American Turf Magazine
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Apr 12, 2004


By: Joe Girardi

            The Derby is only three weeks away and we have one more big week of Derby preps left, April 10th.

The Blue Grass, Arkansas Derby and the Wood Memorial will round out the major preps and hopefully clear

the picture up a little bit before the first Saturday in May.

            The Illinois and Santa Anita Derbies were run on April 3rd and both of these races had an impact on the

Kentucky Derby.

            At Hawthorne Park in the Illinois Derby there was a large field of 11 horses but there were only three

horses that were not double digits in odds. Those three horses ran 1-2-3 with the third horse SUAVE, easily

defeating the fourth place finisher by more than eight lengths. The winner POLLARD’S VISION, led the field

gate to wire to score by almost three lengths in a reasonable time of 1:50:4 for the 1 and 1/8th miles. The fractions

of the race were honest enough but the quality of the field leaves a lot to be desired. The place finisher was

SONG OF THE SWORD, who had come into the race undefeated, made a move on the turn but could not get to

the leader. He settled for second with 2 and ¾ lengths back to the third place finisher.

            It would be tough to see POLLARD’S VISION doing any damage in the Derby considering his sire

CARSON CITY is not one to get a horse to go 1 and ¼ miles and will definitely see more pressure on the front end.

SONG OF THE SWORD was losing ground at the end of this race and is another that will be hard pressed to make

an impact in the Derby; the rest of the field is not worth talking about right now.

            The Santa Anita Derby was supposed to help clear the Derby picture up a bit with WIMBLEDON and

ST AVERIL, co choices stepping forward and making their mark. However, instead of stepping forward and putting

themselves at the top of the list they took a step back and finished fifth and sixth, respectively in a seven horse

field. WIMBLEDON showed more early foot in the Santa Anita Derby but had no horse and backed up readily

while ST AVERIL never lifted a hoof while breaking from the outside post.

            The winner of the race was a 30-1 longshot named CASTLEDALE. This Ireland bred had one career dirt

start and that came in the San Rafael when he finished an even sixth. He did however show a few solid works on

the dirt but other than that there was nothing to go on. The second place finisher was ROCK HARD TEN who was

two for two in his career and was making his first start at the 1 and 1/8th mile distance. This well bred 3YO by KRIS S.

out of a MR. PROSPECTOR mare is a very large horse and still has some greenness to him. He was right up on the

pace but could not finish it off getting beat by a head at the wire despite bearing in late causing a D’Q from second

to third. The third place finisher IMPERIALISM was most effected by ROCK HARD TEN and he was rightfully put

up for second. It didn’t appear that he would have won the race but he may have finished closer up. It also appears

that he is better off when he can make his run on the outside as opposed to running up the rail. Depending on what

post position he gets in the Derby if he runs will determine his chances. A post that will allow him to settle and make

that one run on the outside will be beneficial. He will definitely be one to watch on Derby day if he can get

that scenario.       

            ROCK HARD TEN is another to watch on Derby Day if he can make it there. The earnings might have an impact

on whether or not he can race but if he does he will also have a big chance. CASTLEDALE needs to prove that his

last race was not a fluke and still has more to do before he can be considered a top contender.

            Next week we will review the Big three preps and start to give further analyses as we draw closer to

the Derby.

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