'Coronado' embarks on Derby quest Janney's colt likely to be Hutcheson favorite

January 31, 1998|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

Coronado's Quest begins his march to the Kentucky Derby today in the $100,000 Hutcheson Stakes at Gulfstream Park.

Owned by Stuart S. Janney III, a resident of Butler in Baltimore County, the chestnut colt makes his 3-year-old debut in a race tarnished by the late defection of Lil's Lad. The fifth-ranked Kentucky Derby contender according to the Daily Racing Form, Lil's Lad will run instead in an allowance race today at Gulfstream Park.

(Lil's Lad's race and the Hutcheson will be shown on ESPN in a broadcast beginning at 4: 30 p.m.)

For Marylanders looking for a hometown favorite in the Triple Crown races, the search begins with the Hutcheson. In fact, it could end with the Hutcheson, because Coronado's Quest is the only top Derby contender with a strong Maryland connection.

Bred and owned by Janney, whose family campaigned Ruffian and Private Terms, Coronado's Quest is trained by Shug McGaughey. Last year in New York, the Forty Niner colt won five XTC of six starts, including one Grade III and two Grade II stakes.

Currently stabled at Gulfstream Park in southern Florida, Coronado's Quest is the Daily Racing Form's second-ranked Derby contender. Top-rated is Favorite Trick, the 2-year-old champion colt with the 8-for-8 record. His new trainer, Bill Mott, said he won't race before March.

Janney, asked whether he has had a more promising prospect for the first Saturday in May, said: "I think this one is the most promising, by a long shot. We're very pleased with everything he's done. I even think his behavioral quirks -- knock on wood -- are all behind him."

Coronado's Quest has tried to throw his jockey, Mike Smith, before races. Or, he has frozen after Smith hopped aboard. Then, Smith would dismount only to repeat the process.

But McGaughey's work and the colt's maturity seem to have eliminated the problem, Janney said.

He'll be watching in the paddock before the Hutcheson, a Grade II seven-furlong sprint that attracted six 3-year-olds. Time Limit, winner of the Spectacular Bid Stakes, and Zippy Zeal, a winner in three of four starts, appear to be the toughest competition for Coronado's Quest.

Although his colt will likely be the odds-on favorite, Janney said he doesn't have to win to advance to the next level, the Fountain of Youth Stakes on Feb. 21 and then the Florida Derby on March 14.

"This is a lot of competition, and it's going short," Janney said. "It's not the ultimate prize."

That would be the Kentucky Derby.

Pub Date: 1/31/98

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