Updated on 09/16/2011 7:39AM

Danthebluegrassman wins GG Derby


ALBANY, Calif. - The fun-filled Mike Pegram Express may be getting ready for another Kentucky Derby run after Danthebluegrassman's narrow victory in the Golden Gate Derby on Saturday at Golden Gate Fields.

Favored Danthebluegrassman ($4.20), coming off an easy wire-to-wire victory in the Dec. 15 Gold Rush Stakes at Golden Gate Fields, defeated Cappuchino by a nose in the Grade 3 $125,000 1 1/16-mile race. Cappuchino, who added blinkers after running third and never threatening in the Gold Rush, led the entire race until the final stride.

"Bob (Baffert, Danthebluegrassman's trainer) called me in the winner's circle and said, 'Who in the hell do you think you are? Pat Day?' " said winning jockey Joe Steiner after winning the race by a head bob in 1:43.87 over a track listed as good.

Pegram said his colt, named after his friend Dan Chandler, is already nominated to the Triple Crown. The last time he ran a colt in the Golden Gate Derby was 1998 when Real Quiet, who came within a nose at the Belmont of winning the Triple Crown that year, finished last in the race.

"This is sure a lot better than the last time I was here," Pegram said.

Both Pegram and Steiner were more impressed with the colt's hard-earned Derby win than the Gold Rush.

"My horse is determined," Steiner said. "He's big and immature, but every afternoon he's getting better. I worked him the other day, and I could sense he'd improved."

Steiner said he was told before the race, "If somebody wants to go on a suicide mission, let them go ahead."

When Cappuchino went for the lead, Steiner let him go, then eased just outside him.

"That horse was tough. He made me work," Steiner said of Cappuchino's effort. "The last two jumps we nailed him, but my colt was kind of waiting.

If somebody came up on my outside, he would have taken off."

Pegram was very encouraged by the victory.

"I just know he's got a big heart," he said. "He's a big colt, and he's improving so you can have big dreams."