03/29/2011 11:55AM

Kentucky Derby dreams head in different directions for Golden Gate trainers

Coady Photography
Twice the Appeal won $400,000 in graded money in the Sunland Derby.

ALBANY, Calif. – Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer once used a baseball metaphor to explain why he entered a horse in a seemingly tough stakes race: “You can’t hit a home run, if you don’t go up to bat.”

Local trainers Jeff Bonde and Billy Morey stepped into the batter’s box over the weekend, and Bonde hit a home run with Twice the Appeal, scoring a $53.20 upset in the Grade 3, $800,000 Sunland Derby at Sunland Park. Morey didn’t fare as well in his attempt at winning a major 3-year-old stakes, which came in the Grade 3 Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park. The Morey-trained Positive Response finished eighth as the 8-5 favorite, missing a paycheck for the first time in his career.

Bonde said that Twice the Appeal’s owners – Edward Brown Jr., Victor Flores, and Henry Hernandez – are already making plans for the Kentucky Derby with the $400,000 they picked up in graded stakes earnings at Sunland, which is more than enough to qualify for the Derby. That Mine That Bird won the 2009 Kentucky Derby after running fourth in the Sunland Derby shows it is not out of the realm of possibility for a horse like Twice the Appeal to make an impact in the Derby, Bonde said.

“Whatever position you’re in, you look for parallels to make the same thing happen to you,” Bonde said.

Bonde paid $35,000 for Twice the Appeal at the Barretts sale on May 10. The colt is by Successful Appeal and out of the Cormorant mare Double Bearded.

“We originally thought being by Successful Appeal, he’d be precocious early, but only when we stretched him out did he begin to show his potential,” Bonde said.

“He’s by a Cormorant mare, and that means distance.”

Twice the Appeal has won 3 of his last 4. He won a Santa Anita maiden claiming race at seven furlongs in his seventh start before winning a $40,000 starter allowance at a mile. In his start before the Sunland Derby, he finished second in Turf Paradise Derby but was disqualified to fourth for interference in the stretch.

Twice the Appeal came from sixth place in the 1 1/8-mile Sunland Derby and defeated Astrology by 1 1/2 lengths. He earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 89, and Bonde knows he will have to improve on that to contend in Kentucky. However, Bonde says the 1 1/4-mile distance of the Derby should not be a problem for Twice the Appeal.

“When you finish your final Derby prep like he did, you have to feel good,” Bonde said.

Bonde said that Twice the Appeal is stabled at Santa Anita and will stay there until arrangements can be made to ship him to Kentucky.

Fast pace dooms Positive Response

As for Positive Response, he was a victim of a fast pace in the Spiral, dueling for the lead through fast fractions on the Polytrack at Turfway before tiring to finish eighth of 11 under Julien Couton.

“The way the race was run, he wasn’t going to win,” Morey said.

Positive Response, who won the Gold Rush and the California Derby at Golden Gate Fields earlier in the winter, came into the Spiral off a front-running, seven-length win in the John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway.

“The trip was good overall,” Morey said. “We won a $100,000 race and ran as the favorite in a $500,000 race.”

Positive Response flew back to California on Monday and bedded down at Santa Anita before returning to Golden Gate Fields.

Morey said Positive Response would get a short break and then point to the May 14 Alcatraz, a $75,000 turf stakes for 3-year-olds at Golden Gate Fields. The race would be his first on grass.

“It’s seven weeks to the Alcatraz, which should work well,” he said. “We’d rather keep him in California now, and there are 3-year-old races at Hollywood Park and Del Mar we can look at. The Alcatraz is the first step.”

If Positive Response can handle the turf, he’ll have an even wider range of options available in Southern California. His sire, Pomeroy, was 0 for 1 on turf and has yet to sire a turf winner. His dam, Lisa’s Approval, scored half of her six wins on the turf, but her other foal to race is 0 for 1 on the grass.

◗ The Thoroughbred Owners of California will offer a free seminar explaining the basics of racehorse ownership at 8:30 a.m. Saturday in the Bay View Lounge at Golden Gate Fields. The seminar will feature Morey and Ray Pagano, co-owner of Positive Response, and they will offer insights into the thrill of having a horse on the Derby trail. The seminar is open to the public, but reservations are recommended by calling TOC at (626) 574-6620 or going to www.toconline.com.