Horse racing: Dialed In does just enough to keep winning

Dialed In has always been late to the party.

Dialed In has always been late to the party.

First of all, that’s simply his running style.

He also didn’t get his first career start until 51⁄2 months ago, in a November maiden race.

To stay with the theme, many of the Kentucky Derby hopefuls are already on the grounds at Churchill Downs, but Dialed In has taken his sweet time moseying on up there and is scheduled to arrive from Florida today, on the same plane as Fountain of Youth winner Soldat.

Dialed In has been comfortably ensconced at Palm Meadows training center, where he has enjoyed the benefit of stable weather under the watch of Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito, who is preparing yet another Derby hopeful for one of his principal owners, Robert LaPenta.

The imperturbable Florida Derby winner has followed a patient, quietly confident path to the Derby, and in light of Uncle Mo’s loss in the Wood and attrition through injuries and defections, Dialed In finds himself inheriting the role of Derby favorite.

“Nick said early on he wasn’t going to send Dialed In to Churchill early. The weather is horrible there, and the horse has had a lot of experience there,” LaPenta said during a national teleconference on Tuesday. “He was there for over a month prior to his main race, so he knows the track, he knows the surroundings.”

While most stakes horses breeze on the weekend, Zito had Dialed In work four furlongs in :482⁄5 on Thursday at Palm Meadows with regular exercise rider Maxine Correa aboard.

He finished three lengths ahead of workmate Miner’s Escape and galloped out in 1:012⁄5.

“I can’t guarantee anything else, but I’ll tell you he won’t be short,” Zito told The Blood-Horse. “We know the kind of horse he is. Any horse that gives you the last eighth in 11-and-change . . . I don’t know what else he can give you.”

It’s the latter stages of races in which Dialed In shows himself.

His three wins have been last-to-first.

He just caught a gutsy front-running Shackleford by a head in the Florida Derby, and he used an inside-out move to get in the clear and take the Holy Bull.

His running style could put him at a disadvantage in the traffic of a 20-horse field, but LaPenta said that he believes that Dialed In and jockey Julien Leparoux will be able to figure out a trip.

“A lot of people are knocking him for his slow Florida Derby time,” LaPenta said. “I think it relates to a baseball team, a basketball team. Great, great athletes do what it takes to win. I think Dialed In fits in that category.

“He seems to know where the finish line is. I wouldn’t even put him in the same category, but it reminds me a little of Zenyatta, who would always win by a nose, no matter how far back she was. It gives you a heart attack, but if that’s the trade, we’ll take it and be very happy with it.”

Dialed In ran the Florida Derby in 1:50.07, eight-tenths of a second slower than R Heat Lightning, the expected favorite in the Kentucky Oaks, ran at the same trip in the Gulfstream Park Oaks the day before.

Another factor that could affect Dialed In’s chances is the loss of such pacemakers as The Factor and J P’s Gusto from the field.

LaPenta said there should still be enough pace up front to set it up for closers.

“Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve seen the Derby go from tons of speed up front to a number of credible closers,” he said. “From that standpoint, I’d say we have a little more competition, and maybe a little less favorable pace in the race.

“Based on Uncle Mo’s workout, you see he’s been recovering, and I don’t know if they’re going to experiment and try to take him back. So I think he’ll be out on the lead. I think Comma to the Top will be out there, and maybe Shackleford.”

Dialed In, who was purchased as a yearling for $475,000 at the 2009 Saratoga select sale and broke his maiden at Churchill Downs on Nov. 12, has certainly shown himself to be resourceful.

Leparoux has given LaPenta his goggles after Dialed In’s races, and the owner said, “You can’t even see out of those goggles. The horse has been through a lot, and there’s very little that bothers him. And he’s got an explosive turn of foot.

“I said after the Holy Bull that he has more experience than a lot of the horses that have run seven or eight times. What I meant was, the horse has been behind, he’s been on the rail. You’ve never seen him finish a race without a ton of dirt on his face.”

