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TRIPLE CROWN RATINGS

Career Horse S 1 2 3 Earnings 1. Chief’s Crown 12 9 2 0 $1,245,622 2. Proud Truth 8 5 2 0 $453,927 3. Stephan’s Odyssey 8 4 1 1 $739,635 4. Spend a Buck 11 7 2 2 $991,709 5. Tank’s Prospect 10 3 2 2 $582,795 6. Eternal Prince 8 4 2 0 $389,362 7. Rhoman Rule 8 4 2 0 $193,928 8. Skywalker 6 3 1 0 $330,700 9. Fast Account 12 2 6 1 $144,330 10. I Am the Game 8 4 2 1 $212,183

REMARKS: There are 13 definite starters for Saturday’s Kentucky Derby, with two other colts listed as possibilities. The lineup as of Monday:

DEFINITES (horse, jockey): Chief’s Crown, Don MacBeth Encolure, Ron Ardoin Eternal Prince, Richard Migliore Fast Account, Chris McCarron Floating Reserve, Sandy Hawley I Am the Game, Darrel McHargue Irish Fighter, Pat Day Proud Truth, Jorge Velasquez Rhoman Rule, Jacinto Vasquez Skywalker, Eddie Delahoussaye Spend a Buck, Angel Cordero Stephan’s Odyssey, Laffit Pincay Tank’s Prospect, Gary Stevens POSSIBILITIES: Avey’s Brother, no jockey Creme Fraiche, Eddie Maple

If fewer than 19 are entered at Churchill Downs Thursday, it will be the smallest Derby field since 1981, when Genuine Risk, the filly, beat 12 colts.

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“Chief’s Crown has to be the horse, after the way he ran in the Blue Grass,” said Tommy Trotter, speaking from Arlington Park. He got no argument from Lenny Hale at Aqueduct or Frank (Jimmy) Kilroe at Santa Anita. Chief’s Crown’s winning time in the Blue Grass was 1:47 3/5, only a fifth of a second off the Keeneland record for 1 1/8 miles.

Trotter said that Proud Truth, second in both the Flamingo Stakes and the Wood Memorial after winning the Florida Derby, may be coming up to the Derby at the wrong time.

“He could be one of those horses that peak early and then go the wrong way,” Trotter said. “But there’s no question the horse has ability and isn’t a quitter as far as the Derby distance of a mile and a quarter is concerned.”

Proud Truth didn’t get to the races until last Dec. 2, and since then has run eight times, which is more activity than any of the other Derby favorites. Chief’s Crown, for example, has started only three times since he won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Stakes last November at Hollywood Park.

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Two Derby contenders worked on a drying-out track at Churchill Downs Monday morning, Eternal Prince going five furlongs in 1:00 3/5 and galloping six furlongs in 1:13, and Rhoman Rule doing six furlongs in 1:14 2/5.

Rhoman Rule, after starting the year with two wins by 21 lengths in Florida, finished third in the Wood on April 20, behind the victorious Eternal Prince and Proud Truth.

“I saw the colt in Florida, and he wasn’t the same horse in the Wood,” Lenny Hale said from Aqueduct. “They (trainer Angel Penna Jr.) said the wet track didn’t help, but it was a wet-fast track. It just looked like the horse flattened out in the stretch to me.”

Although Spend a Buck is drawing a lot of pre-Derby attention as the result of his 9 1/2-length victory in 1:45 4/5 in the Garden State Stakes April 20, Hale is not attaching as much significance to that race. Going around two turns, Spend a Buck just missed Secretariat’s American record of 1:45 2/5, which was set around one turn in the 1973 Marlboro Cup at Belmont Park.

“Spend a Buck’s time came on a lightning-fast track,” Hale said. “And all he beat was an ordinary group of horses. I liked Eternal Prince’s effort in the Wood. He went head and head with two different horses and then drew off to win. He proved he could take the heat.”

Trotter anticipates Spend a Buck setting the early pace in the Derby, ahead of Eternal Prince. “Spend a Buck’s the better of the two horses,” Trotter said. “He should get command.”

Hale would disagree. Both men will be at Churchill Downs Saturday to find out. As usual, the horses will settle all arguments.

Advisory panel for The Times’ Triple Crown Ratings: Lenny Hale, racing secretary at Aqueduct, Belmont Park and Saratoga; Frank (Jimmy) Kilroe, vice president for racing at Santa Anita; and Tommy Trotter, director of racing at Arlington Park and racing secretary at Gulfstream Park.

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