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Shalala Meets Shalala

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    President Donna E. Shalala meets her namesake thoroughbred, held by trainer Own Conol.

    President Donna E. Shalala meets her namesake thoroughbred, held by trainer Owen Conol.

    By Maya Bell
    UM News

    BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. (January 16, 2014) — Fresh from her first trip to the winner’s circle at Gulfstream Park, the thoroughbred Shalala marked another triumph this month—meeting her namesake, University of Miami President Donna E. Shalala.

    Truth be told, the president’s January 14 visit to the Hurricane Boys Racing Stable at Palm Meadows Training Center in Palm Beach County was a bigger thrill for her than for the filly, who is accustomed to being amid greatness. After all, the four-year-old belongs to UM alum Alex Zito, B.B.A. ’04, M.B.A. ’06, and his dad, Nick Zito, the legendary Racing Hall of Fame trainer who’s won the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes twice and the Preakness once.

    The younger Zito and his wife, Erin Vayo Zito, B.S. ’04, M.B.A. ’07, who met at UM, wear their ‘Canes pride plainly on their sleeves, er, saddles. Every jockey who rides a Hurricane Boys horse is clad in orange, green, and white, and every horse fully owned by their stable is named for a legendary ’Cane, past or present.

    Shalala with Hurricane Ray

    Racing Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito and son, Alex, are thrilled President Shalala toured their stable, where she also met Hurricane Ray, the thoroughbred named after football great Ray Lewis II.

    “We usually have males, but since we got a female it was a no-brainer,” he said. “It had to be Shalala. She comes from good blood.”

    While Shalala the horse was her usual nonchalant, frisky self as Shalala the president toured the stable, the Zitos were thrilled to introduce the pair—especially given the filly’s January 9 win by half a length in Gulfstream’s seventh race.

    “The timing couldn’t have been better,’’ said Alex Zito, who noted the horse’s first trip to the winner’s circle was at New York’s Aqueduct last April. “Now she’s won on the two most prestigious tracks in the country.”



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