ELMONT, N.Y. -- Six times since 1996 Nick Zito has run multiple horses in the Belmont Stakes. It looks like the Hall of Fame and two-time Belmont winning trainer is about to do it again.
Already pointing the Kentucky Derby runner-up, Ice Box, to the 142nd Belmont Stakes here on June 5, Zito appears to have another bullet to fire in Fly Down, who rolled to a six-length victory in Saturday's Grade 2, $200,000 Dwyer Stakes at blustery Belmont Park. Drosselmeyer, the 3-5 favorite, could do no better than second, 1 3/4 lengths ahead of Remand. Soaring Empire, Carnivore, Turf Melody, and Codoy completed the order of finish.
The victory was the third from five starts for Fly Down, who bounced back from a troubled-trip ninth-place finish in the March 27 Louisiana Derby to capture his first stakes victory.
"We thought he was going to be one of our best 3-year-olds," Zito said from Kentucky, where he watched the race via simulcast. "Twice he hooked up with First Dude, who's not a bad horse. In Louisiana, he was steadied and he didn't handle that track. Time pays off."
Zito said that if Fly Down has a good month, he would run in the Belmont Stakes. He will need a new rider, however, as Jose Lezcano, who guided Fly Down to victory Saturday, is committed to ride Ice Box for Zito.
In the Dwyer, Lezcano had Fly Down last of seven early on just outside of Drosselmeyer, who finished nearly six lengths ahead of Fly Down in the Louisiana Derby. Fly Down was only about five lengths off of Carnivore, the pacesetter who ran a half-mile in 47.70 seconds with a fierce wind in his face.
Approaching the three-eighths pole, Lezcano launched a five-wide bid and set sail after Soaring Empire, a stalker who had taken the lead at the quarter pole. Fly Down passed Soaring Empire straightening away in the stretch and, despite, switching to his incorrect lead in the last sixteenth, Fly Down came home a handy winner. Fly Down, a son of the 2003 Horse of the Year, Mineshaft, covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.25 and returned $9.20 as the second choice.
Fly Down is owned by Richard Pell, a money manager based in New York, who broke into the Thoroughbred business in 2008.
"Nick Zito said he always trained like a professional from day one," Pell said. "He kept saying, "Richard, this is a horse for the Belmont . . . He wants to run all day."
Zito won the Belmont in 2004 with Birdstone, and also finished third that year with Royal Assault. In 2008, Zito ran 1-3 with Da' Tara and Anak Nakal, who dead-heated for third. Zito also ran multiple entries in 1996, 1999, 2005 and 2009.
According to jockey Kent Desormeaux, Drosselmeyer slipped coming out of the gate.
"He slipped bad the first jump, just spun his wheels behind," Desormeaux said. "He's fast, but he needs to show his speed and break them down earlier in a race, and I didn't get that ability."
Bill Mott, the trainer of Drosselmeyer, said he would still like to run the colt in the Belmont Stakes if the owners, WinStar Farm, are amenable. Of course, that could be contingent on whether the Kentucky Derby winner, Super Saver, also owned by WinStar, wins the Preakness.