With two Kentucky Derbies, one Preakness and a pair of Belmont Stakes
victories to his credit, Hall of Famer Nick Zito may be best known as a trainer
of Classic horses. But as he’s emphasized with Grade 1 winner Jackson Bend, his training style suits
sprinters as well. So it’s not surprising that owner Fred Brei has
shipped his homebred 3-year-old Fort Loudon
from Florida to Zito’s barn at Saratoga with the Grade 1
Foxwoods King’s Bishop on August 25 as a major goal.
“I had Mr. Greeley, I had a lot of good sprinters,” said
Zito. “Mr. Greeley was as good a sprinter as there was. Over the years I
always maintained trying to get distance horses, trying to get Classic horses,
but you know, Najran still holds the track record for a mile at Belmont [1:32.24 set
winning the Grade 3, Westchester Handicap on May 7, 2003]. [He tied] Dr.
Fager’s record. A mile is kind of a sprint, and he was a good sprinter.
He won the Phoenix
[six furlongs at Keeneland], he won a lot of sprint races, too. So, we can
sprint. We know how to transfer it.”
Conditioned in Florida by Stanley Gold – who trained Jackson Bend
early in 2011 before he was sent back to Zito last summer – Fort Loudon
won his first graded stakes on July 7, when he prevailed by neck over 2-5
favorite Trinniberg in the Grade 3 Carry Back at Calder Race Course.
“He’s talented,” said Zito of the Awesome of Course
colt, who has won three straight sprints at Calder after an unsuccessful stint
on the Triple Crown trail. “Fred breeds a good horse and he proves it
time in and time out. Whatever his methods are, they work. I guess you could
say they’re from the wrong side of the tracks, the other side of the
tracks, but they wind up beating everybody, so it sounds good to me. The Amsterdam [Grade 2,
$200,000 6 ½ furlongs on July 29] is a possibility. Fred told me, ‘Just
use your own judgment,’ and, you know the other race he’s going to
run in [the Foxwoods King’s Bishop].”