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Apr 11, 2008

AMERICAN TURF CLUB LEAD

By: JOE GIRARDI


            On April 5th there was three “big preps” for the Kentucky Derby, the Wood Memorial, the Santa Anita Derby and the Illinois Derby.

            In the Wood Memorial two year old champion WAR PASS was making his third start of the season, the first one since his last place effort in the Tampa Bay Derby at 1-9. It was said that he may have been sick that week and he obviously didn’t handle the track. He had worked well leading into the Wood Memorial and was sent off as the 4-5 favorite over a field of eight other horses. The second choice in the race was the entry of COURT VISION and INNER LIGHT with the latter acting as a rabbit for the entry. After breaking a step slow, WAR PASS was quickly to the lead with INNER LIGHT right on his flank pushing him through a half mile in 46 flat. Holding the lead into the stretch WAR PASS was starting to tire and began to drift out, he had TALE OF EKATI in second with New York bred GIANT MOON racing in third. The mile time of the race was 1:38:2 and WAR PASS still held the advantage with TALE OF EKATI gaining on the inside. COURT VISION who got a perfect trip with a sharp early pace came with a wide run but didn’t have any kick late only managing third late. In the final 1/8th of a mile TALE OF EKATI was able to get up by a half length over WAR PASS in a final time of 1:52:1, the final 1/8th going in 13:4. Although he was pressed hard through the first half mile WAR PASS still held a clear advantage into the lane and couldn’t hold on in the slow final 1/8th of a mile. It would seem that WAR PASS probably couldn’t handle the Derby distance unless the pace in the race is soft which it is not expected to be. COURT VISION who was wide but got a perfect setup wasn’t really making up any ground late and would need an improved race in the Derby to be a factor.

            In the Santa Anita Derby there was large field of 11 with EL GATO MALO going off as the slight favorite at 8-5 over COLONEL JOHN (5-2) with YANKEE BRAVO (9-2) as the third choice and BOB BLACK JACK sent off as the 6-1 fourth choice, the rest of the horses in the race were all double digit odds. EL GATO MALO and COLONEL JOHN were coming out of the Sham Stakes where COLONEL JOHN got the best of his rival late. COLONEL JOHN got the best of EL GATO MALO again flying through the lane to get up for the win over BOB BLACK JACK by a half length with the pacesetter COAST GUARD holding on for third. YANKEE BRAVO was in a good spot at the top of the lane but didn’t have any kick when it counted checking in fourth and the favorite EL GATO MALO got off a bit awkwardly but quickly recovered, sat a good trip but when he came with his run he could only get into fourth before fading late for fifth. The final time of the race was a solid 1:48 flat over the cushion track and COLONEL JOHN was really running late and should have an impact in the Derby if he can take to a dirt track because all of his races have come over a synthetic surface.

            The final prep that was held on April 5th was the Illinois Derby, the shortest field and the weakest of the three preps quality wise. The favorite in the race was DENIS OF CORK who was undefeated in his first three starts with his most recent win coming in the Grade III Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn. ATONED who was second in the Tampa Bay Derby was sent off as the second choice with Z HUMOR, well beaten in both starts this year going off as the third choice. RECAPTURETHEGLORY broke well from the rail and went right to the lead, GOLDEN SPIKES chased throughout with Z HUMOR stalking the leaders from third. The three leaders raced 1-2-3 around the racetrack with RECAPTURETHEGLORY drawing away through the lane for the win in a reasonable time of 1:49. However, RECAPTURETHEGLORY had only one win to his credit before this race and was beaten in two allowance races since his narrow maiden win. Being by CHEROKEE RUN, the same sire of WAR PASS he will probably have distance limitations especially if the half mile goes quicker than 48:3 and will not have an impact in the Derby. The ones that finished behind them also leave a lot to be desired at this point with DENIS OF CORK easily the most disappointing. See you next week for the final “big preps” for the Derby.



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