Keeper Hill rallies for Oaks win G. Capuano to get 'Polish' after filly's show finish

May 02, 1998|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- As the sun and breeze dried out soggy Louisville, a record crowd of 94,415 crowded into Churchill Downs yesterday for Kentucky Oaks Day. About 50,000 more are expected today for the Kentucky Derby.

Keeper Hill, the tepid 3-1 favorite, won the Grade I $605,500 1 1/8 -mile Oaks -- the 3-year-old filly counterpart to the Derby -- with a long rally from ninth place. Trained by Bobby Frankel and ridden by David Flores, Keeper Hill edged Banshee Breeze by a neck. Keeper Hill returned $8.60 to win. The exacta paid $51.

Team Valor's Really Polish finished a game third in the 13-filly field despite her 29-1 odds and a rough break. That's good news for Maryland's Gary Capuano, who trained Captain Bodgit last year for Team Valor. Captain Bodgit finished second in the Kentucky Derby and third in the Preakness.

Barry Irwin, president of the California-based Team Valor, said after the Oaks that he was transferring the filly to Capuano at the Bowie Training Center. Really Polish is a Maryland-bred daughter of Polish Numbers and Good 'n Smart.

In other stakes here on Oaks Day, Team Cigar (owner Allen E. Paulson, trainer Bill Mott and jockey Jerry Bailey) teamed to win the Grade II $287,750 Louisville Breeders' Cup Handicap with 3-5 favorite Escena, one of the top distaffers in the nation. She dominated her nine challengers by four lengths and paid $3.40 to win. The 8-1 One Rich Lady and 60-1 Three Fanfares finished second and third, respectively.

Going last to first

Making his second start in this country, the French-bred Dernier Croise, the 2-1 favorite, scored a rousing last-to-first victory in the $126,000 Crown Royal American Turf Stakes for 3-year-olds. Gary Stevens, who will ride Indian Charlie in the Kentucky Derby, piloted Dernier Croise as well as the British-bred Indian Rocket, who won the $122,500 Churchill Downs Turf Sprint in a similar last-to-first rally.

Odds at Churchill

Favorite Trick is the lukewarm Kentucky Derby favorite based on yesterday's early wagering at Churchill Downs. The following odds reflect only wagers here, not combined with other early betting at other sites:

Favorite Trick 7-2, Indian Charlie and Cape Town 9-2, Halory Hunter 5-1, Real Quiet and Artax 10-1, Parade Ground 15-1, Victory Gallop 16-1, Hanuman Highway 19-1, Chilito 20-1, Old Trieste and Rock and Roll 30-1, the field of Basic Trainee and Robinwould 30-1 and Nationalore 60-1.

What's in a name?

You are aware that the 1997 Horse of the Year is Favorite Trick. But did you know that Favorite Trick's original name was No Answer Transfer? And No Answer Transfer wasn't even his owners' first pick. They liked Special Trick, Classic Trick, Speedy Trick and Over Trick better.

Indian Charlie's original name was Rundeeprunsilent.

Real Quiet was his owners' second choice. They wanted Stars'n Stripes.

Robinwould was originally Robin You Blind.

And Victory Gallop would have been Spa Star if his owners' first choice had been allowed.

All names must be submitted to The Jockey Club, which eliminates duplicates and untoward and improper ones. Then, after The Jockey Club approves a name, it is sometimes #F changed when the horse changes ownership.

Matters of age

Although all Derby horses officially turned 3 on Jan. 1, Cape Town is the oldest, strictly by the calendar, having been foaled Feb. 3. And Chilito is the youngest, having been born May 9. He is the only Derby starter not yet 3.

Watch for Ops Smile

You never know when Ops Smile, the veteran Maryland-bred, will pop up and win a race at tremendous odds. Today, he tackles a stellar field in the Grade I $250,000 Early Times Turf Classic at Churchill Downs. It is the race before the Kentucky Derby.

At 1 1/8 miles, the Turf Classic is the same distance as the Grade II Dixie Stakes, which Ops Smile, trained by Bill Boniface, won at Pimlico last year on Preakness Day. Then, at 21-1, Ops Smile won the Grade I Manhattan Handicap at Belmont Park on Belmont Stakes Day. He hasn't won in six races since, but this is his second start this year. He could be at his best.

Joyeux Danseur, a winner of seven of his last eight, is the deserving favorite.

'Sponging' inspections

Before the Derby horses walk to the post today, they will get the same inspection that any entry in a cheap claiming race gets.

Officials will place a long, snakelike apparatus into the nostrils of each horse to determine if there is anything obstructing the airways.

It's to detect "sponging," a potentially deadly practice that turned up at Churchill Downs in 1996. Someone inserted small sponges into the nasal passages of as many as 10 horses, restricting their breathing and hindering their performance.

According to news reports, a federal grand jury in Louisville may return an indictment within a few days in those cases.

Pub Date: 5/02/98

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