12/03/2010 4:26PM

Zito's barn looks loaded for bear at Gulfstream

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Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography
Dialed In will have a serious five-furlong workout next week as a tune-up for the Florida Derby.

MIAMI – The stable area at Palm Meadows was relatively quiet on Friday morning with a number of barns still empty and awaiting the arrival of the northern-based horses who will participate at this winter’s Gulfstream Park session.

But one barn that was bustling with activity on Friday was number 37 which houses the stable of trainer Nick Zito. Barn 37 figures to play an important role in the 2011 winter meet with older horses such as Breeders’ Cup Classic third-place finisher Fly Down, Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile runner-up Morning Line, and Florida Derby winner Ice Box all having taken up residence there preparing for the upcoming season.

Despite the plethora of older horse talent he will have for the upcoming meet, Zito couldn’t wait to show off his promising 2-year-old prospect Dialed In, whose debut win last month at Churchill Downs had everybody talking.

Dialed In overcame a slow start, considerable traffic trouble, and his own greenness to not only win at first asking but gallop out after the race like a horse who will be at his best the farther he goes. A son of Mineshaft owned by Robert LaPenta, Dialed In certainly looked the part of a potential Kentucky Derby prospect while getting a bath and cooling out following a routine gallop over the Palm Meadows track on Friday.

“Obviously we’re playing catch-up having had only the one start at 2 but at least we got that out of the way,” said Zito. “Now we have to sit down and figure out a schedule. He’ll definitely get his chance, it’s just a matter of how we want to approach it. There are a couple of allowance races in the first book over at Gulfstream, one at a mile on Jan. 7 and the other at a mile and one eighth a little later on. I’m not so sure I’d want to run in the Holy Bull right away so there’s a good chance we could just wait and start him back around two turns.”

Zito said Fly Down, who lost the Travers by a nose to Afleet Express, will make his 2011 debut in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap.

“If all goes well after that, hopefully he’ll go on to the Dubai World Cup,” said Zito.

Morning Line, who was nipped by Dakota Phone in the Dirt Mile, is also being prepared for a winter campaign in south Florida although his return is as yet undetermined.

“We’ll pick something out for him. I haven’t made my mind up yet, although we’ll probably stay at a mile for now,” Zito said.

Zito also said Ice Box is being given a little break and would not likely run until the end of the Gulfstream meet.

Earlier start for Gulfstream races

Post time for the 2011 Gulfstream meet will be 12:55 p.m. Eastern daily, 20 minutes earlier than in recent years. Gulfstream opens on Jan. 5.

“We’ve created a post time that fits nicely nationwide and allows our signal to be showcased throughout the country,” said Tim Ritvo, vice president of East Coast Racing for MI Developments Inc. “It allows our fans more of the day and it gives us an opportunity to run another race if the situation presents itself.”

Gulfstream also added another graded stakes to its already impressive stakes schedule when the American Graded Stakes Committee upgraded the $100,000 Marshua’s River to Grade 3 status earlier this week. The Marshua’s River will be run on Jan. 9.

◗ Golden Moka, winner of the $500,000 Prince of Wales Stakes this summer at Fort Erie, worked five furlongs in 1:00.80 with jockey Sebastian Madrid aboard on Friday at Palm Meadows. Golden Moka is expected to start in the Grade 3 Fred W. Hooper Handicap next Saturday at Calder.