04/28/2007 12:00AM

Bwana Bull, Teuflesberg opt for Derby

Michael J. Marten/Horsephotos
Cowtown Cat (foreground) works a fast five furlongs Saturday on the Polytrack at Keeneland with stablemate Magnificent Song, a Grade 1 winner.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Although the lone horse to work on Saturday for next Saturday's Kentucky Derby is still stabled 72 miles away at Keeneland, the focus for Derby 133 began to swing to Churchill Downs, where the track opened with a Derby Trial more notable for its absences.

Both Bwana Bull and Teuflesberg scratched from the $100,000 Derby Trial in order to run in the Derby seven days later. Bwana Bull is assured of a spot in the field, but the connections of Teuflesberg will have some anxious moments over the next few days before entries are taken on Wednesday.

A maximum of 20 horses can run in the Derby. As of Saturday, at least 26 were still under consideration. The tie-breaker is earnings in graded stakes races, criteria that places Bwana Bull 20th, and Teuflesberg 21st.

Bwana Bull was a late addition to the Derby picture. On Thursday, trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said Bwana Bull had suffered scrapes while flying here from California, and likely would be scratched from the Derby Trial. He said that because of Bwana Bull's there was a chance his owners would now want to point for the Derby.

That scenario played out on Saturday morning, when Hollendorfer concurrently announced Javier Castellano would ride Bwana Bull in the Derby. But Bwana Bull's inclusion bumped Teuflesberg out of the Derby field.

Since the Derby Trial is not a graded stakes race, there was no compelling reason for Teuflesberg to run Saturday. So, after weighing her options over the previous 48 hours, Jamie Sanders, the trainer and co-owner of Teuflesberg, elected to scratch from the Derby Trial and hope for the best by Wednesday.

"Hopefully we'll get in" to the Derby, Sanders said. "If not, we'll run in another race and go to the Preakness."

For Teuflesberg to run in the Derby, he needs a defection to gain entry into the field. The most likely candidate to bypass the race would appear to be Xchanger, winner of Tesio Stakes at Pimlico on April 21. His trainer and co-owner, Mark Shuman, said Friday that Xchanger was unlikely to run in the Derby unless he was sold by the weekend. Shuman did not return a phone message Saturday seeking an update on Xchanger's status.

Earlier Saturday morning at Keeneland, Cowtown Cat turned in his final work for the Derby, and gave every indication that he is still improving from consecutive victories in the Gotham Stakes and Illinois Derby.

Cowtown Cat, according to Daily Racing Form, sizzled five furlongs on Polytrack in 58.80 seconds with exercise rider Loren Robson aboard. He worked in company with the 4-year-old filly Magnificent Song. Keeneland's clockers gave Cowtown Cat a time of 58.60 seconds, second-best of 33 at the distance on Saturday morning.

As Cowtown Cat galloped out, his trainer, Todd Pletcher, said, "That's as good as a horse can work."

"He couldn't have gone any better," Pletcher said. "He's a horse who carries a lot of condition, so we wanted a solid work seven days out."

Cowtown Cat is one of five horses Pletcher is planning on entering in the Derby, along with Any Given Saturday, Circular Quay, Sam P., and Scat Daddy. If Pletcher runs five in the race, he will tie a Derby record held by D. Wayne Lukas (1996) and Nick Zito (2005).

Flying First Class wins Derby Trial

In the Derby Trial, Flying First Class withstood a withering, contested pace, then drew off to win the 7 1/2-furlong race by 3 3/4 lengths and possibly earn a start in the May 19 Preakness Stakes, the second leg of the Triple Crown.

U D Ghetto rallied for second, with 9-5 favorite Bold Start third in a field that was reduced to 11 by three scratches - Awesome Hero, Bwana Bull, and Teuflesberg.

Flying First Class ($15.20) gave jockey Mark Guidry the 4,999th victory of his career.

Flying First Class, trained by Lukas, set or forced the pace through an opening quarter in 22.05 seconds, then took command through fractions of 44.16 seconds for a half-mile and 1:08.67 for six furlongs. He completed 7 1/2 furlongs on the fast main track in 1:29.28.

Barkley Sound broke down on the backstretch and had to be euthanized.

The win was the second in five starts for Flying First Class, a colt by Perfect Mandate. After defeating maidens at Oaklawn Park, he subsequently was eighth in the Rebel Stakes

additional reporting by Byron King