By Ashley Herriman | 04/16/2010 03:35 PM ET
After drawing away to a 4 ½-length maiden victory Friday afternoon at Aqueduct Racetrack, Zio Tony joins NYRA’s “New York Watch” series, which shines the spotlight on promising colts and fillies that have recently cleared the maiden and allowance ranks at Aqueduct Racetrack, Belmont Park, or Saratoga Race Course.
Making his second start in a $40,000 maiden contest, Repole Stable’s Zio Tony raced comfortably on the rail in fourth position through a quarter mile in 22.83 before angling out three-wide on the turn to challenge favored Avenging Spirit for the lead. Taking over in midstretch, the son of Tiznow easily drew clear of his pursuers despite racing greenly through the stretch.
Sent off as the 5-2 second choice in the field of eight, Zio Tony returned $7.80 for a $2 win bet. His final time for the seven furlongs was 1:23.27.
In his only previous start, Zio Tony finished second, 3 ¾ lengths behind Triple A. Rating in a six-furlong maiden race at Aqueduct on March 27. Triple A. Rating was previously featured in the “New York Watch” series.
“He really beat a couple of nice colts today,” said winning owner Mike Repole. “He got a great pace setup, but he won by almost five lengths, green and easy, which is pretty exciting. I thought he would run well today, and I knew the extra furlong from his first start would help. I think seven furlongs is just a warm-up for him, though.”
Zio Tony was a $55,000 purchase at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale in 2008.
His sire, 2000 Horse of the Year Tiznow, was a two-time winner of the Breeders’ Cup Classic (2000, 2001) who earned nearly $6.5 million over a 15-race career. His dam, American Dynasty, was a three-time stakes winner who retired with eight wins from 33 starts and won on both dirt and turf at distances ranging from six furlongs to 1 1/16th miles. She is the dam of six foals, four of whom have now started and won.
Zio Tony’s second dam, Northern Dynasty, is a half-sister to three stakes winners and has produced four stakes winners and five stakes-placed runners.
“He’s a horse that shows a lot more in the afternoon than he does in the morning,” trainer Mike Hushion said of Zio Tony. “None of his works would lead you to believe that he would run the way he has in his last two races, but it’s always nice to get surprised like this. It sure looks like he wants to go farther and we’ll certainly try to stretch him out next time.”
Repole names many of his horses after family members and friends, and Zio Tony is no exception. Zio means “uncle” in Italian and Repole does, in fact, have an uncle named Tony, who lives in Italy.
“It’s really a joke,” Repole explained. “My uncle Tony has two kids, and both have had sons, but neither one of them named a son after him. So I said, ‘Don’t worry, Uncle Tony, I’ll name a horse after you.’”