04/03/2012 2:51PM

Santa Anita Derby: Creative Cause sticks with new work pattern

Shigeki Kikkawa
Creative Cause has been working without blinkers and will not have them the Santa Anita Derby.

ARCADIA, Calif. – An altered training schedule worked successfully for Creative Cause in March, and has led trainer Mike Harrington to try to replicate that schedule in advance of Saturday’s $750,000 Santa Anita Derby.

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Last month, Creative Cause worked a half-mile in 46.40 seconds on March 6 and won the third stakes of his career in the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes over 1 1/16 miles four days later.

Tuesday, Harrington gave Creative Cause a half-mile workout in 48.40 seconds, four days before the Santa Anita Derby. This week’s workout was much slower, but the circumstances for Saturday’s race are different. Creative Cause will be racing over 1 1/8 miles for the first time in his final start before an expected trip to the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 5.

“Last time, I worked him on the Tuesday, four days before,” Harrington said. “I don’t normally do that. It must have been because of weather. He worked so well I decided to stick to the same pattern.”

In recent weeks, Creative Cause has worked quickly, including five furlongs in 59.80 seconds on March 20 and six furlongs in 1:12.80 on March 28. Harrington considers the quick times to be a good sign.

“It kind of surprised me,” he said. “Last year, he wouldn’t work that fast. Maybe this is an indication that he has more energy.”

Harrington said that Creative Cause has been working without blinkers in recent weeks, and will race without them in the Santa Anita Derby.

Creative Cause, who races for Heinz Steinmann, has won 4 of 7 starts and $719,000. He is the likely favorite and has the highest earnings among the nine probable starters for the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby.

Third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs last year, Creative Cause will make his fourth start in a Grade 1 in the Santa Anita Derby. He was third in the Del Mar Futurity last September before winning the Norfolk Stakes over 1 1/16 miles last October.

Harrington is confident that Creative Cause will handle the longer distance of the Santa Anita Derby, considering the way the colt finished in the San Felipe. He drifted to the outside and then to the inside in the final sixteenth and won by three-quarters of a length over Bodemeister.

“The mile and an eighth will be no problem,” he said. “I like the way he galloped out the other day.”

Trainer Bob Baffert will have three starters. Tuesday, shortly after returning to California from Dubai, Baffert said he would start Blueskiesnrainbow, Liaison, and Paynter in the Santa Anita Derby and send Bodemeister to the Arkansas Derby on April 14. He said final decisions on plans for Bodemeister would be made on Wednesday.

Other probable starters for the Santa Anita Derby are Brother Francis, Midnight Transfer, I’ll Have Another, Longview Drive, and Senor Rain.