03/06/2011 4:25PM

Kentucky Derby prospect Dialed In second-best in allowance prep for Florida Derby

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Equestrio defeats his younger stablemate Dialed In during a nine-furlong allowance race that Dialed In was using as a prep for the Florida Derby.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla . -   Dialed In lost a battle Sunday at Gulfstream Park, one his trainer Nick Zito hopes will help him win the ultimate war, the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 7.

Dialed In finished second, a half-length behind his uncoupled, 4-year-old stablemate Equestrio in Sunday’s fourth race at Gulfstream Park. It was a race Zito desperately wanted as a prep for his next major goal with Dialed In, the $1 million Florida Derby, on April 3.

KENTUCKY DERBY NEWS: Track all the 3-year-olds on the Triple Crown trail

Making his first start since vaulting to the upper echelon of the 3-year-old division with his victory in the Grade 3 Holy Bull 29 days earlier, Dialed In was reserved closer than usual by jockey Julien Leparoux off a slow pace in Sunday’s 1 1/8-mile allowance. Dialed In was shuffled to the rear of the five- horse field when lacking room near the three-eighths pole, then split rivals with a quick move to reach close contention entering the stretch. But Equestrio got the early jump on his stablemate and had enough left to withstand Dialed In despite veering out sharply and suddenly from left-handed sticking by jockey Jose Lezcano nearing the wire.

“The winner is an older horse and not a bad horse,” Zito said immediately after the race. “There wasn’t any speed in this field and he [Dialed In] lost a spot near the three-eighths pole which might have cost him the race. Naturally I’d have like to have won but I’ve got to be happy. He broke well, he got to go two turns, he got to run a mile and one eighth over this track and he got a great education. Under the circumstances, I think it was a terrific performance. There will be more speed in the Derby. We’ll just have to build on this and if he has a good month we’ll be back for the Florida Derby.”

Equestrio ($8)  ran the nine furlongs over a fast track in 1:51.12.