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Apr 03, 2009

The Pamplemousse and Pioneerof the Nile head Santa Anita Derby


Arcadia, CA (Sports Network) - The Pamplemousse and Pioneerof the Nile, California's top two Kentucky Derby contenders, head a field of ten for Saturday's $750,000 Santa Anita Derby at Santa Anita Park. The 1 1/8 mile race is the final West Coast prep for the Run for the Roses.

The Pamplemousse has been made the 9-5 favorite over Pioneerof the Nile who is 2-1. Alex Solis will again ride The Pamplemousse from the far outside post. Pioneerof the Nile will break from post four with Garrett Gomez back in the saddle.

Trained by Julio Canani, The Pamplemousse is the winner of three of five career starts for $209,280. The winner of his last three starts, the gray colt is coming off a victory in the Sham Stakes after claiming the San Rafael Stakes at Santa Anita.

One of the owners is Alex Solis II, son of the horse's jockey. The younger Solis selected the colt out of last year's Ocala Breeders' two-year-olds in training sale for a sum of $150,000, The elder Solis is a finalist for induction into Racing's Hall of Fame.

Pioneerof the Nile has four wins in seven career starts for owner Zayat Stables, with a bankroll of $784,200. He won the Robert B. Lewis Stakes in February and followed that by taking the San Felipe at Santa Anita.

"We're learning more about him," trainer Bob Baffert noted. "When he's covered up, he's pretty good. When you've got him in the open, he takes off. The Santa Anita Derby is going to be a good race. The Pamplemousse is quick and he's fast. We're fast, too, but he'll have a little bit of an edge on me here, but we're looking at the big picture."

Northern California's leading three-year-old Chocolate Candy has drawn the inside post with Joel Rosario picking up the ride. Rosario was aboard in October when the colt won for the first time. Russell Baze rode Chocolate Candy to victories in both the El Camino Real and California Derbies

"My connections prefer to use riders who are familiar with the course," trainer Jerry Hollendorfer explained. "That's why we use Russell up here (Golden Gate Fields) and will use Rosario in the Santa Anita Derby."

Owned by the Craig Family Trust, Chocolate Candy has won half of his eight career starts for $382,500. He finished third to Pioneerof the Nile in the CashCall Futurity in December.

"We'll be overlooked," said Hollendorfer assistant trainer Dan Ward. "I can't worry about the other horses in the race. I just worry about us."

Here is the complete field for the Santa Anita Derby in post position order: Chocolate Candy, Z Day, Unbridled Roman, Pioneerof the Nile, Mr. Hot Stuff, Feisty Suances, Take the Points, Cape Truth, Gallant Son, and The Pamplemousse.

The Santa Anita Derby will be televised on NBC with a scheduled post-time of 5:30 p.m. (et).

Sunday Silence in 1989 was the last Santa Anita Derby winner to capture the Run for the Roses.

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