It looks as though Dialed In, 3 year old winner of The Florida Derby and The Holy Bull Stakes, is scheduled to have surgery next week to repair a chip in his right knee. He will be out of training for a while but should be back in time for his 4 year old campaign. We certainly wish him the very best. Dialed In is owned by Robert LaPenta and trained by Nick Zito.
Robert LaPenta & Nick Zito are a team that, in my book, is the cream of the crop. They have been taking good care of horses and looking out for them for a long time. I am reminded about Little Cliff. The following is Little Cliff's story, as told by Ed DeRosa in The Thoroughbred Times.
Little Cliff, one of two horses owner Robert LaPenta named after the late turf writer and chartcaller Cliff Guilliams, was rescued from slaughter on March 11. Christy Sheidy, co-founder of Another Chance 4 Horses rescue in Bernville, Pennsylvania, discovered the five-year-old Gulch gelding in a direct-to-kill pen in New Holland, Pennsylvania. He had last raced in a $10,000 claiming race on March 1 at Philadelphia Park, finishing seventh of nine and earning $170 for owner LA Buzz Stable. Trainer Ramon Preciado had claimed the horse from Jimmy Moran Jr. for $10,000 on January 13.
Sheidy ran the gelding’s tattoo and had Diana Baker, formerly of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, pull a race record, which is when the connection to LaPenta and Racing Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito appeared. Zito’s wife, Kim, is involved in horse rescue efforts as well.
“Mr. LaPenta and Mr. Zito sent a very generous check to Christy that more than covered Little Cliff’s expenses,” Baker said. “We couldn’t have asked for a better or more generous response than what we received."
LaPenta purchased Little Cliff for $250,000 at the 2004 Keeneland September yearling sale and bought him back on a bid of $350,000 at the 2005 Fasig-Tipton Calder sale of selected two-year-olds in training. Little Cliff finished sixth behind eventual Grade 1 winners and Central Kentucky stallions Political Force and Flashy Bull in his second career start before winning his next two races by a combined 6 1/4 lengths to close out his two-year-old season. At three, he finished third in both the Leonard Richards (G3) and Sir Barton Stakes. He won three of 27 starts and earned $202,762.
Although Little Cliff had changed owners four times throughout his life before being rescued, one thing that followed him from Kentucky to New York to Florida to Pennsylvania were his Jockey Club papers, papers that Kim Zito had affixed with a white sticker that says, “If this horse needs a home when he retires, please call.” “The tragic part of this story is that Little Cliff had this sticker on his papers, and that breaks my heart because it proves that there are people in this industry who don’t give a darn,” Kim Zito said.
LITTLE CLIFF IMMEDIATELY AFTER HIS RESCUE
The sport of thoroughbred horse racing has a far piece to go when it comes to horse welfare, particularly with regards to retired race horses however, thanks to good people like Robert LaPenta, Nick Zito and his wife Kim one day horses will never have to suffer the cruel fate of the slaughterhouse.
Enchanted Jewelry & Collectibles...Dedicated To The Gypsy That Remains