12/04/2008 1:00AM

Derby is first choice for Golden Yank


Golden Yank has been cross-entered in two of Zia Park's biggest weekend stakes, the $150,000 Derby and the $200,000 Distance Championship, but on Thursday trainer Gary Thomas said the plan is to run Saturday in the Zia Park Derby. The appeal is that the 1 1/16-mile race is Golden Yank's last opportunity to compete with straight 3-year-olds.

"This is it," Thomas said. "I don't think we can let the derby go by, for sure."

Golden Yank will be favored in the nine-horse field following his powerful closing win over Tiz Now Tiz Then in the $350,000 Oklahoma Derby at Remington Park on Oct. 19. He won by 1 3/4 lengths, and earned a career-best Beyer Figure of 99.

"He did that pretty easy, I think," said Thomas, who trains Golden Yank for Millard R. Seldin. "He's doing great. He's doing real good right now."

Golden Yank, who closed from 10 lengths back in the Oklahoma Derby, has turned in a nice series of works at Remington in preparation for what will be his first start in more than six weeks. Jamie Theriot will be aboard the horse, who will break from post 7.

"He's pretty sharp right now, so maybe he won't be too far back," said Thomas.

Golden Yank, who towers over the Zia Derby field in earnings with $593,516, could get a decent pace setup behind Gambling Mister and Red Sky Dubai. Both horses are stretching out from six-furlong races and drew inside posts. Red Sky Dubai has placed in two consecutive stakes at Turf Paradise, and worked a bullet five furlongs in 1:00.40 in one of his final preps for the derby.

An honest pace would also benefit He's Eze, a stalker who makes his first start for trainer Steve Asmussen. In his most recent start, He's Eze finished an even sixth in the Grade 2 Indiana Derby. Casey Lambert has the mount on He's Eze, whose biggest career win came in the $150,000 Jack Price Juvenile at Calder in November 2007.

Numismatist will return to 3-year-old company following a fifth-place finish in a $35,000 optional claiming route at Remington Park on Oct. 10. He was favored in the one-mile race, which went in a quick time of 1:35.60. Earlier this year, Numismatist finished second by a nose in the $75,000 Prelude at Louisiana Downs.

Another contender is Por Que, who won the local allowance prep for the Zia Derby on Nov. 11.