Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito saddled the 2,000th winner of his career Monday at Gulfstream Park, when Forever Plus registered a gate-to-wire victory in the second race
Nik Juarez, Zito's "go-to" jockey in the current meet, rode Forever Plus to victory in the 1 1/16 mile turf race for $16,000 claiming fillies 4-years-old and up. As the 3-1 favorite, she held on to win by a head over Vow Me Over.
Zito’s 2,000 career victories include a pair of triumphs in the Kentucky Derby (Grade 1) with Strike the Gold in 1991 and Go for Gin in 1994. He won the Florida Derby (Grade 1) with Ice Box in 2010 and with Dialed In in 2011.
Zito’s horses have earned nearly $110 million during a training career that began in 1972, when he saddled Palais for his first victory at Liberty Bell in Pennsylvania after serving as an assistant to John Campo and LeRoy Jolley.
"It feels great. It’s been a long journey. Thank God, were 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,” the 68-year-ol d Zito said following a ceremony in the winner's circle.