04/02/2007 11:00PM

Sedgefield in a practical spot


LEXINGTON, Ky. - There is more than one way to skin a cat, and more than a few ways, apparently, to make it to the Kentucky Derby.

Trainer Darrin Miller has hand-picked the Grade 3 Transylvania Stakes, which helps to open the 15-day Keeneland spring meet Friday, as a rather unusual route to make the May 5 Derby at Churchill Downs with Sedgefield, the Silverton Hill Farms colt who was second in the March 24 Lane's End Stakes.

The $150,000 Transylvania, the feature of the 10-race Friday opener, is a one-mile turf race that has never produced a serious Derby prospect. Miller said he is merely hoping that Sedgefield can add to the $100,000 he earned in the Grade 2 Lane's End and the $20,000 he earned when he ran second in the Grade 3 Tropical Park Derby and the make the colt more likely to make the cut for the Derby, which is limited to 20 starters and is governed by graded earnings. The winner's share in the Transylvania is $93,000.

Sedgefield, one of 10 3-year-olds entered in the Transylvania, has run in seven races, with four of those on turf. Before the Lane's End, Sedgefield, a Smart Strike colt, won an allowance race and was second in the Hallandale Beach Stakes, both on the Gulfstream Park turf.

"Obviously he's proven on turf," said Miller.

In opting for the Transylvania as a final Derby prep instead of the April 14 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes or the April 21 Lexington Stakes, Miller reasoned that the colt will be one of the favorites, as opposed to an outsider.

"Those other races are coming up very strong," said Miller.

The Keeneland meet will begin with the first 2-year-old race of the year on the Kentucky circuit, a 4 1/2-furlong dash out of the Headley chute. The Transylvania is the ninth race and is directly preceded by a $67,000 allowance in which Funny Cide, the 2003 Derby winner, will make his 7-year-old debut. Funny Cide finished fourth in the Oct. 21 Empire Classic in his most recent start.

Hard Spun may pass

Keeneland officials already are listing eight or nine probable starters for the Blue Grass, led by Street Sense, Great Hunter, and Any Given Saturday. Hard Spun, the impressive winner of the Lane's End at Turfway Park, also is listed as probable, but trainer Larry Jones said Tuesday at Keeneland that although he is leaning toward running in the Blue Grass, he is "leaving all options open." Jones is not discounting the possibility of training straight to the Derby, or even skipping the Derby for the May 19 Preakness. In any case, Hard Spun will work Tuesday at Keeneland, with a firmer decision coming after that.

Zanjero, third in the Rebel Stakes last out, will run in the Blue Grass, said Scott Blasi, assistant to trainer Steve Asmussen. The stable also has Curlin for the Arkansas Derby.

Meanwhile, Street Sense was scheduled to work Wednesday morning at Churchill with regular rider Calvin Borel in from Oaklawn. Trainer Carl Nafzger also has tentatively penciled in a subsequent work for Monday.

* A 10-race program Thursday evening closes the winter-spring meet at Turfway Park in Florence, Ky., where the jockey and trainer races have come down to the final races. Into Wednesday, apprentice rider Alonso Quinonez held a three-win lead atop the jockey standings, while Paul McGee had a two-win margin among trainers.