03/03/2011 3:11PM

Dialed In gets his Florida Derby prep

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Bob Coglianese
Dialed In, Julien Leparoux up, wins the Holy Bull.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – That huge sigh of relief coming from Palm Meadows early Thursday afternoon wasn’t from a consignor who’d just peddled one of his 2-year-olds at the Fasig-Tipton sale. It came from trainer Nick Zito after learning his top Kentucky Derby contender Dialed In would get the all-important prep race he’d been looking for Sunday at Gulfstream Park.

Dialed In will be one of five horses in Sunday’s fourth race, a $61,500 optional claiming event for 3-year-olds and up to be run at 1 1/8 miles. The field also includes William’s Kitten, Reprized Halo, Valerius, and the Zito-trained Equestrio, who will compete as a separate betting interest.

Dialed In is undefeated in two starts, having overcome a slow start and rough trip to win his lone start at 2 at Churchill Downs before opening his 3-year-old campaign with an impressive 1 1/2-length victory in the Grade 3 Holy Bull going a mile on Jan. 30.

Zito had been hoping to get a nine-furlong prep race for Dialed In to set him up for his next major goal, the Grade 1 Florida Derby here on April 3.

“This was the La Penta family’s first wish and first priority and mine too,” said Zito, referring to the colt’s owner. “Gulfstream got this race to go and that’s what we wanted to do. We didn’t want to run anywhere else. Hopefully this will set him up for the Florida Derby. For me, it’s a relief to know we’ve got this race for him and now we’ll just move right along from here.”

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