06/05/2010 12:00AM

Zito hoping for better


ELMONT, N.Y. - For Nick Zito, great expectations brought great disappointment in Saturday's 142nd Belmont Stakes, as the Hall of Fame trainer had to settle for a second and an eighth-place finish with Fly Down and Ice Box.

Though Fly Down ran well to be second, three-quarters of a length behind Drosselmeyer, Zito was excruciatingly disappointed in Ice Box, the Kentucky Derby runner-up who finished ninth - but was moved to eighth via disqualification - in the Belmont as the 9-5 favorite.

It was the seventh time Zito had finished second in the Belmont Stakes, a race he also had won twice previously with longshots Birdstone and Da' Tara. In Ice Box, who finished second in the Kentucky Derby, Zito was running his first Belmont favorite since Strike the Gold ran second in 1991.

"Just more disappointed in Ice Box," Zito said. "I know it's not him, especially the way he's been training. That's the way it goes. We'll just regroup, that's all we can do."

Zito said he had inkling Ice Box might not fire his best shot Saturday because of the heat and also the way Ice Box acted in the race-day security barn, a holding barn that horses running at New York Racing Association tracks must report six hours before they race.

"I felt a little better as the day went on, but when I brought him over there he just wasn't too happy, he just was hot," Zito said. "He's a [son of] Pulpit; with the weather and everything it didn't cooperate. He just was too apprehensive; that's what he was the last couple of days."

In the Belmont, Ice Box had three horses beaten going into the first turn and basically that's where he finished, ahead of three horses. He was officially moved to eighth place because Uptowncharlybrown, who finished fifth, was disqualified when a led pad fell out of jockey Rajiv Maragh's saddle during the running of the race, meaning he did not carry the proper weight for the entire race.

Jockey Jose Lezcano said of Ice Box: "He was comfortable. I put him outside. When I ask him he don't give nothing."

Meanwhile, Fly Down, under John Velazquez, raced in tandem and inside of winner Drosselmeyer through the most of the race. Velazquez anticipated that Mike Smith, aboard Drosselmeyer, might make an early move, but that was not the case.

"He sat and sat, he waited to the quarter pole to move, and finally I moved [Fly Down] out and he kept running," Velazquez said. "I had him in a drive for at least an eighth of a mile."

Fly Down was fifth at the eighth pole, but when Velazquez got him to the outside, and he rallied to be second.

Fly Down's second-place finish in the Belmont meant that Zito finished in the money in all three Triple Crown races with different horses. Ice Box ran second in the Kentucky Derby, and Jackson Bend was third in the Preakness.

"It shows you our stable does as good as we can," Zito said. "Obviously, would have liked to have won this Belmont. Sometimes you got to be content."

Saturday, disappointment trumped content for Zito.