Derby developments

Some of the jockeys who were named to ride this week include Garrett Gomez (Master of Hounds). Patrick Valenzuela (Comma to the Top). Calvin Borel (Twice the Appeal) and Mike Smith (Twinspired). Ramon Dominguez will ride Stay Thirsty.

Uncle Mo will get his final breeze Sunday in company with Stay Thirsty.

Valenzuela wound up on Comma to the Top after Corey Nakatani chose to ride Nehro, who worked five furlongs in 1:02.81 on Monday, despite very wet thunderstrom conditions at Churchill Downs.

Comma to the Top has a whopping 13 lifetime starts, but has never been ridden by Valenzuela.

Archarcharch had a very strong five-furlong work in 59.36 at Churchill on Friday. Decisive Moment worked in 1:01.46.

Trainer Graham Motion said that Wood winner Toby’s Corner will keep the blinkers on for the Derby, after having the equipment added for the first time, and Eddie Castro will keep the mount.

The colt is scheduled to work Sunday at Fair Hill training center in Virginia, then ship on Monday.

Motion had been reluctant to but the blinkers on because he was worried about Toby’s Corner becoming rank, but it actually had the reverse effect in the Wood.

“Going back to the Gotham, I think it was very much a learning experience for Eddie,” Motion said during Tuesday’s teleconference. “I think he did what he felt was the right thing to do, trying to get the horse settled in to what was an extremely slow pace.

“I thought about putting blinkers on him all year. I’ve been nervous about doing it for that very reason, that I didn’t want to make him rank. But, really, after that race I felt that I just had to try something, as far as the way he gets to looking around in the stretch. We put them on for the week leading up to the Wood, and he settled down in the morning, which I’ve never seen a horse do before.”

Oaks field

The field for Friday’s Kentucky Oaks at Churchill is expected to include Spinaway winner R Heat Lightning, Joyful Victory, Kathmanblu, Daisy Devine, Lilacs and Lace, Zazu, St. John’s River, Summer Soiree, Holy Heavens, Plum Pretty and Soive Voir Faire.

Other possibles include Bouquet Booth, Delightful Mary, Arienza, Royal Delta, Street Storm.

It’s unclear if Inglorious is being considered. The beaten Fair Grounds Oaks favorite worked for the first time in over a month on Monday.

Her Smile was purchased privately by Bobby Flay after her second place in the Comely, and has been sent to Todd Pletcher with the intent of running in the Oaks.

Haynesfield favored

On a relatively light weekend for graded-stakes action, Grade I Jockey Club Gold Cup winner Haynesfield (9-5) is the slight favorite over Soaring Empire in the Grade III Westchester at Belmont Park today.

Haynesfield, the New York-bred Horse of the Year, is making his 2011 debut after finishing up the track in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, then just missing by a head to long shot Jersey Town in the Cigar Mile last November.

Haynesfield is 5-1-0 in six career starts at Belmont.

Soaring Empire is 2-1 for what sets up as a prep for the Met Mile on May 30.

“We are looking ahead to the Met Mile,” trainer Cam Gambolati told the New York Racing Association. “It’s the race you want to win if you have an older horse. The Westchester is coming up really tough for a Grade III, but I think Soaring Empire is a tough horse.”

He has finished second to Tackleberry in two straight Grade II’s at Gulfstream Park.

The Westchester field also includes Schoolyard Dreams, at 15-1 the longest shot on the board. He was ninth in the Preakness last year for owner Tony Mitola of Saratoga Springs.

Picking up the slack

NYRA continues to seek ways to get bettors to the track, in the wake of the bankruptcy of New York City OTB.

MTA Long Island Rail Road service to Belmont Park was restored on Friday and will continue throughout the spring-summer meet, including extra service for the June 11 Belmont Stakes.

The service was eliminated in 2010 as one of a number of service reductions implemented by the LIRR to address the MTA’s $900 million budget shortfall.

