02/02/2013 1:41PM

Parx: Nile Runner proving to be a profitable claim


Picking out a yearling at an auction – even with someone as sharp as Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito as an advisor – is something of a crapshoot. In the short time Richard Pell has been involved owning horses selected and trained by Zito, he has experienced the thrill of rolling a series of sevens that produced a nice profit on a modest investment and the frustration of spilling out snake eyes after risking big bucks.

One of Pell’s less successful buys is Nile Runner, who cost $100,000 as a yearling but won only 1 of 5 starts before he was claimed away for $7,500 last September.

Nile Runner has proven to be a better investment for Emerald Field Farm and trainer Donald White than he was for Pell and Zito. The now 4-year-old Nile Runner has gone 3 for 7 for his new connections and will try to clear his first allowance condition in Monday’s $47,000 feature at a mile and 70 yards at Parx.

Nile Runner is a half-brother to Sapphire ‘n Silk, whose 4-for-7 racing career included wins in the Grade 2 Prioress and Grade 3 La Troienne. In two tries in first-level allowance company since coming to White’s barn, Nile Runner finished fifth both times, beaten 10 1/4 lengths and 18 1/2 lengths.

But don’t feel too sorry for Pell. Among horses Zito purchased on Pell’s behalf at the Keeneland September yearling sale were Fly Down, who cost $80,000 and earned $1.18 million in a career that included runner-up finishes in the 2010 Belmont Stakes and Travers, and Fast Falcon, a $60,000 purchase who missed by a neck in the Grade 2 Dwyer and outran his 35-1 odds to finish a neck behind dead-heat winners Golden Ticket and Alpha in last summer’s Travers.

The other entrant in Monday’s 10-horse field who has not done as well as his pedigree might indicate is Weave It to Me, a half-brother to graded stakes winner Fed Biz. The 5-year-old Weave It to Me needed eight starts to finally win his maiden last time out in early November at Penn National.

The probable favorite is Dilatory, who cruised by seven lengths in a first-level allowance restricted to Pennsylvania-breds two races ago and prepped for his first start since early December with back-to-back bullet five-furlong workouts on Jan. 19 and Jan. 29.