06/12/2012 2:09PM

Hollywood Park: Danderek to test limits of his speed in marathon

Shigeki Kikkawa
Danderek will stretch out to 1 1/2 miles in an optional claimer Thursday at Hollywood Park.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Danderek is not supposed to run this far, and few expected Porfido would last this long.

But the idea that Danderek is questionable at 1 1/2 miles, or Porfido less reliable at age 10, might need revision after the race 7 feature Thursday at Betfair Hollywood Park.

The veterans are leading contenders in the first-level optional claimer, a turf marathon with 13 entrants. Danderek is the controlling speed, and former Group 1 winner Porfido is the proven class. Their attributes are as clear as their potential limitations.

Danderek is 5 for 22 overall, but 0 for 9 beyond 1 1/4 miles. His new trainer, Dan Blacker, admits the 1 1/2-mile distance Thursday is a concern.

“Yes, absolutely it is,” Blacker said. “His best distance is probably a mile and a quarter. But he trains like he wants to run all day. There’s not too much speed in the race, so that helps.”

Danderek was claimed May 17 by owners Dan Capen and Gary Margolis off a front-running win in an optional $40,000 claimer at 1 1/4 miles. Blacker expects jockey Jose Valdivia to employ the same strategy.

“He’s going to jump to the lead, that’s how he runs,” Blacker said.

A fast start by the horse would mirror the fast start by his trainer.

Thursday’s race comes less than six months after Blacker, 30, scored his first training win at Hollywood Park.

A former assistant to Richard Mandella and Tom Albertrani, Blacker obtained his license in November and currently trains 11 horses. He is 3 for 16 overall and won with two of his last four starters.

“I’ve been really lucky with some game owners willing to take a shot with an up-and-coming trainer,” he said.

Up and coming does not apply to 10-year-old Porfido, whose 53-start r é sum é stretches all the way back to Chile. Porfido won three Group 1 races before being imported to the United States in 2006. Previously trained by Bobby Frankel and Humberto Ascanio, Porfido is now trained by Eoin Harty.

Porfido might not the best horse in the Harty stable, but he is among the most popular.

“He’s a barn favorite, a quintessential professional,” Harty said. “He doesn’t do anything wrong.”

Porfido is exceptionally well-mannered while being groomed.

“He has become so programmed over the years,” Harty. “He picks his feet up one at time, and it’s the same thing in the paddock. If he could saddle himself, I think he would.”

Pete Fer and Jimmy Yanez own Porfido, whose 12 wins include a Feb. 20 victory the last time he raced at the first allowance condition. In his most recent start, Porfido finished third in a minor stakes.

Martin Garcia will ride Porfido, one of the Thursday favorites, despite advanced age.

“I am sure he has lost a step, but that doesn’t make him ineffective at the level he is running Thursday,” Harty said. “I love having him around.”