05/04/2005 11:00PM

On and off the track with Nick Zito


Status: Trainer of Derby hopefuls Bellamy Road, High Fly, Sun King, Noble Causeway, and Andromeda's Hero.

Date of birth: Feb. 6, 1948

Birthplace: New York, N.Y.

Childhood heroes: "Al Kaline. I used to watch him climb the wall at Tiger Stadium. Joe Namath. Then, the older you get, you realize the heroes are people that work hard - teachers, police officers, the people that struggle, hard-working people, those are the real heroes."

Hobbies/interests: "Go back to the barn in the afternoon - that's tranquility to me. Watch the horses walk, hang out with the horses. That's pretty good."

Favorite movies: "Boy, there's a lot of them. One I really liked is 'Robin Hood,' with Errol Flynn. It's great. My favorite of all-time is 'The Count of Monte Cristo.'"

Favorite TV show: "Got to be SportsCenter. By far."

Musical tastes: "Jazz, Chris Botti."

Early racing memory: "Watching Gun Bow hold on by a nose. I was only a teenager, putting paper on the Aqueduct chairs when there was like 60,000 people watching Gun bow hang on by a nose. And I think it was Kelso he beat. Gun Bow and Kelso - it was unbelievable. Way back when. There were so many people at the track then."

First job: "Slicing bread up the block where I lived, in Ozone Park, Queens. Then I was a delivery boy, then a hot walker later on, when I was 18."

First car: "An old '56 Oldsmobile, like a tank. One of my brothers bought it for me."

Prerace feeling: "Just like everybody else - butterflies. If you get the break . . . can't win all the time. You know that, but. . . you just have those feelings."

Favorite meal: "Probably the right type of salad. Pasta with a light, light sauce. Anything plain that's cooked with real style. I don't want anything heavy or overbearing. It could be any kind of food."

Favorite breakfast cereal: "Granola."

Favorite ice cream flavor: "Soy ice cream - chocolate, vanilla."

Greatest sports moment: "There's been so many. . . I don't know which one is the greatest moment. I guess you'd have to put the Belmont Stakes with Smarty Jones right there. But of course, Strike the Gold's Derby. There's so many of them. Albert the Great. So many."

Most painful moment: "Quite a few. I don't even want to go there. But quite a few [laughs]."

Favorite racetrack: "That's easy. Belmont, Saratoga, Keeneland, Churchill Downs. Very easy [laughs]."

Favorite horses to watch: "I used to like Buckpasser. When I was a younger guy I loved watching him. Just the explosion, when he had that burst of speed, come from behind. He was gorgeous to watch. Other horses, obviously the normal ones: Kelso, Spectacular Bid, Secretariat. They were great."

Favorite vacation spot: "Don't have any [laughs]. Probably Cooperstown."

Childhood dream: "Like everybody else - being a ballplayer."

People qualities most admired: "Just honesty. And I think someone that doesn't look down on someone. To have the quality that you treat everybody equal and no matter how much money you have or how much power you have, you still treat someone with respect and decency. That, to me, is what we call class."