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Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Blue Grass, Arkansas Derby Up Next

- Nick Zito turns his attention now to Sun King, who may be feeling a bit neglected with all the fuss over Bellamy Road’s win in the Wood. Traditionalists may favor this one over the rest of Zito’s because the Blue Grass would be his third prep, and takes place a more traditional three weeks before the Derby. He’ll also send Andromeda’s Hero out in the Arkansas Derby, and that one can make amends for his wet track 5th in the Lane’s End and also have 3 preps. This would not be the first time that Zito has had more than one contender in the Derby.

In 1999, Lukas trainees Cat Thief and Charismatic were 1-2 turning for home. Cat Thief was owned by Overbrook and Charismatic, the winner, was owned by Bob and Beverly Lewis.

``I'm standing there and they've got the camera on me,'' Lukas said. ``And I'm going, 'Cat Thief! Cat Thief!' And then I hesitated. And then I started saying, 'Charismatic! Charismatic!' I just switched right there in the stretch. Didn't even blink.'' [NY Times]

Also a bit forgotten is Frankel’s High Limit, who is the only unbeaten colt still on the Derby trail, and who linesmaker Mike Battaglia expects to make the morning line favorite. Frankel said of his win in the Arkansas Derby
"He couldn't have been at his very best coming off five months," Frankel said. "I know he was fairly fit, but I didn't drill him or anything. … This is going to be a big step up for him. But how good is he? I don't know."
[Louisville Courier-Journal] The trainer would love to see High Limit show the ability to sit behind a pacesetter, possibly Consolidator, or Spanish Chestnut, a surprise entrant for the race. "I'm thinking he can track a horse if he has to.....It's not his fault if he's been outrunning these horses, making the lead." Also expected for the Blue Grass is Bandni, Closing Argument, and Mr. Sword.

- Entries will be drawn for the Arkansas Derby today, and are expected to include Wild Desert, Andromeda’s Hero, Greater Good, Cat Shaker, Flower Alley, and Afleet Alex, who yesterday worked 4 furlongs in :46 3/5.
According to a report from trainer Tim Ritchey on the colt’s Web site, www. afleetalex. com, Afleet Alex had splits of: 12.60 for his first eighth of a mile,: 24.40 for a quarter-mile and: 35.20 for three-eighths of a mile. He galloped out five-eighths of a mile in: 58.60. [Arkansas Democrat Gazette]
Nice work. What to do with him from a betting perspective in this race, I have no clue.

- The Jockey Guild appealed to Illinois state officials to increase the minimum riding weight and to increase insurance coverage, but didn’t get any commitments at all.
Board members, including chairman Lorna Propes, said they sympathize with the jockeys' plight but fear that increasing the scale of weights in Illinois would put the state at a disadvantage in the competition for horses.....

On the issue of insurance, Arlington Park president Cliff Goodrich said tracks have offered to increase coverage for jockeys and exercise riders from $100,000 to $1 million while legislative modifications to the Workers Compensation laws are put in place to protect riders – but only if riders and horsemen agree to fund the increase.

..He said a proposal is on the table to split the higher cost $15 to the track, $5 to the horsemen and $4 to the jockey. But officials of the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association said their board rejected that proposal unanimously for several reasons, including the potential for added liability exposure as a partial funder of the insurance. [Bloodhorse]

- Andy Beyer tries to put Bellamy Road’s race into perspective.
Bellamy Road's victory in the Wood was one of the most stunning and authoritative performances ever delivered in a prep race for the Kentucky Derby.......He earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 120 -- the best performance in a Derby prep race since these numbers began appearing in print in 1991. It was better than the winning figure in any Triple Crown race during this period. And it was better than any horse of any age has earned in the United States this year.
Zito knows that his colt has moved into a special class by running the Wood faster than legendary thoroughbreds such as Easy Goer, Seattle Slew, Damascus and Bold Ruler. [Washington Post]