05/18/2002 12:00AM

Delaware: Nothing Flat prevails


New York-based trainer Nick Zito took four of his best 3-year-olds to Pimlico, including Preakness starters Straight Gin and Crimson Hero. One of Zito's other shippers who didn't go quite as far south as Baltimore may soon be considered among the

3-year-old stars of Zito's barn.

Nothing Flat, who has yet to finish worse than second in four career starts, made an impressive stakes debut by scoring a three-quarter length victory in the $75,000 Francis LaBelle Memorial at Delaware Park.

Patiently ridden by Eddie Martin, Nothing Flat ($9.60) sat back in last place through the first six furlongs in a field reduced to six 3-year-olds by four scratches.

Outstander, far back in the Arkansas Derby last time out, looked like a winner when he inherited the lead from the pacesetters and was 1 1/2 lengths in front with a furlong remaining. But Nothing Flat, fanned five wide on turn for home, cut into Outstandere's margin, and was drawing clear at the finish, covering one mile and 70 yards in 1:42.99.

Political Attack, the 3-2 favorite who scratched out of the $100,000 Woodlawn at Pimlico to run in the LaBelle, got cooked in a speed duel and faded to last.