08/12/2010 3:21PM

Zito looks to end his slump at Saratoga

Barbara D. Livingston
Fly Down, with Jose Lezcano up, works a half-mile in 48.68 seconds on Thursday at Saratoga.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – After a spring in which he won the Florida Derby and had horses finish in the money in all three Triple Crown races, trainer Nick Zito appeared to have a lot to look forward to this summer.

But Kentucky Derby runner-up Ice Box floundered while sixth in the Haskell, Preakness third-place finisher Jackson Bend was next-to-last in the Pegasus, and Belmont Stakes runner-up Fly Down was a troubled fifth in the Jim Dandy. Adding to Zito’s woes this summer is the fact he has gotten off to an uncharacteristically poor 0-for-19 start at this meet.

“We’re disappointed, but we never get discouraged,” said Zito, who did finish second in the Jim Dandy with Miner’s Reserve.

So, Zito marches on, hoping to turn things around well before the $1 million Travers Stakes on Aug. 28. The process of determining how many horses Zito will run in the Travers began in earnest Thursday morning when he sent out Ice Box, Fly Down, and Miner’s Reserve for half-mile workouts shortly after 7 a.m. on the Oklahoma training track.

Miner’s Reserve was first. With Calvin Borel aboard, Miner’s Reserve went an easy half-mile in 50.39 seconds. Fly Down went next, going a half-mile in 48.68 under Jose Lezcano. Ice Box, with Julien Leparoux up, went a half-mile in 48.76, going the first quarter in 24.02 seconds.

Leparoux will replace Lezcano aboard Ice Box in the Travers, Zito said.

“I knew he would look the best,” Zito said of Ice Box. “He’s a good work horse. I think Julien will fit him good, he’s got good hands.”

Zito’s still not sure what went wrong with Ice Box in the Haskell, where he finished sixth, beaten 7 1/4 lengths behind Lookin At Lucky.

“Either Lookin At Lucky is too good for him or the Derby and Belmont was too much and it’s taken time for him to come back,” Zito said.

Fly Down, who ran a solid second in the Belmont Stakes, encountered some traffic in the Jim Dandy and checked very late in the race, though that did not alter his fifth-place finish.

“Fly Down, I think, is a horse that’s got to be in the clear,” Zito said.

Though Miner’s Reserve ran a good second in the Jim Dandy, Zito is concerned that the presence of First Dude and Trickmeister and even Jim Dandy winner A Little Warm could make things difficult for him on the front end.

“I don’t know if that would be too much for him, I will certainly have to discuss it with Bob,” Zito said, referring to owner Robert LaPenta. “I’ll make my recommendation, but he has the final say.”

One factor may be that Miner’s Reserve will likely need a new rider. Calvin Borel, who rode Miner’s Reserve in the Jim Dandy, is the regular rider of Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver, who also is targeting the Travers.

Adirondack draws many shippers

They’re coming from California, Florida, Kentucky, and Delaware as well as New York for Sunday’s Grade 2, $150,000 Adirondack Stakes for 2-year-old fillies.

A field of 10 was entered for the 6 1/2-furlong race, with Position Limit, a debut winner by 6 3/4 lengths at Belmont, as the probable favorite.

Her competition will include Alientation, a debut winner on turf at Hollywood Park for Bob Baffert; Florida imports Miss Sarah Brown and Because I Like It; Kentucky shippers Nina Fever, Golden Phoenix, Hula, and Tristanme; and Delaware shipper Coax Liberty. Silvislip, a New York-based filly who won her debut here July 23, completes the field.

Nina Fever, trained and owned in part by Wesley Ward, won her debut at Keeneland by eight lengths on April 3 but then finished fifth against the boys in the Kentucky Juvenile Stakes.

Nina Fever broke on top out of the gate in that race but was soon passed by race favorite, Twelve Pack Shelly. Jockey Robby Albarado took a hold of Nina Fever, and she was never able to get back into the race, finishing last of five behind Lou Brissie.

“The favorite had me boxed in, Robby could never get out, and she took dirt in a race for the first time,” Ward said. “If we would have just gone on with her big, long stride, she might have gone on and won it.”

With Albarado injured and out for the meet, Ward has tabbed Eibar Coa to ride. Nina Fever drew post 5.

Position Limit, a daughter of Bellamy Road, will break from post 8 under John Velazquez.

Forever Together targets Glens Falls

Forever Together, who finished third in her quest to win a third straight Diana Stakes, will target the Grade 3, $100,000 Glens Falls Handicap here Sept. 6, trainer Jonathan Sheppard said.

“There’s good spacing between the Glens Falls and the Flower Bowl,” Sheppard said, referring to the Grade 1 race at Belmont Park on Oct. 2. “The negative is that it’s a handicap, and she’ll probably have to give a lot of weight.”

Sheppard also said that Informed Decision, winner of the Grade 3 Chicago Handicap at Arlington last out, will run back in the Grade 1 Ballerina here Aug. 28.