Updated on 09/17/2011 10:56AM

Derby hopes on the line


ARCADIA, Calif. - The preliminary races are over for the five 3-year-olds entered in a $56,000 allowance race at Santa Anita on Thursday.

A win or a placing in Thursday's race over 1 1/16 miles could vault some of these colts into the preps for the Triple Crown. A loss could force their owners and trainers to reconsider a start in the big races this spring.

The allowance race in question is the second race on an eight-race program that includes the $75,000 San Marino Handicap, which was postponed last weekend because of a wet turf course.

All five in the race are contenders.

Nation Wide News and Atswhatimtalknbout were second and third in a similar one-mile race on Jan. 24. Buckland Manor and During are coming off maiden wins. Singletary is coming off a disappointing seventh in the Santa Catalina Stakes.

"This is the type of race that if he wins, we can go on to the Derby trail," said Ron Ellis, who trains Atswhatimtalknbout. "If he loses, we'd probably back off."

Atswhatimtalknbout won a six-furlong maiden race in his career debut on Jan. 4, but was beaten 2 1/2 lengths by Apalachian Thunder on Jan. 24. The loss did not discourage Ellis.

"He ran like I thought he would," Ellis said. "It was a fast race. It should set him up good."

Atshwatimtalknbout could go favored, although Nation Wide News will receive considerable support. Nation Wide News won a maiden race over 6 1/2 furlongs by five lengths on Dec. 26, and was beaten two lengths by Apalachian Thunder.

A win by Singletary would be an upset. Singletary was second in the Hill Rise Stakes on turf on Dec. 28, but was beaten 13 lengths in the Santa Catalina Stakes on Jan. 18, his first start on dirt.

Both Buckland Manor and During were convincing maiden winners in their last starts. During is trained by Bob Baffert, and is making his first start around two turns. Buckland Manor won by five lengths over 1 1/16 miles on Jan. 26, leading or disputing the pace throughout. The race was his third start.

"He surprised me when he made the lead," said Paco Gonzalez, who trains Buckland Manor. "I knew he'd be a better horse going long.

"He came up with a quarter crack a week after that race, and I lost a few days. I've only worked him a half and five-eighths. If he's going to improve, he can improve this time."

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