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Mar 18, 2005

AMERICAN TURF CLUB LEAD

By: JOE GIRARDI


            This past weekend there were a few prep races leading to the

Kentucky Derby and some horses have fallen off the trail. The Fair Grounds, Bay

 Meadows and Santa Anita were host to three prep races that could have an

impact on the Derby Trail.

            At Bay Meadows, on Saturday March 12th, they hosted the El Camino Real

 Derby, a Grade II race for three year olds at 1 and 1/16th miles with a purse

 of $200,000. The slight favorite in the race was UNCLE DENNY, a California

 bred who had previously won three races from four starts, one of them by

D’Q. His most recent performance was a solid fourth in the Sham Stakes

behind GOING WILD. This win helps his resume but it would be hard to see

 this horse make any kind of impact on the Derby trail. The rest of the horses

 that finished behind him would have make huge strides to be considered

 for the Derby.

            Moving to the Fair Grounds on the same day they hosted the

Louisiana Derby, a Grade II at 1 and 1/16th miles with a purse of $600,000. Bobby

 Frankel had the slight favorite in the race in HIGH LIMIT who was undefeated

 in two prior starts, a maiden and allowance win. He had not run since October

 and was switched to trainer Frankel during that time. After breaking well, he

was sent right to the lead, led through moderate fractions and drew away late

 to score by four lengths. This race has obviously moved him up on the Derby

 Trail but he still has a lot to prove. This was not a very strong race, the moderate

 fractions made it very easy for him to draw away in the stretch and he still

hasn’t gone past the 1 and 1/16th mile distance. A horse that finished sixth,

SCIPION may be the one to follow out of this race. He closed with a rush to

 win the Risen Star on February 12th and he was hampered by the slow pace

up front. He was racing wide most of the race and never really made an impact

 but with a pace and more distance this long striding colt by A. P. INDY could

 be a major threat. VICARAGE held for second at 21-1 and STORM SURGE

 was third, it would seem that there would have to be further improvement to

 give either of those a shot on the first Saturday in May.

            There were two other Grade II races at the Fair Grounds on Saturday,

 the Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks and the New Orleans Handicap. In the Fair

 Grounds Oaks, a prep for the Kentucky Oaks for fillies, SUMMERLY the 1-2

 favorite was able to get away on a very very slow pace and score going away.

 The second choice, RUNAWAY MODEL finished an even third but was

hampered by the early pace. If SUMMERLY is going to have a shot in the

 Kentucky Oaks, she will have to face early pressure and it will be a test see

if she can still have the same kick late.          

            In the New Orleans Handicap Bobby Frankel continued his big day

with a wire to wire by BADGE OF SILVER. After setting very fast fractions,

BADGE OF SILVER was able to hold off the late charge of LIMEHOUSE,

who finished a clear second, five lengths ahead of SECOND OF JUNE. The

1 and 1/8th miles distance may be a bit too far for this son of SILVER DEPUTY

 and his best distance could be at a mile, if he stays healthy he will be a force

 at a variety of distances. His second place finish in the CIGAR MILE makes him

 a logical choice to run in the METROPOLITAN MILE at Belmont.

            At Santa Anita on Sunday March 13th, they hosted the Grade I Santa

 Anita Oaks, run at 1 and 1/16th miles with a purse of $300,000. This race

was basically a workout for the 1-5 favorite SWEET CATOMINE. After breaking

 from post one she settled in sixth early on, made a quick move to the lead

and drew away to score by three lengths while not being asked for her best.

The time of the race was 1:44:2 which was slow but the early fractions were

slow and this was only her second start of the year. She is expected to face

off against the boys in the Santa Anita Derby on April 9th and a big race there

 would seem that she would take a shot in the Kentucky Derby. The Santa Anita

Derby is a big step up from what she has been facing this year, and it would be

 her first time versus males. The road to the Derby has definitely begun.

           



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