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Apr 04, 2008

Santa Anita Derby features 11 hopefuls


Arcadia, CA (Sports Network) - Colonel John, winner of the Sham Stakes, is the 2-1 morning-line favorite for Saturday's $750,000 Santa Anita Derby. A total of 11 three-year-olds have been entered in the 1 1/8 mile race leading to the Kentucky Derby.

Trained by Eoin Harty, Colonel John will start from post five with Corey Nakatani in the saddle. Nakatani has been aboard the colt in three of his first five starts.

"Eoin knows what I think of the horse," said Nakatani, who is winless in 12 tries in the Santa Anita Derby and has never won the Kentucky Derby in 12 attempts. "He knows I have the utmost confidence in Colonel John going into the Triple Crown races. I know how far he's developed and where he's at. I thought he was probably at 80-percent in the Sham, so he should move forward in the Santa Anita Derby. Eoin probably was on the same page as me going into the Sham, and then I got hurt. Fortunately, I got him back and I'm looking forward to the Santa Anita Derby and the Triple Crown races."

Colonel John, owned by WinStar Farm, won the Sham Stakes at 1 1/8 miles by a half-length over 7-10 favorite El Gato Malo. That was the three-year-old's third career victory in five starts with two seconds. He has earned $375,300.

Craig Dollase trains El Gato Malo for West Point Thoroughbreds and once again has given the riding assignment to David Flores. The 5-2 second choice will break from post eight.

El Gato Malo began the year with win in the San Rafael Stakes at Santa Anita and simply ran out of room in the Sham.

"He was sitting behind horses and had a little dirt in his face," Dollase said. "I think he did learn a lot from it. He was able to rate behind horses and finish, so we're taking steps in the right direction, I think."

The gelding has won three of four lifetime starts, including the Gold Rush Stakes at Golden Gate Fields, for $200,200.

Expected to set the pace on Saturday is Bob Black Jack, winner of the Sunshine Millions Dash. The colt, 6-1 in the program, will be ridden by Richard Migliore from post four.

In the Sunshine Millions, the three-year-old set a world record of 1:06.53 for six furlongs. He is coming off a third-place finish in the San Felipe Stakes behind Georgie Boy.

Here is the complete field for the 71st Santa Anita Derby in post position order: Yankee Bravo, Alex Solis, 4-1; Signature Move, Michael Baze, 30-1; Coast Guard, Joseph Talamo, 20-1; Bob Black Jack, Richard Migliore, 6-1; Colonel John, Corey Nakatani, 2-1; On the Virg, Tyler Baze, 15-1; Shore Do, Chantal Sutherland, 20-1; El Gato Malo, David Flores, 5/2; Polonius, Victor Espinoza, 10-1; Meetingwithdestiny, Joel Rosario, 30-1, and Rosso Corsa, Alonso Quinonez, 50-1.

All starters will carry 122 pounds

The Santa Anita Derby has a scheduled post-time of 5:45 p.m. (et) and will be televised on NBC.

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