- Brother Derek, established as the 6-1 Derby favorite by the Form’s Mike Watchmaker, solidified that status with what seems to have been a fairly spectacular six furlong workout on Thursday. His time of 1:12.20 was not only the fastest of 23, but was two full seconds faster than anyone else. In addition, he was well off the rail, and, according to the Form, well within himself through the final quarter-mile. One trainer watching from the grandstand caught Brother Derek's final furlong in 11.80 seconds.
"It looked like he went in 1:15," trainer Dan Hendricks said. "He seems to be slowly coming up to his best.And that’s the trick, to have him at his best not next Saturday, when he runs in the Santa Catalina, but a full two months after that. Amongst his opponents is expected to be Latent Heat. He’ll go straight to stakes company off his maiden win, as no suitable allowance races have filled. Though he feels he really has no other option, Frankel, always quick with facts and figures, defended the move:
When asked about Latent Heat's lack of experience going two turns, Frankel shrugged it off, reminding everyone that Medaglia d'Oro also did it back in 2002, going from a maiden win to capture the San Felipe Stakes, also a mile-and-a-sixteenth race. [NY Daily News]- As a half-hearted Mardi Gras gets under way in New Orleans, construction is well under way at the Fair Grounds with an eye towards reopening for its 2006-07 meeting. Track president Randy Soth said that obtaining an insurance policy is the main issue at this point, as the facility is expected to be ready for the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival this spring.
One part of the track that is not being built, however, is the slots parlor which generated so much angst and controversy, all of which was washed away by Katrina. Still, Soth expects that horsemen will not be disappointed by the purses.
Even without slots, Soth said purses at the 2006-07 meet would be large. "The (off-track betting) business has been fabulous," he said. "A very cursory analysis of what kind of purse level we'd be looking at is right around $300,000 per day."
At the last Fair Grounds meeting held in New Orleans, in 2004-05, purses averaged $267,784 per day. [New Orleans Times Picayune]