He’s a good rider, a good guy.”
For three-time Florida Derby winner Zito, timing is not everything, but it's an indispensable ingredient.
“That’s a good thing. That’s the whole key. I’ve been in enough of these things to know that you need to get good at the right time,” said Zito. “Let’s just hope he’s getting good at the right time.”
Edited Gulfstream Park release with additional content by Dick Downey