03/25/2012 4:41PM

Santa Anita: Handsome Mike gets one last chance in Arkansas Derby

Benoit & Associates
Handsome Mike (right), second to Stoney Fleece in the Generous, needs to finish at least second in the Arkansas Derby to earn enough graded stakes money to make the Kentucky Derby field.

Handsome Mike, fourth in Saturday’s Grade 3 Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park, is scheduled to make his next start in the $1 million Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park on April 14, a last chance to gain a spot in the Kentucky Derby on May 5.

Handsome Mike was en route to Arkansas on Sunday, trainer Doug O’Neill said between races at Santa Anita.

“He’s headed to the Arkansas Derby as long as he’s training good,” O’Neill said.

A colt by Scat Daddy owned by Paul Reddam, Handsome Mike was beaten 6

1/2 lengths by Went the Day Well in the Spiral. He was last of 12 early after a troubled start and raced wide throughout the race over 1 1/8 miles.

  “He had a bit of a rough trip from the 12 hole,” O’Neill said. “He ran through the kickback and raced wide.”

Through Saturday, Handsome Mike has $73,500 in graded stakes earnings, and will arguably need to be in the first two in the Arkansas Derby to earn sufficient prize money to gain a spot in the Kentucky Derby. The Derby field is limited to 20 starters, ranked by graded stakes earnings. Handsome Mike currently ranks 40th.

Handsome Mike has 1 win in 7 starts. Prior to the Spiral Stakes, his best finish in four stakes was a second in the Grade 3 Generous Stakes on turf at Hollywood Park last November. On Feb. 18, Handsome Mike was third in the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields on Feb. 18.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago
To get in he'll have to be in the top 2 or 3 in the Arkansas Derby. If he is top 2 or 3 in the Arkansas Derby, he should be in. Doubt he does though. Plus, O'Neill said "as long as he's training good." If you're like me you said Mine That Bird shouldn't have been in the Derby. Look what he did. If HM earns his way in and is 100% let him run, then give him a vacation.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Troubled start? I was at turfway on saturday and Handsome Mike was simply wrangled back to last as the only speed in the race!
ECarlos727 More than 1 year ago
Would you guys like to see a 8 horse derby? No, so let horses who win one before the derby come in hot!!! If not we will see pletcher and Barrett with 6 of the eight horses you guys want in the derby
robert More than 1 year ago
If they lack the earnings they don't deserve to be in. It's not like the earnings system for getting in the race was sprung upon owners and trainers at the last minute. Top 20 get in, maybe they don't care if they have no chance.
OwenJ More than 1 year ago
If he gets in, Handsome Mike will be making up numbers and taking the place of horses who truly belong in the Derrby field but lack earnings.
KeenelandCapper More than 1 year ago
greedy doug at it again..this horse would be 90-1 in kentucky derby if he even makes it there...has zero shot at ever winning a grade 1 period..