05/01/2005 11:00PM

Kentucky Derby clocker report for Sunday

Bellamy Road works five furlongs in 1:00.42 under exercise rider Maxine Correa at Churchill Downs on Sunday.

Weather: Clear, Temp. 44
Track: Fast

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The sun finally came out Sunday morning and along with it came most of the stars for this year's Kentucky Derby, including likely favorites Bellamy Road and Bandini, who each worked five furlongs over the first fast track any horse had been able to train over here the last three days. Bellamy Road and Bandini were two of the seven Derby candidates who worked at Churchill Downs on Sunday. Sis City, the heavy favorite to win the Kentucky Oaks, also worked during a very busy 10-minute period following the renovation break.

Work of the day

Anybody coming to Churchill Downs looking to find an excuse to pick against Bellamy Road (five furlongs in 1:00.42) at a short price, myself included, will be hard pressed to find any chinks in the favorite's armor, especially after watching his final Derby work shortly after sunrise.

With exercise rider Maxine Correa taking a good hold and barely moving her hands throughout the five-furlong drill, Bellamy Road went along at a fairly even clip in fractions of 12.57, 24.26, and 36.50 for his opening three furlongs. He swung about three or four paths off the rail entering the stretch, then finished straight and strong, covering the ground with long, powerful strides. Bellamy Road completed his final quarter in 23.92 before galloping out six furlongs in 1:13.64 and seven furlongs in a very impressive 1:27.86.

Bellamy Road's final time, which was only the fourth fastest at the distance on the day, was not as important as the manner in which he accomplished the move. His smooth, enormous stride gave the impression Bellamy Road will have little problem getting 1 1/4 miles, and his strong gallop out was perhaps an indication he remains fit and strong following his unbelievable performance in the Wood.

Noble Causeway (five furlongs in 59.91) and High Fly (five furlongs in 1:00.38) had tough acts to follow after their stablemate's awesome work, but both more than held up their end of the bargain, leaving trainer Nick Zito all smiles at the end of the morning. Both were also ridden by Correa. Noble Causeway broke off about five lengths behind stablemate Capac and went along at a slightly faster early clip than Bellamy Road, especially his third eighth, which he negotiated in a quick 11.37 to catch his workmate approaching the quarter pole. Unlike Bellamy Road, Noble Causeway was put under light urging from Correa through the stretch, pulling away from Capac by about three lengths at the wire after covering his final quarter in 24.21. The gallop out in 1:13.76 was encouraging considering the rapid nature of the work.

High Fly went out with stablemate Last Samurai, then joined up with some additional company when he ran up on an unidentified horse from another barn who appeared to be in an open gallop in the middle of the track in the stretch. High Fly nearly matched Bellamy Road's early splits, then picked up the pace appreciably down the lane, especially when he was suddenly forced to split horses and hooked up with the uninvited company inside the eighth pole. High Fly outfinished that rival without need of much urging from Correa.

High Fly covered his final quarter in 23.78, then galloped out six furlongs in 1:13.82 and seven furlongs in 1:28.57. Like Bellamy Road, he was a handful to pull up on the backstretch, although in sharp contrast to his big, powerful stablemate, High Fly is a compact, bulldoggish type with a short, quick stride.

Bandini (five furlongs in 1:00.75) was the first of trainer Todd Pletcher's two Derby hopefuls to work Sunday, followed by Flower Alley (five furlongs in 1:00.42).

Bandini, with jockey John Velazquez aboard, went in company with the Grade 1 stakes-winning sprinter Lion Tamer. The pair zipped along early, with Bandini making up the two lengths he spotted his workmate at the start after posting fractions of 11.92, 23.75, and 35.54 for his opening three furlongs. Bandini angled about three paths off the rail into the stretch and under very mild urging completed his final quarter in 25.21 before galloping out in 1:15.92. I would have preferred to have seen a bit more down the stretch. The relatively slow finish was perhaps a result of the quick early splits, and nothing that should be a cause for concern among his growing legion of supporters.

Flower Alley, equipped in blinkers and with regular exercise rider Michelle Nihei up, went in company with no less a workmate than Eclipse Award winner Ashado. Flower Alley was a bit anxious at first but quickly settled into stride, going along at a very honest pace of 11.67, 23.38, and 35.23. Flower Alley was the stronger of the two down the stretch, finishing a neck in front of Ashado while under less urging. His final quarter-mile split of 25.19 was nearly identical to Bandini's. Flower Alley appeared to focus well once settling into the work, and one must obviously respect a 3-year-old who is able to keep pace and outfinish a filly like Ashado.

Spanish Chestnut (five furlongs in 1:00.44) and Going Wild (five furlongs in 59.80) are the type of horses expected to work fast, and neither disappointed. Spanish Chestnut took a couple of little hops before breaking off rankly into his work. He displayed the quick strides of a sprinter, going an opening three furlongs in 35.16 before tiring near the end, although he was under little encouragement from exercise rider Rodolphe Brisset at any time.

Going Wild, with regular exercise rider Stacy Prior aboard, was the first of the local Derby runners to work under the cover of darkness. He reeled off rapid fractions of 11.54, 23.45, 35.24, and 46.64 before weakening late and galloping out an additional furlong in 14. Going Wild appears destined to be a pace factor Saturday.

* Oaks favorite Sis City was given an easy maintenance work of 1:01.78. Memorette, who figures to go off one of the longshots in the race, mirrored Sis City's final time but was under heavy pressure to do so in a less-than-encouraging work.