Derby hopefuls find it tough to make post

February 11, 1994|By N.Y. Times News Service

HALLANDALE, Fla. -- This must be the season for delayed debuts on the road to the Kentucky Derby: first Dehere, the juvenile champion of last year, and now Brocco, the horse that outran him in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

Brocco was supposed to make his first start of 1994 in the San Rafael Stakes at Santa Anita on March 6. But his trainer, Randy Winick, reports that the colt's training has been delayed by rain and by some tightness. He still could make the San Rafael, but a more likely target now is the San Felipe Stakes two weeks later.

"We're not ducking anybody," Winick said. "But I don't want him trying so hard that he'd get hurt. I don't want him knocking himself out."

If Brocco waits until the San Felipe on March 20, it would be his first race in three months since he ran second to Valiant Nature in the Hollywood Futurity. And he would have just seven weeks to the Kentucky Derby.

His chief rival, Dehere, missed his debut in the Hutcheson Stakes on Jan. 30 at Gulfstream Park when he came down with a stomachache. He made his delayed start one week later and ran second in an allowance race. His trainer, Reynaldo Nobles, said the colt was sound and would race next in the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream on Feb. 19.

For horses traveling the road to Louisville in the east, like Dehere, the major milestone is the Florida Derby on March 12. For horses traveling in the west, like Brocco, the milestone is the Santa Anita Derby on April 9. East will meet west at Churchill Downs on May 7.

* Barranett Farquharson, a 42-year-old trainer from Jamaica, runa small restaurant in North Miami and trains four horses at a farm in Davie, Fla.

He and his wife, Pauline, actually train the horses on a tiny 375-yard oval on the farm. That's no way to prepare a horse for life in the big leagues, but they hit a home run Wednesday when their 5-year-old mare Hunzinga upset the odds and won the $75,000 Sabin Handicap at Gulfstream Park.

Hunzinga was an 8-1 long shot but took the lead early and held it late, winning by nearly four lengths.

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