04/13/2010 11:00PM

Eightyfiveinafifty hopes Trial takes him to Derby


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - So much still has to happen for Eightyfiveinafifty to make it into the starting gate for the Kentucky Derby, but the speedy colt took one small step toward that goal on Wednesday with another typically fast workout at Aqueduct that kept him on target for the Grade 3 Derby Trial at Churchill Downs on April 24.

With former jockey Nick Santagata in the irons - and barely moving a muscle - Eightyfiveinafifty worked five furlongs in 58.09 seconds Wednesday morning over Aqueduct's main track. He did drift a little in the stretch while galloping out six furlongs in 1:12.

Eightyfiveinafifty was scheduled to leave for Louisville, Ky., on Thursday afternoon and will work one time over the Churchill Downs main track next week in preparation for the one-mile Derby Trial.

Should Eightyfiveinafifty win the $200,000 Derby Trial, he could accrue enough graded stakes earnings to crack the 20-horse field for the Kentucky Derby a week later. The first-place purse of $120,000 would double his graded earnings to $240,000 which, as of Wednesday, would put him 21st on the earnings list. Though the Derby field is limited to 20 runners, two candidates ahead of Eightyfiveinafifty - Noble's Promise and Interactif - are 50-50 or less to run.

Eightyfiveinafifty, owned by a partnership headed by Harold Lerner, is coming off a 2 1/2-length victory in the Grade 3 Bay Shore Stakes here on April 3.

"The Derby is not out of the question until he says it is," trainer Gary Contessa said Wednesday, referring to Eightyfiveinafifty. "I'll have a pretty good idea when he hits the wire of the Derby Trial where we're at."

Contessa was in Ocala, Fla., on Wednesday, attending the under-tack show for next week's OBS 2-year-old-in-training sale. But he has seen the type of move Eightyfiveinafifty put in Wednesday many times before.

Equipped with the one-cup blinker - outside of his right eye - that he has trained in since bolting in the Whirlaway in February, the ever-inquisitive Eightyfiveinafifty had his head cocked toward the outside rail virtually the entire time he was jogging clockwise on the track under Santagata. Eightyfiveinafifty turned around at the 5 1/2-furlong pole and immediately broke into a gallop.

Breaking into his work at the five-furlong pole, Eightyfiveinafifty went his first eighth in 12.70 seconds, the quarter in 23.72, three furlongs in 34.99 seconds, a half-mile in 46.37, and finished in 58.09 while drifting slightly. He also drifted while galloping out.

Contessa's assistant, Marcelo Arenas, said the move was typical for Eightyfiveinafifty.

"He did everything by himself," Arenas said. "He come back good, he's walking fine. I said 'Nick, try for 1:00 or 1:01.' Nick said 'Marcelo, he did it by himself. I never moved.' That's him. He's a fast horse."