For Zito, news is bad on The Cliff's Edge

Horse has foot problem

trainer to decide today on status for Saturday

Preakness notebook

Horse Racing

May 13, 2004|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

Nick Zito turned the corner from 2003 into 2004 with the strongest hand of any trainer pointing to the Kentucky Derby. Birdstone and Eurosilver headed many prognosticators' rankings.

But then, both horses got sick, ran poorly and missed starts. Birdstone made the Derby but lost a shoe and finished eighth. Eurosilver missed the Derby, and it cost Zito the horse. Mahmoud Fustok, Eurosilver's owner, took him from Zito five days ago and sent him to Carl Nafzger, a Kentucky trainer.

Yesterday, Zito received more bad news when The Cliff's Edge - third-stringer turned barn star - woke up stiff in his right front leg. The problem was in his foot, a bruise or an abscess, Zito said.

"When he came out of his stall this morning, we were shocked," Zito said. "We couldn't believe what we saw."

The problem might be related to the Kentucky Derby, when The Cliff's Edge lost both front shoes, Zito said. But the colt received new shoes last Wednesday and breezed Sunday at Churchill Downs.

"He never missed a beat," Zito said.

The Cliff's Edge was entered in the Preakness, but Zito said he'd like to decide today whether to run him. A veterinarian and blacksmith worked on the horse.

"He's minute-to-minute, not even day-to-day," Zito said.

Asked what chance he'd give The Cliff's Edge for making the race, Zito said: "If he has a good night and day, then it's 100 percent. If he doesn't, then it's zero percent."

List of arrivals

Smarty Jones led the parade of Preakness horses yesterday into Pimlico, as the stakes barn began filling up. Smarty Jones, the Kentucky Derby winner, arrived as well as Lion Heart, Derby runner-up; Borrego, 10th in the Derby; Eddington, third in the Wood Memorial Stakes, and Rock Hard Ten, third in the Santa Anita Derby.

Eight of the 11 Preakness entrants are at Pimlico. Tomorrow, last-minute entrant Song of the Sword will van down from Aqueduct, and Saturday, Water Cannon will van up from Bowie. Little Matth Man will arrive by van from Philadelphia Park tomorrow or early Saturday, said Marty Ciresa, his trainer.

Fogelsonger's ad

Ryan Fogelsonger, the popular Pimlico jockey, will wear a 98 Rock logo on his pants Saturday when he rides Water Cannon. Fogelsonger will be one of several jockeys wearing ads.

"They're trying to make me like the hometown hero," Fogelsonger said of the Baltimore radio station. "They're boosting me up a lot."

He said the station, which will broadcast Saturday from the infield, plans to lead the crowd in chants of "Fogey, Fogey, Fogey."

This will be Fogelsonger's second ride in the Preakness. He finished eighth last year with Cherokee's Boy, another Bowie resident.

Asked about Water Cannon's chances, Fogelsonger said: "I said the same thing with Cherokee's Boy last year. The only way to find out if he can run with these horses is to give him the chance. He is a nice horse. He deserves a shot."

Trained by Linda Albert, Water Cannon has won five straight, one of them at Pimlico. He also raced at Pimlico in his debut race last year, finishing third. He is the only Preakness entrant with a race over the Pimlico surface.

"He's going to need his very best effort," Albert said. "When you have a horse performing like this, and the race is at your home track, I think you should take your best shot. Opportunities like this don't come along every day."

`Southern' in Special

Southern Image, perhaps the best horse at Pimlico, is getting scant attention. He could join Pleasantly Perfect and Medaglia d'Oro at the head of the class of older horses with a victory tomorrow in the Pimlico Special.

A winner of five of six, the 4-year-old by Halo's Image won a pair of Grade I stakes at Santa Anita Park (the Malibu and Santa Anita Handicap) and a pair of $1 million races (the Santa Anita Handicap and Sunshine Millions Classic). He's overcome a pastern injury and bruised foot.

"I've got complete confidence in my horse going in," said trainer Mike Machowsky, former assistant to Richard Mandella. "He's training so well I'd be a little disappointed if he didn't win."

Book signing

Members of Sackatoga Stable, owner of Funny Cide, will sign copies of the new Funny Cide book at 7 p.m. today at Books-A-Million in Arundel Mills Mall, and from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. tomorrow at Pimlico. The book's title is Funny Cide: How a Horse, a Trainer, a Jockey, and a Bunch of High School Buddies Took On the Sheiks and Blue-bloods ... and Won.

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