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C P West may be Zito's late bloomer
OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Trainer Nick Zito may not have a horse in the Kentucky Derby, but that doesn't mean his 3-year-old class won't be heard from this year.
Zito is hopeful that C P West, one of his talented juvenile colts from 2006, can be a factor in the second half of the season. After finishing a solid second in his 3-year-old debut last month at Gulfstream, C P West will be one of the choices in Saturday's Grade 3, $150,000 Withers Stakes at Aqueduct.
C P West was one of several Zito 2-year-olds that won first time out last summer at Saratoga. After running second to King of the Roxy in the Grade 2 Futurity at Belmont last September, C P West finished sixth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. He came out of the race with chips in his ankles that needed "to be cleaned up," Zito said.
C P West didn't make his 3-year-old debut until March 31 when he finished second, beaten a nose, by Frosty Secret in a first-level allowance race going seven furlongs. C P West rated in sixth early on and made a four-wide bid into contention around the turn. In the stretch, he lost a little momentum when he bumped with Frosty Secret, but then recovered and tried to come back on that rival.
"That horse came out into him, and don't forget he was going a [44.60-second] half-mile on the outside," Zito said. "He's come back and run really well."
C P West has trained very well since that race, including a half-mile breeze at Churchill in 46.80 seconds on April 19.
The Withers has produced a Preakness runner in each of the last two years. Last year, of course, Bernardini won the Withers en route to his sensational Preakness victory. In 2005, Scrappy T won the Withers and then ran second to Afleet Alex in the Preakness.
Zito said C P West would "have to be as impressive as Bernardini" to be considered for the Preakness.
Elusive Warning out of Withers
The unbeaten Elusive Warning will be forced to miss the Withers with an injury, his trainer, Kiaran McLaughlin, said Wednesday.
McLaughlin said Elusive Warning has a stress fracture in his left hind leg and will most likely be out until the fall.
"No surgery required, but he's going to be off for a while," McLaughlin said. "He needs a minimum of 60 days off, then you got to start training him again."
Elusive Warning, a son of Elusive Quality, had won his first two starts by a combined 12 1/2 lengths. McLaughlin said there is a chance he could substitute Divine Park in the Withers, but as of Wednesday that horse was still at Keeneland, where he won an allowance race on April 7.
Those expected to run in the Withers are Street Magician, Our Sacred Honor, Brisco N Logan, Frosty Secret, and Mint Slewlep.
Funny Cide to get blinkers
Six days before he seeks his second Kentucky Derby victory with Nobiz Like Shobiz, trainer Barclay Tagg will saddle his first Derby winner, Funny Cide, in the $65,000 Kings Point Handicap for New York-breds.
Funny Cide, the 2003 Derby and Preakness winner, won last year's Kings Point, one of two wins he had in 2006. In his only start this year, Funny Cide finished seventh of nine in an allowance race run over Keeneland's Polytrack on April 6.
"He's funny about what he puts his feet on," Tagg said. "He never worked good on the grass, he didn't like that Polytrack. They keep saying grass and Polytrack are just alike. I never ran him on the grass but he just works so bad on it all the time."
On Wednesday, Funny Cide worked four furlongs in 47.46 seconds over Belmont's main track. He was equipped with blinkers for the work, and will likely wear them for the Kings Point. Funny Cide has not worn blinkers in any of his previous 35 starts.
Tagg indicated he is adding blinkers just to try "something different."
Martin does double duty
Jockey Clyde Martin recorded his 1,892nd victory as a rider Wednesday at Aqueduct. What is notable about that is it was also Martin's first victory as a trainer.
Martin, 49, received his trainer's license last week and won with his first starter as he guided Fancy Runner to a head victory over Fit Faze in Wednesday's opener. Fancy Runner is one of 12 horses Martin has in his barn at Fair Hill, a training center on the Maryland-Delaware border.
"I found this horse for the owner last year in Florida and he just rode me on him the whole time," Martin said, referring to owner John Grossi. "I get on him all the time, I gallop him, so I guess he felt [compelled] to give him to me to train.''
Martin said "old age" is the reason he is looking to wind down his riding career. However, Martin is 7 for 19 as a jockey this year. He said he will continue to ride "as long as I can." He will only be permitted to ride horses he trains, however.
Jerkens stakes horses breeze
Corinthian, winner of the Gulfstream Park Handicap, worked four furlongs in 49.88 seconds Wednesday morning over Belmont Park's training track. It was his first breeze since he finished fifth in the Excelsior, a race in which he leapt in the air at the break.
Trainer Jimmy Jerkens said he wasn't sure when Corinthian would run next, though he ruled out next Wednesday's Westchester Handicap at Belmont. Jerkens said the horse would be nominated to the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap to be run at Belmont on May 28.
Jerkens also worked his undefeated 3-year-old Vitruvius, who went a half-mile in 50.32. Jerkens said Vitruvius could run next in an allowance race or the Grade 2 Peter Pan on May 20.
Christmas Kid, the Ashland winner, worked an easy three furlongs in 38.09 seconds. She is being pointed to the Grade 1 Acorn on Belmont Stakes Day, June 9.
Brandons Beach tops feature
Brandons Beach, who flashed talent at 2 in south Florida with Bill White, makes his 3-year-old debut for trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. in Friday's featured first-level allowance race at 1 1/8 miles.
A son of Graeme Hall, Brandons Beach won a maiden race by five lengths last September in his third career start. Prior to that, he ran second to Storm in May, a four-time winner who finished second to the Curlin in the Arkansas Derby and is pointing to the Kentucky Derby.
Brandons Beach, a son of Graeme Hall, should appreciate the 1 1/8-mile distance and figures to get a stalking trip under Cornelio Velasquez.
Sir Whimsey drops back into allowance company after three decent efforts in stakes. Super Hero, trained by Todd Pletcher, was elevated to first in a nine-furlong maiden race at Gulfstream.
* The Pletcher-trained Maizelle ($4.30) overtook pacesetting Femmina in upper stretch and then held off a late run from Daytime Promise to win the $64,950 Chieftan's Command by a half-length. Maizelle, a $925,000 yearling purchase by Aaron and Marie Jones, covered 1 1/8 miles in 1:51.41.