Dialed In might inherit Derby favoritism
Long shot or favorite. Speedball or closer.
Makes no difference to Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito. All he's looking for is a 3-year-old thoroughbred that can run 1-1/4 miles faster than 19 others on the first Saturday in May.
Dialed In might fill the bill.
Zito's Florida Derby winner has likely earned the favorite's role for the Kentucky Derby on May 7, as several other contenders struggled in their final tune-ups.
Dialed In is a lightly raced son of 2003 Horse of the Year Mineshaft who has won three of four starts, and his closing style seems suited for the Derby distance.
Although the two-time Derby winner is not a favorites kind of guy, Zito will tell you he's ''blessed'' to be in the chase no matter the odds. Bellamy Road was the only one of his 24 Derby starters who went off as the favorite, and he finished seventh in 2005 as the 2-1 top choice.
His two winners were Strike the Gold (4-1) in 1991 and Go for Gin (9-1) in 1994. Zito came close last year with Ice Box (11-1), who finished second behind Super Saver.
Want a few Zito long shots? He won the Belmont Stakes with Birdstone in 2004 at 36-1 and with Da' Tara in 2008 at 38-1.
Dialed In's chances in the Kentucky Derby went up last weekend when The Factor finished a noncompetitive seventh in the $1 million Arkansas Derby, won by Archarcharch at odds of 25-1. Three-time Derby winning trainer Bob Baffert was mulling The Factor's future after the race, in which the speedy colt may have displaced a palate.
Also questionable for the Derby is No. 4 Uncle Mo, who arrived at Churchill Downs on Monday but is being treated for a gastrointestinal infection. The ailment may explain the colt's third-place finish in the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct two weeks ago after four impressive wins.
''I, like all racing fans, hope that Uncle Mo will be 100 percent on May 7 and in the starting gate at Churchill Downs,'' owner Mike Repole said after the ailment was discovered.
Archarcharch was the hometown favorite at Oaklawn Park and had the crowd of 62,634 roaring after he won the Arkansas Derby by inches over Nehro (a neck was the official margin). Both horses are headed to Churchill Downs.
''We could only dream this would happen,'' said Archarcharch owner Robert Yagos, who owns a salvage yard in Jacksonville, Ark.
The horse is trained by Arkansas native Jinks Fires, brother of jockey Earlie Fires. The jockey is Jon Court, Jinks Fires' son-in-law.
Brilliant Speed (19-1) nosed out Twinspired to win the $750,000 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland on Saturday, and trainer Tom Albertrani says his colt is Derby bound even though he runs primarily on the turf. The Derby is run on dirt.
The $200,000 Lexington Stakes at Keeneland on Saturday serves as a final Derby prep. Probables include Jaycito and Silver Medallion.
The Derby is limited to 20 horses. If more are entered, the field will be determined by graded stakes earnings. The Factor currently is No. 18.