Ky. Derby chase still in flux

`Contender' didn't run Saturday

Corinthian will skip Wood

Horse Racing

March 27, 2006|By JOHN CHERWA | JOHN CHERWA,ORLANDO SENTINEL

This past weekend did little to clarify the Kentucky Derby picture as the big horse scheduled to run didn't run.

Lightly raced Strong Contender, the winner of both his starts, was set to go in the Lane's End Stakes on Saturday at Turfway Park. But, because he was so inexperienced, he didn't have enough in earnings to get into the 12 horse field.

With a City, going off at odds of almost 50-to-1, won the Grade II stakes race, leaving handicappers with little more insight into the Derby picture than they had a week ago.

Strong Contender is now scheduled to race in the Wood Memorial on April 8, where Deputy Glitters is also set to run.

The Derby chase did have a significant loss, however, when Corinthian was pulled from contention for the Wood when he suffered a minor fracture. The horse ran a powerful but erratic race in Gulfstream's Fountain of Youth Stakes, where he crossed the finish line first but was disqualified to third for interference on First Samurai.

Achilles of Troy, who was vanned off the track after getting beaten in the Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct, has only a minor back injury and will be ready for the Arkansas Derby on April 15. A win there would put him back in the Derby picture.

The big race this week is the Florida Derby with Barbaro, the winner of the Holy Bull. The Florida Derby used to be one of the first major prep races but moved last year to a later start. However, the five-week gap between it and the Derby has some trainers nervous, and most are waiting for the races the two weeks that follow.

This week's top 10 certainly gives Kentucky credit for being a great breeding ground. Eight of the 10 horses were bred in Kentucky with the remaining two coming from Maryland (Point Determined) and California (Brother Derek).

John Cherwa writes for the Orlando Sentinel.

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