04/26/2004 11:00PM

Clocker Report - Master David tops tab


Track: Fast
Weather: Sunny
Temp: 45

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - As the day of reckoning draws closer, Derby workouts get scarcer, and only two candidates for Saturday's race got in some serious work on a cold and blustery Tuesday morning.

The nip in the air certainly had most of the Derby hopefuls on their toes and eager to perform, including the undefeated Smarty Jones, who had a spirited gallop. There was also plenty of unexpected excitement during training hours with three horses getting loose from their riders, causing a few anxious moments for one Derby candidate.

Obviously, with only four days left until the Derby, these late workouts are less strenuous than earlier ones and more of the maintenance variety. As a result, neither Master David nor Minister Eric turned in the type of eye-catching trials some of their Derby competitors have produced over the past several mornings.

Work of the day - Master David (five furlongs in 1:00.82) - With jockey Joe Deegan aboard, Master David broke off several lengths behind Coded Warning, a well-regarded 3-year-old maiden who, like Master David, is trained by Bobby Frankel. Master David was allowed to cruise along behind his stablemate through fractions of 12.51, 25.16, and 37.09 seconds before easing out into the four path to go after his target entering the stretch. Under a loose rein, Master David caught Coded Warning near the sixteenth pole, although as may be his custom, he struggled to get by his rival to the wire. He did complete his final quarter-mile in a solid 23.73 before galloping out six furlongs in 1:14.79 under mild urging.

Minister Eric (four furlongs in 50.11) - Was almost on top of the half-mile pole before breaking away from the pony to begin his work and as a result went a leisurely opening furlong in 13.23 with jockey Pat Day taking a strong hold. Minister Eric continued along on his own courage around the turn, drifted out a few paths off the rail entering the stretch, and after changing leads and given the slightest cue by Day inside the eighth pole, picked up the pace and came home his final furlong in 11.69. He then shut down very quickly, galloping out to the seven-eighths pole in a slow 1:06.06.

Smarty Jones came onto the track just after 7 a.m. and gave exercise rider Pete Van Trump all he could handle. By the time he hit the backstretch for the second time, Smarty Jones was going at far better than a two-minute lick, reeling off a couple of 13-and-change eighths despite galloping well out in the middle of the track before his rider got him back in hand again in the stretch.

Friends Lake put in another strong gallop of his own about 15 minutes after the renovation break but had to withstand a brief scare when a loose pony came directly into his path before whizzing by just a few feet away. He then proceeded to the starting gate for a lengthy and productive schooling session.

Castledale and St Averil made their first appearance on the racetrack after flying in from the West Coast Tuesday. Both horses merely jogged, Castledale under the cover of darkness before 6 a.m. and St Averil much later in the morning. Both horses were scheduled to gallop for the first time on Wednesday, as was Song of the Sword.