02/05/2002 12:00AM

Whitney and Zito flying high


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Marylou Whitney is tied for leading owner at Gulfstream Park and nobody could be happier about that than her main trainer, Nick Zito.

"For me, it's very rewarding," said Zito, who has saddled six of Whitney's seven winners, tying her with Canadian-based Bruno Schickedanz atop the Gulfstream standings. "Everybody I run into says how happy they are for her. Marylou Whitney is a popular lady. The Whitney colors are beautiful colors; they should be flying high every Saturday."

The powder blue and brown colors of Whitney, the noted Saratoga socialite, were flying high last Saturday at Gulfstream when she won three races on the 12-race card. That included a victory by Aly Quatorze, who won an entry-level allowance race by a head. It was the second consecutive victory at this meet for Aly Quatorze, a 3-year-old New Jersey-bred daughter of Preakness winner Louis Quatorze, whom Zito trained. Zito said Aly Quatorze would run next in the Davona Dale Stakes here on Feb. 24.

"There are some 2-year-olds that turn 3 and nothing happens, they stay the same," Zito said. "I've been on the other side when a 2-year-old turns 3 and they move forward. This filly has moved forward and has shown heart, grit, and determination."

Friday, Zito will take a shot in the $100,000 Sabin Handicap with Gulch Legacy, a homebred daughter of Gulch out of Inca Legacy, who is a half-sister to the Grade 1 winning mare Catinca. Gulch Legacy has won two of her last three starts, including a 4 1/4-length victory here on Jan. 13. She earned a Beyer Speed Figure of only 79, but Zito believes the race was better than that.

"I knew it was a big race," Zito said, noting that jockey Eibar Coa "had so much horse from the time he left the gate. She could have won by more than that. If she could get stakes placed or win a stakes of this magnitude it'd be huge."

Zito said a victory by Gulch Legacy would have special meaning for Whitney because Inca Legacy "is her prized mare."

Three of the winners Zito has saddled for Whitney are 3-year-old colts. Straight Gin, a son of 1994 Kentucky Derby winner Go for Gin may have the best shot at going long, according to Zito. Physically, Zito said, Straight Gin reminds him of Albert the Great, who won the 2000 Jockey Club Gold Cup as a 3-year-old.

"He's the spitting image of Albert the Great, other than having one white leg," Zito said. "I thought for sure he was one of our better horses. He never developed until Saturday."

Governor Hickel, a son of Gulch, will most likely be kept sprinting while Inaugural Address, a son of Victory Speech, will be given a chance to run long, Zito said. Both horses will likely get another allowance race before jumping up to stakes company.