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Lukas: Defeat won't deter Folklore
RCADIA, Calif. - Last weekend was a rough stretch for 2005 Breeders' Cup winners making comebacks at Santa Anita.
Saturday, BC Juvenile winner in the $150,000 San Rafael Stakes.
Monday, , the winner of the BC Juvenile Fillies, faded late to finish third behind entrymate Dance Daily in the Grade 2, $150,000 Santa Ynez Stakes.
While Brother Derek was considered a formidable rival for Stevie Wonderboy, Folklore's loss came as a shock to many. But the upset was not felt on the toteboard, because Dance Daily and Folklore were coupled as an entry owned by Bob and Beverly Lewis. Dance Daily returned $2.40.
Trainer D. Wayne Lukas said he was not discouraged by Folklore's loss, her first since she finished second to Adieu in the Spinaway Stakes at Saratoga in August.
"At least we kept it in the family," he said. "It's a big day for the Lewises.
"Folklore was coming off a layoff and had only three works. We'll build off that. I'm not disappointed. We'll have her fitter next time. Folklore was blowing pretty hard when she came back."
Dance Daily finished a nose in front of Talullah Lula, who was three-quarters of a length in front of Folklore in the field of six 3-year-old fillies. Dance Daily ran seven furlongs in 1:23.34. She was ridden by Jon Court, a substitute for Victor Espinoza, who took off his final two mounts on Monday because of illness, track stewards said.
The Santa Ynez was Dance Daily's first stakes win and came after she lost five stakes in Kentucky and Santa Anita. She was sixth in the Blue Norther Stakes on a wet-fast track on Jan. 1, a surface that Lukas said she could not handle.
"I had a gut feeling she was coming up to this well," Lukas said.
Folklore appeared to be in control of the Santa Ynez after leading through early fractions of 23.18 and 46.06 seconds. Turning for home, her lead narrowed from a length to a half-length, with Tallulah Lula and Dance Daily drawing closer. Dance Daily took the lead in the final 100 yards, with Talullah Lula just missing.
The Santa Ynez was Folklore's first start since she won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Belmont Park in October. Expected to be named champion 2-year-old filly of 2005, Folklore was considered by far the stronger half of the entry. Had they not been coupled, Dance Daily could have been 20-1 or higher.
A Five Star Day filly, Dance Daily has won 3 of 9 starts and $171,292.
Lukas said either Dance Daily or Folklore will return for the $250,000 Las Virgenes Stakes at a mile on Feb. 11, with the $300,000 Santa Anita Oaks on March 12 a goal for both.
Round two will be in Santa Catalina
Brother Derek and Stevie Wonderboy are likely to have at least one rematch in coming months.
Their trainers said earlier this week that the colts will be pointed for the $200,000 Santa Catalina Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on March 4, a key prep for the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby on April 8.
In the San Rafael Stakes over a mile, Brother Derek led throughout, winning by 1 1/2 lengths over Stevie Wonderboy. The San Rafael was Stevie Wonderboy's first start since he won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Belmont Park in October and his first start around two turns. Owned by Merv Griffin, Stevie Wonderboy is expected to be named the champion 2-year-old male of 2005 when Eclipse Awards are announced on Monday.
The ease with which Brother Derek won surprised trainer Dan Hendricks.
"I thought he'd be tested a little more than that," he said.
Before the race, Hendricks hinted that Brother Derek had been overlooked among the nation's top 3-year-old prospects. The colt was not among the three finalists for that division's Eclipse Award, a list that included First Samurai and Henny Hughes.
After the San Rafael, Hendricks downplayed the issue.
"I can't take anything away from the other three," he said. "The other two won prestigious races in New York. I was wondering why we haven't gotten more respect, but they had the right three horses.
"You can't take anything away from Stevie," he said. "Everyone wondered how Stevie would fare in his first race back, and it made them take a good look at my horse and realize what a solid horse he is. We knocked off number one. Where do you go from here?"
Hendricks said that Brother Derek will have a 10-day break, until early next week, before he returns to racetrack training. "I may pull his shoes off and train him barefoot for a couple of weeks," he said.
The San Rafael was Brother Derek's third graded stakes win around two turns in California. Owned by Cecil Peacock, Brother Derek won the Grade 2 Norfolk Stakes in October and the Grade 1 Hollywood Futurity in December. In his only loss since the summer, Brother Derek was fourth behind Stevie Wonderboy in the BC Juvenile. "That was a one-turn race and a totally different race. I knew he'd be able to do this," Hendricks said.
The absence of another speed horse in the field of four gave Brother Derek an uncontested lead and doomed Stevie Wonderboy's chances of winning, trainer Doug O'Neill said.
"Speed kills," O'Neill said. "He was tired after the race, which we didn't see after his other races. He definitely got something out of that. We're on for the Santa Catalina, but one thing Merv brought up is that if I see something appealing out of town to think of that as well."
O'Neill later said that was unlikely. "I'm sure we won't" travel, he said.
Attila's Storm tops Palos Verdes
The Grade 2, $150,000 Palos Verdes Handicap at six furlongs on Saturday has only four probable starters: Attila's Storm, Jet West, Major Success, and With Distinction.
Attila's Storm finished second to Proud Tower Too in the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes for 3-year-olds on Dec. 26. Proud Tower Too is not nominated for the Palos Verdes, but will start in the $1 million Sunshine Millions Classic here on Jan. 28.
With Distinction and Jet West finished first and third in the Grade 3 El Conejo Handicap at 5 1/2 furlongs on Jan. 2, and Major Success was a sharp winner of an optional claimer at Hollywood Park last month.
The Palos Verdes drew only 11 nominations and is certain to have a short field.
Mullins claims top two out of turf race
Six of the 11 starters in Monday's fourth race, a one-mile turf race for $45,000 to $50,000 claimers, were claimed. Sweet Gazelle and Early Ronan, the first two finishers, were also claimed by Jeff Mullins. The third- through fifth-place finishers were claimed. So Happy Together, who was third, was taken by Eddie Truman; Maryfield, fourth, went to Doug O'Neill; and Papillon Rouge, who finished fifth, was taken by Peter Miller. Lady's Champagne, who ran ninth, was taken by Jerry Hollendorfer.