`Edge' jockey again gets post that he asks for

Sellers gets 4-1 favorite from Post 11

Tapit is 8-1

Notebook

Kentucky Derby

April 29, 2004|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Shane Sellers didn't even have time to shower. He disrobed after his day of riding yesterday at Churchill Downs, wrapped himself in a white towel and settled in front of the TV in the jockey's room to watch the post-position draw for the Kentucky Derby.

Before it started he said he wanted Post 11 for The Cliff's Edge, his mount. He said he hadn't discussed it with Nick Zito, trainer of the horse. He said he didn't even know which pick Zito had. Before the Blue Grass Stakes, which The Cliff's Edge won, Sellers said, he wanted Post 3 - and got it.

"Lady luck, keep smiling on me," he said.

When it came time for Zito's pick, the eighth, he chose Post 11. Sellers leaped out of his seat, threw his hands into the air and yelled, "The good karma continues."

A full field of the expected 20 horses entered, meaning that Eddington and Rock Hard Ten missed the cut. Because they lacked the graded-stakes earnings to crack the top 20, they needed defections to get into the field. Their trainers said they'd wait for the Preakness.

The Cliff's Edge was anointed the 4-1 morning-line favorite, but Mike Battaglia, Churchill Downs oddsmaker, labeled Zito's other horse, Birdstone, the longest shot at 50-1. Birdstone was one of the leading contenders for the Derby before running one dull race (fifth in the Lane's End Stakes) and getting sick before the Blue Grass and being scratched.

"That horse at 50-1 is insane," Zito said. "I love Mike, but please."

Zito said that he thought The Cliff's Edge was a deserving favorite, but that the undefeated Smarty Jones could just as easily have been favored. He said he didn't think any horse would emerge as a heavy favorite.

"This will probably be the best betting Derby ever," Zito said.

Smarty Jones at 9-2 will start from Post 15, the first in the auxiliary gate. John Servis, his trainer, said he liked the extra distance between gates for the colt to get straightened out in case he breaks awkwardly.

Lion Heart, who could dictate the pace, will break from Post 3. Pollard's Vision, the one-eyed horse, will break from the outside, as his connections had hoped. Blind in his right eye, Pollard's Vision will break from Post 17.

Tapit, the Maryland horse, will start from Post 18. Michael Dickinson, his trainer, said he'd rather Tapit break near the rail, but jockey Ramon Dominguez said he'd rather break from the outside. Along with The Cliff's Edge and Smarty Jones, Tapit at 8-1 is the only other horse under 10-1 in Battaglia's line.

Unrest unlikely

It doesn't appear that the jockeys' lawsuits to allow endorsements and union patches on their riding pants will burst into controversy on Derby day. Even though the judge hearing the cases said yesterday he won't issue a ruling until today, an executive in The Jockeys' Guild downplayed the likelihood of a boycott or major protest.

"The jockeys know their responsibility to the industry, to the track and to the owners and trainers," said Albert Fiss, vice president of the guild. "They will do the responsible thing."

Female first?

If Imperialism and Song of the Sword both start in the Derby, this will be the first year that two female trainers participated in the race. Kristin Mulhall, based in California, trains Imperialism, and Jennifer Pederson, based in New York, trains Song of the Sword.

Field for 130th Kentucky Derby

PP Horse Trainer Jockey Odds

1 Limehouse Todd Pletcher Jose Santos 30-1

2 Song of the Sword Jennifer Pederson Norberto Arroyo Jr. 30-1

3 Lion Heart Patrick Biancone Mike Smith 10-1

4 Action This Day Richard Mandella David Flores 30-1

5 Wimbledon Bob Baffert Jerry Bailey 15-1

6 Friends Lake John Kimmel Richard Migliore 15-1

7 Minister Eric Richard Mandella Pat Day 30-1

8 Master David Bobby Frankel Alex Solis 12-1

9 St Averil Rafael Becerra Tyler Blaze 30-1

10 Imperialism Kristin Mulhall Kent Desormeaux 15-1

11 The Cliff's Edge Nick Zito Shane Sellers 4-1

12 Borrego Beau Greely Victor Espinoza 20-1

13 Birdstone Nick Zito Edgar Prado 50-1

14 Read the Footnotes Rick Violette Robby Albarado 12-1

15 Smarty Jones John Servis Steward Elliott 9-2

16 Castledale Jeff Mullins Jose Valdivia Jr. 15-1

17 Pollard's Vision Todd Pletcher John Velazquez 20-1

18 Tapit Michael Dickinson Ramon Dominguez 8-1

19 Pro Prado Bob Holthus John McKee 30-1

20 Quintons Gold Rush Steve Asmussen Corey Nakatani 20-1

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