10/13/2011 2:27PM

Santa Anita: Dreamy Kid needs cleaner trip

Benoit & Associates
Dreamy Kid (5), with Joe Talmo riding, wins the Swaps.

ARCADIA, Calif. – The highlight of Dreamy Kid’s summer was a 19-1 upset in the Grade 2 Swaps Stakes at Hollywood Park in July, his stakes debut. The next two months were not as kind.

A seventh in the Grade 2 West Virginia Derby at Mountaineer Park on Aug. 6 was followed by a troubled sixth in the Grade 2 Del Mar Derby on Sept. 4. The Del Mar Derby was Dreamy Kid’s debut on turf. Even though Dreamy Kid was beaten, trainer Neil Drysdale saw enough from that performance to point the colt to Saturday’s $150,000 Oak Tree Derby at Santa Anita.

Run over 1 1/8 miles on turf, the Grade 2 Oak Tree Derby has drawn a field of 14. Dreamy Kid races from off the pace and will need a good trip under jockey Martin Garcia to beat a field that includes seven other stakes winners.

Six of the nine runners from the Del Mar Derby are part of the Oak Tree Derby field, including runner-up Midnight Interlude. Dreamy Kid was a 7-1 shot in the Del Mar Derby. He closed from seventh to finish 1 1/2 lengths behind race winner Banned.

“He had a rough trip in the Del Mar Derby,” Drysdale said. “He was way too far back and he was wide into the stretch. Things didn’t work out quite right.”

Owned by breeder Robert Evans, Dreamy Kid has won 2 of 8 starts and $144,130. Drysdale said the Oak Tree Derby distance may be on the lower end of Dreamy Kid’s ideal trip.

“He’ll be better going further,” Drysdale said. “He’ll be a distance horse.”

Midnight Interlude, trained by Bob Baffert, will have a prominent role in the Oak Tree Derby, not only as the likely favorite, but also as a possible pacesetter.

Owned by Arnold Zetcher, Midnight Interlude is the richest horse in the Oak Tree Derby field, with three wins in nine starts and earnings of $751,910. He won the Santa Anita Derby in a 13-1 upset in April, but was 16th in the Kentucky Derby and 13th in the Preakness.

Midnight Interlude has shown better form on turf since late spring, winning the minor Tsunami Slew Stakes at Hollywood Park in June. He was a troubled fourth in the Grade 2 La Jolla Handicap on Aug. 13 before fighting with Banned through the stretch of the Del Mar Derby.

“He had a terrible trip,” Baffert said, recalling the La Jolla.

Baffert said Midnight Interlude approaches the Oak Tree Derby in fine condition, but admits to being a little surprised by the size of the field. “I scared everybody off,” Baffert said. “He’s looking good.”

The race features five shippers – Northern Causeway and Arraignment, who were first and third in the British Columbia Derby at Hastings Park last month; Venemous, who was third in the French 2000 Guineas in May; Theresmyeverything, an allowance race winner at Saratoga; and Cozy Kitten, the winner of a minor stakes at Kentucky Downs last month.

The Oak Tree Derby is the stakes debut of Ultimate Eagle, who won a maiden race and an optional claimer at Del Mar. Ultimate Eagle can lead or race near the front.

“He’s more likely to run a good race than a bad race,” trainer Michael Pender said. “He’s got a bolt of confidence and he seems to be back on form.”