Derby picture gets touch of `Fog'

$6,000 late fee puts winner of Swale in Triple Crown

Horse Racing

March 07, 2005|By Dave Joseph | Dave Joseph,SOUTH FLORIDA SUN-SENTINEL

Harry Aleo says he doesn't have Kentucky Derby fever.

An 85-year-old real estate agent from San Francisco who's been enamored of racing since Seabiscuit was on the track, Aleo says the Run for the Roses has too many people, too many horses, and it's too much trouble. But that isn't stopping him from putting up the $6,000 late-payment fee to nominate his undefeated 3-year-old Lost in the Fog to the Triple Crown.

In fact, less than eight weeks from the Kentucky Derby, Aleo and dozens of other horsemen are busy mapping out strategy and finding prep races that will get their 3-year-olds to Churchill Downs on May 7.

The first step to Kentucky came Saturday when major prep races were held in California, Arkansas and Florida. Each one held true to form.

That's why few surprises could be found in the Triple Crown Ratings, a weekly poll of five of the leading horse racing writers in the country. The poll continues until the Belmont Stakes.

At Santa Anita, juvenile champion Declan's Moon remained undefeated with an impressive two-length victory in the $200,000 Santa Catalina Stakes, good enough to take first in Triple Crown rankings. At Oaklawn Park, Breeders' Cup Juvenile runner-up Afleet Alex (rated third) kicked off his 3-year-old season with a victory in the $50,000 Mountain Valley over six furlongs. And at Gulfstream Park, Aleo was forced to ponder what direction to take with Lost in the Fog (rated fifth).

A dark bay, medium-built son of Lost Soldier, Lost in the Fog has won his four starts by a combined 31 1/2 lengths. He set a track record Dec. 26 at Turf Paradise over 6 1/2 furlongs and came within a few ticks of setting the seven-furlong mark Saturday when winning the Swale Stakes rather easily by 4 3/4 lengths. But Lost in the Fog has never gone two turns, and some question whether the colt can carry his speed two turns.

But not jockey Russell Baze. "He's got so much talent I have to think he'll get the extra distance," he said. Trainer Greg Gilchrist said the colt is 75-25 to stay in Florida and try to stretch out to 1 1/8 miles April 2 in the $1 million Florida Derby.

While Gilchrist and Aleo wait for Lost in the Fog to tell them if he's Derby material, two-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Nick Zito is sitting pretty with some of the country's most promising contenders.

Zito won Saturday's $300,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream with the once-defeated High Fly, a colt he took over the training of three weeks earlier. But Zito's barn is stacked with 3-year-olds. He'll run Sun King (third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile) March 19 in the Tampa Bay Derby and Sam Davis winner Andromeda's Hero March 26 in the Lane's End Stakes.

But his best colt could prove to be Noble Causeway, a $1.15 million juvenile who won an entry-level allowance race Saturday at Gulfstream and could start next in the Florida Derby.

Come Saturday in New Orleans, Hutcheson Stakes winner Proud Accolade, Holy Bull runner-up Kansas City Boy, Risen Star winner Scipion and High Limit (from the barn of Bobby Frankel) will go to post in the Louisiana Derby.

Dave Joseph covers horse racing for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

Triple Crown Ratings

Horse Jockey Trainer St W P S Last race Next race Date

1. Declan's Moon Victor Espinoza Ron Ellis 4 4 0 0 S. Ctlina S. Anita 4/9

2. High Fly Jerry Bailey Nick Zito 4 3 0 1 Fntn Youth Fla. Derby 4/2

3. Afleet Alex John Velazquez Tim Ritchey 7 5 2 0 Mt. Val. St. Rebel Stks 3/19

4. Rockport Harbor Stewart Elliott John Servis 4 4 0 0 Rmsn Stks Rebel Stks 3/19

5. Lost in the Fog Russell Baze Greg Gilchrist 4 4 0 0 Swale und.

6. Bandini John Velazquez Todd Pletcher 3 2 0 0 FOY Fla. Derby 4/2

7. Sweet Cantomine Corey Nakatani Julio Canani 5 4 1 0 S. Ysabel S.A. Oks 3/13

8. Roman Ruler Jerry Bailey Bob Baffert 5 3 1 0 BC Juv. Gthn Stk 3/19

9. Sun King Edgar Prado Nick Zito 5 2 0 2 Allwnc Tampa Bay 3/19

10. Scipion Gary Stevens Patrick Biancone 5 2 0 2 Risen Star La. Derby 3/12

Triple Crown panel: Bill Christine, Los Angeles Times; Tom Keyser, The Sun; Dave Joseph, South Florida Sun-Sentinel; Neil Milbert, Chicago Tribune; Paul Moran, Newsday.

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