Updated on 09/17/2011 10:23AM

It's all Midas Eyes in Trial

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Midas Eyes was kept under a vigorous hand ride by Jerry Bailey to hold off Champali in the Derby Trial Saturday, opening day of the Churchill meet.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Bobby Frankel, Jerry Bailey and bridge-jumpers around the country got their Churchill Downs meet off to a good start Saturday as Midas Eyes rolled to a 2 1/2-length victory in the Grade 3, $167,400 .

Champali, the second choice in the race, ran a game second, finishing 13 1/4 lengths ahead of Desert Warrior. Minor Moss, Private Gold, and Unbridled America completed the order of finish.

Sent off a heavy 3-10 favorite, Midas Eyes returned $2.60 to win. Of the $882,166 wagered to show, $811,882 was bet on Midas Eyes, resulting in a minus show pool of $162,875.

The Derby Trial and beautiful weather helped attract an opening-day crowd of 14,492 as Churchill began its 52-day spring summer meet on Saturday. The centerpiece of the meet is next Saturday's Kentucky Derby, where Frankel and Bailey will be heavy favorites once again with Empire Maker.

They can only hope things go as well as they did in the Derby Trial.

Midas Eyes, coming off a monster win in the Grade 3 Swale last month at Gulfstream, took command of the Derby Trial coming out of the chute. He opened a 1 1/2-length lead after running fractions of 22.85 and 46.10 seconds. Though Champali, under Pat Day, made a bid approaching the quarter pole, Midas Eyes had enough left to hold him at bay through the stretch under a vigorous hand ride from Bailey.

Bailey said Midas Eyes won despite struggling over Churchill's surface.

"I liken it to a tennis player that plays really good on a hard court but not so good on a clay court," Bailey said. "He struggled a little bit with the surface. It just makes him work harder than he normally would on a hard track. Other than that he ran really well."

Frankel's fear was that Midas Eyes lacked fitness, having missed some training in California, where the closure of Hollywood Park for a couple of mornings forced him to miss a workout.

"At the eighth pole I thought maybe it would show up, but I guess his class [prevailed]," Frankel said. "It's different when you miss training with a horse that's run five, six, seven times. But when you miss training with one that's run only once in eight months you worry about it."

Midas Eyes, owned by Edmund Gann, who will try to win the Derby with Frankel and Peace Rules, covered the mile in 1:36.22 over a fast track.

Frankel said he would point Midas Eyes to the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont Park on May 26, where he would face older horses.

Trainer Greg Foley was pleased with how well Champali ran, but was unsure where he would run next. Foley said he would most likely seek races at nine furlongs and shorter.