Ben Perkins Jr. has his finger on the trigger. When he pulls -- or, if he pulls -- Tank will go rolling into Louisville, Ky.
Perkins said a decision on whether to send Tank to the May 4 Kentucky Derby will be made "Thursday or Friday, after he works and we size up the field."
The colt's owner, Mrs. Allaire duPont, "isn't overly enamored with going," said the 35-year-old trainer. "But she said the decision is up to us."
The recurring "us" and "we" in Perkins' dialogue refers to himself and his father, Ben Sr. The two essentially share management duties in the powerful Perkins outfit, although Ben Jr. is named as trainer for all of the horses.
Perkins has sent out one other Derby starter (Faultless Ensign, 14th in 1989 at 75-1), "but there were some great horses in that one. Easy Goer [second to Sunday Silence], going into the race, was really supposed to be something. This year, I don't think there's a real standout.
"Not to compare the two, but Tank is bigger and stronger. I think he belongs. Of course, I want to do what Mrs. duPont wants -- you've always got to keep the owners happy. She would rather wait and run in the Preakness. But we'll wait to make the decision and see what happens."
Tank, by Tank's Prospect, has raced just five times. His last of three triumphs came Saturday, when he easily won the Garden State Stakes.
Perkins said if he bypasses the Derby, a Pimlico allowance race would be the most logical prep for the Preakness.
Meanwhile, another colt with Maryland connections -- Green Alligator -- was termed a "possible" Derby starter yesterday by his owner, Anderson Fowler.
Fowler, speaking from his New Jersey home, said, "My inclination is not to run him in the Derby, but it'd be a feather in the cap of my son-in-law [trainer Murray Johnson]."
Fowler owns Master Speaker and Timely Warning; each has won the Maryland Classic on Maryland Million day. Fowler, 79, has raced horses in Maryland for over 50 years.