The trainer has high hopes for Actin Good in the $350,000 Grade II Meadowlands Cup on Friday night. The 4-year-old gelding is rated 8-1 on the early line in the 1 1-8 mile race. The competitors he will face include Pennsylvania Derby winner Anak Nakal and Belmont victor Da'Tara.
"I think we have a better horse now [as compared to last year before the Pegasus]," Dibona. "He's much more relaxed and settles down real nice for me now. He's training good, real solid."
"We prepped him in the Iselin and then last out we chose an easier spot for him," he said. "It was a non-winners of three allowance and he ran great. His last race was a good stepping-stone. Now we can go back in with the big boys."
After his Pegasus win last year, Actin Good went on to finish a game third behind Chatain in the Grade III Hal's Hope on Jan. 6 at Gulfstream. But two lackluster starts prompted Dibona to turn the colt out for the winter.
"He's a funny horse, he dropped some weight so we gave him some time off," he said. "That race against Chatain [Grade III Hal's Hope] took a lot out of him. He ran his eyeballs out."
Cornelio Velasquez, who guided Actin Good to his Pegasus win, will be in the saddle on Friday night.
"We win a lot of races with Cornelio," Dibona said. "When you're running in a big race and have the chance to get a jockey like him, it's great."
Dibona, who co-owned a bar in his native Boston before obtaining a trainer's license, purchased Actin Good for $142,000 at the Ocala Breeders' Sales with his longtime friend Darren Aikens. The son of Yes It's True showed promise in his first few starts as a juvenile, finishing second in the Tyro and Sapling, and third in the NATC Futurity at Monmouth Park. He was gelded after a disappointing effort in the Sunshine Millions Dash at Gulfstream in January.
The field for the Meadowlands Cup: Da' Tara, Alan Garcia, 5-1; Timber Reserve, Kent Desormeaux, 3-1; P V Lightening, Travis Dunkelberger, 15-1; Anak Nakal, Joe Bravo, 6-1; Past the Point, John Velazquez, 5-2; Actin Good, Cornelio Velasquez, 8-1; True Resurgence, Jeffrey Sanchez, 8-1 and Arson Squad, Edgar Prado, 5-1.