07/02/2015 1:26PM

Smith high on Kentuckian heading into Los Alamitos Derby

Email
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.”

:: Los Alamitos: Get PPs, watch Saturday’s card live

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.”

:: Bet Los Alamitos Derby with DRF Bets and get FREE access to this article and all of DRF Plus, including Los Alamitos selections, video, and real-time analysis.

◗ 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.”