04/12/2011 5:23PM

Kentucky Derby: Zito plans one more work for Dialed In

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Bob Coglianese
Trainer Nick Zito plans to train Dialed In up to the Kentucky Derby at Palm Meadows.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

That’s essentially trainer Nick Zito’s theory when it comes to putting the final touches on Dialed In’s quest to win the 2011 Kentucky Derby on May 7.

Dialed In breezed an easy half-mile in 49.90 seconds early Tuesday morning at Palm Meadows under regular exercise rider Maxine Correa in what was essentially a leg-stretcher for the winner of the Grade 1 Florida Derby and arguably the current favorite for this year’s Kentucky Derby.

“It really wasn’t a serious work, I just told Maxine to go real slow and let him run a little through the lane,” Zito said. “He was so relaxed and he’s just so talented he was able to go in 49 and change and come home his final quarter in 24. We’re taking him out earlier now to beat the heat.”

Zito plans to train Dialed In up to the Derby in nearly the same manner he got him ready to win the $1 million Florida Derby earlier this month – with a series of long gallops and just one more sharp five-furlong work between now and May 7. Zito also will train Dialed In in the quiet and relative anonymity of Palm Meadows until the week of the Derby, a departure from his normal routine of shipping into Churchill Downs well in advance of Derby Day.

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

Zito nearly won his third Kentucky Derby a year ago with Ice Box who, like Dialed In, came into the race off a last-to-first victory in the Florida Derby. But Zito said that’s where the similarity between the two horses ends in regards to their final Derby preparations.

“Ice Box already had three mile-and-one-eighth races under his belt by the time he got to Kentucky,” Zito said. “Dialed In has had only four starts and just one at a mile and one-eighth. So it’s all about building foundation with him. And one thing I can’t afford to worry about is the weather in Kentucky forcing us to lose some training time. He loves the surface at Palm Meadows, and I know I’ll be able to get him to the track and train him every day down here. I also don’t have to worry about how he’ll handle the track up there, since he broke his maiden at Churchill Downs.”

With his victory in the Florida Derby and earlier win in the Holy Bull, Dialed In is eligible for a $5.5 million bonus should he also capture the Preakness Stakes on May 21 at Pimlico. Dialed In is the only horse who emerged from the series of 3-year-old preps at tracks owned by MI Developments with a shot at earning the Preakness 5.5 bonus. The last two horses with a chance, Anthony’s Cross and Silver Medallion, both came up short Saturday in the Santa Anita Derby, a race they needed to win to stay alive.

Rainbow Six carryover rises to $1.1M

The 10-cent Rainbow Six jackpot will be in excess of $1,148,000 when racing resumes Thursday. Management is still contemplating whether to disperse the jackpot, assuming it continues to go unclaimed, on closing day April 24 or one day earlier to accommodate fans in New York and Kentucky, where racing is not conducted on Easter Sunday.

To hit the jackpot, a bettor must have the only ticket on the winning pick-six combination.

Battula wins first race as apprentice

Aparna Battula, a native of Bangalore, India, won the first race of her riding career when guiding River North to a nose victory in Sunday’s third race.

Battula, 23, attended the North American Riding Academy of Hall of Fame jockey Chris McCarron in Lexington, Ky. She began her career by riding River North to a third-place finish here March 18.

Battula earned a degree in biochemistry in India before convincing her father, Das, to allow her to pursue a riding career instead of attending graduate school.

“I knew I was going to win today,” Battula said after enduring the usual ritual apprentice riders are put through by the veterans in the room following their first victory. “I have no idea how I feel, but I feel like I’m on top of the world.”

Lopez closes in on jockey standings lead

Paco Lopez won three races Sunday to move within one victory of leading rider John Velazquez in his quest to defend his Gulfstream Park riding title. Velazquez, who returned here Sunday to ride Life At Ten for trainer Todd Pletcher, is not expected to accept any more mounts during the current session. The only other rider near Lopez in the standings, Javier Castellano, also has left town for the remainder of the meet.

Kentucky Derby party/fundraiser at Calder

Horses and Handicapped of South Florida will team up with Calder Race Course to present the third annual Horses and Hats Kentucky Derby Party at Calder on May 7. Horses and Handicapped provides therapeutic riding and equine-assisted activities for the handicapped.

Tickets for the party, which will be held from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the fourth-floor terrace, are $50. The festivities will include a hat contest, 50-50 raffle, and silent auction. The menu consists of traditional Kentucky fare such as burgoo, hot brown sandwiches, bread pudding with bourbon sauce, and, of course, mint juleps.

All the money raised at the party will go toward a scholarship program provided by Horses and Handicapped to help bring children into the program. Calder also has donated $7,500 to the program to cover the expenses of one of the group’s therapy horses.

– additional reporting by Jay Privman

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