Kentucky Derby notebook

Saturday plans: 16 positives, 3 maybes

Lukas' Ten Cents a Shine to race after good workout

Horse Racing

April 29, 2003|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Never underestimate the allure of the Kentucky Derby.

When a trainer or owner says his horse is 50-50 to run in the race, count him in. That's what happened to Ten Cents a Shine. After breezing five furlongs in a speedy 59 1/5 seconds Sunday at Churchill Downs, his trainer, D. Wayne Lukas, declared him in. Up to then, he was 50-50.

Also, Domestic Dispute, a horse who trainer Bob Baffert said wasn't up to the Derby test, was purchased and turned over to a trainer who promptly said the Derby was right up his alley.

Over the weekend, a couple of Californians bought Domestic Dispute, winner of the Santa Catalina Stakes in January, and said Paddy Gallagher would train him. On Sunday, Domestic Dispute went out for a gallop from Baffert's barn; when he was finished he was led back to Gallagher's barn.

The exchange was a reversal of last year's doings, when Baffert obtained War Emblem a few weeks before the Derby and then won the first two legs of the Triple Crown. Gallagher is a former assistant to Bill Shoemaker, who trained in California after his illustrious riding career.

With Ten Cents a Shine and Domestic Dispute in the Derby mix, the field for Saturday's race is 16 definite and three possible.

Definite are Atswhatimtalknbout, Brancusi, Buddy Gil, Domestic Dispute, Empire Maker, Funny Cide, Indian Express, Kafwain, Offlee Wild, Outta Here, Peace Rules, Scrimshaw, Sir Cherokee, Supah Blitz, Ten Cents a Shine and Ten Most Wanted. Possible are Eye of the Tiger, Lone Star Sky and Senor Swinger.

Name game

Buddy Gill's friends are having fun with this. A native Marylander, Gill has never set foot near Kentucky, where the horse Buddy Gil is preparing for a run in the Kentucky Derby.

Gill, 49, lives in Finksburg and takes care of horses for Irv Naylor, the owner of ski resorts. Naylor's farm is in Glyndon. Gill is known in Maryland horse country - especially by the steeplechase crowd - for installing farm fence, managing the course at the Maryland Hunt Cup and Butler Grand National, descending from a well-known horse family and working with horses all his life.

On the other hand, the horse is named after Tom Gilmer, a commercial real estate broker who was friends with the owner when they were in college.

"It probably started back at the San Felipe," said Gill, referring to the first big stakes Buddy Gil won. "It just took off after that. Everybody's having a good ol' time with it."

They're razzing Gill. The main joke is: "Buddy Gil's going to the Derby. ... But he's a gelding."

Buddy Gil the horse is a gelding. Buddy Gill the man is married to Debbie, his sweetheart from Franklin Senior High. They have ... uh-oh ... no children.

Gill laughed. They decided early not to have children, he said.

"Buddy is the definition of your genuine good guy, who would stop to help a total stranger as fast as he would a lifelong friend," said Paul Randall, a longtime friend of Gill's and a media assistant for the Maryland Jockey Club.

The only times he has been out of Maryland is to transport horses to races in Virginia, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. He'll probably be at the Virginia Gold Cup on Saturday.

He will miss the Derby. But Gill knows who he's rooting for. And so does everybody else.

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