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Apr 16, 2010

Longshot Winners Muddle Kentucky Derby Picture

By: By Jeff Frank, Contributing Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The Kentucky Derby gained the services of three more runners last weekend as Line of David, Stately Victor and Paddy O'Prado all collected enough graded earnings to vie for the glory on the first Saturday in May.

Eskendereya, Lookin At Lucky and Sidney's Candy are the probable top three favorites, but after Mine That Bird pulled off the upset last year, it's not out of the question for history to repeat itself in 2010.

Once again, horses from California proved how easy a transition it is going from synthetics (or turf) to conventional dirt as Line of David went gate to wire to win the $1 million Arkansas Derby by a neck over Super Saver.

Line of David's three-length lead around the far turn diminished to just a short head with one furlong remaining, but the son of Lion Heart showed his toughness through the stretch repelling the challenges of both Super Saver and Dublin.

The 17-1 shot, who came into the race off a pair of turf victories at Santa Anita, finished the 1 1/8-miles in 1:49 1/5, only one tick slower than Papa Clem's victory in last year's race. However, unlike Papa Clem, who finished fourth in the '09 Derby, Line of David ran progressively slower in each additional quarter-mile, ending with his final three furlongs in a pedestrian 38 3/5 seconds. To that end, it's unlikely he'll be in contention through the Kentucky Derby stretch, so don't get too excited about his prospects for victory at Churchill Downs.

Super Saver, who came up a tad short in his second start off the layoff, should improve in the Derby, especially since he finally showed ability to rate. For those backing the Todd Pletcher-trained colt this past Saturday, it must have been a disheartening sight to see him not able to mow down the winner, but don't discount his chances at Louisville as this race could be a perfect setup for an in-the-money finish next time out.

Dublin finally had a trouble-free trip after ineffective rides in his two 2010 starts. However, it was very discouraging to see the son of Afleet Alex hang through the stretch for the second straight race.

Noble's Promise, who failed to break well from the gate and never threatened finishing a dismal fifth, was slightly injured at the start of the race and is 50-50 to move forward to Kentucky. The situation appears worse for Uh Oh Bango. The son of Top Hit will be sidelined through the fall with an injured cannon bone.

If Noble's Promise is a Louisville no-show look for Wood Memorial runner-up Jackson Bend to be in the Derby starting gate.


Stately Victor not only won the fastest Blue Grass since 2001, he dominated the nine-horse field by 4 1/4-lengths at odds of 40-1. It was an amazing feat for a horse that had compiled only one turf victory in seven prior races.

The son of Ghostzapper, although visually impressive, wasn't facing any top- notch thoroughbreds in the Blue Grass, almost akin to the Florida Derby, a race in which Ice Box rallied to win at 20-1.

Even though the two appear to be the top come-from-behind types in a race loaded with early speed, the fields they knocked off were two of the weakest of the year.

Paddy O'Prado, the second-place Blue Grass finisher, solidified his spot in the Derby, with $150,000 in graded earnings. However, the Dale Romans-trained colt packed it in rather quickly inside the final furlong of the 1 1/8-mile race so it's extremely doubtful he'll be able to handle the additional furlong on May 1.

As for the rest of the field, First Dude returned from a fifth-place spot in the Florida Derby to fill out the trifecta, but the Kentucky Derby will not be on radar as he comes up short with just $97,500 in graded earnings.

The favorite Interactif didn't seem to handle the Polytrack surface one bit. He sat a length in front of Stately Victor for much of the race and failed to fire his best shot through the stretch finishing fourth, beaten 6 3/4-lengths.

Three horses that definitely will not be on their way to Churchill Downs are Pleasant Prince, Aikenite and Odysseus. In addition, the only way Make Music for Me goes to Kentucky is if a couple of horses bow out between now and race day. One of those colts could be Interactif, as trainer Todd Pletcher said the son of Broken Vow is doubtful for the Derby.


If a few single entrants from Pool 3 do not move forward to Louisville, those who wagered on the "field" could wind up with seven or eight starters for the price of one.

Not only that, six of those horses won their final prep, taking down the winner's share of the purse in the Illinois, Sunland, Arkansas and Louisiana Derbies, along with the Blue Grass and Lane's End. Never in the brief history of the wager has the "all others" bet included so many graded stakes winners.

It's interesting to note that it will take well over $200,000 in graded earnings to make the field this year when a handful of horses ran in the 2009 Derby with less than $100,000.

Those figures are directly related to the quality of the 2010 three-year-olds as only three colts -Eskendereya, Sidney's Candy and Conveyance - have won back-to-back graded stakes at one mile or over. Last year there were 12 horses that either won or placed in more than one graded stakes, with seven finishing first on more than one occasion. Since so many different runners picked up first and second-place checks this year, the number of horses with exorbitant amounts of earnings has skyrocketed.


1) Eskendereya; 2) Sidney's Candy; 3) Lookin At Lucky; 4) Endorsement; 5) Super Saver; 6) Awesome Act; 7) Setsuko; 8) American Lion; 9) Dublin; 10) Ice Box; 11) Interactif; 12) Mission Impazible.

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