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Aug 12, 2005

Zito inducted into racing Hall of Fame


Saratoga Springs, NY (Sports Network) - Two-time Kentucky Derby winning trainer

Nick Zito was among the inductees Monday for the racing Hall of Fame.

Zito won the Kentucky Derby with Strike the Gold in 1991 and Go for Gin in 1994.

He then captured the Preakness Stakes with Louis Quatorze in 1996 and claimed the

 career Triple Crown in 2004 with a Belmont Stakes victory from Birdstone.

The New York City native was joined in this year's Hall of Fame class by three

steeplechase stars -- jockey Thomas Walsh, trainer Sidney Watters Jr. and five-time

champion Lonesome Glory.

Zito has recorded more than 1,400 victories in a career that began in 1972. He has

 84 graded stakes wins, including this past weekend's Whitney Handicap with

Commentator at Saratoga, and earnings of about $70 million in purse money.

"Some of us get a chance to do something we love," Zito said Monday. "If we're really

 fortunate, we get to do it over and over."

In addition to his Triple Crown victories, Zito has trained a pair of champion

horses -- Storm Song in 1996 and Bird Town in 2003.

"If it wasn't for racing, I don't know where I'd be," Zito added.

The new voting rules for the Hall of Fame left Zito as the only flat-racing candidate

receiving the now-required 75-percent for induction. Previously, the top vote-getters

 in four categories -- trainer, jockey, contemporary male horse and contemporary

female horse -- would be elected.

The steeplechase inductees are the first for the Hall of Fame since 1997. The committee

for this division meets every other odd-numbered year and will not consider Hall members

 again until 2009.

Walsh won 253 races during his 12-year steeplechase career and captured the prestigious

 Grand National Steeplechase a record five consecutive years. He quit riding in 1967 at

age 27 to turn to training, and the 65-year-old still operates a stable based at Belmont Park.

Watters, who also trained flat-raced horses, led or shared the lead in steeplechase victories

in a season six times between 1948 and 1971. The 87- year-old native of Baltimore is retired.

Lonesome Glory won 24 of 44 career starts between 1991 and 1999, and is the leading

 money-earning horse in steeplechase history with $1.4 million. He injured himself in

a stall accident and was euthanized on February 25, 2002 at age 14.

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