Derby Success for Dialled In
Gulfstream Park in Florida is home to the Florida Derby that was inaugurated in 1952. This annual Grade 1 event is hosted for three-year-old horses and has a purse amount of $1 million. The winners of the Florida Derby almost always move on to the Kentucky Derby. On Sunday, 3 April 2011, the 60th Florida Derby was dominated by a magnificent horse named Dialled In, trained by Nick Zito and ridden by Julian Leparoux. It was a day to remember for all at Gulfstream Park.
Sunday was a record day for the racecourse, with an attendance of approximately fifteen thousand racing fans and a $19.7 million betting handle. Not only was it a historic day for Gulfstream Park, but it was a second consecutive win for Nick Zito at the Florida Derby, as well as for owner Robert La Penta. Last year, La Penta’s horse, Ice Box, under the guidance of Zito, won the race. Nick Zito also took Live Oak Plantation’s High Fly to the winners circle in 2005.
Dialled In deservingly had white and purple orchids laid over his neck, as he managed to get every last spectator onto their feet with his breathtaking rally from being fourteen lengths behind the front runners. This talented three-year-old dug deep and came steaming along to overtake his fellow competitors, shooting into first position by a head to win the 2011 Florida Derby. Nick Zito could not hold back his tears of joy and excitement as he saw Dialled In delivering a fairytale performance. Shackleford finished in second position, with To Honor and Serve in third, followed home by Flashpoint, Soldat, Arch Traveler, Stay Thirsty and Bowman’s Causeway.
An emotional Nick Zito commented: “He’s amazing. These horses don’t come around like this. This is a gift from God. Is he Secretariat? Of course not. But he comes from the same place.” Owner Robert La Penta also spoke to the press saying, “All I read every day is about Uncle Mo. Right now, I wouldn’t trade Dialed In for any horse. He’s run in mud, run inside, run outside, run from way back. No horse has a closing kick like this. This is a horse to be reckoned with.”
Another small bonus for the Dialled In camp is that the victory at the Florida Derby puts them in contention for the 5.5 Preakness Bonus. This means that if Dialled In is able to win the Preakness Stakes, which is being hosted in May, his owner will receive a bonus award of $5 million and Zito will receive $500 000 as trainer.