03/24/2011 2:43PM

Florida Derby contender Dialed In works sharp half-mile

Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography
Trainer Nick Zito said he was extremely pleased with Dialed In's final workout before the Florida Derby.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Fog shrouded the opening three furlongs of Dialed In’s final major prep for the Grade 1 Florida Derby on Thursday morning at Palm Meadows. But it was clear to see from the way the Holy Bull winner Dialed In finished down the stretch why trainer Nick Zito was smiling from ear to ear after the work.

Dialed In (click link for Contender Profile) breezed five furlongs in company with his stakes-winning stablemate Miner’s Escape and was officially credited with a half-mile in 47.55 seconds. The track outrider alerted clockers at the finish line by walkie talkie as the team passed by the four-furlong pole. Dialed In shaded 24 for his final quarter before galloping out five-eighths in 1:01.50 under exercise rider Maxine Correa.

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“I was excited, the last eighth is the most important thing and he exploded,” said Zito while proudly displaying his stopwatch, which showed a final furlong in 11.04. “I’m happy. You couldn’t ask for any more.”

Zito said he was not dismayed by the fact Dialed In suffered his first defeat when finishing second behind his older stablemate Equestrio in a 1 1/8-mile allowance race here earlier this month.

“He was against the grain but he got a lot out of that race and it’s hard for a 3-year-old to beat a 4-year-old this time of year,” said Zito. “He’ll come running like a European horse. He finished in 12 and change and that was going a mile and one eighth. He can’t not do well if he finishes in 12 and change in the Florida Derby. He didn’t get the pace he needed last time but that should be the least of our worries. He’ll get it most of the time. Especially in races like the Florida Derby and Kentucky Derby.”

Zito said he’s still amazed by what Dialed In has accomplished in such a short period of time, especially defeating a quality field like the group he handled in the Holy Bull in only his second career start.

“It’s a blessing how amazing this horse really is,” said Zito. “To do what he’s done. He’s a gift from God. We’re not the answer, it’s the horse. I’m just coaching him. But if you don’t have the players, forget it.”

Dialed In wasn’t the only potential Florida Derby starter to work on Thursday. At Gulfstream Park, trainer Rick Dutrow sent out his undefeated and untested stakes winner Flashpoint to work six furlongs in 1:13.60, posting splits of 24.40, 36.60 and 49.20 along the way, according to clocker John Nichols, who said the Hutcheson winner hooked in with recent maiden claiming winner Boat at the three-eighths pole but finished nearly a half- length behind at the wire.

Dutrow has remained non-commital regarding Flashpoint’s next start but said last week he was leaning towards the seven-furlong Swale with the Florida Derby as his back-up plan.