Nick Zito
Trainer Bios

Nick Zito

Born: February 6, 1948 in New York, N.Y.

Record at Keeneland

Total Wins: 140

Stakes Wins: 16

Career Firsts

First Grade 1 Win: 1986 Top Flight at Aqueduct with Ride Sally

First Stakes Win: 1977 Grey Flight at Aqueduct with Sylvan's Girl

First Graded Stakes Win: 1981 Stanford (G2) at Saratoga with Mayanesian

First Career Win: Dec. 20, 1972, at Liberty Bell with Palais

Starters in the Toyota Blue Grass


Year

Horse

Finish

2015 Frammento 4th

2008

Stevil

4th

2008

Cool Coal Man

9th

2006

Little Cliff

8th

2005

Sun King

4th

2004

The Cliff’s Edge

Won

2002

Straight Gin

4th

2001

A P Valentine

5th

2000

Bare Outline

5th

1999

Wondertross

6th

1998

Halory Hunter

Won

1997

Acceptable

2nd

1996

Louis Quatorze

2nd

1996

Diligence

5th

1995

Suave Prospect

2nd

1991

Strike the Gold

Won

At Keeneland


First Keeneland win came during the 1989 Spring Meet.

First Keeneland stakes win was the 1991 Blue Grass (G2) with Strike the Gold, who next won the Kentucky Derby (G1).

Also won the Toyota Blue Grass (G2) in 1998 with Halory Hunter and 2004 with The Cliff’s Edge when it was a Grade 1 race.

Leading trainer at Keeneland four times: 1997 Spring; 2003, 2004 (in a tie) and 2005 Fall.

Career


Inducted into the Racing Hall of Fame in 2005.

Triple Crown wins (5): Kentucky Derby (G1) – 1991, Strike the Gold; 1994, Go for Gin; Preakness (G1) – 1996, Louis Quatorze; Belmont (G1) – 2004, Birdstone; 2008, Da’ Tara.

Trained three Eclipse Award winners: 1996 champion 2-year-old filly Storm Song, 2003 champion 3-year-old filly Bird Town; and 2007 champion 2-year-old colt War Pass.

Breeders’ Cup wins (2): 1996 Juvenile Fillies with Storm Song; 2007 Juvenile with War Pass.

Trained 2003 champion 3-year-old filly Bird Town.

North American career earnings exceed $110 million with 2,020 wins through January 29, 2018.

2017 earnings were $1,217,771 with 22 wins.

Earned his 2,000th career victory on Feb. 16, 2017, when Forever Plus won the second race at Gulfstream Park. North American career earnings exceed $109 million.

2016 earnings were $977,682 with 22 wins.

2015 earnings were $1,014,497 with 15 wins.

2014 earnings were $1,682,257 with 29 wins, including the Swale (G2) with Spot.

Received the 2006 Mr. Fitz Award from the National Turf Writers Association.

Career-best year by earnings was 2005 when his stable earned $8,201,418 with such horses as Whitney (G1) winner Commentator, Wood Memorial (G1) winner Bellamy Road and Florida Derby (G1) winner High Fly.

Background


Nick grew up near Aqueduct in Queens, N.Y., and was 9 when he started going to the track with his father. Rules at the time prevented him from entering the grounds, so he’d spend the day with a security guard. Nick’s first job on the track was as a hotwalker while still a teenager. He became a groom for trainer Buddy Jacobson and worked for trainer Bob Lake. Nick was an assistant to trainer Johnny Campo for four years and to Racing Hall of Famer LeRoy Jolley before going out on his own in 1972 at the age of 24 with two horses.

In his Hall of Fame induction speech, Zito thanked by name members of his family, staff, racing officials, sportswriters, friends, veterinarians and owners he said had an impact on his career. “You can’t get into the Hall of Fame by yourself,” he said. “There's no way.”

Nick and his wife, Kim, are advocates for Thoroughbred aftercare.

On Feb. 16, 2017, at Gulfstream Park, Zito recorded the 2,000th victory of his career when Forever Plus won the second race.

"The way these young trainers win 4,000 and 5,000 (races), I feel like the oldest guy in Little League,” he said following a winner’s circle ceremony marking the milestone. “It feels great. It’s been a long journey. Thank God, we're probably at the top of the stretch, where we still have a quarter of a mile left. That’s what we’re trying to do, keep it going.”