04/09/2008 12:00AM

Baird now has plans for Derby Day

Email

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - E.T. Baird was not riding anywhere when the year started, did not join the Gulfstream riding colony until mid-February, and is uncertain where he's going when the meet ends here April 20.

But the jockey knows exactly where he will be on May 3 - at Churchill Downs to ride Recapturetheglory for trainer Louie Roussel in the Kentucky Derby.

Recapturetheglory earned a starting berth in the Derby by virtue of his impressive victory in last Saturday's Illinois Derby at Hawthorne. The win was one of two on the day for Baird, who then returned to south Florida to post a riding triple at Gulfstream on Sunday. Baird has ridden 12 winners from 87 mounts since arriving at Gulfstream about a month into the meet.

Recapturetheglory earned a 102 Beyer Speed Figure for his victory in the Illinois Derby, and Baird said he was impressed with the colt's performance and eagerly looking forward to the first Kentucky Derby mount of his 22-year riding career.

"When Louie called me up and asked me to come to Chicago to ride Recapturetheglory in the Illinois Derby, he told me he was a really nice horse who reminded him a lot of Risen Star," said Baird, referring to the Roussel-trained colt who won the Preakness and Belmont in 1988.

"We had the 1-hole on Saturday and I had to take advantage of it and put him on the lead," Baird said. "A lot of winners had won with speed and on the fence earlier on the card. And that strategy really worked out well.

"When I cut him loose at the quarter pole he was really running, and I especially liked the way he kept the same speed up at the end as he'd shown earlier in the race. He never backed up."

Baird, 41, had the best year of his career in 2007 when he won 121 races and his mounts earned $2,635,539. He finished third in the jockey standings at Arlington Park last summer while teaming up with the track's leading owner-trainer combination of Frank Calabrese and Wayne Catalano. But he and Catalano parted ways at the end of the year, leaving Baird's career somewhat up in the air when the 2008 season began.

"I really have no definite plans when the Gulfstream meeting ends in a couple of weeks," said Baird, the son of the late jockey Robert Baird. "But winning a race like the Illinois Derby and having an opportunity to ride in the Kentucky Derby might change things for me. Needless to say, I couldn't be more excited."

Trujillo still recuperating

Jockey Elvis Trujillo, whose career was skyrocketing until he was injured in a nasty spill here six weeks ago, is about ready to get back to work.

Trujillo, who won the 2007 Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint aboard Maryfield, sustained a broken right wrist and an injured neck when his mount, Dinner Guest, fell suddenly while near the lead in a turf race on Feb. 23. Trujillo was knocked unconscious and underwent surgery on the wrist within days after the mishap.

"The doctors say I can probably start back in a couple of weeks," said Trujillo, who was still sporting a brace on his wrist when he visited the track over the weekend. "Everything with the recovery has worked out well, and I can't wait to start back as soon as I am 100 percent."

* My Princess Jess, an easy maiden special weight winner on the grass here on Feb. 23, will head a well-matched group of 3-year-old fillies in Friday's $41,500 allowance feature. The race, scheduled for 1 1/16 miles on the turf, drew a field of 10, plus one entered for the main track only. Joe Bravo, who rode a pair of winners on Monday, will be aboard My Princess Jess for trainer Robert Barbara.

* Bill Murphy, Gulfstream's president and general manager, returned from Ireland, where he watched his daughter, Lara Rose, compete in the 38th World Irish Dancing Championships in Belfast. Her team finished sixth overall.