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Dec 30, 2010

Two trainers with different situations

By: By Don Agriss, Horse Racing Editor


Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Gulfstream Park is the winter home for many top racing stables, mainly from the northeast, in the nation. Well known names in the training profession populate Gulfstream's barns.

Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito is a regular during the Gulfstream meet while trainer Diane Alvarado is just beginning to get noticed.

Alvarado gained her first taste of public recognition with the Breeders' Cup Marathon victory by Eldaafer this past November. The controversial race kicked off the 2010 World Championships as never before.

Jockeys Calvin Borel and Javier Castellano traded punches in the winner's circle moments after the finish of the 1 3/4-mile race. Ridden by John Velazquez, Eldaafer defeated the disqualified Prince Will I Am.

Eldaafer was never far off the pace set by Gabriel's Hill. Velazquez had his mount racing in fourth about five-lengths behind the leader.

Around the final turn Eldaafer gained ground to move into second behind Gabriel's Hill. Prince Will I Am, ridden by Castellano, also moved into contention on the final turn, but caused serious problems for Romp and A.U. Miner.

Borel, A.U. Miner's rider, was angry by a move late in the race because Castellano moved into the path of Romp and jockey Martin Garcia, causing the horse to stumble and nearly fall.

Gabriel's Hill had the lead at the top of the stretch, but Eldaafer and Prince Will I Am passed him with 300 yards to run. Eldaafer took the lead in mid- stretch and went on to win by 1 3/4-lengths.

Gabriel's Hill finished third in the 12-horse field, but was then moved up to second after Prince Will I am was disqualified. A.U. Miner climbed to third and Giant Oak finished fourth.

"I didn't know what was going on," said Alvarado about the post-race fight. "We were all very happy. I had family and friends in town and it was a wonderful moment. But I was upset that John Velazquez wasn't able to do the presentation."

Eldaafer has nine wins in 24 career starts with lifetime earnings of $678,132.

"The first time I galloped him, he galloped halfway, then he refused," said Alvarado. "A lot with him depends on his mood. He's a horse you can't push. You don't want to fight him. You have to let him stand sometimes for 10 minutes, or let him walk as far as he wants to walk."

The gelding, owned by Mansour Albaroudy and IEAH Stables, was seventh to Man of Iron in the 2009 Marathon at Santa Anita. Prior to this year's Marathon he was third in the Brooklyn Handicap and won the Turfway Park Fall Championship Stakes.

Alvarado worked as an assistant for Barclay Tagg, Todd Pletcher, Steve Asmussen and D. Wayne Lukas. She went out on her own in April, 2009.

"Being an assistant and then taking the next step it?s a big move," she said. "It's scary, because being an assistant you see everything that goes on and everything that has to be done. Every week, you have to meet payroll, you've got to get your own (equipment). It's a little stressful. The nice thing is that when you work for all these great trainers, you take a little from everybody. There's stuff you bring with you from everywhere."

This year Alvarado has won six of 33 starts for $472,590 and is nearing the $1 million mark in career earnings with $943,845. In less than two years of training she has sent out 96 starters and returned 21 winners.

Nick Zito comes into the 2010 Gulfstream meeting with high hopes for his three-year-old crop.

Dialed In won his debut effort at Churchill Downs last month by better than six-lengths. Owned by Robert LaPenta, Dialed In could give Zito a second straight win in the Florida Derby following Ice Box's victory this past spring.

"We have to sit down and figure out a schedule," Zito said. "There are a lot of opportunities out there and he'll get his chance. There are a couple of allowance races in the first (condition) book, and I really like what (racing secretary) Dan (Bork) does with the program."

Along with Ice Box taking this year's Florida Derby, Zito saddled High Fly to victory in the 2005 edition. The Brooklyn-native won the 1991 and 1994 Kentucky Derbies, 1996 Preakness and 2004 and 2008 Belmont Stakes.



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