05/04/2011 4:54PM

Zito grateful for next shot at Kentucky Derby with Dialed In

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Barbara D. Livingston
Trainer Nick Zito and Dialed In, the expected Kentucky Derby favorite, arrive on the Churchill Downs backstretch last Saturday.

When he watches the replay of last year’s Kentucky Derby, trainer Nick Zito still cringes somewhat when he sees jockey Jose Lezcano getting shut off repeatedly in the stretch aboard Ice Box, who finished second behind Super Saver.

But as a two-time Derby-winning trainer, Zito tries to be appreciative of what he has and not dwell on what he doesn’t. Still, Zito is extremely happy to have the opportunity to come back just one year later and have a good chance of getting his third Kentucky Derby victory with Dialed In, who, like Ice Box, is owned by Robert LaPenta.

“The one thing that makes it easier is you got to be thankful for the things that you have,” said Zito, who won the Derby in 1991 with Strike the Gold and again in 1994 with Go for Gin. “Like I was telling somebody the other day, think about the car that you once had; not the new Cadillac you’re going to get. Be grateful; so I’m grateful for the Derbies. I think the main thing that I’m grateful for is to get this opportunity. If I lose sight of that then I can’t even talk to you.”

Zito will seek to become the sixth trainer to win at least three Kentucky Derbies. He is trying to become the fourth trainer to win the Derby the year after finishing second in the race. Bob Baffert was the last to accomplish that feat, winning in 1997 with Silver Charm after narrowly losing the year before with Cavonnier.

Zito also is trying to duplicate Carl Nafzger’s accomplishment of winning the Derby 17 years apart. Nafzger won it in 1990 with Unbridled and 2007 with Street Sense.

“I want to be Carl Nafzger for a day. I want to come back 17 years later and do what he did,” Zito said.

Dialed In will be Zito’s 25th Derby starter. That ties him for third all time with H.J. Dick Thompson and behind only D. Wayne Lukas (43) and Todd Pletcher, who is scheduled to run Uncle Mo and Stay Thirsty, which would be his 29th and 30th starters in the Derby.

Since running second in the Derby, Ice Box has run four times without a win. Zito said he was getting the horse ready to run this spring and had to stop on him. The horse is in light training at Saratoga.