Updated on 09/15/2011 1:37PM

Siphonic is now the one to duck

Michael J. Marten
Siphonic stamped himself a major Kentucky Derby contender with his victory in the Hollywood Futurity.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Last winter, with the specter of Point Given hanging over him, trainer David Hofmans was looking far and wide for Kentucky Derby prep races for Millennium Wind, who ended up going to Louisiana and Kentucky. This winter, Hofmans plans on staying put in California with *.

"I'm going to keep him here," Hofmans said Sunday morning, one day after Siphonic's impressive victory in the Grade 1, $456,750 Hollywood Futurity* (click here for chart) at Hollywood Park. "We're the Point Given of this year. Right now, we don't have to worry about ducking anybody."

Siphonic stamped himself as the best Kentucky Derby prospect in training in the nation with his victory, which earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 103. He has won three times in four starts, his lone loss coming when he finished third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

Johannesburg, who beat him in the Breeders' Cup, has returned to Ireland for the winter with trainer Aidan O'Brien.

An argument could reasonably be made that Repent, who was second in the Juvenile, could be a higher-ranked Derby prospect than Siphonic. But an equally compelling argument could be made for Siphonic, who was hindered by racing on a dead rail in the Breeders' Cup, while Repent benefited by rallying on the best part of the track.

With Repent heading to Florida for the winter with trainer Kenny McPeek, this country's two best Derby prospects will prep on opposite coasts.

Siphonic is stabled at Hollywood Park, where Hofmans is based year-round. He will be vanned over to Santa Anita for his races this winter. On Sunday morning, Siphonic's coat was still gleaming.

"He looks tremendous," Hofmans confirmed. "He looks like he hasn't lost an ounce. This could be the real McCoy."

Hofmans on Sunday had yet to map out a definitive Derby prep schedule for Siphonic. With no racing in Southern California this week, the trainer was scheduled to take a brief vacation to New York, then said he would come up with a game plan. "I'll work backwards from the Kentucky Derby," Hofmans said.

Hofmans said he does not want to shorten up Siphonic to distances less than the Hollywood Futurity's 1 1/16 miles. That removes a race such as the one-mile San Rafael Stakes, a Grade 2 race at Santa Anita on March 2.

One option might be the Grade 2, $150,000 Santa Catalina Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on Jan. 19. But there is a glaring omission on Santa Anita's stakes schedule - there is no unrestricted, two-turn stakes race for 3-year-olds in February.

Assuming the San Rafael is not an option, the next race that would suit Hofmans's wishes would be the Grade 2, $250,000 San Felipe Stakes on March 17, a full eight weeks after the Santa Catalina. The Grade 1, $750,000 Santa Anita Derby, at 1 1/8 miles, is on April 6, with the Kentucky Derby on May 4.

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