02/23/2010 1:00AM

Santa Anita Derby figures next for Connemara

Email

ALBANY, Calif. - After his victory in Saturday's , Connemara looks headed to the Santa Anita Derby on April 3. Plans are not as solid for second- and third-place finishers Haimish Hy and Posse Power.

Connemara won for the third time in four starts on Saturday and avenged his lone defeat, which had come in his previous start, the California Derby.

"I think he moved up in our rankings," said trainer Todd Pletcher's assistant Mike McCarthy, who confirmed the Santa Anita Derby is the likely next start for Connemara.

Connemara's win in the Grade 3 El Camino was the third in a Derby prep on Saturday for the Pletcher barn, following Eskendereya's victory in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream and Discreetly Mine's win in the Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds.

McCarthy made no commitments but hinted that Russell Baze would likely get a chance to ride Connemara back at Santa Anita.

"Certainly, we'll think about keeping Russell on for the Santa Anita Derby," he said. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Baze, who had four other victories Saturday in addition to his seventh El Camino Real Derby win, worked the colt when he was at Santa Anita for the Sunshine Millions.

Connemara rallied from ninth place to win the 1 1/8-mile El Camino Real by 1 1/4 lengths.

"He was on the bit but not charging," Baze said. "He was just waiting for me to ask him. He finished strong."

Once he hit the lead, Connemara needed a little reminder that his job wasn't over yet, and he responded nicely when Baze gave him a left-handed whack.

Baze said the colt had plenty left at the end and that added distance would be no problem.

Runner-up Haimish Hy finished best once he got outside.

"I have no complaints," trainer Steve Sherman said. "He ran his heart out. He ran like I thought he was going to run."

He also was pleased with the effort by fourth-place finisher Fog Alert, who stuck his head in front as he eased past tiring pacesetter Ranger Heartley heading into the stretch.

"When I saw [Fog Alert] move at the quarter pole, I thought he might do it," Sherman said. "He kinda hung in there."

Sherman said Haimish Hy could run on dirt, turf, or synthetic next time. Whether he runs for Sherman or another trainer is unknown, because the partnership that owns the colt has received several offers to buy, Sherman said.

Posse Power was blocked in the stretch and then had to check. He was beaten a length by Haimish Hy for second. Posse Power had a two-race win streak snapped, but his record of hitting the board in all six starts remained intact.

Posse Power's trainer, Frank Lucarelli, had a potential Derby contender in Gallant Son last year, and he says Posse Power is a different type of colt.

"He's a big horse and took a little time," Lucarelli said.

Posse Power started three times as a 2-year-old and didn't make his debut until Nov. 9. By that time the previous year, Gallant Son had won three stakes and had finished seventh in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

Speaking of Posse Power, Lucarelli said: "He's a good horse, and he can go on. We'll try to figure out where to go next. I did learn one thing with Gallant Son. There are certainly easier spots than going to Santa Anita."

Antares World returns in allowance

Trainer Steve Specht brings California Oaks winner Antares World back in Thursday's feature, a one-mile allowance race that drew five runners.

Antares World won the California Oaks by a head on New Year's Day and hasn't raced since. She comes into the race off a brisk 1:01 five-furlong drill Sunday.

Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer has two entrants in Thursday's race, the stakes winner She's Funomenal and Washington Bridge. Baze, who took off his final three mounts Sunday with a muscle strain in his back, is expected to ride Thursday and will be aboard She's Funomenal.

* Golden Gate Fields will hold a Chinese New Year celebration Sunday, giving fans a red envelope containing a mystery mutuel voucher.