11/03/2003 12:00AM

Zito's Cliff's Edge wins Iroquois

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Four Footed Fotos
The Cliff's Edge with with Shane Sellers aboard wins the $113,700 Iroquois Stakes at Churchill Downs.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Trainer Nick Zito's bench of Kentucky Derby hopefuls grew again Sunday, when The Cliff's Edge rolled to a 7 3/4-length victory in the Grade 3, $113,700 Iroquois Stakes at Churchill Downs.

Confidently ridden by Shane Sellers, The Cliff's Edge broke well and settled in fifth down the backstretch, 3.5 lengths behind early leader War Image, who set splits of 22.57 seconds, 45.12 and 1:10.07. Midway around the turn, he began to advance rapidly three wide, and after taking command nearing the stretch, he quickly drew away from runner-up Korbyn Gold.

"He's a horse with a future," said Zito, who earlier this fall won the Champagne with Birdstone and the Breeders' Futurity with Eurosilver.

Sellers said The Cliff's Edge got a chance to show his talent after troubled trips when sixth in the Breeders' Futurity and third in the Kentucky Cup Juvenile.

"He belonged in California for the Breeders' Cup," he said. "He's that kind of horse. The timing just wasn't right for him."

The Cliff's Edge, a striking-looking son of Gulch, raced a mile in 1:35.57, approximately a half-second off Harlan's Holiday's stakes record of 1:35.01. He paid $6.40 as a narrow favorite over third-place finisher Grand Score, who finished a half-length behind runner-up Korbyn Gold. Texas Deputy and Wings On Springs were scratched.

The Cliff's Edge, a winner of two of four starts and $117,494 for owner Robert La Penta, is likely to race next in the 1 1/16-mile Kentucky Jockey Club on closing day, Nov. 29, Zito said.