03/17/2010 12:00AM

Backtalk targeting Illinois Derby

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The 3-year-old colt Backtalk worked five furlongs in 1:01.20 on Wednesday morning at Fair Grounds, but his next race will not come at his current base in the March 27 Louisiana Derby.

"He had a very good work today," trainer Tom Amoss said in a text message. "The decision has been made to skip the Louisiana Derby and nominate to the Illinois Derby as well as the Wood Memorial, with a strong lean to the Illinois Derby."

Amoss said Miguel Mena would retain the mount on Backtalk in his next start.

Backtalk worked in one of Amoss's early sets of horses Wednesday morning while the Fair Grounds track still was labeled sloppy after overnight rain. His workout time was second-fastest among just 10 at the distance Wednesday.

Backtalk, along with Tampa Bay Derby runner-up Schoolyard Dreams, would be among the favorites should he indeed wind up in the April 3 Illinois Derby at Hawthorne. In the Wood, also April 3, he would have to face impressive Fountain of Youth winner Eskendereya.

Backtalk won his first three starts last year at 2, including the Grade 3 Bashford Manor and the Grade 2 Sanford Stakes. After a fourth in the Hopeful Stakes and an eighth in the Breeders' Futurity, Backtalk was given a break before making his 3-year-old debut in the Feb. 26 Sportsman's Paradise at Delta Downs, which he won by a half-length in a determined effort.

Fast Alex will miss Louisiana Derby

While Backtalk appears to be coming along nicely in March, things have gone amiss for Fast Alex, another Fair Grounds-based 3-year-old, who was headed for the Louisiana Derby after consecutive two-turn dirt wins in New Orleans. Fast Alex has developed a minor shin problem, trainer Greg Geier said, and will not make the Louisiana Derby.

"We're not going to press on him," Geier said. "He's not doing anything right now. He'll probably go back to the track in a week or so."

Geier trains Fast Alex for owner-breeder Jim Tafel, who won the Kentucky Derby in 2007 with Street Sense. After finishing third in his career debut, a sprint, Fast Alex won a maiden race and an entry-level allowance race at Fair Grounds.