07/02/2015 12:26PM

Smith high on Kentuckian heading into Los Alamitos Derby

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Shigeki Kikkawa
Kentuckian will stretch out from seven furlongs to 1 1/8 miles for the Los Alamitos Derby.

CYPRESS, Calif. – Watch out for Kentuckian. That is the mind-set of Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith in advance of Saturday’s $350,000 Los Alamitos Derby.

Kentuckian has won two of three starts this year, including the Grade 3 Laz Barrera Stakes at seven furlongs at Santa Anita by 6 1/4 lengths. That victory, and Kentuckian’s subsequent workouts, has left Smith eager for the colt’s first start at 1 1/8 miles in the Grade 2 Los Alamitos Derby.

“He’s got the kind of ability that he can run with our top 3-year-olds,” Smith said. “Give us another month or so, and he’ll be even better. We’re happy with the way he’s training. He does things so easily. He gallops around there with ease.”

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Kentuckian, trained by Jerry Hollendorfer for Fox Hill Farms, is part of a field of five in the Los Alamitos Derby. The other runners are Gimme Da Lute and Prospect Park, the first two finishers of the Grade 3 Affirmed Stakes at Santa Anita on June 7; Pain and Misery, a two-time stakes winner in New Mexico; and Follow Me Crev, who was third in a $50,000 claimer at Santa Anita on May 31.

Los Alamitos Derby, Race 8

KEY CONTENDERS

Kentuckian (Last 3 Beyers: 101-79-90)

◗ After beating maidens in his debut at Golden Gate Fields on March 7, Kentuckian was a troubled third in the San Pedro Stakes at six furlongs at Santa Anita on April 12. In the Laz Barrera, Kentuckian closed from fourth in a field of six to take the lead in early stretch.

◗ The Barrera was the first time Smith rode Kentuckian. He did not urge his mount in the stretch.

“In the last race, he handled seven-eighths like it was nothing,” Smith said. “He didn’t stop that day. I don’t see why another furlong or two would bother him. It would nice to see him go long. There are some things he hasn’t done yet, and that’s a slight concern.”

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◗ Since the Barrera, Kentuckian has worked quickly at Santa Anita. He went six furlongs in 1:11.20 on June 25.

“Working is not running, but he’s shown us a lot of ability,” Hollendorfer said. “He’s done it quite handily in the morning. We’re going to stretch out, and that’s a little tougher test. We wholeheartedly feel like we have him ready.”

Gimme Da Lute (Last 3 Beyers: 98-84-91)

◗ Gimme Da Lute won for the first time around two turns in the Affirmed Stakes at 1 1/16 miles. Trained by Bob Baffert, Gimme Da Lute is likely to run near the lead in the Los Alamitos Derby, which will be the longest race of his career. Gimme Da Lute won the Echo Eddie Stakes for California-breds at 6 1/2 furlongs on April 4.

Prospect Park (Last 3 Beyers: 97-95-102)

◗ Prospect Park was held in high regard through the Santa Anita meeting. He was second in the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes to Dortmund on March 7 but a troubled fourth behind that rival in the Santa Anita Derby on April 4. He emerged from the race with an illness.

◗ Prospect Park was the 3-5 favorite in the Affirmed Stakes and led in the stretch before finishing a half-length behind Gimme Da Lute. Trainer Clifford Sise expected a win that day.

“Maybe he wasn’t quite ready,” Sise said. “Maybe the virus took more out of him than I thought. He couldn’t have come out of it any better. His last two works have been fantastic.”

Mark More than 1 year ago
Ice Cold 4 over 5
Carolyn Wyatt More than 1 year ago
Will play Prospect Park to win 7/4 and he should go off at 7/2.
Agnes Wark More than 1 year ago
I wrote back months ago on Racing Nation and on Paulick Report, Kentuckian is the real deal. He will beat AP later in the year, but there are others in the Classic who will be older that should be watched also.
Jim Fields More than 1 year ago
I just hope both AP and Kentuckian stay unbeaten until the BCC, each of their one losses were just unfortunate. I think Kentuckian is the only three year old that can give AP a true fight to the wire.
Mark More than 1 year ago
I think he wins tonight but just how do you claim that Kentuckian is a horse that can challenge Pharoah when he has never run beyond 7 furlongs? Wow!
brian More than 1 year ago
This will be a blow out no contest...