Flat efforts send four hopefuls toward Ky. Derby finished line

Flower Alley pulls upset to enter consideration

Horse Racing

March 28, 2005|By Paul Moran | Paul Moran,NEWSDAY

Most of the holiday weekend traffic on the road to the Kentucky Derby was confined to peripheral figures on exit ramps.

With Scipion sidelined by a condylar fracture of the right-hind cannon bone early in the week, trainer Patrick Biancone looked to Spanish Chestnut to make his case in the Lane's End Stakes at Turfway Park on Saturday.

Todd Pletcher, with Bandini awaiting the Florida Derby, sent the promising Proud Accolade to Turfway for the same purpose, and Nick Zito was there with Andromeda's Hero, who had yet to establish his position in the stable's wealth of 3-year-old prospects.

Nine time zones east of Turfway, in Dubai, Shamardal, the colt regarded by his connections as the best Derby prospect ever to carry the colors of the international juggernaut Godolphin Racing, was put to his first test of the year in the UAE Derby and failed miserably.

By day's end, at least one new player joined the chase. Flower Alley, who rallied over the wet track to score an upset in the Lane's End, is suddenly a Derby prospect, though the effort failed to impress this panel sufficiently to earn a place in the current top 10.

The disappointing Spanish Chestnut, Proud Accolade and Andromeda's Hero were diverted toward more realistic objectives, and Shamardal left the frame while finishing far behind his surprising and unheralded stablemate, Blues and Royals. That horse was a 12-length winner of his first race since August, when he was no threat in a race at Sandown Park, in England.

Shamardal, who was prominent early in the running then faded badly, has not been ruled out of the Derby by his connections, but he has been summarily dismissed by many handicappers, who have seen a parade of Godolphin-owned horses prepared in the Middle East fail in Kentucky. Blues and Royals is not currently eligible to the Triple Crown series.

Before the defeated favorite had returned to the barn, Biancone raised the white flag on behalf of Spanish Chestnut, who set the early pace to the furlong pole at Turfway, then stopped badly. "He was attacked early, and it was just a little too far for him," Biancone said.

Neither Andromeda's Hero nor Proud Accolade offered even a shred of evidence that would inspire their connections to press the issue, but Flower Alley, 10-1 in his stakes debut, separated himself from the faces in a crowd of marginal prospects and now has his trainer, the well-armed Pletcher, working on an impromptu itinerary for a colt that went into the Lane's End with only a win in a maiden race to his credit.

"We're on a tight schedule now," Pletcher said after the Lane's End surprise. "I think the Arkansas Derby or Blue Grass will be next."

Newsday is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.