Walden is again left on outside looking in at Churchill Downs

Menifee's late charge isn't enough to stop another 2nd-place finish

May 02, 1999|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- For the second straight year a horse trained by Elliott Walden -- perhaps the best horse in the race -- lost the Kentucky Derby because of an outside post position and an extremely wide trip.

Yesterday, Menifee broke from post 18 but still nearly caught the winner, falling a neck short. Last year, Victory Gallop started from post 13, charged valiantly down the stretch but fell a half-length short of Real Quiet.

"He was wide, the widest horse in the first turn," Walden said of Menifee. "He ran big, though. I'm disappointed, sure, but in a 19-horse field anything can happen.

"We weren't champion last year with Victory Gallop, but we might get it this year with Menifee."

Pat Day, Menifee's jockey, described the race this way: "It never did spread out. I was hoping to be two or three horses wide, but I was nine or 10 horses wide for the longest time.

"When I made it to the quarter pole there was a horrible jam. I had to snatch him there, and there was lots of stuff going on. But when I got clear at the three-sixteenth pole he came hard. My heart goes out to Elliott Walden. He's had his horses ready to win this race two years in a row, and neither time has he had any luck."

Aboard the third-place finisher, Cat Thief, Mike Smith joined the winning jockey, Chris Antley, in saying that he managed to avoid trouble. That was because Cat Thief broke sharply, more sharply than Smith wanted, and settled into second behind Valhol.

"I would have liked to get him back a little farther, but he was so sharp I couldn't," Smith said. "It worked out all right. We were in the right spot."

Two of Bob Baffert's three entries claimed fourth and fifth, Prime Timber and the filly Excellent Meeting. David Flores, who piloted Prime Timber, said his colt simply did not have it.

Kent Desormeaux, aboard the filly, said: "We had a horrible trip. We got pinched back leaving the gate, and then the horses in front were getting shuffled back. I ended up last, but she wanted to go."

Baffert's third entrant, General Challenge, got knocked sideways at the break.

"Then I went into the first turn and was down there between Charismatic and Prime Timber," said Gary Stevens, General Challenge's jockey. "They came together and put the squeeze on me. They picked me up and carried me about four strides. I don't know how I didn't fall.

"Then when I was over on the far turn I got hit again."

The Derby's other filly, Three Ring, finished last with this comment from the Daily Racing Form: "Bumped, steadied start, bumped repeatedly early." Her jockey, John Velazquez, said his saddle slipped, too.

Vicar and Stephen Got Even, two of the seven horses with odds less than 10-1, experienced brutal trips. Vicar finished 18th, Stephen Got Even 14th.

"He never had a lane," said Carl Nafzger, Vicar's trainer. "He ran, but he never got a chance to show anything. It was a one-paced race, and that killed us."

Added Shane Sellers, Vicar's rider: "That's the Kentucky Derby, man. We were in the 18 hole, and there was nothing we could do about it. I was stuck out there."

Of Stephen Got Even, the trainer Nick Zito said: "He got jostled so bad he didn't have a chance. Adonis, too."

Lemon Drop Kid also ran into trouble. Owned by Jinny Vance and Laddie Dance, owners of Taylor's Purchase Farm in Sparks, he broke from the far-outside 19 post. He finished ninth.

"I don't think the best horse won," said Jose Santos, the colt's jockey. "The race was a mile and a quarter, and my horse ran a mile and three eighths.

"I had no chance to get in. Every time I tried to go inside I got bumped back outside. This colt has a lot of ability, but I must have been 10-wide the whole way."

Saeed bin Suroor, trainer of the Dubai-based Worldly Manner, said his horse ran well, despite fading to seventh in the stretch.

"In the last two furlongs he just stopped," Suroor said. "We're happy to be here, and we'll be back next year."

Jerry Bailey, Worldly Manner's jockey, said: "I wish there had been a touch more pace to be behind so he would have come off the bridle a little bit. As it was, he was kind of pulling on it the whole way around."

Worldly Manner entered the race without an official start this year. Would a prep race have helped?

"We'll never know," Bailey said.

Fillies in the Derby

Overall, three fillies have won the Kentucky Derby -- Regret in 1915, Genuine Risk in 1980 and Winnings Colors in 1988. Here's how fillies have fared since 1980:

Horse Year Finish

Genuine Risk 1980 1st

Cupecoy's Joy 1982 10th

Life's Magic 1984 8th

Althea 1984 19th

Winning Colors 1988 1st

Serena's Song 1995 16th

Excellent Meeting 1999 5th

Three Ring 1999 19th

Long-shot winners

Highest payoffs for winners of the Kentucky Derby since $2 mutuel bets began in 1911:

Winner Year Price

Donerail 1913 $184.90

Gallahadian 1940 $72.40

Charismatic 1999 $64.60

Proud Clarion 1967 $62.20

Exterminator 1918 $61.20

Dark Star 1953 $51.80

Thunder Gulch 1995 $51.00

Gato Del Sol 1982 $44.40

Bold Venture 1936 $43

Zev 1923 $40.40

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