04/25/2004 11:00PM

Clocker Report - Finally, sunny and fast

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The Cliff's Edge works four furlongs in :47.51 on Monday morning at Churchill Downs.

Track: Fast
Weather: Sunny
Temp: 55

LOUISVILLE, Kentucky - The sun finally shined bright over this old Kentucky home on Monday morning, a delightful and welcomed change following several days of rain. So too was the fast racetrack which greeted the five Kentucky Derby hopefuls who worked, a group that included likely Derby favorite THE CLIFF'S EDGE. As usual the majority of the action took place following the renovation break with only QUINTONS GOLD RUSH working early, very early, shortly after the track opened for business at 5:15 a.m.

Monday proved the toughest morning to single out one particular horse for coveted Work of the Day honors All five Derby candidates made a good appearance and accomplished exactly what their connections were looking for depending upon each particular runner's style and training schedule leading up to the big event.

WORK OF THE DAY - THE CLIFF'S EDGE (four furlongs in :47.51 seconds)- In a tight photo over ROCK HARD TEN, "Cliffy" gets the nod for work of the day. As much for what he had to overcome as for what he accomplished during his final Derby trial.

THE CLIFF'S EDGE was scheduled to work in company from the half mile pole with stablemate Mazhouz but instead wound up in a foursome when inadvertently joining up with another pair breaking off at the same time. Exercise rider Maxine Correa wisely decided to ease THE CLIFF'S EDGE back off all three rivals and let him cruise along behind the trio through opening splits of :12.82 and :24.51.

THE CLIFF'S EDGE angled four wide leaving the turn and swallowed up the others at the eighth pole. But as he went by the leaders more trouble awaited. A trio of gallopers who were loping along in the middle of the racetrack. But Correa quickly sized up the situation and deftly guided THE CLIFF'S EDGE through a narrow opening between his workmates and the gallopers all the while keeping her horse under a snug hold until reaching the wire. Advertisement

Despite all those obstacles and loss of ground into the stretch, THE CLIFF'S EDGE completed his final quarter mile in :23 and final eighth in :11.53. He galloped out five eighths under some light urging in 1:01.04 then continued around to the six furlong pole in 1:14.64.

This was the second straight impressive work for THE CLIFF'S EDGE who looks great and from all indications is coming up to another big effort.

ROCK HARD TEN (five furlongs in :59.68) - The most physically impressive of all the Derby contenders, ROCK HARD TEN turned in an awesome performance under jockey Craig Perret while going without company just moments before THE CLIFF'S EDGE.

Allowed to just glide away from the five furlong pole, ROCK HARD TEN went an easy opening three-furlongs in :36.33 then powered home his final quarter mile in :23.35 with Perret sitting chilly throughout. Galloped out an additional furlong in :14. Has a long, smooth, athletic looking stride despite his imposing size. Unfortunately he is also likely to be on the outside looking in when entries are drawn Wednesday for this year's Derby.

READ THE FOOTNOTES (four furlongs in :48.35) - After being a bundle of energy and all full of himself during Sunday morning's gallop, READ THE FOOTNOTES came out much more composed for what was merely a final maintenance work. Breaking off at the half mile pole under exercise rider Morna McDowall, READ THE FOOTNOTES settled in nicely after an opening furlong in :12.02, got his quarter and three-eighths in :24.35 and :36.95 then picked up the pace imperceptibly in the final furlong which he completed in a surprisingly quick :11.40. This is a high striding colt who runs with his head up and covers ground with a lot more efficiently than it might appear.

LION HEART (four furlongs in :47.90) - After spending more than a half hour in the paddock, LION HEART was the first of the Derby hopefuls to work after the renovation break. The quick striding, compact looking colt breezed along at an even pace through splits of :11.97 and :35.97 before galloping out five-eighths in 1:01.20 while in hand from start to finish. Destined to be the pacesetter on Saturday.

QUINTONS GOLD RUSH (five furlongs in 1:01.40 according to track clockers) - Working under the cover of darkness, QUINTONS GOLD RUSH was in no rush coming away from the pole going an opening eighth in a slow :14 before completing his final half mile in :47.40 while under wraps throughout.