02/21/2010 1:42PM

Flirty Alexandrian Dance


Eskendereya's 8 1/2-length blowout in Saturday's Fountain of Youth received an overnight Beyer Speed Figure of 106, the fastest figure by a 3-year-old so far this year and nine points higher than Saturday's other two major Derby preps -- the Southwest at Oaklawn (where Conveyance earmned a 97) and the Risen Star at Fair Grounds (where Discreetly Mine got a 94).

Big figures in February are hardly a recipe for roses in May: The only three bigger winning Fountain of Youth figures in the last 20 years were the 113's run by Lil's Lad in 1998, Read the Footnotes in 2004 and Quality Road in 2009. (The last FOY winner to take the Derby was Thunder Gulch in 1995; he ran a 105 Beyer in the FOY.) On the other hand, Eskendereya did not appear to have a taxing race, has no distance issues, and appears to be a sensible and sturdy colt instead of a brittle front-runner.

His trainer, Todd Pletcher, also won Saturday's Risen Star with Discreetly Mine and Golden Gate's El Camino Real Derby with Connemara. He begins a 10-day suspension tomorrow  stemming from a procaine positive for Wait a While at the 2008 Breeders' Cup.

Eskendereya, by Giant's Causeway and the Seattle Slew mare Aldebaran Light, races for Cairo-born Ahmed Zayat, and is apparently named for an Egyptian dance. According to "Keti Sharif's Bellydance Glossary of Middle Eastern Dance Terminologies," an eskendereya is a "dance from the city of Alexandria in northern Egypt. Flirty Alexandrian dance with a milaya, or heavy veil, formerly used as a fashion accessory in the 40s. Dancer wears a bourka - netted face veil, and a frilly mid-knee length dress."

Eskendereya closed as the seventh choice (behind All Others, Lookin at Lucky, Buddy's Saint, Dublin, Super Saver and Drosselmeyer) in last weekend's first round of Derby Futures at 22.70-1

Finally, here's how those six pick-4's (discussed in the previous post) involving Saturday's graded races turned out: