Longshots Upset Derby Picture

LONGSHOTS UPSET DERBY PICTURE

Normally, a horse that wins a Grade 1 in his final Kentucky Derby prep gets ranked near the top of the Derby Dozen. But what happened Saturday in the $750,000 Blue Grass and the $1 million Arkansas Derby wasn't normal.

For decades, the Blue Grass Stakes was one of the most important Derby preps. But since Keeneland replaced its dirt track with synthetic Polytrack, the once-storied race -- won by superstars like Northern Dancer, Riva Ridge, Alydar, Spectacular Bid and Holy Bull -- has become inconsequential.

Not one of Saturday's nine starters had won a Grade 1 or Grade 2 stakes. So it's no shocker that Stately Victor, who rallied to win by 4 1/4 lengths, was the longest shot on the board at 40-1. Still eligible for a non-winners-of-one allowance race, Stately Victor ran sixth in his only stakes appearance, last year's Breeders' Futurity. He finished off the board in his previous five races, the last two on turf at Gulfstream, where he did show some late kick rallying for fifth in his prior start.

At Oaklawn, the gate-to-wire winner of the Arkansas Derby, Line of David, was another longshot at 17-1. Like Stately Victor, Line of David was coming off a pair of grass races, both front-running scores at Santa Anita after trainer John Sadler equipped him with blinkers. The Arkansas Derby was his stakes debut.

The previous Saturday, Sadler sent out Sidney's Candy to a front-running romp in the Santa Anita Derby. Thus in the May 1 Run for the Roses, Sadler will saddle two need-the-lead types in a field of 20 that will include such other speedsters as Rule, Conveyance, American Lion and Discreetly Mine.

Line of David set a sharp pace (:22.65, :46.26, 1:10.75), so when Super Saver and Dublin both made runs at him down the stretch, he figured to fold, but didn't.

by Ed Fountaine
from nypost.com

SATURDAY PREP RECAP

LINE OF DAVID WINS AT ARKANSAS

Red-hot trainer John Sadler captured the $1 million Arkansas Derby (gr. I) (VIDEO) with front-running upsetter Line of David at Oaklawn Park April 10, just a week after Sadler took the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) with Sidney's Candy.

Line of David was making his stakes and natural dirt debut in the 1 1/8-mile Arkansas Derby and bursts into the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) picture with the winner's share of $600,000 for the richest of the Derby preps. Line of David had won two races in a row prior to the Arkansas Derby, both on the turf at Santa Anita.

Ridden for the first time by Jon Court, 17-1 shot Line of David set a fast pace and looked like he would be inhaled by Super Saver and Dublin to his outside in upper stretch. But the well-built son of Lion Heart --Emma's Dilemma, by Capote, refused to give way, holding on to win by a neck over Super Saver. Dublin, who had every opportunity on the outside of his rivals, settled for third, a neck behind the runner-up.

The final time was 1:49.37 over a fast track.

Uh Oh Bango finished fourth and 8-5 favorite Noble's Promise was fifth.

"We're setting up camp Monday or Tuesday (April 12 or 13) at Churchill Downs," a beaming Sadler told HRTV immediately afterward. "We'll just add one more to the mix."

"This horse had been training really, really, really well at home," said Sadler, the leading trainer this season at Santa Anita. "We wanted to give him a chance on natural dirt. We're thrilled."

Line of David, now three-for-three since Sadler added blinkers to his equipment, is owned by Ike and Dawn Thrash.

Court sent Line of David, breaking from post 8 in the field of nine, directly to the lead and he clipped off fast splits of :22.65, :46.26, and 1:10.75 while building a comfortable three-length advantage over Super Saver and Dublin, who were well spotted throughout. Swinging out of the final turn, both Super Saver, ridden by Calvin Borel, and Dublin, with Terry Thompson aboard, were on the move with Uh Oh Bango and Noble's Promise advancing into contention from mid-pack.

They battled like that through the lane, with Line of David inching away and digging deep to hold off Super Saver, who was edging closer as they approached the wire. Dublin hung a bit in deep stretch while holding onto third.

