Spot Likely to Start in $1 million Besilu Stables Florida Derby
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – After producing a ‘bullet’ workout at Palm Meadows Saturday morning, Spot was added to the list of contenders for next Saturday’s $1 million Besilu Stables Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park.
The 3-year-old son of Pulpit, who was purchased privately and turned over to trainer Nick Zito before his dominant 2 ½-length victory in the $200,000 Swale Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream on March 1, breezed four furlongs in 47.70 seconds at Gulfstream’s satellite training facility in Palm Beach County. The breeze was the fastest of 74 recorded for the half-mile distance.
“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 Moss following the workout, in which regular exercise rider Maxine Correa was aboard.
“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.’”
Jose Lezcano, who rode Spot to victory 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.”
Spot won once in four starts as a 2-year-old and finished fifth in the Hutcheson (G3) in his 2014 debut at Gulfstream before joining Zito, for whom he continues to blossom.
“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, who has saddled three Florida Derby winners: High Fly (2005), Ice Box (2010) and Dialed In (2011). “Let’s just hope he’s getting good at the right time.”