LAUREL -- There are 87 days remaining until the Kentucky Derby on May 2.
Several 3-year-olds with Maryland connections are among the early nominees, but one Baltimore-owned and trained horse has shown he clearly should love the 1 1/4 -mile Derby distance.
Dash For Dotty, owned by Henry Rosenberg, 62, the board chairman of Crown Central Petroleum, is trained by Pimlico-based Bill Donovan.
After a disappointing run in the Jan. 4 Flamingo Stakes at Hialeah, Dash For Dotty came back Saturday and set a Gulfstream Park record of 1 minute, 49 2/5 seconds over nine furlongs on the grass.
It was the race preceding the Donn Handicap "and kind of got lost in the steam," Rosenberg said.
For the first time, Dash For Dotty was ridden by Craig Perret, who rode Donovan's $2 million earner Lost Code five years ago. Lost Code was a late developer, whom Donovan did not nominate to the Triple Crown, but he already has attended to that with Dash For Dotty.
"If you look at this horse's past performances, he is last, last, last at every early call. Then he makes his one big run," Donovan said. "He is an entirely different type of horse than Lost Code, who was a front-runner."
Triple Crown observer Chick Lang Sr., recently in Florida, said, "Dash For Dotty acts like he can run from Baltimore to Annapolis, and back."
Donovan said Dash For Dotty's sixth-place finish in the Flamingo might be attributed to a poorly judged ride by the horse's former jockey, Clive Martin. "The horse was 23 lengths off the pace in a race where the early fractions were :22 1/5, :45 2/5 and 1:10 2/5," he said. "He was six lengths wide coming into the stretch, and was just outrun."
That led to the change to Perret, who, Donovan said, "rode him impeccably."
Donovan said he tried Dash For Dotty on the grass without any previous work there, "because he has a grass foot and his style of running suits the turf."
Donovan might next run his horse in the $50,000 Lord Avie Stakes on March 1, on the turf over nine furlongs at Gulfstream, "which would still give me time to run him in the Florida Derby [March 14]."
Donovan thinks Dash For Dotty is equally adept on dirt. "Right now I'm just leaving my options open," he said.
Rosenberg said his 92-year-old mother, Ruth, got the family into the horse business.
"She is friends with Don Levinson, who owned Lost Code, and thought it might be fun to have a horse of her own," Rosenberg said. Now the whole family is involved, including his two sons, Ned and Frank. Dash For Dotty is named after Rosenberg's wife, Dorothy. The family's thoroughbred outfit is known as the Rainbow Stable.
Donovan bought Dash For Dotty for the Rosenbergs last spring at the Ocala (Fla.) 2-year-old-in-training sales for $15,000.
"He had already been gelded," Donovan said. "But I liked him because he is a tall, rangy horse, with a long stride. He is sired by Badger Land, who is a son of Codex, just like Lost Code."
Last year, a gelding, Best Pal, finished second in the Derby. But the chances of any 3-year-olds are considered slim this year since the winter book favorite, juvenile champion Arazi, is being touted as the second coming of Secretariat.
"All we're doing is keeping our fingers crossed and hoping our horse stays healthy," Donovan said.