Day At The Track

Dynamic Youth sharp for Cito Jr. at Yonkers

06:00 AM 12 Aug 2017 NZST
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Dynamic Youth
Dynamic Youth who is 35-for-116 with $1,219,492 earned
Mike Lizzi Photo

YONKERS, N.Y. - Ever since harness racing trainer Aaron Lambert purchased Dynamic Youth out of the 2010 Harrisburg Yearling Sale, Carl Cito Jr. has been involved. He started with a small piece of the talented pacer and was along for the ride as the gelding won the Cane Pace and captured multiple New York Sire Stakes at 3, won an elimination of the Ben Franklin and placed in the Confederation Cup, Monument Circle, and Windy City Pace at 4, placed in the Hoosier Park Pacing Derby at 5, and again made the Ben Franklin Final at age 6. But as Dynamic Youth’s stakes days ran out, the other partners in the ownership group fled. Soon, Cito found himself taking on a bigger role with the pacer.

“I’ve always owned a small piece of him,” Cito explained. “As time went on and I ended up training him, some of the other guys were opting out; they were just into stakes horses. I acquired more of a share of him and now I own half of him with my partner Chris.”

Cito trains, drives, and owns the Dynamic Youth in partnership with Chris Giaccio. The two met by chance and although Cito was reluctant to take on the new owner, eventually, they began partnering on horses.

“I actually met (Chris) through the judges when Cammie Haughton was the presiding judge. He went into the office and asked for some recommendations for trainers and I was on the list,” Cito recalled. “The guy just called me and I wasn’t really taking owners at the time, it was just my own horses. But I kind of became friendly with him and we got some horses together and have ever since. It’s probably been about six or seven years now.”

Dynamic Youth trains at Cito’s private farm in Jackson, New Jersey along with Cito’s four other horses. Cito and his wife, Natalie, know just how lucky they are to work with the accomplished  son of Bettor’s Delight, who is 35-for-116 with $1,219,492 earned.

“You can’t ask for a better racehorse. Good manners, good personality, a lot of class. He’s got track records at probably two or three different tracks,” Cito said. “He’s just a class, class horse. You can’t ask for a better horse to be around. He really has no bad habits, which is rare.

“My wife is the one who goes out and feeds him, gives him apples and carrots. He’s just a nice horse and they don’t come around like him very often. He’s special.”

At age 8, Dynamic Youth is still in top form. He’s 3-for-15 this year racing primarily at Yonkers and finished third in the $55,000 Open Handicap Pace July 29. With Cito in the sulky, Dynamic Youth rode a pocket trip behind Great Vintage after stretching his rival out through a :26.3 opening quarter. Although Dynamic Youth was raging with pace, Cito had to take up behind Great Vintage, who tired badly with a furlong to race. Meanwhile, odds-on favorite Evenin of Pleasure enjoyed a perfect second-over trip.

“The whole outer tier, Evenin of Pleasure and George (Brennan) got the jump on all of us,” Cito explained. “I actually came to a very, very slow pace at that time and when he hit the passing lane, he just charged. His last eighth was very fast. If he would have gotten me to the top of the lane, I think I would have won. The horse I was following finished last. My momentum was stopped.”

Cito has driven Dynamic Youth in all 25 of his pari-mutuel starts since taking over the gelding’s training in April 2016. One of the few owner-trainer-drivers remaining in the sport, Cito’s days as a catch-driver in the 1990s motivate him to drive his own stock. A winner of 1071 career races, Cito only gave up driving full time after a series of accidents forced him to the sidelines.

“I did the catch driving thing back in the 90s. I just basically drove for other guys. Then I had a couple of bad wrecks and I just started training and I did that for another 10 or so years, then I started doing both again. When I get the itch, I drive, when I don’t, I don’t.”

Driving his own stock, the five stabled at his farm and a few others stabled with their owner in Colts Neck, New Jersey, gives Cito more insight about his horses. Cito says Dynamic Youth is a perfect horse to drive.

“He’s a horse you can drive with no handholds. You rev him up, he can leave the gate :26.0, but he can go a quarter in 35 seconds. He doesn’t even wear ear plugs. He’s just a pleasure to drive,” Cito described. “It’s very rare to get a top horse like that who just does what you tell him to do. When he’s sharp like he is now, he can get a little aggressive, but he’s just a perfect horse to drive and he always was. Everyone who ever drove him said that.”

Dynamic Youth will start from post one in Saturday night’s $55,000 Open Handicap Pace at Yonkers Raceway. He is a 12-1 morning line in a loaded field. Bit Of A Legend will make his first start since winning the Joe Gerrity Jr. Memorial Pace at Saratoga, but will start from post eight at odds of 4-1. Somewhere In L A is 7/2 from post six while last week’s Open winner Luck Be Withyou will start just to his inside as the 3-1 favorite. A winner two weeks ago, Evenin of Pleasure was assigned post seven and is 8-1. P H Supercam, Polak A, and Sunfire Blue Chip complete the field.

“It’s definitely one of the toughest Opens this year so far at Yonkers with all them good horses in there at once,” Cito remarked. “They’re all pretty sharp right now. They’re all pretty good horses in there, but he’s not going to embarrass himself. He’ll hold his own for sure.”

From the inside, Cito hopes to work out another garden trip. He will look to leave along the pylons and drop in behind the leader in a race that figures to feature plenty of early speed.

“You leave hard and then you see who’s coming. If it’s not a good one, you try to seat them behind you and follow the next one that’s coming and roll on. His best race is on the front, but it’s hard to cut a mile. I can’t imagine nobody’s going to be leaving in that race. We’ll just try and follow the best one we can and hope he takes me to the top of the stretch.”

As Cito continues to race Dynamic Youth at the top level of competition, he is acknowledges the special opportunity he has been afforded to not only own a horse of this caliber, but to work closely with him, too.

“We’ve been fortunate to have him and have him stay healthy all this time and have him still able to compete with these horses at 8 years old. I’ve only had one other one that made $1 million that I’ve trained from the get go and they don’t come along very often.

“The horse always shows up and if he doesn’t, there’s usually a reason. Not just because he throws a clunker. He doesn’t usually do that. And you get to know his quirks as far as what his routine is during the week. How hard to train him, how hard not to train him, if you train him at all. Sometimes I don’t even train him. Sometimes I just jog him and he seems to like that. I’ve just been lucky to have him.”

First post time Saturday night at Yonkers is 7:10 p.m. Click here to view entries for Saturday’s races.

Brandon Valvo for the SOA of NY

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