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Thumbnail sketches of Derby runners

By ROBERT KIECKHEFER, UPI Horseracing Writer   |   May 6, 2005 at 1:19 PM   |   Comments

A look at the 20 horses entered for Saturday's 131st Kentucky Derby, by post position, with morning-line odds:

1.SORT IT OUT. 50-1. This colt is trainer Bob Baffert's final hope for the Derby, and a slim one at that. He worked his way up from state-bred races at Aqueduct with three straight victories this year, culminating in victory over Naughty New Yorker and Scrappy T in the Whirlaway. He hasn't won since, although he did finish second to Coin Silver in the Lexington at Keeneland on April 23, earning his trip to Louisville. He probably will try to race in mid-pack and make a late run. Sire: Out of Place. Jockey: Brice Blanc.

2. ANDROMEDA'S HERO. 50-1. One of two sons of 2000 Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus (the other is Baldini) trying to break into the two-generation winning records. A winner only twice and a well-beaten third in the Arkansas Derby, he hasn't yet shown enough to compete with the top horses here. His winning pattern has been to make one late run but he would have to get much better to have an impact here. Trainer: Nick Zito. Jockey: Rafael Bejarano.

3.SUN KING. 15-1. Another from the Zito stable and a son of 1999 Derby winner Charismatic. A close third behind Wilko and Afleet Alex in last fall's Breeders' Cup Juvenile, he had a brilliant start as a 3-year-old but tossed in a clinker in the Blue Grass in his last start, finishing fourth with a wide trip. If the Keeneland trip is a toss-out, he might be a factor in the stretch. But his form has been going in the wrong direction. Jockey: Edgar Prado.

4. NOBLE CAUSEWAY. 12-1. The third of Zito's quintet finished second to stablemate High Fly in the Florida Derby an awkward five weeks ago. That was a good effort and he hasn't been worse than second in five consecutive starts since a career-opening loss on the turf at Belmont last fall. He sold for $1,150,000 at the 2003 Keeneland September sale, making him the most-expensive Derby starter. He's another with a late-running style but will jockey Gary Stevens be able to relax him with that much rest under his girth?

5. COIN SILVER. 20-1. Won his way into the Derby with an upset victory in the Lexington at Keeneland on April 23. Before that, his only victory was in a maiden race at Gulfstream Park. Nonetheless, he's well-bred -- by Anees, out of Beyond a Doubt, whose sire was Conquistador Cielo -- and enjoys the training services of Todd Pletcher. The Lexington victory resulted from a patient trip, followed by a wide move around rivals. But the lack of experience and bigger field will make the task harder Saturday. Jockey: Patrick Valenzuela.

6. HIGH LIMIT. 12-1. Started his career with three straight wins, including the Louisiana Derby in excellent time. But then finished second in the Blue Grass, 9 lengths behind Bandini. This is one of those decisions that make handicapping a challenge. If he just didn't like the track at Keeneland -- and some don't -- then he's good enough to contend on Saturday. If he peaked at Fair Grounds two months ago, he isn't. One other factor: In his wins, he led from the break. In the Louisiana Derby, he never got the lead. Can jockey Ramon Dominguez gun him to the lead Saturday against some speedy rivals? Trainer: Bobby Frankel. Sire: Maria's Mon.

7. FLOWER ALLEY. 20-1. He broke into the top ranks with an upset victory in the Lane's End Stakes at Turfway Park in late March, then finished second in the Arkansas Derby, 8 lengths behind Afleet Alex. However, he was still moving well in the stretch run of that race. His two victories have come from slightly off the pace, which is the preferred running style of a lot of these horses. He'd have to improve to lead the pack chasing the front-runners down the stretch. Sire: Distorted Humor. Trainer: Todd Pletcher. Jockey: Jorge Chavez.

8. GREATER GOOD. 20-1. He won the Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs in his final start as a 2-year-old. Started this year with two wins at Oaklawn Park, including the Rebel, beating Rockport Harbor. Then finished fifth in the Arkansas Derby, 12 lengths behind the winner and without much excuse. In his victories, he has come from far back in the pack. But none of those efforts would be good enough Saturday. Sire: Intidab. Trainer: Bob Holthus. Jockey: Jon McKee.

9. GREELEY'S GALAXY. 15-1. Impressive in two victories at Santa Anita, trainer Warren Stute sent the Mr. Greely colt to Chicago for the class test in the Illinois Derby. He responded with a 9 1/2-length victory -- admittedly against relatively soft competition but in excellent time. War Emblem won the 2002 Kentucky Derby after prepping in Illinois so it's not impossible. But this colt has a lot left to prove against tougher rivals at a longer distance. Jockey: Kent Desormeaux.

10. GIACOMO. 50-1. This son of 1994 Kentucky Derby bust Holy Bull doesn't have much winning to show for his seven starts -- just a maiden victory at Santa Anita. But he was second to Declan's Moon in the Hollywood Futurity, beating Wilko. And he was second to Consolidator in the San Felipe. And he was a close fourth behind Buzzards Bay, General John B and Wilko in the Santa Anita Derby. He doesn't look likely to wear the roses but he might break some hearts in the trifecta pool just by hanging around while others are fading. The only gray starter in the field. Trainer: John Shirreffs. Jockey: Mike Smith.

