Today, it's Point Given's turn

Western star will try to keep up with Monarchos

Horse Racing

March 17, 2001|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

Monarchos catapulted past Point Given in the Kentucky Derby rankings last weekend with a spectacular performance in the Florida Derby. Today, Point Given will try to keep pace in California.

If Point Given dominates the San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita Park as emphatically as Monarchos dominated the Florida Derby, the battle for supremacy on the road to the Kentucky Derby will turn into a battle of East vs. West.

For Point Given, runner-up in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, the San Felipe marks his 2001 debut. According to his trainer, Bob Baffert, the strapping son of Thunder Gulch would race only once more before the Kentucky Derby. His next start would be April 7 in the Santa Anita Derby.

"He's not souped up to run the best race of his life," Baffert was quoted as saying in the Daily Racing Form, "but he's doing good."

Point Given's jockey, Gary Stevens, added: "I like the way he looks right now. His weight is coming down. He's lost his belly. And he's a handful around the barn, which is good.

"I wouldn't say he has to win this race, but it's going to be a little embarrassing if he doesn't."

First or second in six races last year, Point Given will face seven other 3-year-olds in the 1 1/16-mile San Felipe. Among them are two other Baffert trainees, Silvertongue Fox and Indy Lead, the D. Wayne Lukas-trained Gold Trader and the speedy Skip To The Stone, recent winner of the Baldwin Stakes.

The San Felipe will not be televised live, but it will be shown on tape tomorrow during "Citgo Racing to the Kentucky Derby," beginning at 4 p.m. on ESPN2. The broadcast will feature live coverage of the Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct.

Last year, Red Bullet prepped for his Preakness victory with a narrow win over Aptitude in the Gotham. Tomorrow, eight 3-year-olds will contest the one-mile race, including two well known in Maryland.

Trained by Tim Ritchey at Fair Hill, Marciano has won two stakes this winter at Laurel Park. And Richly Blended, trained by Ben Perkins Jr. in New York, has devoured his opposition in his two starts at Laurel.

Rick Wilson will ride Richly Blended, and Mark Johnston will pilot Marciano.

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