04/23/2007 12:00AM

Up to seven may get shut out of Derby

Email

With all the graded stakes races preceding the May 5 Kentucky Derby now having been run, far more than the maximum of 20 horses are still pointing for the race, leading to the likelihood that several horses will be excluded from the Derby when entries are taken May 2 at Churchill Downs.

The victory by Slew's Tizzy in the final graded stakes race, Saturday's Lexington Stakes at Keeneland, and the subsequent decision by his connections to consider running in the Derby was part of a dizzying 48 hours that saw Xchanger earn a possible trip to the Derby with his victory in the Tesio Stakes at Pimlico, and found Imawildandcrazyguy now pointing for the Derby, too.

Those developments knocked the likes of Chelokee and Reporting for Duty down the graded stakes earnings roster, and left their chances of getting into the race quite slim. If more than 20 horses enter the Derby, the field is determined by earnings in graded stakes races.

As of Monday, 27 3-year-olds were still under consideration for the Derby. Realistically, though, the last few have little to no chance of getting in. Attention will be placed on those at or near the bubble. Right now, Teuflesberg, who was a close fourth last time out in the Blue Grass Stakes, would be the first horse excluded if there were no defections from the top 20 by May 2.

Others currently on the outside looking in - in order of earnings - are Imawildandcrazyguy, Chelokee, Reporting for Duty, Starbase, Bold Start, and Delightful Kiss.

Chelokee and Reporting for Duty each have $100,000 in graded stakes earnings. If they end up tied for the 20th spot next week, Churchill will be faced with the prospect of having a Derby starter determined by random chance. According to the posted conditions of the race, if there is a tie, it is broken by lot. Churchill spokesman John Asher said two pills would be put in a bottle, like at a draw, and the one that comes out would correspond to the horse who gets in the race.

Among those residing in the top 20 are Xchanger, whose connections Monday had yet to commit to the Derby; Cobalt Blue, who raced poorly in the Illinois Derby and did not impress during or after a workout last Friday at Keeneland; and Sedgefield, who is a stablemate of Blue Grass winner Dominican and has yet to race on conventional dirt.

Xchanger's plans are "still up in the air," trainer Mark Shuman said Monday.

"It's too early to say," said Shuman, who owns a portion of Xchanger and said a tempting private offer from someone intent on running in the Derby could force him to sell. "If someone's got Derby fever, I've got the cure right here."

Sedgefield worked a half-mile at Churchill Downs on Saturday in 49 seconds. His trainer, Darrin Miller, said Monday that his intention was to run Sedgefield in the Derby. The work "wasn't bad, really," said Miller, who said Sedgefield would work again this Saturday at Churchill Downs. Miller has yet to settle on a jockey for Sedgefield. Rafael Bejarano rides Dominican.

Trainer Bill Kaplan said Monday that he is taking a wait-and-see attitude with Imawildandcrazyguy, who is still at Calder in Florida.

"We're still planning to run in the Derby if it looks like we can get in, but because of the current situation regarding graded earnings and where we stand on the list, I'm also going to enter him in the Unbridled Stakes at Calder for Saturday," Kaplan said. "We'll then have several days to monitor the situation before making a final decision. We can always scratch Saturday and ship him to Kentucky early next week if it looks like he will get into the Derby field."

Kaplan does not have a Derby rider for Imawildandcrazyguy. He also trains Derby runner Storm in May, who will be ridden by Juan Leyva.

Slew's Tizzy and Xchanger each received Beyer Speed Figures of 95 for their stakes wins over the weekend. The Lexington on paper appeared to be a softer race than the previous week's Blue Grass, but Slew's Tizzy got a figure 2 points higher than Dominican.

Both Slew's Tizzy and Xchanger would need new riders in the Derby. Robby Albarado, who rode Slew's Tizzy, has current favorite Curlin in the Derby. Ramon Dominguez, who rode Xchanger, is scheduled to ride Sam P. in the Derby.

Keeneland was a hub of activity Sunday and Monday mornings as several Derby horses recorded their penultimate works. On Sunday, trainer Todd Pletcher sent out Any Given Saturday (58.80 seconds), Circular Quay (1:00.20), and Scat Daddy (1:00.80) for five-furlong works.

On Monday, trainer Steve Asmussen sent Curlin (1:00.80) and Zanjero (1:01) through five-furlong works, and put Reporting for Duty through a six-furlong work in 1:12.40. Asmussen's trio traveled to Churchill Downs on Monday afternoon and will remain there through the Derby.

Also Monday at Keeneland, Hard Spun worked a mile in 1:42.40 for trainer Larry Jones.

There were several other works among Derby runners in recent days.

At Churchill Downs on Monday, Sam P. worked five furlongs in 1:00.60 for Pletcher.

At Belmont Park on Monday, Nobiz Like Shobiz went five furlongs in 59.59 seconds on the training track for trainer Barclay Tagg. Regular rider Cornelio Velasquez was up.

Tagg said he used the one-mile training track, rather than the 1 1/2-mile main track, because "it's the same size as Churchill Downs. Might as well have him a little used to it."

"I don't want to surprise him going into the first turn," Tagg said. "I had [Velasquez] keep him right on the rail and gallop strong around the turn after the work; just gallop out strong. Just did it to perfection. The jock did it right and the horse did it right."

Nobiz Like Shobiz is scheduled to work again Sunday at Belmont Park and travel to Churchill Downs on May 2.

At Hollywood Park on Sunday, Tiago worked a sharp seven furlongs in 1:25 for trainer John Shirreffs.

Tiago, under regular jockey Mike Smith, broke off two lengths behind the maiden filly Gem Palace, sailed past her at the three-eighths pole, and drew off through the lane.

"He went dynamite," Smith said right after the drill. "You can see that he's not even blowing."

Both Tiago and Stormello are scheduled to work Sunday at Hollywood Park and then travel to Kentucky early next week.

- additional reporting by David Grening, Brad Free, Marty McGee, and Mike Welsch