NYRA had already beefed up bus service to Aqueduct, opened a simulcast cafe at Belmont, expanded simulcasting to seven days a week and offered incentives to coax bettors to sign up for the NYRA Rewards advance deposit wagering platform.

Not coincidentally, attendance, on-track handle and NYRA Rewards account wagering posted huge increases at the recently concluded Aqueduct winter/spring meet.

From Jan. 1-April 23, attendance was up 48 percent, compared to the corresponding period in 2010.

Total on-track handle (including money bet on simulcast races) was up 74.6 percent, to $144 million.

There was a $63 million decrease in wagering on NYRA races from the downstate OTB’s, but total all-sources handle (including money bet on simulcast races) during the Aqueduct meet was down only 4.2 percent.

NYRA wouldn’t have been able to pull off many of the customer service initiatives without the quick approval of the New York State Racing and Wagering Board.

Museum program

Capital Region handicappers and racing analysts Tom Amello, Nick Kling and Jeanne Wood will be featured in the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame’s annual Countdown to the Triple Crown program at 2 p.m. today.

The popular program in the museum’s Hall of Fame Gallery includes video highlights from important Derby prep races and an audience-driven discussion with the panel.

Admission is free, and each person in attendance will receive a complimentary issue of the Triple Crown past performances issue published by Daily Racing Form, a complimentary copy of the Thoroughbred Times’ Triple Crown Preview and a complimentary copy of the most recent edition of the Blood-Horse.

Around the tracks

Travelin Man is 7-5 for the Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial at Churchill Downs today, against a field that also includes Machen and J J’s Lucky Train.

Travelin Man romped in the Swale on April 3. . . .

The field for the competitive Grade III Miami Mile at Calder includes Mambo Meister and Jackson Bend. . . .

The undefeated and Group 1-winning Frankel, named after the late Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel, was listed at less than 1-2 by one British bookmaker in today’s 203rd running of the Two Thousand Guineas at Newmarket in England. . . .

In a reversal of fortunes, the 9-year-old Musketier won the Grade III Elkhorn at Keeneland on Friday, while long shot Telling was ninth.

In 2010, Telling won the Sword Dancer at Saratoga for the second year in a row, as Musketier was ninth. .­ . .

Jerome winner Adios Charlie may be pointed toward the Preakness.

“We’ll have to talk about it,” trainer Stanley Hough told NYRA. “I didn’t nominate him to the Triple Crown, but obviously the Preakness is a thought. There’s also the Peter Pan.” . .  .

A reduction in purse supplements by the New York Thoroughbed Breeding and Development Fund has forced Finger Lakes to cut nine of 13 stakes races from its 2011 schedule.

The NYCOTB bankruptcy removed over $3 million in wager-generated revenue from the NYTBDF.

Subsequently, the fund will only offer $280,000 in purse supplements, compared to $1.05 million last year.

The remaining stakes are the New York Derby on July 16, which serves as the second leg of the Big Apple Triple, the Lady Finger and Aspirant in September and the New York Breeders’ Futurity on Oct. 1.

Derby events

Saratoga Casino and Raceway will offer Kentucky Derby bar­becue buffets at both its Fortunes rest­aurant and Vapor nightclub.

The Fortunes buffet, with prime rib, runs from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. and costs $29.95 per person. Table reservations can be made by calling 581-5790. Each table will be equipped with its own TV mon­itor.

The Vapor buffet runs from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. and is $25 per person. Tickets can be purchased at sar­

The racing museum will host an inaugural Derby party from 4-8 p.m. to benefit the retired race­horses at Old Friends at Cabin Creek in Greenfield Center.

Dinner and cash bar is $60. RSVP by Sunday by calling 698-2377.

The museum also will also be offering a special Derby Day tour of the Oklahoma Training Track on Saturday.

This 90-minute walking tour is by reservation only, until 4 p.m. Wednesday, by calling 584-0400 (ext. 120) between 10 a.m.-4 p.m. The cost of the tour is $10 per person. No children under 10 will be permitted on the tour.

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