04/03/2008 11:00PM

Hey Byrn considers Holy Bull


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Hey Byrn's quest for a potential spot in the Kentucky Derby field may not be over yet.

Despite finishing a disappointing fourth in the $1 million Florida Derby, Hey Byrn may get one more opportunity to earn enough graded money to still qualify for one of the 20 starting positions in this year's Kentucky Derby. That chance could come in Saturday's Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes, which offers a $150,000 purse.

Hey Byrn earned $50,000 for finishing fourth in the Grade 1 Florida Derby. A victory in the 1 3/16-mile Holy Bull is worth $90,000 and would give him $140,000 in graded earnings, a figure that might be enough to get him into the Derby field depending on how things shake out in the six other graded stakes for 3-year-olds still to be decided over the next several weeks.

"Right now, I'd say we're 50-50 to run in the Holy Bull," trainer Eddie Plesa said Friday. "The race gives us another option to consider."

Plesa said after the Florida Derby that he was contemplating working Hey Byrn on the turf and perhaps pointing him for the Calder Derby on the grass on April 26.

"I'll look at the potential field for the Holy Bull before making any firm decision," Plesa said. "The smaller the field and the easier the race, the more attractive it would be to us."

Plesa is likely to get his wish when it comes to the makeup of the field for the Holy Bull, with no more than a half-dozen 3-year-olds presently under consideration for the race. The Holy Bull was moved on the 2008 stakes schedule from it's traditional spot in January to the second week of April with the hopes of attracting 3-year-olds in need of some extra earnings to get into the Derby field. A 3-year-old such as Hey Byrn.

According to the racing office, only four horses were considered definite for the Holy Bull as of Friday. They are Dream Maestro, Famous Patriot, Web Gem, and Mambo Meister.

However, trainer Phil Gleaves said Friday he would wait until working Mambo Meister over the weekend before making a final decision. Mambo Meister is coming off a fourth-place finish under first-level allowance conditions on March 1.

"We worked him seven furlongs last week with this race in mind, and I'll bring him back and work him again Sunday or Monday and then make a decision," said Gleaves who trains Mambo Meister for James Cavanaugh and Chris Pallas.

Trainer Tim Hills said his problem is not deciding whether to run Famous Patriot in the Holy Bull. That's been the plan since the improving 3-year-old won his maiden going nine furlongs here March 6. His dilemma is finding a rider. Javier Castellano was aboard Famous Patriot for the colt's maiden win, but, like many members of the local jockey colony, he headed back north earlier this week.

"The horse couldn't be doing better," Hills said. "He worked six furlongs in 1:12 and change last week, and the extra sixteenth of a mile shouldn't hurt him. Right now, I'm just up in the air regarding a rider."

Trainer Marty Wolfson said he also is considering the Holy Bull for his speedy Samba Rooster who comes off a sharp second going a mile here last weekend.

"I'm dying to stretch him out around two turns and give him a chance to harness his speed a little bit," Wolfson said.

McCauley wins with first mount

Jockey Herb McCauley made a triumphant return to the saddle here Thursday when guiding the first mount he's accepted at the meet, Awesome Alexandra, to victory for Wolfson.

"Timing was everything for me today," McCauley said after winning Thursday's main event. "I basically won that race on timing and smarts. You can work and work and still not be in tip-top shape until you ride in a race."