Now one of the bloodstock market’s most intriguing and good-looking new prospects, was Dialed In the last frontier for Nick Zito’s Derby success or can we entertain the idea of more to come?
Nick Zito is not the world’s most winningest trainer, but when he’s got one, ya’ll better watch out. Going into the 2010 Derby, he had the favorite in tough-as-nails closer Dialed In, who was hot off a tremendous Florida Derby (I) victory over the stubborn speedster Shackleford. I probably should have given him more credit for that win considering how highly I regard Shackleford now, but with that said and done, Zito does have a couple nice colts targeted for Churchill this year.
I wanted to bring this guy up a few months ago, but sadly he did not live up to expectations as early as I anticipated, and thus I couldn’t justify including him in my Early Bird Watch. One of the first sons of Curlin, I liked the looks of Dyker Beach last year. While Curlin is not proven yet as a freshman sire, he does have the classic lineage that suggests success at 10 furlongs after winning the Preakness (I), the Breeders’ Cup Classic (I), the Arkansas Derby (I), the Stephen Foster (I), and I’ll just stop now. His chances of being awesome are well in his favor, obviously. Dyker Beach is a bay colt out of the Capote mare, Favorite Feather, who has a stakes-winning foal closely related to him. Featherbed by Smart Strike (Curlin’s sire), was G1-placed as a two-year-old and won a 6-furlong stakes at Saratoga at 3. Favorite Feather is also a half sister to Bright Feather, the dam of G1 champion Albert the Great. Her half sister, In On The Secret (by Secretariat), had a colt by Capote named King of Capote who won more than $800,000.
Second in his debut at Delaware Park, the bay Curlin colt looked like he needed more space to complete his job than 6 furlongs, muscling out the place by a nose in a closing rally, but was far off from the winner. In his second start at Churchill Downs, he appeared to make a case then got too flustered and finished 9th in a 7-furlonger won by the promising Gulfport. He took time off— the main reason I left him out of the Early Bird articles— but he is obviously doing much better after another Gulfstream maiden race. He closed in on the field from far back on the mile-long course, but his stablemate was a bit closer than he was as he was gaining ground late. I think he’ll get better as time wears on and he grows into his three-year-old body, as will many other “Curlins.”
But what of the stablemate of his that beat him?
It seems every year there’s an awesome Giant’s Causeway to watch. Creative Cause, Eskendereya, Fed Biz… when are we getting our Giant winner? Zito is already thinking highly of one that is in his care by the name of Eton Blue, owned by the famous Marylou Whitney Stable, who sports nice bloodlines as well as some skill. By leading sire Giant’s Causeway, the bay colt is out of the Cape Town daughter Bird Town, winner of the 2003 Kentucky Oaks (I) and Acorn (I) who could carry her ability across a multitude of distances. Bird Town is also out of Dear Birdie, making her a half sister to millionaire Belmont winner Birdstone. Bird Town’s sire Cape Town is most noted for his G1 win in the Florida Derby (he ran second, but won by disqualification).
Talent-wise, we’ve seen just the tip of the iceberg for Eton Blue. He’s been getting better and better in his workouts, and held off his stablemate as noted last out in a Gulfstream maiden special weight over a mile. This looks like a special colt who knows what to do and has some real nice family backing him up as the distances grow longer. I’m excited to see what he can do, and all in all, Gulfstream is in for yet another awesome prep trail this year!