"I tell you what, we put him on the front end and rolled into that first turn and he was rolling along pretty good but he came back to me," said Court, who rode for Sadler on occasion when he was based in Southern California for a few years. "I was a little concerned because we were clipping along pretty good but we weren't losing any ground either.

"When I called on him he was full of run through the bridle and he fought very valiantly for the photo."

It was 1 3/4 lengths to Uh Oh Bango in fourth, two lengths in front of Noble's Promise, who had an adventurous trip with Robby Albarado before coming up empty in the drive. New Madrid, Berberis, Pulsion and Northern Giant completed the order.

Line of David's career resume had been modest prior to the Arkansas Derby. He raced three times on synthetic tracks at Hollywood Park and Santa Anita before switching to the turf and breaking his maiden in front-running style at odds of 11-1 in a one-mile race Feb. 13. Brought back at the same distance on March 11, the chestnut colt again led from gate to wire while scoring by 4 1/2 lengths. His lifetime mark now stands at 3-0-1 in six starts with earnings of $662,000.

"We wanted to be in front because at Santa Anita he was going in front and it just seemed to build confidence," Sadler said.

Sadler said Line of David would join Santa Anita Oaks (gr. I) winner Crisp, Sidney's Candy and a couple of others at Churchill Downs next week.

Sadler said he was not going to worry about having both Sidney's Candy and Line of David, who both like to be on the lead, in the Kentucky Derby.

"I'm not going to think about (the pace) until tomorrow," he said. "We will sleep on this, and of course see how he comes out, and take things one step at a time."

Sabine Stable bred the winner in Florida.

Carrying 118 pounds Line of David went off as the seventh choice in the field and paid a whopping $36.60, $14.80 and $6.80. He keyed a $252.40 exacta.

WinStar Farm's homebred Super Saver gave a game account of himself for trainer Todd Pletcher in his second start of the year, returning $6.20 and $4. Winner of the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (gr. II) last November, the Maria's Mon colt was coming off a third-place finish -- beaten a half-length by Odysseus -- in the Tampa Bay Derby (gr. III) March 13.

"I thought he ran great," said Elliot Walden, racing manager for WinStar. "He's only had one race this year and the thing you hope for is to move forward in a race like this. He did that and we just hope he puts it all together in the Kentucky Derby."

Grade I winner Dubin turned in his third successive strong effort at Oaklawn this season and paid $3.60 to show. The Wayne Lukas trainee was coming off a third-place effort in the Rebel Stakes (gr. II) March 13 and a runner-up finish in the Southwest Stakes (gr. III) prior to that.

"(Dublin) had dead aim and he might have gotten a nose in front at some point, but you've got to be impressed with how the speed held pretty good," Lukas said. "I've got no complaints. We will look at this as a prep and see where we are. We're disappointed not to win, but I was pleased with the effort."

Noble's Promise, who missed by a head in the Rebel, broke out at the start and bumped. He remained in tight quarters before steadying on the first turn. After getting into striking distance in the stretch, he lugged in and weakened to lose by 4 1/4 lengths.

"We got stopped at the start," said Ken McPeek, trainer of the beaten favorite. "We lost all chance. He put himself in a bad position when he hopped at the start. We will look at him and see how he's doing. We didn't get beat by much, but we never really had a chance because of the start."

Dublin and Noble's Promise were already guaranteed spots in the 20-horse Kentucky Derby field based on their graded stakes earnings. Super Saver boosted his Derby case by earning $200,000, giving him $363,832. Meanwhile, in one big swoop, Line of David moved into a tie for fifth with early Derby favorite Eskendereya.

by Jack Shinar
from bloodhorse.com

Stately Victor Pulls 40-1 Blue Grass Stunner

Stately Victor, the longest shot on the board at 40-1, roared past Paddy O'Prado in the stretch to record a shocking 4 1/4-length win in the $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) April 10 at Keeneland.

