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Nov 24, 2010

THRU THE BINOCULARS

By: John Piesen


HORSE TO WATCH

This is the time of the year while the gettin' is good to get down in the Kentucky Derby Future Book.

So without further ado, here's a horse you need to play in the '11 Futures at your favorite Nevada casino.

His name is Dialed In. The owner is New York business mogul Robert LaPenta. The trainer is two-time Derby winner Nick Zito. The rider is, until further notice, Julian Leparoux. And the colt is by Mineshaft out of a Storm Cat mare.

The last time we saw Leparoux he was suffering through an agonizing 0-for-13 performance in the Breeders' Cup. But a week later, over the same Churchill Downs venue, Zito put the Frenchman on a first-timer in the seventh race with instructions to let him run.

The betting public had gotten the word, and sent Dialed In away the 5-2 favorite from post three in a full field of 12 mostly well-bred, well-regarded youngsters.

Otherwise, no one was paying much attention. Churchill turns into your local movie matinee in the days after they run the Breeders' Cup.

Dialed In performed as green as his backer's money. He broke in a tangle in the 6 ½-furlong race, and was dead last going down the backstretch. He ran up onto horses' heels leaving the backside, and continued to lose ground. Then Leparoux swung him eight-wide on the turn, looking for something, anything...and it was like the colt sprouted wings.

Still hopelessly last making the turn, Dialed In, despite lugging in badly, commenced a rally leaving the furlong grounds, and inhaled the eight horses in front, including the leader, Ninja Blade, at the wire.

Timewise, it wasn't the second coming of Bellamy Road. The final time was a modest 1:17 3/5, and the Beyer boys slapped a mediocre 75 number on him.

The '11 Derby will be the 20th anniversary of trainer Zito's first Derby score with Strike the Gold (under the ill-fated Chris Antley).

The New York-based Zito, who takes his best horses to Palm Meadows every winter, will try to replicate Goldie's Triple Crown campaign with Dialed In -- and that means the Fountain of Youth and Florida Derby, both at Gulfstream Park.

Saint Nick right now is saying all the right things about Dialed In, a $475,000 yearling.

'He is so big that we needed to take our time with him. If he's got the goods, he'll get his chances,' he'll tell you.

Zito has had good luck with sons of Mineshaft, the '03 Horse of the Year -- notably Fly Down, Miner's Reserve, Coal Play and Cool Coal Man. Nick also trained 2-year-old champion War Pass for LaPenta, but War Pass was a flop at 3.

Dialed In was no champion at 2. Uncle Mo was. And, at this point in time, it's Uncle Mo and everyone else for the Derby...but a lot can happen between mid-November and the first Saturday of May.

So maybe getting down on Dialed In at 50-1 or 100-1 isn't such a bad idea.

Speaking of the Derby, a major Derby prep -- the $1 million Delta Jackpot -- is scheduled for Saturday afternoon (at 4:15 Eastern) at Delta Downs. This is the only day all year that the facility is thought of as a racetrack, and not a casino.

The reason is that the Delta Jackpot, a Grade 3 for 2-year-olds at 1/16 miles, offers $600,000 in graded stakes monies to the winner, which automatically qualifies said winner for a valued spot in the Derby field.

One curious angle to the Jackpot is that jockey Borel, who had been exercising Blue Laser for Canadian top gun Mark Casse, the stepson of Capitol OTB icon Linda Casse, will not get to ride said Blue Laser in the big dance. Jockey Bridgmohan will ride BL, the 3-1 program favorite.

Meantime, Borel lands on Aces N Kings, a 12-1 outsider.

Jockey Castellano, Calvin's sparring partner from the Breeders' Cup, has a shot with Bug Juice, the main speed from New York-based trainer Levine.

Jockey Bravo gives up a half-dozen favorites at his home base of Monmouth Park to pilot Sweet Ducky, on whom he is 2-for-2 going long for main clients Kelly Breen, George and Lori Hall.

Sweet Ducky must break from the nine-hole in a field of 10 over the tightly-turned course, but still the pick here in a wide-open race.

Speaking of jockeys, Ramon Dominguez, who is back to kicking butt in New York (he had a four-bagger at Aqueduct on Thursday), will be out-of-town on Saturday. That's not unusual. But what is unusual is the fact that RD won't be at Delta going for the gold in the Jackpot, million, and other six-figure races. No, he will be at Churchill to ride three, including a filly named Aruna in the Grade 2 feature, the Mrs. Revere Stakes.

More often than not, it pays (literally) to know where Ramon spends his Saturdays.

Meantime, main rival John Velazquez stays at home for seven calls at the Big A, including Overcommunication for main-man Pletcher in the eighth-race feature, the $100,000 Discovery, a Grade 3 for 3-year-olds at a mile and a furlong.

The Discovery, named for Alfred Vanderbilt's brilliant handicap runner from the '30s, has produced some great renewals, notably the 1961 running when Sammyren, named for the late, great Sammy Renick, nosed the immortal Selari.

This year, eight second-line 3-year-olds were entered, and there's little to choose among them. Just check out the weights -- 118 pounds down to 114.

Golden Moka, the 118-pound topweight and 5-2 program favorite, is a good story.

A Golden Missile colt bought for a mere $8,000 at Keeneland, took his talents to Puerto Rico, where he promptly won his first three starts by a combined 17 lengths.

The chestnut, owned in part by paralyzed rider Rene Douglas, then made it 4-for-4 by winning the half-million Prince of Wales Stakes at Fort Erie, the Canadian equivalent of the Preakness, but then sustained his first career defeat in the Super Derby, finishing fifth of sixth at 2-1, beaten by Apart, whose Hancock connections hope is the next Blame.

Now Golden Moka, trained by Brian Lynch, gets a new rider for his New York debut -- the veteran Eddie Razo, who rarely leaves Chicago and Hot Springs.

Golden Moka likely will fall into a stalking rail trip behind Overcommunication and Dominant Jeannes, who is 1-2-0 in just three starts for West Point Thoroughbreds, which put over a $55 maiden winner last week over the same track.

Should be a busy day for the West Point crew, headed by Major Terry Finley. As soon as the Disovery is completed, they will be on their way for the 40-minute ride to Yankee Stadium for the 7 p.m. kickoff of Army-Notre Dame.

If you're alive in race nine on Saturday at Aqueduct, you need to consider a pair of New York-bred maiden 2-year-olds exiting the same race.

On Breeders' Cup Day at the Big A, Megalithic finished second in the sixth race at 26-1, and Harlan's Point was fifth at 8-1. Of the two, Megalithic, under return rider Castro, will be much shorter than Harlan's Point, who gets a rider change: Junior Alvarado for
Bravo, who's occupied at Delta Downs.

Good luck to Larry Jones, who this week announced the end of his training sabbatical to return to action, starting at Oaklawn Park, where among others, he will have Winslow Homer and Harve De Grace, for old buddy Rick Porter.

Harve de Grace will be pointed for the Apple Blossom; Winslow Homer for the Arkansas Derby.

Finally, best wishes for three-time Horse of the Year Zenyatta (it says here) in her new career as a broodmare. We assume she'll be bred to A.P. Indy, who stands at the same farm (Lane's End).

And good luck to the thousands who will lose their jobs as Meadowlands racing sinks into the swamp.

Thanks for tuning in. Good luck this weekend, please check out the red-hot John Piesen Hot Line (888 612 2283), and see you back here next Friday.



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