11. HIGH FLY. 8-1. Another Zito runner, winner of the Fountain of Youth and the Florida Derby and trained up to the big race. He hasn't lost since jockey Jerry Bailey teamed up for the Fountain and his Florida Derby would be competitive here. Again, the issue is how he will deal with the five-week layoff. He normally runs right behind the lead and no one is better than Bailey at getting his mount positioned well in this race. Sire: Atticus.

12. AFLEET ALEX. 9-2. Runaway winner of the Arkansas Derby, the only blot on his record is a dismal last-place finish in the Rebel in his previous effort. Trainer Tim Ritchey blamed a passing illness and accurately predicted the resurgence in the Arkansas Derby. Last year, he was second to Wilko in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile after leading early in the stretch run. Several of his efforts would put him in the mix to wear Roses on Saturday. He's another who likes to sit mid-pack and make a run at the leaders. Sire: Northern Afleet. Jockey: Jeremy Rose.

13. SPANISH CHESTNUT. 50-1. He looked great in California early in the year, then took a turn for the worse as the weather warmed and the distances got longer. Hasn't been competitive in his last three races, including sixth-place finishes in the Lane's End and the Blue Grass. He'd have to turn things around dramatically to be much more than a pace factor on Saturday but he is likely to be on the lead early, taking the field along into the backstretch. Sire: Horse Chestnut. Trainer: Patrick Biancone. Jockey: Joe Bravo.

14. WILKO. 20-1. He hasn't won since his 28-1 upset victory in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. Finished third in the Hollywood Juvenile to end the year, then was a dull fourth in his return in March in the San Felipe. He was very competitive in the Santa Anita Derby, closing well to finish third, beaten only a half-length after tracking a weak pace. His breeding indicates he can run the distance and he will have a sharper pace to wear down the front-runners on Saturday. If he can take another step forward, he could have an impact although it's hard to see him breaking the Breeders' Cup "jinx" against winning the Derby. Sire: Awesome Again. Trainer: Craig Dollase. Jockey: Corey Nakatani.

15. BANDINI. 6-1. The easy, 6-length winner of the Blue Grass, Bandini is lightly raced, has improved substantially in each start and has the breeding to get the Derby's mile and a quarter. Jockey John Velazquez will have to find a way to get him over from the first stall in the auxiliary starting gate so he doesn't lose too much ground into the first turn. If he can accomplish that and take up a pace-stalking position, it will be tough to keep Bandini from making his presence felt in the late going and he easily could be the winner. Sire: Fusaichi Pegasus. Trainer: Todd Pletcher.

16. BELLAMY ROAD. 5-2 (favorite). Zito's top hope off a dramatic, 17 1/2-length victory in the Wood Memorial in his last start. In his only other start as a 3-year-old, this son of Concerto won a Gulfstream allowance event by 15 3/4 lengths. He wasn't tested in either event and was still full of run after the Wood, despite tying the track record for 9 furlongs and posting an awesome Beyer Speed Figure of 120. He's had a month to recover from the Wood and Zito knows his stuff. Still, this crowd isn't going to let him get away to the easy lead he has enjoyed in his recent victories. And he's not likely to top the 120 Beyer fig. A deserving favorite but not by any means a shoo-in. New York Yankees Manager Joe Torre probably is pulling for him to distract George Steinbrenner, who owns both the Yanks and the horse. Jockey: Javier Castellano.

17. DON'T GET MAD. 30-1. He was an also-ran in California but won his way to the big race with a smashing, off-the-pace, 7-length victory in last week's Derby Trial. That's nice but not terribly convincing, given the much tougher field and longer distance he will face in the Derby itself. His sire, Stephen Got Even, a son of A.P. Indy, won the first and only running of the Gallery Furniture.com Stakes in 1999 at Turfway Park. The event now is the Lane's End. Trainer: Ron Ellis. Jockey: Tyler Baze.

18. CLOSING ARGUMENT. 30-1. Won the Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park in a minor upset but then finished a well-beaten third in the Blue Grass in his last outing. A repetition of the Holy Bull performance still wouldn't be enough to win the Derby. He typically races closely behind the leaders and will have to be hustled along by jockey Cornelio Velasquez to get position the first time under the wire. Unlikely to have enough left the second time around. Sire: Successful Appeal. Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin.

19. GOING WILD. 50-1. This horse is here only because trainer D. Wayne Lukas and owners Bob and Beverly Lewis want a Derby starter. He hasn't shown nearly enough to be a contender despite three winter wins in California. Soundly beaten in the Wood and the Lexington and would require a total form reversal to compete here. Sire: Golden Missile. Jockey: Jose Valdivia Jr.

20. BUZZARDS BAY. 20-1. The upset winner of the Santa Anita Derby with a nice, front-running effort. Before that, his best effort was a victory in the Golden Gate Derby. He hasn't really fired at the level needed to challenge the favorites here, especially since his best work has come racing on the lead. To do that, jockey Mark Guidry would have to angle in from the far outside while outrunning the other speedsters who drew inside post positions. Unlikely. Sire: Marco Bay. Trainer: Jeff Mullins.

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