02/07/2011 3:26PM

Zito thinking Dubai World Cup for Donn duo


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Trainer Nick Zito said both Morning Line and Fly Down came out of Saturday’s Grade 1 Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park in good order and both remain under consideration for a possible trip to Dubai for the World Cup.

DUBAI RACING CARNIVAL: Past performances, race analysis, and results

Morning Line finished a game second, a nose in front of Rule, behind Giant Oak in the Donn. Fly Down did not get untracked until too late, rallying from near the rear of the pack to finish fifth as the 5-2 favorite.

“Morning Line ran great,” said Zito. “It’s just unfortunate they had to bring in Square Eddie 3,000 miles to basically be a rabbit.”

Square Eddie dueled Morning Line on the lead for the first six furlongs of the Donn before fading to finish last.

“My horse laid it down and ran his guts out,” said Zito.

As for Fly Down, Zito believed he might still be feel some affect from his third-place finish behind Blame and Zenyatta in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

“The Breeders’ Cup took a lot out of him,” said Zito. “He just started running too late in this race. But it was a good place to get started. It’s a long year.”

Zito said he would sit down over the next few days to discuss the possibility off going to Dubai with the owners of both horses before making any decisions about the World Cup for either Morning Line or Fly Down.

Mixed results for Pletcher

Trainer Todd Pletcher said he thought Rule “ran well” in the Donn but was frustrated by the fact he was forced to lose ground around both turns after breaking from post position 8.

“He was never able to save any ground, and while he may not have beaten the winner, when you get beat a whisker for second you have to believe that might have made the difference,” said Pletcher. “But he did what he always does, and that’s run hard.”

Pletcher was also excited about the performance earlier Saturday turned in by Cal Nation, a 3-year-old son of Distorted Humor, who dominated a field of overmatched maiden special weight rivals in his career debut. Cal Nation, a WinStar homebred, won off by nearly eight lengths, his 1:22.02 clocking for seven furlongs earning a 93 Beyer Speed Figure of 93

“We’ve always had high expectations for him from day one although he exceeded those expectations on Saturday,” said Pletcher. “He started a little late to start thinking about the first Saturday in May so we’ll ease our way along and take the conservative route with him.”

◗ There were also several performances of note turned in by 3-year-old maiden-breakers on Sunday’s card. Miss Smarty Pants and Hothersal posted popular, back-to-back victories for trainer Seth Benzell a couple of hours after Jimmy Jerkens sent out Arch Traveler to win his maiden in the opener.

◗ Jockey Paco Lopez was shut out on Saturday and Sunday but still enters Wednesday’s program with a commanding advantage, 30-20, over his nearest pursuer, Julien Leparoux, in the rider standings. Alex Solis, Javier Castellano are next with Rajiv Maragh and John Velazquez deadlocked for fifth.

Pletcher, Nick Canani and Wesley Ward begin the weak deadlocked atop the trainers’ ledger with nine wins apiece, followed by David Fawkes and Zito