03/25/2009 12:00AM

Derby hopes alive for Square Eddie


ARCADIA, Calif. - The dream of starting Square Eddie in the Kentucky Derby on May 2 remains for owner Paul Reddam and trainer Doug O'Neill.

Despite not starting since January because of a cannon bone injury, Square Eddie, winner of the Grade 1 Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland last fall, has resumed training and could be trained up to the Kentucky Derby, Reddam and O'Neill said Wednesday.

Reddam said that weekly X-rays in the last month have shown enough improvement to allow Square Eddie to resume full exercise.

"We've had the horse X-rayed every week on Fridays to see his progress," he said. "As part of his therapy, the vets had him tack-walking and on the aqua-tred. Cardio-wise, he's in pretty good shape. It's a question of how much can you press on him without risking the fracture coming back."

A winner of 2 of 7 starts and $787,366, Square Eddie worked three furlongs in 37.40 seconds at Hollywood Park on Sunday, his first workout since early February. In his last start, Square Eddie finished second to The Pamplemousse in the Grade 3 San Rafael Stakes at Santa Anita on Jan. 17. In early February, he was diagnosed with a hairline fracture of a cannon bone, Reddam said.

Square Eddie was a candidate for the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park in February when sidelined.

O'Neill said Square Eddie probably won't be ready for an April Triple Crown prep race, such as the Lexington Stakes at Keeneland on April 18.

"The Lexington is a problem," he said. "We might not have enough time. The first Saturday in May is still in our minds. If he's up to it, we think he's that good."

Reddam defended the effort to make the Kentucky Derby with Square Eddie, saying that it may still be abandoned if the colt does not progress well.

"If he doesn't continue to make progress or took a step back, you'd have to forget all that," he said. "If you were to draw this up on the drawing board, this is not how you do it. It should be remembered that he ran six times as a 2-year-olds. That's a solid foundation.

"I'm generally an optimist. As it stands now, his chances are pretty good. Everything has to go perfectly. Up to this point, it has."

Square Eddie began his career in England and was sent to the United States last fall. He won the Breeders' Futurity in his U.S. debut and followed with a second-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita in October. The San Rafael Stakes is his only start this year.

Santa Anita Derby contenders work

The multiple stakes winners Chocolate Candy, Pioneerof the Nile, and The Pamplemousse, the three leading contenders for the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby on April 4, worked at Santa Anita on Wednesday.

Pioneerof the Nile, who leads all candidates with career earnings of $784,200, worked six furlongs in 1:11.40, the fastest of 12 works at the distance. Trained by Bob Baffert, Pioneerof the Nile has won three consecutive stakes, the most recent of which was the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes on March 14.

"The way he's acting, he's getting better," Baffert said. "He's slowly becoming a man."

The Pamplemousse worked six furlongs in 1:13. He worked well off the rail on the backstretch and was wide for much of the trip. Jockey Alex Solis was aboard for the workout and said the time was not a major concern.

"The last sixteenth, he got a little bored," Solis said. "I'd be getting afraid if he was getting bored in 1:15."

The Pamplemousse, a front-runner, won the Grade 3 Sham Stakes over 1 1/8 miles by six lengths on Feb. 28.

The Santa Anita Derby is run over 1 1/8 miles.

Chocolate Candy, who has dominated the 3-year-old division in Northern California this year, worked a mile in 1:38.60, the only horse with a workout over that distance.

Dan Ward, assistant to trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, said Chocolate Candy worked the first quarter-mile in 26 seconds and finished in "23 and change."

As of Wednesday, the Santa Anita Derby had only five probable starters. The other candidates are Mr. Hot Stuff, who was third behind The Pamplemousse in the Sham Stakes, and Feisty Suances, second to Pioneerof the Nile in the San Felipe Stakes.

Jeranimo points to Lexington

Jeranimo, third to Pioneerof the Nile in the San Felipe, is being pointed to the Lexington Stakes, trainer Mike Pender said Wednesday. Pender said the Kentucky Derby remains "a long-term goal."

"He's proven he can rebound after two weeks' rest," said Pender, referring to the time between the Lexington and the Derby. "He did that in the San Felipe."

Owned by B.J. Wright, Jeranimo was second in an allowance race Feb.o26 before starting in the San Felipe on March 14.

Three stakes winners in Tokyo City

Saturday's $100,000 Tokyo City Handicap over 1 1/2 miles on the main track has three stakes winners, including two that started in the Breeders' Cup Marathon here last October.

Big Booster is the 119-pound topweight. He won the Grade 2 San Juan Capistrano Handicap over 1 3/4 miles on turf last April and was the third-place finisher in the BC Dirt Marathon in his last start.

Zappa, seventh in the BC Marathon, is winless in five stakes appearances since a victory in the Cougar II Handicap over 1 1/2 miles on turf at Del Mar last summer.

The field of eight also includes Dream Cat, who won the Grade 3 Arlington Handicap over 1 1/4 miles on turf last July. Dream Cat was 10th in the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap here March 7.

The Tokyo City is part of a series of stakes that lead to the BC Marathon in November. This year, the BC Marathon will be run over 1 3/4 miles. Last year, the race was run over 1 1/2 miles.