TRIPLE CROWN RATINGS
Career Horse S 1 2 3 Earnings
1. Chief’s Crown 11 8 1 0 $1,101,682 2. Proud Truth 7 5 1 0 $375,197 3. Stephan’s Odysse 8 4 1 1 $739,635 4. Spend a Buck 11 7 2 2 $991,709 5. Tank’s Prospect 11 4 2 2 $823,445 6. Rhoman Rule 8 3 1 2 $193,928 7. Eternal Prince 8 4 2 0 $379,362 8. Banner Bob 11 6 3 1 $415,851 9. Skywalker 6 3 1 0 $330,700 10. Fast Account 11 2 5 1 $132,550
REMARKS: The last time a horse sprinted to a victory in the Kentucky Derby was 1976, when Bold Forbes won after running extremely fast for a half mile (:45 4/5) and six furlongs (1:10 2/5).
Based on the way they won their races Saturday, Eternal Prince and Spend a Buck are likely to follow Bold Forbes’ tactics at Churchill Downs on May 4. That prospect has buoyed the spirits of the trainers of Chief’s Crown, Proud Truth, Stephan’s Odyssey, Rhoman Rule and Tank’s Prospect, because they have colts who prefer to come from off the pace, which is the way the Derby is usually won.
“You can steal a race, but you can’t steal the Derby,” said Angel Penn Jr., the trainer of Rhoman Rule, after he finished third, five lengths behind the victorious Eternal Prince, in Saturday’s Wood Memorial at Aqueduct. The Derby is 1 1/4 miles, an eighth of a mile farther than the Wood, and Eternal Prince and Spend a Buck are given little chance of lasting at Churchill Downs if they hook up in a speed duel.
Spend a Buck’s time of 1:45 4/5--two-fifths of a second slower than Secretariat’s American record--in perspective, because the track at Garden State Park has been playing freaky fast. For example, $20,000 claiming horses ran six furlongs in 1:09 a couple of hours before Spend a Buck’s performance.
But Jorge Velasquez, who finished third, more than 15 lengths behind Spend a Buck, was still impressed with the winner’s race. “Forget the time. That doesn’t mean anything,” Velasquez said. “It was the way he did it. He won very comfortably.”
By 9 1/2 lengths over I Am the Game. Before the Garden State, Spend a Buck’s owner, Dennis Daz, and his trainer, Cam Gambolati, weren’t enthusiastic about going to the Derby, but as Gambolati said after the race, “If we didn’t go now, we’d look ridiculous.”
Garden State Park is offering separate $1-million and $2-million bonuses tied in with three 3-year-old races at its track and the Derby. Spend a Buck, who has already won the first two races in the Garden State series, is in a spot to win either one--he’d get $1 million with a win in the Jersey Derby on May 27 and could bank $2 million by winning both the Kentucky and Jersey Derbys.
Of the top contenders for the Kentucky Derby, Chief’s Crown has the kind of close-to-the-pace style that served Swale, Sunny’s Halo, Affirmed and Seattle Slew so well in their wins at Churchill Downs.
Chief’s Crown, returning to action from his off-again, on-again win in the Flamingo Stakes at Hialeah March 30, is scheduled to run Thursday at Keeneland in the Blue Grass Stakes, which has also drawn Banner Bob. After the 1 1/8-mile Blue Grass, the only Derby prep left is the mile Derby Trial at Churchill Downs Saturday, when Fast Account, second behind Skywalker in the Santa Anita Derby, is expected to run.
Laffit Pincay, who could have ridden Skywalker in the Derby, has instead chosen Stephen’s Odyssey, whom he rode to victory in the Lexington Stakes at Keeneland last week. Eddie Delahoussaye, who won consecutive Derbies with Gato Del Sol and Sunny’s Halo in 1982-83, has the mount on Skywalker.
“Eddie was one of several riders we considered,” Skywalker’s trainer, Mike Whittingham, said Monday, not naming the others. Delahoussaye rode Skywalker in the first race of the colt’s career, a win against maidens last Nov. 24. Delahoussaye will be at Churchill Downs Wednesday morning when Whittingham sends Skywalker through a mile workout.
Angel Cordero, who has won the Derby with Cannonade and Bold Forbes, has been Spend a Buck’s rider, but he may not make it to Churchill Downs May 4 because of a long-term commitment to ride Track Barron. Track Barron probably will run in the Carter Handicap at Aqueduct on Derby day.