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Nick Zito      

Thoroughbred Horse Trainer

Nick Zito grew up near Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens, New York ... He went to the track with his father when he was about nine years old, but rules at the time prevented him from entering the grounds so he'd spend the day with a security guard. In his induction speech for the Hall of Fame on Aug. 8, 2005, Zito said he was impressed by the sights and sounds of the track. "Of course, it got into my blood. Later, I jumped over the fence. It was a Saturday and at Aqueduct there were a lot of huge crowds. There were so many people that they couldn't catch me. Watching those great horses run, I just never lost that feeling. Not jumping over the fence, but watching the great horses run. What a feeling I got when I saw those owners in the walking ring. It was scary, looking at those great people and those great horses. I knew that was what I wanted to do, that was my life. But it was hard work and I had to find a way to get into that paddock." Zito's first job on the track as a teen-ager was as a hotwalker. He moved on to become a groom for trainer Buddy Jacobson and then worked for trainer Bob Lake. Zito was an assistant to trainer Johnny Campo for four years and was an assistant to Hall of Famer LeRoy Jolley before going out on his own in 1972 at the age of 24 with two horses.

Zito's first winner was Palais at Liberty Bell Park in Philadelphia in December 1972 He developed a claiming stable in the 1970s. In the mid-1980s Zito began having success in stakes races; scored first graded stakes victory with Mayanesian in the 1981 Sanford Stakes at Saratoga Race Course The key horse in building Zito's reputation as a top stakes trainer was the colt Thirty Six Red. He selected Thirty Six Red for $92,000 at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale in 1988 for owner Giles Brophy. Thirty Six Red won the Wood Memorial Stakes in 1990 and ran second in the Belmont Stakes and third in the Breeders' Cup Classic Won the Kentucky Derby in 1991 with Strike the Gold and again in 1994 with Go for Gin Won the Preakness Stakes in 1996 with Louis Quatorze ... The same year, Storm Song won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies and was voted 2-year-old filly champion Won 2003 Kentucky Oaks with Bird Town for legendary owner and socialite Mary Lou Whitney

In 2004, Bird Town's half brother Birdstone upset the Belmont Stakes to deny Smarty Jones the Triple Crown Zito came to the 2005 Kentucky Derby with five starters for five different owners including post-time favorite Bellamy Road ... Other grade 1 winnersAgincourt, Albert the Great, A P Valentine, Chelsey Flower, Commentator, Greenwood Lake, High Fly, In the Gold, Ride Sally, Star Standard, Stephen Got Even, The Cliff's Edge, and The Groom Is Red Has won more than 145 stakes races, including the Commonwealth Breeders' Cup with Sun King and the Brooklyn Breeders' Cup Handicap with Wanderin Boy this year

Through Oct. 8, his stable had earned $3,878,186 to rank 14th ... In his Hall of Fame induction speech, Zito thanked by name members of his family, staff, racing officials, sports writers, friends, veterinarians and owners he said had an impact on his career. "You can't get into the Hall of Fame by yourself. There's no way." ... He and his wife take an active role in the rescue and retirement of Thoroughbreds.

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Post Belmont with Nick Zito
added over 6 years ago
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Nick Zito
added over 6 years ago

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