10/03/2007 11:00PM

Familiar foes chase Zanjero

EmailIf Curlin is the best horse in trainer Steve Asmussen's barn, Zanjero might be the unluckiest. Though Zanjero has bankrolled more than $750,000 this year, it would have been a lot more with some better trips and fewer photo-finish losses.

Lady Luck did shine on Zanjero once this year, as he prevailed in a stretch-long duel over Grade 3 winner Bwana Bull to post a nose victory in the West Virginia Derby. Those two colts will be joined by seven others Saturday night in a competitive running of the Grade 2, $500,000 Indiana Derby, the annual highlight of the Hoosier Park meet.

The 1 1/16-mile Indiana Derby will be the fourth meeting this year between Zanjero and Bwana Bull, with Zanjero holding a 3-0 edge. The gap between the two widened in their most recent encounter in the Pennsylvania Derby, where Zanjero made a mild rally for third while Bwana Bull struggled home in seventh. Zanjero, who has been ridden much of the year by Shaun Bridgmohan, will be ridden Saturday by Robby Albarado, the regular rider of Curlin.

Slew's Tizzy, winner of the Lexington Stakes and Lone Star Derby, has also been a familiar face in the lucrative secondary 3-year-old features this summer. Like Bwana Bull, Slew's Tizzy has yet to finish ahead of Zanjero this season, but was less than a length behind that rival when fourth in the Pennsylvania Derby. That race was the first for Slew's Tizzy following a myectomy to correct a breathing problem, which came after poor efforts in both the Belmont Stakes and West Virginia Derby.

The wild card is Sedgefield, who finished a surprising fifth at 58-1 in the Kentucky Derby despite having not previously raced over dirt. Sedgefield exited the Derby with a small chip in his left front ankle, and trainer Darrin Miller brings him back for the Indiana Derby.

"I think the distance will really suit this horse," said Miller.

Travelling the farthest for the Indiana Derby is Medici Code, a California shipper who won the La Jolla and the Del Mar Derby at Del Mar. He tested positive for an excessive amount of clenbuterol after both races, the California Horse Racing Board announced last week, and a hearing is pending. Trainer Darrell Vienna said last week: "No one at my direction or with my instruction administered any inappropriate medication or drug to the horse. I'm confident that after a full hearing I'll be exonerated."

Both races were on turf and Medici Code's only try on dirt was a sixth-place finish in the Santa Anita Derby in his U.S. debut. Medici Code had won three races over synthetic surfaces in England.