10/04/2014 9:40PM

East Hall springs upset in Indiana Derby

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Jamie Linscott
East Hall, with Luis Saez aboard, scores by a length over Vicar's in Trouble in the Indiana Derby.

SHELBYVILLE, Ind. - The Gulfstream Park Derby, the Tampa Bay Derby, the Florida Derby, the Ohio Derby, and the Super Derby. About the only derby East Hall missed this year was the big one in Kentucky, and on a frigid Saturday night at Indiana Grand Racecourse, he won the Grade 2, $500,000 Indiana Derby by one length over Vicar’s in Trouble.

It was the second derby win of the year for East Hall, who won the $300,000 Ohio Derby by a head in July. In that race, and in most of his starts, East Hall settled near the rear of the field and came with a late run. Tactics totally changed Saturday. East Hall, breaking sharply while ridden for the first time by Luis Saez, was Vicar’s In Trouble’s closest pursuer into the first turn, and he never fell far behind a moderate tempo.

“Those were my instructions,” said Saez. “Put him into the race tonight.”

Vicar’s In Trouble, gifted an easy lead, looked home-free in midstretch, leading by two lengths at the stretch call, but East Hall came and got him. The graded stakes and two-turn debut of previously unbeaten Atreides did not go well at all. He broke flat-footed, raced in behind horses for the first time, and never got untracked, checking in sixth of seven as the even-money favorite.

“He broke a little slow. He ran all right for a little while, but he just stayed the same [pace] after that,” said Atreides’s jockey, Joel Rosario.

East Hall tracked Vicar’s In Trouble through splits of 24.42 seconds, 48.02, and 1:11.91. Rosie Napravnik, riding Vicar’s In Trouble, thought she had the race won turning for home, while Saez believed he had little chance of catching the leader. But when East Hall changed his leads after straightening for the wire, he found another gear. 

“When he switched leads, boom,” said Saez.

As he changed leads, East Hall swerved to the outside, and the rider of third-place finisher Just Call Kenny claimed foul, but the claim was denied, and East Hall had his second win of the season for trainer Bill Kaplan and owners Jack Hendricks and Roger Justice. He ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.24 and paid a generous $35.80 to win.

“He’s a good shipper. He’s been campaigned heavily, but he loves to run,” said Hendricks.

By Graeme Hall-Easy Long Lake, East Hall won for the fourth time in 17 starts. Barring the unforeseen, his long campaign will continue this autumn, Hendricks said. And why not? East Hall ran as well as he ever has before Saturday night, and he had an excuse in his most recent start, a well-beaten sixth behind Vicar’s In Trouble in the Super Derby.

There, Hendricks said, East Hall was blocked, stepped on, and grabbed a quarter. Kaplan, who didn’t travel from his Florida base for the race, had given the gelding a sizzling 58-second five-furlong work in his final drill for Saturday’s start. The plan was to show more speed, stay out of trouble this time. The plan worked.