10/14/2010 1:48PM

Make Music for Me begins comeback in Oak Tree Derby

Barbara D. Livingston
Make Music for Me, who hasn't raced since finishing ninth in the Belmont Stakes, switches to turf for Saturday's Oak Tree Derby.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Make Music for Me has had a somewhat unconventional career.

He was third in the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity as a maiden last year as a 2-year-old, and won his first race in his seventh career start in the Pasadena Stakes on turf at Santa Anita last March. Later in the spring, he was fourth in the Kentucky Derby and ninth in the Belmont Stakes on June 5, his most recent start.

The win in the minor turf stakes last March looms as a major factor when Make Music for Me makes his comeback in Saturday’s $150,000 Oak Tree Derby on turf at Hollywood Park.

“He’s a pretty versatile horse,” trainer Alexis Barba said.

Owned by Ellen and Peter Johnson, Make Music for Me has one victory in 10 starts and earnings of $362,260. His Triple Crown performances were mixed results.

In the Kentucky Derby, Make Music for Me closed from last in a field of 20 with an eight-wide rally to finish 4 3/4 lengths behind Super Saver.

“I thought he did pretty good in the Derby,” Barba said.

In the Belmont, Make Music for Me was steadied at the start, never recovered and finished 10th, 15 3/4 lengths behind Drosselmeyer. He was later promoted to ninth via disqualification.

“He popped a splint and lost a shoe,” Barba said. “We’ll never know what happened there.”

For the Oak Tree Derby, which is run over 1 1/8 miles, Make Music for Me faces a moderate field. A colt by Bernstein, Make Music for Me has drawn the outside post in a field of eight; he will be ridden for the first time by Brice Blanc.

In many years, the 3-year-old turf stakes in the autumn in Southern California has depth. This year that is not the case. The two horses who combined to win the three turf stakes for 3-year-olds at Del Mar this summer – Sidney’s Candy and Twirling Candy – are not in the field.

There are three 2010 stakes winners in the field, including Haimish Hy, who won the El Cajon Stakes on the main track at Santa Anita on Sept. 3; and Blue Panis, a stakes winner from France who makes his American debut on Saturday.

The field also includes the second through fifth-place finishers of the Del Mar Derby behind Twirling Candy – Jairzihno, Royal F J, Fantastic Pick and Kid Edward. Sebastian Flyte, the winner of an optional claimer at Del Mar in September, also starts.

Royal F J made his stakes debut in the Del Mar Derby, finishing 3 3/4 lengths behind Twirling Candy. The Del Mar Derby was Royal F J’s first race after beating maidens in his 11th career start.

Trainer Jack Carava does not see the Oak Tree Derby as a tough field.

“You could catch that field in a one-other than,” Carava said. “I think he fits. It’s up to him. I think it’s a matter of timing his run right. He runs his race every time.”

Kid Edward was second in the Grade 2 La Jolla Handicap behind Sidney’s Candy on Aug. 14 but was beaten 5 1/4 lengths by Twirling Candy in the Del Mar Derby. Trainer Jim Cassidy blames himself for that performance.

“I think I might have brought him back too quickly after the La Jolla,” Cassidy said. “I think he should run well. He’s training fine.”