05/01/2003 11:00PM

Derby runner profile: Atswhatimtalknbout

Email

STRENGTHS: The Kentucky Derby buzz began when this son of 1992 Belmont and BC Classic winner A.P. Indy swept past 10 rivals in an eye-catching debut. Despite winning just one of his next four, Atswhatimtalknbout has kept hope alive with his late-closing style, long-winded pedigree, and impressive appearance. His wide near-miss in the San Felipe earned him favoritism in the Santa Anita Derby, in which he finished fourth. Those forgiving that loss could be rewarded by a much improved effort over a Churchill Downs strip that can play kinder to stretch-runners than Santa Anita. Sunday's impressive local drill, while donning his new blinkers, is evidence he is poised for a breakthrough.

WEAKNESSES: Atswhatimtalknbout is bucking powerful history since the last Derby winner to have not started at 2 was Apollo in 1882. There's no denying his ability, although he seeks his first stakes win in the Derby, his sixth race in just four months. He's 0 for 2 against the less-heralded Buddy Gil, and had trainer Ron Ellis searching for answers following his SA Derby failure. Ellis only last Sunday decided to equip him with blinkers for the Derby.

STRATEGY: Atswhatimtalknbout's stretch-running ways leave him susceptible to traffic trouble. David Flores (0 for 5; third in '97 with Free House) may attempt to rally with him from midpack. Remember that he was quick enough to graduate at six furlongs, so Flores may elect to settle him not far behind favored Empire Maker, perhaps eight lengths off the expected honest pace.

BETTING VALUE: The Atswhatimtalknbout bandwagon overflowed prior to the SA Derby but lost some supporters following that loss. But we're dealing with a quality individual, and his sharp Sunday workout assures he will attract his share of wagering dollars. Expect him to be in the neighborhood of 10-1. Those who bet him at 28-1 in Pool 1 of the Future Wager are holding an overlay on a contender.

PEDIGREE PROFILE

SIRE LINE: A.P. Indy won the 1992 Belmont Stakes and Breeders' Cup Classic and the majority of his runners are late-maturing horses who excel at distances over one mile (Aptitude, A P Valentine, Stephen Got Even, Tomisue's Delight). Pulpit, from A.P. Indy's first crop, suffered a career-ending injury finishing fourth in the 1997 Derby while Aptitude finished second behind Fusaichi Pegasus in the 2000 Derby. A.P. Indy was bred for the classics, being by 1977 Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew out of a mare by 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat. It is only a matter of time before A.P. Indy sires a Derby winner. Seattle Slew also sired 1984 Derby winner Swale.

FEMALE FAMILY: Atswhatimtalknbout is by far the best runner from this female line. Overall, the class of his female family is modest. His second dam is by Charles H. Strub winner George Navonod (Bold Tactics), and his third dam is by stakes winner Champagne Charlie. Champagne Charlie (Northern Dancer) was second to Secretariat in the Gotham Stakes, but had little impact as a stallion.

PEDIGREE PATTERN: Atswhatimtalknbout gets a double dose of stamina from A.P. Indy and damsire Red Ransom, and like his sire he should be at his best at 1 1/4 miles.

- Pedigree profile by Lauren Stich