04/25/2011 1:24PM

Kentucky Derby: Twinspired still hoping to get in

Coady Photography/Keeneland
Derby Kitten (left) wins Saturday’s Grade 3 Coolmore Lexington at Keeneland for trainer Mike Maker.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Surely a baseball manager wishes he could save a few of his team’s runs from a 14-1 blowout for the next night, when they come up short in a 3-2 loss. The same sort of principle might logically apply for a horse trainer such as Mike Maker, who came within a couple inches of sweeping the two major 3-year-old races at Keeneland this spring – and yet still finds himself without a confirmed Kentucky Derby starter.

Maker saddled Derby Kitten for a relatively comfortable 1 1/2-length triumph in the Coolmore Lexington here Saturday, one week after experiencing one of the nastiest beats of his eight-year solo training career. Maker watched as Twinspired was nipped in the final lunge of the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes, a loss that might well keep the colt out of the May 7 Derby on graded stakes earnings. Clearly the Derby cutoff list has yet to be finalized, but as of Monday morning, with Jaycito out, but J P’s Gusto and The Factor still in, it appears that Twinspired is No. 22 with his $197,500 graded bankroll, just outside the 20-horse gate.

“The owners really want to run, without a doubt,” Maker said. “We’re going to train the colt as if we’re running. There’s really no other option. We’ll just sit back and wait to see what happens.”

KENTUCKY DERBY NEWS: Track all the 3-year-olds on the Triple Crown trail

Twinspired, obviously one of the more aptly named horses you could ever find to run in the Derby, is owned by the Louisville-based partnership of Sky Chai Racing, Sand Dollar Stable, and Alpha Stables.

Maker said he plans to work Twinspired this weekend at his Trackside training center base, just a few miles east of Churchill Downs.

“Which day depends on the weather,” he said.

Maker said a jockey assignment for Twinspired has not yet been firmed up, but “there’s no shortage of good riders still available,” he said before mentioning Ramon Dominguez as a possibility.

Meanwhile, Derby Kitten earned $120,000 from his first career stakes win, the Grade 3 Lexington, and is well short of making the Derby.

“We’ve talked about the Preakness and so forth,” Maker said. “But he obviously runs well on turf and Poly, too, so we shouldn’t have trouble finding a race for him.”

Caracortado eyes Woodford Reserve Turf Classic

Mike Machowsky said Sunday he is very interested in sending Caracortado on the charter flight from California next Tuesday, May 3, for a run in the Grade 1, $500,000 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at 1 1/8 miles on the Derby undercard.

“We’re not having all that rain you’re having there, so I thought we’d stay here as long as we could,” Machowsky said. “I’m pretty sure we’re coming. The distance and the timing should be just right for him.”

Caracortado, 4, has emerged as one of the top middle-distance turf runners on the West Coast.

Meanwhile, one of the would-be favorites for the Woodford, Paddy O’Prado, had another five-furlong breeze Monday when going in a minute flat over the Churchill slop. Trainer Dale Romans said he is hopeful of having the 4-year-old colt ready to make his season debut in the Woodford.

Runflatout targets Derby Trial

A couple of California invaders, Indian Winter and Runflatout, are among the prospective starters for the $200,000 Derby Trial, which will help to kick off the Churchill spring meet Saturday evening. Other known prospects for the one-mile race include Dominus, J J’s Lucky Train, Machen, Ruler On Ice, and Travelin Man.

Runflatout is trained by John Sadler, who won the Trial last year with Hurricane Ike.

One of the 67 nominees to the Trial is Bind, the Claiborne Farm colt who earned a 105 Beyer Speed Figure in his February debut at Fair Grounds before finishing second in his only subsequent start. Trainer Al Stall Jr. said the colt will run in an upcoming allowance at Churchill.

Keertana set for Bewitch

Keertana and La Luna de Miel, both graded winners over the Gulfstream Park turf this winter, are among the top fillies and mares entered in the eighth and featured race Thursday at Keeneland, the Bewitch Stakes.

The Bewitch is the twin sister to the Elkhorn Stakes, which anchors the closing-day card here Friday. Just like the Bewitch, the Elkhorn, for males, is a Grade 3, $150,000 race at 1 1/2 miles on the turf.

From the hedge, this is the Bewitch field: Persuading, La Luna de Miel, Zapparition, Silver La Belle, Keertana, Honimiere, Super Espresso, Endless Expanse, Silk Route, and My Baby Baby.

◗ A production crew from NBC’s “Today” show was in Lexington recently to film footage for Derby week feature segments on jockey Rosie Napravnik and on the North American Riding Academy run by retired Hall of Fame jockey Chris McCarron.

◗ The final three-day stretch of the Keeneland meet could showcase an interesting duel for the leading rider title. Julien Leparoux leads Alan Garcia by a 15-14 count into Wednesday.

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