Race of the Week 2017

Zito Very Proud of Fast Falcon

Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito was his usual philosophical self the morning after Fast Falcon finished a fast-closing third to the dead-heating tandem of Alpha and Golden Ticket in yesterday’s Travers.


“You can see [the photo finish] and the dead heat, and you see our horse, Fast Falcon, right in the picture,” said Zito. “The good thing is that he’ll be part of history. That was good.”


In the Travers, Fast Falcon left from the outside post and trailed in 11th through the first six furlongs of the race, had his momentum briefly stymied behind the faltering Street Life on the far turn, and closed with a rush down the center of the home stretch to miss by a neck.


“A great race. We’re very, very proud, very happy, very elated,” said Zito, who trains Fast Falcon for Richard C. Pell. “The bittersweet thing is you know he could have won it. The horse who got hurt stopped in front of him, Street Life. Eddie [Fountaine of the New York Post] just reminded me that was the third [close loss] we had in the Travers. We had Albert the Great [in 2000], we had Fly Down [in 2010], and now we have this one.”


While Zito was pleased with Fast Falcon’s performance, he said the outcome of the race might have been different had some of the circumstances been different.


“There are three factors,” said Zito. “Post position. [Fast Falcon] draws 11. Maybe he draws seven. You already save some ground, right? Then, the horse, Street Life, stops in front of him. And then [speed horse] Hansen wasn’t in there.”


The trainer added that he would love to have a rematch with Alpha, preferably in the Grade 1 TVG Jockey Club Gold Cup on September 29 at Belmont Park.


“I think if Alpha were to show up in the Gold Cup, we would give it a whirl, just to see if we’re better than him, to keep pace with him, see how good we are,” said Zito. “That’s the way I like to do things. I’m not going for this Derby or Indiana or that. That doesn’t do no good for us. This is what we like to do, right?”


Zito also lauded Fred J. Brei’s Fort Loudon for finishing second by a half-length in the Foxwoods King’s Bishop but felt that race also could have turned out differently if winning trainer Rick Dutrow, Jr. didn’t have Willy Beamin make a three-day turnaround off his victory in Wednesday’s Albany, a 1 1/8-mile race for New York-breds.


“I don’t know why I always have to be in the middle of something,” said Zito. “Yesterday, I finished second in the King’s Bishop, and [Dutrow] runs the horse back in three days. I don’t know. Here’s the odds. They tell you, ‘OK, Nick, you’re going to beat Currency Swap, Doctor Chit, Trinniberg, etc., etc., but you’re going to lose.’ I would say, ‘How much do you want to bet?’ We lost. That’s racing. That’s what makes it so incredible. Things you see every day that you don’t see in any other sport.”


Zito added that he felt like Robert LaPenta’s Spin Out never got to put forward his best effort when eighth in the Foxwoods King’s Bishop.


‘I’m very grateful about how [Fast Falcon, Fort Loudon, and Spin Out] ran yesterday,” said Zito. “They all came back good, ran good, every single one of them. Even Spin Out was in trouble in the King’s Bishop. He had no chance to show what he had. They all ran good.”


Jackson Bend, also trained by Zito for LaPenta, remains tentatively on target for a title defense in next Saturday’s Grade 1 Forego, two weeks after he collided with a horse while galloping on the Oklahoma training track. Zito said the 5-year-old will breeze tomorrow, his first work since the incident.


“Like I say, that would be a miracle [if Jackson Bend won the Forego],” said Zito. “There would be a lot of people believing in God, including me. So that’s what we’re going to do. We’ll see what happens. He’s fit. The workout he had [on August 16] was amazing. It was [four furlongs in 49.33 seconds], but it was in a gallop. He’s really ready. He likes it up here.”




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