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Monday, March 07, 2005

Checking the Derby Scene

OK, let’s sum up, what do we got here?

- Declan’s Moon remains the consensus favorite for the Derby after his convincing win on Saturday. Bill Finley in the Times says he has “no weaknesses” and that he “gives every indication that he is on track for a strong performance on Kentucky Derby day.” The NY Post notes that his gallop out was not impressive (well, it was his first start in four months and he was 3 wide on both turns so maybe he had a right to be tired?) and that he wore front bandages for the first time (HRTV reported before the race that trainer Ron Ellis put them on because of the moisture on the track), Jockey Espinoza:

"All the way around this horse felt very strong. I could feel he was stronger than the rest of the field, so I just waited as much as I could. As soon as he switched leads and turned for home I just let him go. I kind of rode him a little bit, nothing hard. I just want him to learn to finish up like always."[Bloodhorse]
Ellis wondered whether Gary Stevens, on Spanish Chestnut, purposely floated his colt wide on the first turn, which is exactly what he did to Saint Liam in the Big Cap; he's a race rider. Next start: the Santa Anita Derby on April 9; the two-prep plan.

- Runners-up Spanish Chestnut and Going Wild also headed for the SA Derby.

- Trainer Tim Ritchey labeled Afleet Alex 80 to 90 percent fit Saturday [Arkansas Democrat Gazette] for his 106 Beyer win at 6 furlongs. He’ll wheel back for the Rebel in two weeks, where he should face Rockport Harbor and Greater Good, and will be ridden for the first time by John Velasquez. He also wore front wraps for the first time, and Ritchey said the move was simply for precaution and protection". [Daily Racing Form].

- Lost in the Fog, who proved he can sit behind the pace, will have his Derby nomination paid and head for the Florida Derby April 2.

- Don’t Get Mad worked 6f in 1:14, tuning up for the San Felipe on March 19, where he’s expected to face BC Juvenile winner Wilko, on the two-prep plan, Lukas’ Consolidator, and possibly Roman Ruler. Fusaichi Rock Star, winner of the San Vicente will not go due to an illness, according to TDN.

- Galloping Grocer worked 5f in 1:00 3/5 and, according to the Thoroughbred Daily News, galloped out 6f in 1:14. He’s pointing to the one-turn Gotham on March 19.

- Nick Zito warrants his own Derby Watch section. High Fly is possible for the Florida Derby, as well as Noble Causeway. Andromeda’s Hero ("He got a very low Beyer (speed figure) [for the Sam Davis at Tampa], but the (handicapping) sheet people tell me it was tremendous, that you can't do what he did.") to the Lane’s End at Turfway March 26; Sun King to the Tampa Bay Derby 3/19 and then to the Blue Grass April 16. [Louisville Courier-Journal]

- This weekend has the Louisiana Derby, with Scipion, Kansas City Boy, and the mysterious High Limit coming from Frankel. The latter could throw a wrench into everyone’s Derby list. Scipion worked a mile in 1:41 at Santa Anita. This Sunday is the Santa Anita Oaks for Sweet Catomine, who is widely expected to aim for the SA Derby should she run as expected against the girls.

- OK, got it?

- Afleet Alex created a minus show pool of over $102K Saturday, but Oaklawn did not bear the entire cost.
..because breakage — both positive and negative — is allocated throughout Oaklawn’s entire simulcast network using a pro-rated formula, the biggest loser Saturday was the New York Racing Association, which contributed 44 percent of the winning show wagers on the Mountain Valley..[Arkansas Democrat Gazette]