10/15/2004 11:00PM

Cool Conductor captures derby

Four Footed Fotos
Cool Conductor wins the the Grade 3, $250,000 Hawthorne Derby by a neck on Saturday.

STICKNEY, Ill. - To win the , Jose Santos needed to throw down the anchor on Cool Conductor. Fifty yards after the start, Santos had Cool Conductor just where he wanted him, hard held and in behind other horses. Cool Conductor turned off, relaxing in a race for the first time since July, and with help from a perfect trip ran down a game colt in Bankruptcy Court in the final jumps to win the Grade 3, $250,000 derby a neck.

Cool Conductor balked briefly going into the gate. Perhaps he was confused, loading for a race just six days after his last one. Trainer Bill Mott threw out the playbook, bringing Cool Conductor back less than a week after he had finished fourth in the Storm Cat Stakes at Keeneland. In that race and three others earlier in the year, Cool Conductor had run off with his rider, ruining his chances at victory.

"Billy Mott put me on because nobody could hold him," said Santos. "I got a good hold out of the gate. I didn't let him do anything."

Cool Conductor settled in sixth, as a big longshot named Western Ridge sailed through splits of 23.56 seconds for a quarter-mile and 47.40 for a half, pursued by Gwaihir and Bankruptcy Court. Cockleshell, the second choice behind Cool Conductor, sat a perfect trip behind the top three, swinging into action partway around the far turn. As Cockleshell went wide, jockey Shaun Bridgmohan slipped through a tiny seam on the rail with Bankruptcy Court, who quickened and took the lead.

But following him was Santos, and this time Cool Conductor had something left for the stretch. Santos got to work, and Bankruptcy Court's lead began shrinking.

"At the sixteenth pole, you could see he was going to win the race," Santos said.

Crown Prince, last into the far turn, came home fast for third, well behind the place horse and three-quarters of a length ahead of Cockleshell, who was flat in the stretch.

Cool Conductor, a Stravinsky colt owned by David Garner, paid $5 to win, running nine furlongs on firm turf in 1:47.89. The victory, his third, was Cool Conductor's first in a stakes.