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Updated on 09/17/2011 10:59AM
Ramsey makes move
There are five stakes this weekend for Kentucky Derby aspirants, most notably Saturday's $200,000 San Rafael Stakes at Santa Anita, in which Our Bobby V. will head a field expected to number about six. But most of the news among the nation's leading 3-year-olds was made off the track Wednesday, with training setbacks for Offlee Wild, Saintly Look, Sky Mesa, and Toccet, and a trainer change for Ten Cents a Shine.
Ten Cents a Shine, the beaten favorite in the Fountain of Youth Stakes, was transferred by owner Ken Ramsey from Ken McPeek to D. Wayne Lukas. The colt was scheduled to be flown from Florida to California on Thursday to join Lukas's Santa Anita barn, Ramsey said.
"He came out of the Fountain of Youth with a lung infection, and the hot, humid weather here is not helping him," Ramsey said from his winter home in south Florida. "I think the fresh air out there will do him good. It was a tough decision, but we have to do what's best for the horse, and what gives him his best chance to get to the Kentucky Derby.
"Ken McPeek was very cooperative about it. Naturally, he was disappointed, but he said he would help in any way he could, and I told him I'd give him a share in Ten Cents a Shine if he becomes a stallion somewhere. He still has and will continue to train two other horses for me."
Ramsey was at first leery regarding running Ten Cents a Shine in the Fountain of Youth only 15 days after an allowance victory. He said he was not second-guessing McPeek on that call.
"I gave my blessing to that. This isn't sour grapes," Ramsey said.
McPeek has become something of a punching bag in the past year. He developed Harlan's Holiday, the winner of last year's Florida Derby and Blue Grass Stakes, into the 2002 Kentucky Derby favorite, but had the horse taken from him after losses in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. He developed Sarava into a Belmont Stakes winner last year, then had him taken away, too.
"I get knocked down, but I'll get up again," McPeek said.
Ramsey said he considered sending Ten Cents a Shine to Bob Baffert, but decided to go with Lukas because he currently has horses with Lukas, most notably Nothing to Lose, the winner of last week's Palm Beach Stakes at Gulfstream Park.
Ramsey's other top 3-year-old, the unbeaten Badge of Silver, will work Monday at Fair Grounds and then likely run in the Louisiana Derby, trainer Ronny Werner said. "He'll work Monday, and we'll make a decision after that," Werner said Wednesday. Added Ramsey: "If the horse is dancing and prancing, we'll run in the Louisiana Derby."
Offlee Wild, who was fourth in the Fountain of Youth after winning the Holy Bull Stakes, has missed several days of training because he took ill last week. He will be forced to skip the $1 million Florida Derby on March 15, trainer T.V. Smith said Wednesday.
"He ran a high fever for a few days," Smith said from Gulfstream Park. "It kind of knocked him for a loop. It started last Friday. It got up to 104 degrees. We got right on it and knocked it down. He walked three times around the barn today. That's the first time he's been out of his stall since Friday."
Smith said he "hasn't ruled out the Kentucky Derby.
"We're hoping that maybe in about a month we can find a race for him, but he's got to get his strength back."
Saintly Look, who is based at Fair Grounds, also had a fever last week, a few days after running fifth in the Risen Star Stakes, trainer Dallas Stewart said.
"It got up to 103. He was sick," Stewart said.
The setback will force Saintly Look to miss the $750,000 Louisiana Derby on March 9. Stewart said he was instead hoping to make the $500,000 Lane's End Stakes at Turfway Park on March 22.
Sky Mesa missed a few days of training this week with a foot bruise, but if he has no further complications, he should still make his 2003 debut by the middle of next month.
Toccet, who is training in Maryland, has been on a tight schedule to make the Derby. The brutal recent weather in Maryland - which caused Laurel to cancel again on Wednesday - and a foot bruise suffered this week have not helped.
"We're scrambling like hell," said Dan Borislow, the owner of Toccet, from his home in Palm Beach, Fla. "It's going to be tough to make the Derby. The foot's not that big a deal. He'll be back training next week. We'll just see how he progresses, how he comes along."
Of the five Derby preps this weekend, only the one-mile San Rafael is expected to have runners currently listed on the top 25 of Derby Watch. Our Bobby V., most recently second in the Santa Catalina Stakes to Domestic Dispute, "probably will run," his trainer, Bill Spawr, said Wednesday. Spawr's backup plan is the $200,000 El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields on March 8.
Our Bobby V. has won twice in four starts. After a poor race in his debut, in which he was favored at 8-5, he scored runaway sprint victories against maidens and in a first-level allowance field. The Santa Catalina, at 1 1/16 miles, was his first race around two turns. Our Bobby V. finished three lengths behind Domestic Dispute, but was 3 1/2 lengths clear of everyone else.
"He got hit coming out of the gate," Spawr said. "He got a little tired, and the horse who beat him is a good horse."
Our Bobby V. is named for Bob Verratti, a venture capitalist who owns the gray colt with his wife, Kathleen. On Spawr's advice, they purchased Our Bobby V. as a 2-year-old in training for $55,000.
"I loved the way he moved," Spawr said. "He's such an athletic horse."
In other Derby developments:
- The speedy Omega Code will vie with Our Bobby V. for favoritism in the San Rafael. Peace Rules is possible for the race.
- Saturday's $100,000 Battaglia Memorial at Turfway Park is expected to feature once-beaten colts Champali (5 for 6) and Grey Comet (4 for 5).
- Alke, Comic Truth, Great Notion, and Sir Cherokee are among those expected to run in Saturday's $75,000 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park.
- Cherokee's Boy, the winner of Laurel's Goss Stryker Stakes, and unbeaten Foufa's Warrior top a field of six entered Wednesday for Saturday's $75,000 Deputed Testamony Stakes for Maryland-breds at Laurel.
- Once-beaten Excessivepleasure has shipped in from California for Sunday's $100,000 Borderland Derby at Sunland Park.
- additional reporting by David Grening