12/04/2009 12:00AM

Red Lead still in hunt for a derby

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Red Lead has spent the second half of the year chasing derbies, placing in the Lone Star Park, Iowa, and Oklahoma versions. Sunday, he takes his act to New Mexico. Red Lead looks like a strong choice in the $150,000 Zia Park Derby, a 1 1/16-mile race that drew a field of nine 3-year-olds, including Southern California import Quindici Man.

"We've had this race on the map a long time," said Chris Hartman, who trains Red Lead for Frontier Stables.

Red Lead enters the Zia Derby sharp, having won a first-level allowance at Remington Park in his most recent start Nov. 15. The win was his first since his maiden score in March. In between were a series of derby starts, from a runner-up finish to Mythical Power in the Grade 3, $400,000 Lone Star Derby in May to a third in the $250,000 Iowa Derby in June, a fifth in the Grade 2, $500,000 Super Derby in September, and a third in the $400,000 Oklahoma Derby in October.

Red Lead then dropped into the allowance, and won the one-mile and 70-yard race by three lengths, for a Beyer Speed Figure of 87.

"We were just trying to get him a little confidence-booster, and managed to get it done," said Hartman. "It worked perfect. It was a race that didn't take a lot of energy out of the horse. He came out the race perfect and looks to be strong in this spot."

Red Lead defeated older horses, winning wire to wire. He will break from post 7 on Saturday under regular rider Cliff Berry.

"He doesn't have to be on the lead," Hartman said. "It looks like there's quite a bit of speed in there. He'll run either way. He can be right off the pace.

"He's a hard-trying rascal. He throws 110 percent into every one of his races."

Quindici Man has won stakes in his last two starts, taking the $50,000 Pomona Derby at Fairplex Park on Sept. 26, then returning to action Nov. 14 and winning the $50,000 Jack Coady Sr. at a mile on turf at Turf Paradise. Antonio Castanon has the mount for trainer Henry Dominguez.

The field also includes Star Redeemer and Zion, who finished one-two in the allowance prep for the derby on Nov. 3.