Dialed In, the Paulick Derby Index’s No. 2 horse, has been entered in one of those a la carte two-other-than allowances run at the same distance as the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth, that nine-furlong scamper won by the impressively-quick Soldat.
Who isn’t going to throw Mr. Zito a bone?
In Zito’s and the colt’s defense, this is only the son of Mineshaft’s third race. He’s about as tested as a pre-schooler, but look who he beat:
Mucho Macho Man — came back to win of the Risen Star.
Gourmet Dinner — came back to place second to Soldat in the Fountain of Youth.
And as we all know the Kentucky Derby will get a Tabasco pace from a horse who has no business being in the race from an owner wanting the golden saddlecloth to dab his or her chin.
Dialed In’s Holy Bull showed us something. It showed us that he can turn any race into a quarter sprint. He dropped fifteen lengths off Mucho Macho Man and blitzed up the fence, skipped five-wide, bombed left-leaded, switched to the right lead at the sixteenth pole under Julien Leparoux to win going away.
The only other jockey that could make similar use of this horse would be Calvin Borel. Leparoux has the best clock this side of Edgar Prado and will know how and when to unleash Dialed In. There’s a Street Sense hidden in that Mineshaft coat — and it’s not just Mr. Prospector DNA. Leparoux’s timing on grass is, how should we say, European, and he knows just when to get serious, like a matador toying with his bull. The others in the prescribed field? More like the ivory-clad men running down the streets of Pamplona.
Dialed In will face four other rivals Sunday as Zito had to enter a stablemate to fill the race run at these conditions:
For Three Year Olds And Upward Which Have Never Won Two Races Other Than Maiden, Claiming Or Starter Or Which Have Never Won Three Races Or Claiming Price $62,500. Three Year Olds, 116 Lbs.; Older, 123 Lbs. Non-winners Of $24,000 At A Mile Or Over Since January 1, 2011 Allowed 2 Lbs. $20,000 At A Mile Or Over Since Then Allowed 4 Lbs. Claiming Price $62,500 (Races Where Entered For $50,000 Or Less Not Considered). One And One Eighth Miles.
Without looking at past performances I haven’t an idea of the pace, but I imagine Zito’s 4-year-old Equestrio will be sent to the front because Dialed In needs something to close into. However, in such a small field he will likely be just a few bounds behind the leaders.
The nine furlongs is key but his blood will like the distance and Leparoux will know how to handle his speed.
It is also that blood that could cut the line on Dialed In. Mineshaft did his heavy lifting at age four, becoming the 2003 Horse of the Year winning such prestigious races as the Jockey Club Gold Cup, the Woodward Stakes, and Pimlico Special.
It’s a soft spot for one hard colt. Didn’t we see a Zito horse owned by Robert LaPenta disappoint in a similarly easy spot? How does War Pass’s 2008 Tampa Derby sound? Even though the spot is easy, the anxiety is high.
No call waiting if he fails.
Brendan O’Meara is the author of the forthcoming Six Weeks in Saratoga: How Three-Year-Old Filly Rachel Alexandra Beat the Boys and Became Horse of the Year to be published by SUNY Press. You can read more at The Blog Itself and follow Brendan’s Twitter feed. His web site is http://www.brendanomeara.com.