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Apr 28, 2006

AMERICAN TURF CLUB LEAD

By: JOE GIRARDI


Well the time has come, the Kentucky Derby is almost here, all the preps are done we are just waiting for the gates to spring open. This year has a very interesting crop and will make for a very exciting Summer. The following is our top five for the Derby.

1.POINT DETERMINED- Hails from the always dangerous Bob Baffert barn and Baffert trained this one’s sire POINT GIVEN. POINT GIVEN won the Preakness and Belmont in very impressive fashion and has passed along his talent to his offspring. With two wins, three seconds and one third from three starts, POINT DETERMINED is getting better with each start and his most recent second place finish in the Santa Anita Derby may have been his best effort yet. He was up against it with a very slow pace of the winner Brother Derek yet he was still able to run down A. P. WARRIOR for the place spot. The further they go the better for this three year old and he has been working extremely well since the Santa Anita Derby. Another thing in his favor is that we all know that Baffert can get one ready to win the Run for the Roses.

2. BROTHER DEREK- Is a perfect three for three this year and should head into the Derby as the favorite. However there are a few knocks against him. He has been winning these races on the lead or close to the lead and with all the speed in the Derby he will have to rate or get used up early. Another knock on this one is that he has been getting some easy trips, most recently in the Santa Anita Derby when he cleared to the lead and got a half in 47:2 and never was headed. He will see plenty of pressure in the Derby if he tries to go to the lead or will have to run hard to establish good position. However, with all that being said he still has to be considered the best three year old until someone can beat him this year.

3. LAWYER RON-Is another who is undefeated this year at 4 for 4 but is another who has some early foot and will see more pressure in the Derby. He was able to come from off the pace a bit in the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn which can help him in the Derby and his most recent win in the Arkansas Derby was very impressive. He is hoping to follow the success of the last two Arkansas Derby winners in SMARTY JONES and AFLEET ALEX.

4. SWEETNORTHERNSAINT- Was a very impressive winner in the Illinois Derby last out exploding through the stretch to score by almost 10 lengths while not being asked for his best running. He also is another that possesses speed or tactical speed at the least and may be compromised by the pace in the Derby. However, if he is able to sit just off the leaders and make that run in the Illinois Derby he is going to be one tough customer.

5. STEPPENWOLFER- LAWYER RON has been his nemesis, he has lost to him three times in a row finishing second twice and finishing third once. He did make up good ground in the Arkansas Derby and closed well to finish second. The speed in the Derby will obviously help his cause but as always his trip and his ability to navigate the large field will depend on whether or not he can get the job done. He does have a solid closing kick and he should be running late at a good price.



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