08/22/2002 12:00AM

Governor's has 'Dan' vs. elders


In May, Danthebluegrassman was the scourge of some racing insiders who believed it was a dirty trick for the colt to be entered, then scratched, from the Kentucky Derby, thereby precluding another horse from running in the Derby.

Several months later, Danthebluegrassman is the scourge of horseplayers who find his recent form rather confounding.

Danthebluegrassman, owned by Mike Pegram and trained by Bob Baffert, surprised most bettors June 15 at Churchill Downs by winning the Northern Dancer as the fourth choice in a field of seven.

Nearly three weeks later, with far more folks on his bandwagon, Danthebluegrassman faded badly in the Iowa Derby at Prairie Meadows, finishing fifth by 15 lengths as the 6-5 favorite.

Now it's time for the Ellis Park faithful to guess which Dantheblue-grassman will show up when the $75,000 Governor's Handicap is run for the 33rd time at the Henderson, Ky., track. Danthebluegrassman will carry 114 pounds Saturday when he faces older horses for the first time in the Governor's, a one-mile race that drew a field of eight.

Dash for Daylight, two-time winner of the Don Bernhardt at Ellis, is the 119-pound highweight in the Governor's. Other major contenders include Bright Valour (117) and Frazee's Folly (115).

First post for the 10-race Saturday card is 1:10 p.m. Central.

Hutt loses one of his best

Trainer Danny Hutt has won with six of 11 starters at the Ellis meet, but the news hasn't been all good for his stable this month.

Red Masque, one of the best horses in Hutt's 10-horse stable at Churchill Downs, was euthanized Aug. 1 after suffering from complications from colic. Three days beforehand, the colt had finished a close fourth in a $60,000 claiming race at Saratoga.

Red Masque, a Red Ransom 3-year-old who was bought for $10,000, won the Forerunner Stakes at Keeneland in April, leading Hutt and the Real Deal Racing partnership that owned him to point to the Kentucky Derby. But the colt was excluded because of the 20-horse limit for the race.

Red Masque was one of 15 horses Hutt and his partners bought last year in Ocala, Fla. Hutt reports that 14 have won races, including two - Red Masque and Bunk n Ted - who have won stakes.

"Losing Red Masque was a shame, because he was such a neat horse," said Hutt. "One of the partners and I lived in a tack room right next to him after we got him in Ocala, and he'd keep us up all night, knocking water buckets and stuff around. It was a tough loss for us."

* Jerry Neff, longtime mutuel manager at Keeneland, has announced his retirement, effective Oct. 31. Neff, 65, has been employed in various capacities at Keeneland for more than 40 years.

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