Entered belatedly by trainer Mike Maker on the morning of the draw, Stately Victor came into the Blue Grass with five consecutive off-the-board finishes, the last four coming against allowance company. He had only one win in seven lifetime starts, that a maiden special weight score last September at Saratoga.

The son of Ghostzapper left Keeneland as the biggest longshot winner in the 86-year history of the Blue Grass, paying $82.20. Dust Commander paid $72.80 in 1970. Stately Victor is owned by the father-son combination of F. Thomas Conway and Jack Conway. Jack Conway, a Democrat, is the current Kentucky Attorney General.

Bred in Kentucky by Adena Springs, Stately Victor is out of the Dynaformer mare Collect the Cash. Collect the Cash won Keeneland's Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Stakes (gr. IT) in the fall of 2000. The bay colt was purchased from the Adena Spring March 2009 2-year-olds in training sale for $250,000.

Breaking from post 3 under Alan Garcia, Stately Victor bumped with First Dude at the start of the nine-furlong Polytrack event and was near the back of the field of nine for three-quarters of a mile while Odysseus and Paddy O’Prado led their rivals through splits of :23.89, :47.96, and 1:12.33. First Dude was also close up, as was Pleasant Prince.

Interactif, the 3-1 favorite, was within striking distance all the way around but never seriously challenged for the top spot.

By the time they came off the turn, Paddy O’Prado took control from a tiring Odysseus and the Dale Romans trainee was going well under Kent Desormeaux while holding the lead into the stretch. The only threat now was Stately Victor, who had advanced along the inside on the second turn, was moved five-wide into the stretch, and had his sights set on the leader with a furlong remaining. The outsider sprinted past Paddy O’Prado with ease in mid-stretch en route to his stunning win. The final time was 1:48.69.

Paddy O’Prado held on well for runner-up, a length in front of third-place First Dude, who is also trained by Romans and was ridden by Ramon Dominguez. Interactif finished fourth under Rafael Bejarano.

"I was very impressed with him," said Garcia, who rode the colt for the first time. "I think he had a good trip. What can I say? He broke a little slow. I went ahead and let him settle, and made a late run. I think Mike Maker did a great job. He was very confident in the horse."

Stately Victor earned $450,000 for his win and catapulted himself into the field for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) May 1 at Churchill Downs. He has now banked $493,218 overall.

In his only other try in stakes company, Stately Victor finished sixth in last year's Dixiana Breeders' Futurity (gr. I) at Keeneland. Maker also trains Dean's Kitten, who won the Lane's End Stakes (gr. II) last month and is also on his way to the Derby.

"I've always been high on this horse," Maker said. "After awhile when a horse underachieves, you kind of forget about them. But I never quit believeing in this horse. Gulfstream Park wasn't to his liking on the turf course (unplaced in his last two starts there) and so forth; bad trips. He was one of those horses you made excuses for every time."

Conway is running as a Democrat vying for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Republican Jim Bunning. Conway is a direct descendant of the first European settler in Kentucky, Dr. Thomas Walker, and grew up in the western part of the state. His campaign Web site says he can name every Kentucky Derby winner and its jockey.

He shouldn't have a problem remembering the 2010 winner if his horse can duplicate his Blue Grass upset. "Derby week just got a heck of a lot busier," Conway said.

Paddy O’Prado, who broke his maiden on turf in the Palm Beach Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Gulfstream Park last month, earned $150,000 for second and also likely has enough graded earnings ($250,950) to get into the Derby, which is limited to 20 starters.

"I couldn't be happier with Paddy O'Prado," Romans said. "When Kent put (Odysseus) away, I thought we were gone. I think he got a little lackadaisical once he made the lead.

"I'd like to take a shot at the Derby and if he runs on dirt as well as he trains on it, I think he'll be a factor." Stately Victor, who also paid $30.40 to place and $12.80 to show, keyed an exacta (3-7) worth $572.60. The trifecta (3-7-2) returned $4,291.

Codoy finished fifth, followed by Make Music for Me, Pleasant Prince, Aikenite, and Odysseus.

by Jason Shandler
from bloodhorse.com

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