New York No one is in more of a New York state of mind these days than Nick Zito. And why not?
The Brooklyn-born Hall of Fame trainer will be looking for his third win in six years in the $1 million Belmont Stakes today, and he has two of the three favorites for the final leg of the Triple Crown.
Ice Box, the Florida Derby winner who staged a tremendous rally to finish second in the Kentucky Derby, is the 3-1 morning-line choice. Fly Down, a lightly raced colt who blew away the field by six lengths in winning the Dwyer last month, is the 9-2 third choice.
The 142nd running of the Belmont may lack Derby winner Super Saver and Preakness winner Lookin At Lucky, but Zito says the Belmont is, well, the Belmont.
“It’s big,” he said. “It’s a classic race. It’s the Belmont.”
Zito’s pair tops a field of 12 3-year-old colts and geldings who will try to ace racing’s “Test of the Champion,” a 11⁄2-mile lap around Belmont Park in the longest of the Triple Crown races.
“It’s a tricky kind of race,” Zito said. “Our horses are fine with the distance, we just want to see if they kick in. You have to fire at the right time, too.”
First Dude poses a huge threat as the 7-2 second choice. Probably the biggest horse in the field — he stands 17 hands tall — the colt trained by Dale Romans is coming off a gallant runner-up effort in the Preakness.