05/18/2011 4:27PM

Preakness: Zito builds his case for Dialed In

Barbara D. Livingston
Dialed In arrives at Pimlico on Wednesday for Saturday's Prakness Stakes.

BALTIMORE – Nick Zito’s pockets were overflowing with all manner of paperwork Wednesday morning as if he was putting together a legal brief in the case of The People v. Dialed In.

Zito, the trainer of Dialed In, has a printout of the chart of the Kentucky Derby, which shows Dialed In closing from last to eighth in the final half-mile. That’s Exhibit A. He’s got an e-mail in which the final half-mile fractions for the leading finishers from the Derby are denoted, with Dialed In having the fastest time – Exhibit B. He’s also pulled out a column from the publisher of a trade newspaper outlining how well Dialed In ran in the Derby – Exhibit C.

PREAKNESS FIELD: Post positions, odds, comments by Watchmaker and Privman »

He’s hoping his pockets are overflowing with cash Saturday, following the 136th Preakness Stakes here at Pimlico. Dialed In stands to earn $6.1 million – $600,000 for the winner’s share of the race, plus a $5.5 million bonus – and $500,000 of that bonus money is earmarked for the trainer.

“I love my horse. I’ll defend him to death,” Zito said outside the stakes barn at Pimlico on Wednesday morning. “He came with his run in the Derby. He had the fastest half-mile. Ninety-five Derbies out of 100, he’s going to be in the money. It was a very unusual race. He ran great in defeat. Let’s sum it up this way – it was the best eighth-place finish in the history of the Kentucky Derby. Right or wrong?”

To get that windfall payoff, Dialed In will have to outrun 13 other 3-year-olds in the Preakness, including Animal Kingdom, the emphatic winner of the Derby.

At the Derby, Dialed In was a lukewarm favorite at 5-1, and Animal Kingdom was a 20-1 outsider. But after post positions were drawn Wednesday evening for the Preakness, Frank Carulli, the linemaker at Pimlico, made Animal Kingdom the 2-1 favorite to keep his Triple Crown hopes alive, and he installed Dialed In as the 9-2 second choice.

Mike Watchmaker, Daily Racing Form ’s national handicapper, also has Animal Kingdom at 2-1, with Dialed In next at 5-1.

They drew alongside one another, with Animal Kingdom in post 11 and Dialed In landing just inside him in post 10.

Both Graham Motion, who trains Animal Kingdom, and Zito were happy with where they ended up. Motion said he was concerned that posts 1 and 14 remained before Animal Kingdom’s name was called. Motion said he did not want either of those spots.

Astrology drew the rail for the 1 3/16-mile race. Mr. Commons is marooned in post 14.

Of the other top contenders, Mucho Macho Man drew post 9, Dance City is in post 8, and Shackleford is in post 5.

The maximum field of 14 was entered – five horses from the Derby, nine Triple Crown newcomers. No horse was excluded, simply because Saratoga Red, who would have been excluded because of insufficient earnings, did not enter the race when it became obvious he would not get in. Instead, Saratoga Red was put in the William Donald Schaefer Memorial on the Preakness undercard.

PREAKNESS STAKES 2011: Contender profiles, news updates, video and odds »

Dialed In is eligible for the lucrative bonus because of previous victories in the Holy Bull Stakes and Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park, which, like Pimlico, is owned by MI Developments.

Zito said the bonus was “one of the reasons” he decided to wheel back Dialed In on just two weeks’ rest. He is still kicking himself for not doing the same with Ice Box a year ago.

“I might have made a mistake with Ice Box,” Zito said. “You can wheel them back. I should have with Ice Box.

“Did we make a mistake with Birdstone?” Zito said, referring to the colt who in 2004 skipped the Preakness and then stopped Smarty Jones’s Triple Crown bid in the Belmont. “No. But he was a clear-cut case.”

Dialed In arrived at Pimlico late Wednesday afternoon, following a flight from Kentucky that also included Preakness entrants Flashpoint, Midnight Interlude, Mr. Commons, and Shackleford. Three other Preakness entrants – Astrology, Dance City, and Sway Away – all came on an earlier flight and were in their stalls here by 1 p.m.

Mucho Macho Man arrived about 10:30 a.m., following a van ride from Belmont Park.

Animal Kingdom, who had a routine gallop at the Fair Hill training center Wednesday morning, will make the one-hour trip here by van early Saturday morning.

“Bottom line is it’s what I’m going to do with all my other horses, so I don’t really know why I'd want to do it differently with him,” Motion said. “I ran in the Preakness three times and I shipped a horse over the first time and tried to do the right thing and was there for four or five days, and it didn’t make any difference.”

The Preakness is the 12th race on a 13-race card scheduled to begin at 10:45 a.m. Post time for the Preakness is listed as 6:18 p.m. It is the final leg of a pick four that has a guaranteed pool of $1 million. It also is the second half of a double wager that begins with Friday’s Black-Eyed Susan Stakes for 3-year-old fillies.

The Preakness will be televised live by NBC in a two-hour telecast beginning at 4:30 p.m. Three prior stakes on the undercard will be seen live on Versus, in a two-hour telecast beginning at 2:30 p.m. There also will be a half-hour Preakness wrap-up show on Versus beginning at 6:30 p.m.

Although it rained, at times heavily, part of the day here Wednesday, the weather forecast for Saturday is improving. According to the National Weather Service, sunny skies and a high temperature of 82 degrees are predicted for Saturday, with no chance of rain. There is a 40 percent chance of showers Friday, with the high temperature predicted to be 78 degrees.

– additional reporting by David Grening