Rain postpones Adonis' breeze

Zito makes decision to avoid repeat of mishap that befell Halory Hunter


April 27, 1999|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Rain pelted Churchill Downs yesterday, turning the track into mud and hindering training for Saturday's Kentucky Derby.

The surface resembled Pimlico's the Tuesday before last year's Preakness. That's the day Halory Hunter broke his leg during his final Preakness workout. Nick Zito trained the colt, now healed and retired.

Remembering that sad morning, Zito postponed Adonis' five-furlong breeze until today. However, the forecast calls for rain through tomorrow (followed by sunshine and temperatures about 70 into the weekend).

The weather didn't stop other Derby trainers from sending their horses out for final drills. The pair trained by D. Wayne Lukas breezed five furlongs, Cat Thief in 1 minute, 2 seconds and Charismatic in 1: 02 4/5. Lukas sent them out in the dark, first thing in the morning, while the track was still rated "good."

Lukas continued to rave about Charismatic, impressive winner of the Lexington Stakes on April 18 at Keenelend.

"There is no horse doing better than he is," Lukas said. "Whether that equates to 12th place, 18th or first, I don't know."

Over the same "good" surface, Ecton Park worked five furlongs in 1: 02. He worked in blinkers, and probably will race in blinkers Saturday if he gets into the race. Ecton Park may not have enough graded-stakes earnings to break into the expected 20-horse field.

Other workouts occurred on a "sloppy" track.

Certain, the Arkansas Derby runner-up, breezed six furlongs in 1: 13 4/5. His trainer, Leo Azpurua Jr., said he'd decide today whether to enter him in the Derby.

K One King worked five furlongs in 1: 02 2/5, prompting this from his trainer Akiko Gothard: "I think he has as good a chance to win as any of them."

Things didn't go well for Flamingo Stakes winner First American, who has impressed some observers with his strong gallops and spunky attitude. His saddle slipped during his five-furlong breeze, and clockers incorrectly timed his work, although an "official" time of 1: 03 was issued later.

Forty One Carats out

Forty One Carats, second in the Flamingo, was withdrawn from Derby consideration because of a lung infection.

Meanwhile, James Jackson, owner of Arkansas Derby winner Valhol, sued the Arkansas Racing Commission yesterday, demanding it release the $300,000 winner's share of the $500,000 purse.

The commission withheld the money pending its investigation into allegations that the gelding's jockey, Billy Patin, carried an illegal battery-operated "shocking" device. Valhol needs the earnings to qualify for the Derby.

A county judge scheduled a hearing for today. Jackson needs the issue settled quickly. Horses must be entered tomorrow for the Derby. Post positions will be selected tomorrow.

Cigar decision due

One day after reports surfaced that Cigar was headed to the Kentucky Horse Park, a spokesman for Assicurazioni Generali, the Italian insurance company that owns him, said: "Suffice it to say decisions have been made, and an announcement is imminent."

John Nicholson, executive director of the park near Lexington, said he had not received final word from the insurance company. However, he said: "We feel pretty good that these reports have validity. We'd be very happy to have him here."

Pub Date: 4/27/99

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