04/03/2007 11:00PM

Reddam aides prove smart shoppers

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ARCADIA, Calif. - On Saturday night, halfway around the world at Nad Al Sheba in Dubai, Paul Reddam led Spring at Last into the winner's circle following the Godolphin Mile. Reddam then pulled an all-nighter in an attempt to watch Notional in the Florida Derby on a computer screen at his hotel. A few hours later, having forgone sleep - "There was no point going to bed," he said - Reddam and his wife, Zillah, were on a plane to New York, and then on to their home in California, where they arrived Sunday night, though their luggage was lost somewhere en route.

That peripatetic life has been mirrored by Reddam's 3-year-olds this spring. Reddam, 51, has had the good fortune of seeing three of his colts develop into legitimate Kentucky Derby contenders. He and trainer Doug O'Neill have successfully kept them separated while moving forward - for the most part - toward Churchill Downs.

Notional earned a trip to Louisville by virtue of his second-place finish in the Florida Derby. Great Hunter, likely the best of the bunch, will have his final Derby tune-up in next week's Grade 1, $750,000 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland, where he won the Lane's End Breeders' Futurity last fall. And this Saturday, Liquidity will try to earn his way to the Derby when he starts in a wide-open edition of the Grade 1, $750,000 Santa Anita Derby.

Liquidity is one of three horses ranked in the top 25 of Daily Racing Form's who are in the Santa Anita Derby, along with King of the Roxy and Sam P. But Liquidity, though the morning-line favorite, is coming off a sixth-place finish in last month's Louisiana Derby. He was second in the Sham Stakes and the Hollywood Futurity in his two previous starts.

"Everyone was disappointed in his Louisiana Derby," Reddam said from the offices of his CashCall personal loan business in Fountain Valley, Calif. "You'd like to be able to say, 'Here's a reason.' But nobody knows. He's not as mature mentally as the others."

Liquidity sure doesn't take after his owner. Reddam has a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Southern California and a master's from the University of Toronto. His keen business mind led to the wildly successful DiTech mortgage business, which he sold in 1999, allowing him to play the racing game at the highest levels. A passionate fan, Reddam has put up sizable amounts of money to sponsor the CashCall Mile and the newly renamed CashCall Futurity, both at Hollywood Park.

With his horses, Reddam has focused on quality over quantity, with a stable that numbers about 25 horses, "excluding 2-year-olds," he said.

"I'm looking to buy potential stakes horses," Reddam said.

Reddam knows few geographic bounds in that pursuit. He acquired Red Rocks at this time last year in Europe, and at the end of 2006 saw him win the Breeders' Cup Turf. Of his Derby prospects, Liquidity and Notional were purchased at auction at Barretts in March 2006, while Great Hunter was purchased privately last June.

"People say, 'I love your program,' and I say, 'What program?' " Reddam said, laughing. "It's more what opportunity comes up, rather than saying we want X number of this at a sale and X number of that privately. I've been involved in private purchases, 2-year-olds in training, and yearlings, and I can categorically say that, for me, buying yearlings has not worked out at all."

Reddam has two main advisers who scout horses for him: Jamie McCalmont in Britain, and Dennis O'Neill, Doug's brother, who acquired Great Hunter. McCalmont found nuggets like Red Rocks and Wilko, who won the 2004 Breeders' Cup Juvenile, the race Reddam calls his greatest thrill in racing.

"Especially never having won a Breeders' Cup race," Reddam said. "We came there with four horses, a couple we thought had chances, and all laid an egg. We were slumping in our chairs when Wilko started to fade on the turn, and then he came on again, like it was divine intervention."

Reddam also has won races like the Metropolitan Handicap with Swept Overboard, and the Hollywood Starlet with Elloluv - both trained by Craig Dollase - and he was a close second in the 2003 Belmont Stakes with Ten Most Wanted.

"For about 10 seconds, I thought, 'Oh, my god, we're going to win the Belmont.' "

Ten Most Wanted (ninth in 2003) and Wilko (sixth in 2005) are Reddam's lone previous starters in the Kentucky Derby. When Reddam bought Great Hunter, Liquidity, and Notional within the space of three months last year, "we were hoping to be on the Derby trail," he said.

"But I had no idea we'd be in this position now with these three," Reddam said. "We've had an enormous amount of luck. It's a great credit to the O'Neill organization."

In other Derby developments:

* Seven were entered Wednesday in the Grade 1, $750,000 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct, which features Any Given Saturday, Nobiz Like Shobiz, and Summer Doldrums, all in the Derby Watch top 25. The Wood will be shown live on ESPN Saturday beginning at 4 p.m. Eastern.

* Cowtown Cat was entered in the Wood, but is expected to run Saturday in the Grade 2, $500,000 Illinois Derby at Hawthorne, trainer Todd Pletcher said. Cobalt Blue, the San Felipe Stakes winner, is expected to be favored.

* The only other Derby Watch member competing in upcoming days is Sedgefield, who will run on Friday at Keeneland in the Grade 3, $150,000 Transylvania Stakes at a mile on turf.

* Street Sense, the current favorite for the Derby, sizzled five furlongs in 58.40 seconds on Wednesday morning at Churchill Downs, his first work since returning to the site of his Breeders' Cup Juvenile victory. Street Sense, who won the Tampa Bay Derby in his lone start this year, is scheduled to face Great Hunter in the Blue Grass on April 14.

* Pletcher said there is now a chance Deadly Dealer, who is scheduled to run in the Grade 2, $1 million Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn on April 14, will be moved to the Blue Grass. But Pletcher said he would not make that decision until watching the way the main track plays at Keeneland on opening weekend, beginning Friday. If Deadly Dealer runs in the Blue Grass, John Velazquez will ride, Pletcher said. Pletcher has not decided who would ride Deadly Dealer if he runs in Arkansas.

* Dominican and Teuflesberg are each being considered for both the Blue Grass and the Grade 2, $325,000 Lexington Stakes April 21, both at Keeneland.

"He'll probably run in the Lexington, but we'll see how the Blue Grass comes up," said Jamie Sanders, who trains Teuflesberg.

- additional reporting by Marty McGee

WHO'S HOT

The lone newcomer to this week's top 25 of Derby Watch is Dominican, who captured the Rushaway Stakes at Turfway Park in his last start. He is 60-1 on the Kentucky Derby future line set by Mike Watchmaker, Daily Racing Form's national handicapper. The Florida Derby results had an impact on Watchmaker's line. Scat Daddy, who won the Florida Derby, is down to 10-1 after being 12-1 a week ago. Second-place finisher Notional tumbled from 30-1 to 15-1, and third-place finisher Chelokee is now 30-1 after being 60-1 last week.

WHO'S NOT

Adore the Gold was the lone horse removed from the top 25, because of his disappointing race in the Florida Derby. Stormello, who faded to fourth in the Florida Derby, is up to 20-1 on Watchmaker's line after being 12-1 last week.

ON THE BUBBLE

Etude, the winner of the Private Terms Stakes last month at Laurel, has won three straight races since adding blinkers. He does not have any graded stakes earnings, but if he were to dive into one of the last remaining graded stakes preps, and do well, he would move onto the list. Also worth following is Level Red, who has finished in the money in five straight races. He has a shot in a wide-open Grade 1, $750,000 Santa Anita Derby on Saturday.

- Jay Privman