04/26/2006 11:00PM

Seaside Retreat's work earns a spot

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Brother Derek arrives at Churchill Downs on Thursday.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Seaside Retreat just might be the longest shot in the 132nd Kentucky Derby on May 6, but he was the focus of attention when he worked on Thursday morning at Churchill Downs, and not only among his connections.

Mark Casse, the trainer of Seaside Retreat, had said before the drill that his colt's status for the Derby hinged on a satisfactory workout. And after Seaside Retreat worked five furlongs in 59.40 seconds under jockey Patrick Husbands, Casse said Seaside Retreat was in.

That decision had far-reaching impact. As of Thursday, there were still more than 20 horses whose connections were desirous of running in the Derby. If more than 20 enter the race on Wednesday, the field will be determined by earnings in graded stakes races. Among those currently on the outside looking in are Flashy Bull and Sunriver.

Flashy Bull's chances of running in the Derby may be known by Saturday. Mister Triester, who was entered in the Derby Trial on Churchill's opening-day card Saturday, will have his Derby status determined following that race. A poor performance would likely take him out of consideration, and likely put Flashy Bull in the Derby. But a victory by Mister Triester might embolden owner B. Wayne Hughes to come back in a week, as he did last year with Don't Get Mad.

And there's another wrench that could be thrown into the process. Owner Ken Ramsey said Thursday that it was not out of the question that Dawn of War could come back in the Derby if he runs well in the Derby Trial. Dawn of War has performed poorly this spring, but amassed plenty of graded-stakes money last year.

Both Kiaran McLaughlin, who trains Flashy Bull, and Todd Pletcher, who trains Sunriver, realized that Seaside Retreat staying in the Derby gave them one fewer candidate to defect.

"Naturally that's totally up to them, and I wish them well," McLaughlin said. "Right now, we're at the point where I just hope Mister Triester doesn't run. It's a disappointing situation we're in. We need to get in sooner or later. We're counting down the days now."

"That's one horse we were thinking was a possibility," Pletcher said. "I guess we'll wait and see what Mister Triester does, and if he decides not to run, we need . . . more. It's out of my hands."

Seaside Retreat most recently finished sixth in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland, beaten by 32 1/2 lengths. Before that, he was second on Polytrack in the Lane's End Stakes at Turfway Park to the ill-fated With a City, and fifth in the Tampa Bay Derby. He has won three times, all last year, all on the dirt at Woodbine.

Seaside Retreat's work on Thursday was the best of 22 at the distance.

"I don't think he could have worked any better," Casse said. "He was just galloping, and he galloped out strong. Either he likes a track or he doesn't like it. I thought when I worked him before the Blue Grass that he really worked well here. That track at Keeneland, either you get to the bottom of it and you like it, or you don't get to the bottom of it and you swim in it.

"I called a friend after the race and said, 'What if I told you I got beat two lengths by First Samurai?' He said, 'That wasn't so bad.' I said, 'No, but we got beat 32 lengths.' Bluegrass Cat got beat 22 lengths.

"You look at Sharp Humor, he came back and ran second in the Florida Derby. He beat Court Folly by two lengths in the Swale, and Court Folly got beat 60 lengths in the Blue Grass. I know everybody thinks that we're crazy. Maybe we are."

Seaside Retreat has a rash on both hips.

"It looks kind of ugly right now," Casse said. "He got it around Blue Grass time. It's dead now. He had a little fungus. It doesn't look as pretty as it should. After it dies, it dries up and they lose a little of their hair."

Casse waited until well after the renovation break for Seaside Retreat to work. He brought him through a fairly large contingent of media starved for news on an otherwise uneventful morning.

"I was embarrassed, honestly, to bring him out," Casse said, referring to the rash. "I was hoping everybody would leave."

In other Derby developments Thursday:

* Brother Derek, the likely favorite for the Derby, arrived at Churchill Downs shortly after noon after an early-morning flight from California. Brother Derek, who most recently won the Santa Anita Derby, was scheduled to get his first feel of the Churchill Downs main track on Friday morning, and is scheduled to have his final workout for the Derby on Monday with his regular rider, Alex Solis.

* Barbaro, the Florida Derby winner, was sent by van from Keeneland to Churchill Downs on Thursday afternoon. Like Brother Derek, he was scheduled to train at Churchill Downs for the first time on Friday morning.

* Mike Smith, who won last year's Derby on Giacomo, will ride Flashy Bull if he gets in, McLaughlin said.

* Jazil and Deputy Glitters were both scheduled to travel to Kentucky late Thursday afternoon after a flight from New York. Jazil was scheduled to go to Keeneland, where he would train briefly before heading to Churchill Downs. Deputy Glitters was scheduled to go straight to Churchill Downs.

* Bob and John and Point Determined are both scheduled to fly to Kentucky on Tuesday, according to trainer Bob Baffert. Both will have one more work at Santa Anita before traveling.

- additional reporting by David Grening, Byron King, Marty McGee, and Mike Welsch