Dinard promoted to co-favorite Santa Anita winner joins Fly So Free

April 09, 1991|By Marty McGee

Now all that's left for a focused Kentucky Derby picture is a little fine-tuning.

With less than four weeks until the May 4 race, the list of contenders has been trimmed considerably, and the list of favorites has been doubled -- to two.

Dinard's strong victory in the Santa Anita Derby on Saturday puts him on the same level as winter-book favorite Fly So Free.

Perhaps only four others have earned good-chance status. They are Meadow Star, Hansel, Strike the Gold and Best Pal. With just two significant preps remaining -- the April 13 Blue Grass Stakes and the April 20 Wood Memorial -- along with a few lesser events, only a huge surprise would alter the status quo.

The 1-2 Santa Anita Derby finish by Dinard and Best Pal emphasized a possible twist that is not often seen, a Derby winner with no value as a breeding prospect.

Dinard and Best Pal are geldings. Add the filly, Meadow Star, to the mix, and three of the top six Derby favorites are horses that the breeding industry wouldn't particularly want as a Derby winner.

"Most people in the industry like to see colts win the classics, as opposed to geldings or fillies," said Richard Wilcke, executive vice president of the Maryland Horse Breeders Association. "It gives the opportunity for new invigoration in the breed and enables us as an industry to maximize the impact of the classic races."

A filly can produce only one foal a year; a stallion can father 40 to 60 annually.

The last time a gelding won the Derby was 1929, when Clyde Van Dusen did it. The last time a gelding was so prominent before the race was 1980, when favored Rockhill Native finished fifth.

In the past 18 months, many of racing's top active sires have died, notably Secretariat, Alydar and Fappiano.

As a result, the breeding industry has voids to fill. As far as top sires are concerned, there is more turnover in the industry than in many years. It needs a well-bred "glamour" colt to win the Derby.

Fly So Free is by Time For a Change (by Damascus). Strike the Gold is by Alydar. Hansel is by Woodman (by Mr. Prospector). Any would fill the bill.

Trainer Scotty Schulhofer said Sunday that he has "no plans" for Cahill Road, the beaten favorite in the Preview Stakes on Saturday, indicating that the colt will not go to Churchill Downs. Schulhofer, who trains Fly So Free, also ruled out the Derby for Scan, fifth in the Santa Anita Derby.

Ian Jory, trainer of Best Pal, said he wants his horse in the Derby, but owner John Mabee is undecided.

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