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Zipse At The Track

Nicky Z and the Sons of ‘Shaft

Question: Who is the man that would risk his neck for his brother man? Question: Who is the cat that won’t cop out when there‘s danger all about? The answer to both of those questions is Nick Zito of  course. How is this trainer, who will celebrate his 63rd birthday on Sunday, and is 17 years removed from his second of two Kentucky Derby scores walking so tall and proud?  Simple, New York Nick has the pure power of Shaft on his side. Mineshaft that is. Less than a week after scoring an impressive victory in the Holy Bull Stakes with Dialed In, a son of Mineshaft, Zito enters the Grade 1 Donn with both guns loaded and ready to fire, and a little bit of Shaft on the side.
In Fly Down and Morning Line, he brings to the Donn a powerful pair of grade 2 winners who were agonizingly close to big things last year. That was a bit of a theme for Zito, who was often left barely on the outside looking in on many of the biggest races on the 2010 schedule. This year promises to be a reversal of fortunes for the likeable conditioner. Fly Down, like Dialed In, sports the power of Shaft, being a son of the 2003 Horse of the Year, and is the Donn highweight and likely favorite. Saturday will mark his first race of the year since the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Fly Down earned his most important victory to date in a romping win of the Grade 2 Dwyer. While unable to visit the winner’s circle since, he ran several strong races including narrow losses in the Belmont and the Travers, and a solid 3rd in the BC Classic despite traffic troubles. The Donn is by no means any easy spot to make a return to the races, with several strong horses including Rule, Square Eddie, and I Want Revenge ready to battle it out, but in the end it is Zito’s other entrant, Morning Line who could present the stiffest challenge. Surprisingly these days, Morning Line is a top horse for Zito who is not a son of Mineshaft.
We all saw Dialed In zoom to near the top of many pundits Kentucky Derby contenders list by coming from last to first to easily account for the Holy Bull in only his second lifetime start, but the Zito-Shaft connection runs much deeper than only him and Fly Down. To date Mineshaft has sired seven graded stakes winners, of that list, four of them have been trained by Zito. Besides Fly Down and Dialed In, New York Nick has scored big with Shaft progeny Coal Play, romping winner of the Salvator Mile and game second in Big Brown‘s Haskell, and near millionaire and Fountain of Youth hero Cool Coal Man (Chris Coleman’s favorite horse.) This does not even include stakes winner Miner’s Reserve, who ran a bang-up second in last Summer’s Jim Dandy.
So you can see that Zito and Shaft form a tight bond and together they are the verge of two major wins at Gulfstream Park in a period of six days. This may only be the beginning for the duo, though. Armed with the power of Shaft, 2011 is primed to be the year that Nick Zito turns around all those tough losses and near misses. After all, he’s one bad mutha.


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Older Comments about Nicky Z and the Sons of ‘Shaft...

I have not many people who aren't fond of Nick. I'll say it again ... he's a bad mutha, and 2011 could be a very big year for him.
<3 Mineshaft Zito CCM Morningline flydown robert lapenta et al great barn and its nice to see the great barn do great work
Mr. Zito has my utmost respect... Dialed In and Fly Down could make this a banner year for the New Yorker. I'm hoping so...:)
Nick Zito had such a tough year in 2010, a good year but tough. He came close to winning so many big races last year only to lose. I think with all the talented horses he has in his stables this year this could be a banner year for him. I love Morning Line and Square Eddie in the Donn, it would be awesome to see them run 1-2.
Love the Shaft reference! It looks like the fortunes of Zito and Mineshaft will be closely alligned. I like them both!

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Meet Brian Zipse 

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat, Forego, and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, and American Pharoah. Before coming to the Nation, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. 

The Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, Brian authored a daily column as Zipse at the Track, or ZATT for short, and added his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. Now a Senior Writer for HRN, Brian continues to contribute his thoughts on racing, as well as co-hosting the popular racing show, HorseCenter. A big supporter of thoroughbred aftercare, he serves as the President of The Exceller Fund.

Brian's work has also been published on several leading industry sites. He has consulted for leading contest site Derby Wars, is both a Hall of Fame and NTRA poll voter, and is a Vox Populi committee member. 

A horse owner and graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives just outside of Louisville with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra.


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