Five 3-year-olds with Maryland connections -- Dash For Dotty, Technology, Pie In You Eye, Surely Six and John The Bold -- have Kentucky Derby aspirations.
The Derby status of Dash For Dotty and Technology should be known later this afternoon after they race in their final Derby preps, while the status of Pie In Your Eye and Surely Six probably will depend on the outcome of next weekend's Wood Memorial at Aqueduct, in which they are entered.
John The Bold, owned by Margaret McManus, the wife of ABC sportscaster Jim McKay, races just one week before the Derby in the April 25 Federico Tesio Stakes at Pimlico. A Tesio win could propel John The Bold into the Derby field.
Dash For Dotty, owned by Baltimorean Henry Rosenberg and trained locally by Bill Donovan, is a 12-1 long shot on the morning line at Keeneland Race Course to win this afternoon's Blue Grass Stakes.
"If we don't run well in this race, what's the use of going to the Derby?" Donovan said yesterday by phone from his hotel in Lexington.
Farther south, Baltimore expatriate Sonny Hine is preparing to start Technology, the upset winner in the Florida Derby, today in the Tropical Park Derby at Calder Race Course.
The horse is listed at 8-5 odds on the Calder program to defeat his nine rivals.
"If we get by this race, we put him on a plane on Tuesday for Louisville," Hine said.
Technology is owned by a five-partner syndicate which includes 80 year-old Baltimore businessman Leslie Legum.
Donovan, who gained national fame by training $2-million earner Lost Code, is convinced Dash For Dotty will run credibly in the Blue Grass.
Donovan got a bit of a jolt last week when the colt's regular rider, Craig Perret, opted to ride Binalong for trainer Carl Nafzger in the Blue Grass. Perret and Nafzger paired up to win the Derby two years ago with Unbridled.
Perret was supposed to phone Donovan last week and tell him his Blue Grass plans, Donovan said.
"He never called," Donovan said. "So I went ahead and got another rider."
Donovan lined up Eddie Delahoussaye, who already has a Derby mount, A.P. Indy, winner last weekend of the Santa Anita Derby.
"I wanted to get a rider who rides well coming from off the pace," Donovan said. "Delahoussaye fits that bill. So I called him up and he said he'd love to come."
Even though Perret declined to ride Dash For Dotty in the Blue Grass, he worked the horse for Donovan at Keeneland last Monday.
"The horse went super, getting six furlongs in 1 minute, 13 seconds," Donovan said. "Since then he's bounced back, and is explosive. I couldn't want this horse to be coming up to this race any better. We have the [number] one post position, which I'm not particularly thrilled about. But what can you do? My horse has no speed. Maybe we'll save some ground. The question is, is my horse good enough to close on these kind of horses?"
Donovan said that at a pre-race dinner Thursday night, he was asked to compare Dash for Dotty, who's earned just under $100,000, with Lost Code. "The only difference between the two horses is $2 million," Donovan said he replied.
Meanwhile, Hine said he has gotten calls from Perret, who wants to be the back-up Derby rider to Jerry Bailey on Technology. But Hine said that his back up is Jose Santos, "just in case Jerry decides to ride his other horse, Pine Bluff, in the Derby." Hine said. "But I suppose if Technology wins big today, Bailey will stay with us."
Hine said Technology has been training well and blew out a quarter of a mile yesterday in the Calder stretch. "We didn't time him," Hine said. "But we used the same strategy for the Florida Derby, and it seemed to work well."
Hine said Technology will be accompanied to Louisville by the good 3-year-old filly, Miss Legality, who will run in the Ashland Stakes and then the Kentucky Oaks, the filly counterpart to the Kentucky Derby.