04/05/2007 11:00PM

Sedgefield's Derby prospects dim


LEXINGTON, Ky. - The only thing that got colder than the weather as opening day unfolded Friday at Keeneland were the Kentucky Derby hopes of Sedgefield during the feature race, the Grade 3 Transylvania Stakes.

With snow flurries chasing most of the ontrack crowd of 16,587 into the warmth of the clubhouse and grandstand, Sedgefield, the 7-5 favorite, faded to fourth in the $150,000 Transylvania while Marcavelly glided to an easy victory. Ridden by Edgar Prado, Marcavelly paid $6.40 as second choice in a field of nine 3-year-olds after finishing one mile in 1:36.98 over a firm turf course.

Marcavelly, making his first start since last October, "was pretty impressive today, I'd say," said trainer Bill Mott. "He rated well and had a real nice kick."

Marcavelly finished 3 1/2 lengths ahead of In Jest, with Cobrador third. Sedgefield, starting for the second time in less than two weeks after finishing second in the March 24 Lane's End Stakes, finished 5 3/4 lengths behind the winner after contesting most of the pace. Trainer Darrin Miller, who was seeking to clinch a spot in the May 5 Derby for Sedgefield, said the disappointing effort means he will have to seriously reconsider whether to try to make the Derby.

While the racing was interesting, it was the weather that dominated many conversations during the first of 15 days at the spring meet. Besides unseasonable cold throughout the afternoon, a snowstorm lasting about 10 minutes blew through the track before and during the 10th and final race, severely restricting visibility.

Filly easily beats colts

The day's first race was won by Yogi'ssplashofgold, a 2-year-old filly facing eight colts. Owned by a partnership that includes trainer Wesley Ward, Yogi'ssplashofgold ($7.60) sped to the early lead in the 4o1/2-furlong Polytrack race, then turned back favored Hargill before edging clear to win by 1 1/4 lengths over Nownownow. All nine horses were making their first start.

Ward said he had no qualms about pitting Yogi'ssplashofgold, a gray filly by Touch Gold, against males. "She's done absolutely everything right all winter in south Florida," said Ward. "I'm very, very proud of her."

The high-profile nature of winning the first race of the Keeneland spring meet comes at an opportune time for Ward, who won an Eclipse Award in 1984 as top apprentice rider before shifting to training. Based primarily for years in Southern California while also active in Northern California, Ward is in the process of leaving California entirely. He plans to have his primary base in south Florida, where his children are in school, while also maintaining a string on the Kentucky circuit. Ward said he will have about 10 horses in training at Keeneland even after the May 5 Kentucky Derby, when many outfits leave the state.

Rathor wins; Funny Cide far back

One race before the Transylvania, Rathor ($14.60) made a splashy return to action following an 8 1/2-month layoff when he captured a $61,000 allowance, a 1 1/16-mile Polytrack race in which Funny Cide finished seventh.

Rathor, trained by Bobby Frankel and ridden by Kent Desormeaux, was making his first start since finishing last in the July 22 San Diego Handicap at Del Mar. The 5-year-old Rathor, an Irish import, began his North American career with three straight wins before being soundly defeated in the Suburban and San Diego.

Funny Cide, the 9-2 fourth choice in a field of nine, raced a few lengths off the early pace before beating a steady fade to finish 12 lengths behind Rathor. Ridden by Cornelio Velasquez, the 2003 Kentucky Derby winner did not have an apparent excuse in his first of 35 starts on anything except dirt, and his first start in nearly six months.

Showing Up drills for Maker's Mark

Showing Up, the standout turf horse owned by Lael Stable and trained by Barclay Tagg, breezed without company on the turf course shortly after the first race, going six furlongs in 1:14.10 with his regular rider, Velasquez, aboard. The 4-year-old Showing Up looms a heavy favorite in his upcoming seasonal debut, the $250,000 Maker's Mark Mile next Friday.

Showing Up, a winner in 7 of 9 career starts, won the Nov. 26 Hollywood Derby as an odds-on favorite in his 3-year-old finale.