SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. -- It would take only two minutes for trainer Nick Zito to
want to remember what has been a forgettable summer.
If A P Valentine could win Saturday's $1 million Travers, it would more than make
up for the fact that Zito is 1 for 47 at this meet.
"You're damn right, it makes the meet," said Zito, who ended Thursday on an
It made the 2000 meet for Carl Nafzger, whose only victory here last summer was
when Unshaded defeated the Zito-trained Albert the Great by a head in the
Zito admits to being frustrated this summer, with his only victory coming when The
Goo won on Aug. 6. Zito believes he has some bad racing luck, including in
Sunday's seventh race, when Governor Hickel, a first-time starter owned by Mary
Lou Whitney, finished third at 47-1.
"The straw that broke the camel's back was Sunday and Governor Hickel," Zito said.
"He should have won. He had plenty of gait, plenty of horse, then he's blocked,
Zito said there have been a handful of horses he felt should have won but may
have been victimized by poor rides. One horse who wasn't victimized by a poor ride
was A P Valentine, who finished a non-threatening fourth in the Jim Dandy.
That came off a two-month layoff after he had performed admirably in the Triple
Crown, finishing second in the Preakness and Belmont after a troubled seventh in
the Kentucky Derby.
Zito has often said that A P Valentine could be the best horse he has trained, but
the colt's 3-for-11 record belies that opinion. Still, Zito stands by his statement.
Zito said A P Valentine was following Monarchos when he had trouble in the Derby,
and that he could have been second with a clean trip. "Then that's not a bad
record, placing in all three Triple Crown races and winning the Champagne," he
"Let's say, for argument's sake, he's second in the Travers to Point Given. He still
may be considered a top horse because Point Given may be something else. So,
he's getting a bum rap in my book."
Zito believes A P Valentine will bounce back in the Travers and challenge Point
"That horse in the pen," said Zito, pointing to A P Valentine, "is going to give him
all he wants. He's going to test him to the fullest."