04/14/2009 12:00AM

Talamo's back for business

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Reed Palmer Photography
I Want Revenge, the potential Kentucky Derby favorite after big wins in the Gotham and Wood Memorial, works Tuesday at Churchill Downs under jockey Joe Talamo.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Joe Talamo had been to Churchill Downs once before, when he was 15. He and his family drove up from Louisiana as spectators for the 2005 Kentucky Derby.

Things have changed dramatically for Talamo in the nearly four years that have passed. On Tuesday morning, Talamo took in the Twin Spires from the Churchill backstretch when riding I Want Revenge from Barn 24 to the racetrack for the colt's first of three scheduled workouts leading up to the 135th Derby on May 2.

"It's hard to put into words how fortunate I feel," said Talamo, the regular rider for I Want Revenge. "I pinch myself every morning when I wake up."

I Want Revenge, the impressive winner of the Gotham and Wood Memorial and the 9-2 favorite in the third and final pool of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager, breezed an easy half-mile in 50 seconds. Trainer Jeff Mullins said the colt will work five furlongs next Tuesday, then work once more April 28.

Over a muddy and sealed racetrack Tuesday, and with Mullins watching frontside, I Want Revenge went in fractions of 12.40, 24.40, and 36.80 before galloping out five furlongs in 1:04.60.

"He needed to do enough to keep himself safe, because he's been tearing the barn down," Mullins said afterward. "We had to let him do a little something today."

Talamo and Mullins, both based in Southern California, were scheduled to return home shortly after the work but will be back for the next two works.

While Mullins has had four Derby starters, this will be the first Derby mount for Talamo, 19.

Friesan Fire works at Keeneland

At Keeneland in Lexington, Derby hopeful Friesan Fire had his second workout since he captured the March 14 Louisiana Derby when he breezed five furlongs Tuesday morning in 1:00.60 over the main Polytrack surface with regular rider Gabriel Saez up.

"He handles this track well, and he is getting better all the time," Saez said.

Trainer Larry Jones, a recent arrival following the closing of the Oaklawn Park meet, said the breeze basically served as a warmup for Sunday, when Friesan Fire will go a mile at Keeneland for his main Derby work. Friesan Fire will ship to Churchill about a week before the Derby.

Jones lost his other prospect for the Derby last weekend when Old Fashioned exited his runner-up finish in the Arkansas Derby with a career-ending knee injury.

Terrain out of Derby

Terrain was withdrawn from Derby consideration Tuesday after trainer Al Stall Jr. consulted at length with Adele Dilschneier, breeder and owner of the Sky Mesa gelding.

"We're in agreement that it's more prudent to pass the Derby and wait a week later to run in the Lone Star Derby," said Stall. "Hopefully this horse has a lot of racing ahead of him."

With $448,330 in graded earnings, Terrain easily could have made the field. Third in the Louisiana Derby and fourth in the Blue Grass in his last two starts, Terrain was scheduled to return to training Wednesday at Keeneland, where he will "stay for the time being," said Stall, who initially said he was inclined to move Terrain to Churchill.

"He came out of the Blue Grass just fine, but we're just going to take the conservative approach," said Stall.

Coa to ride Musket Man in Derby

Eibar Coa has chosen to ride Musket Man over General Quarters in the Kentucky Derby, his agent, Matt Muzikar, confirmed on Tuesday.

Coa rode Musket Man to a two-length victory in the Illinois Derby over Hawthorne's dirt surface on April 11 and came back to guide General Quarters to a 1 1/2-length score in last Saturday's Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes over Keeneland's Polytrack. It was Coa's first time on either horse.

"It wasn't an easy decision," Muzikar said. "We have some history with [owner Eric Fein] and [trainer] Derek Ryan. We thought there should be some loyalty there. We also feel Musket Man has taken his racetrack with him and has gotten better each and every time.

"Eibar deifintely feels there there is no distance limitation."

Musket Man is tentatively scheduled to work Thursday at Churchill.

Mr. Hot Stuff works; remains on Derby bubble

Mr. Hot Stuff, third in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby on April 4, worked a half-mile in 48 seconds at Santa Anita on Tuesday. The time equaled the sixth-fastest of 21 recorded works at the distance.

Trainer Eoin Harty and owners WinStar Farms are holding out hope that Mr. Hot Stuff will gain a place in the Kentucky Derby. Mr. Hot Stuff has earned $114,000 in graded stakes, and Harty is hopeful that it will be sufficient to earn a spot in the Kentucky Derby. The first 19 on the graded stakes earnings list earn berths to the Kentucky Derby. Mafaaz, who is under consideration for the Derby, earned an automatic starting berth by winning the Kentucky Derby Challenge Stakes at Kempton Park.

"If he gets in the Kentucky Derby, we'll take a shot," Harty said of Mr. Hot Stuff. "I'm training him like he is going to the Derby. If not, we'll go to plan B."

As a backup, Harty could run Mr. Hot Stuff in the $200,000 Peter Pan Stakes at 1 1/8 miles at Belmont Park on May 9.

Mr. Hot Stuff has one victory in seven starts. He was third in the Grade 3 Sham Stakes in late February.

Mythical Power skipping Lexington

The final race of consequence on the Derby trail, the Grade 2, $300,000 Lexington Stakes on Saturday, lost one prospective starter when trainer Bob Baffert said late Monday that Mythical Power will pass the race in favor of the May 9 Lone Star Derby. Keeneland officials were expecting a field of about 12 3-year-olds, led by Square Eddie, when entries were drawn Wednesday for the 1 1/16-mile Lexington.

In other Derby developments, Arkansas Derby winner Papa Clem was scheduled to arrive late Tuesday afternoon at Churchill after being flown to Lexington on a Tex Sutton charter flight. Pioneerof the Nile and Chocolate Candy, the respective one-two finishers in the Santa Anita Derby, are scheduled to arrive Thursday from California.

Also, the two Derby hopefuls for Godolphin, Regal Ransom and Desert Party, are scheduled to work Saturday at Churchill, where both have been training regularly in recent days after clearing quarantine following their arrival from Dubai.

Also, Charitable Man, seventh in the Blue Grass Stakes last Saturday in his first race in seven months, has not been completely eliminated from Derby consideration, according to Neal McLaughlin, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin's brother and assistant.

* Kenny Perry, the Franklin, Ky., golfer who narrowly missed winning the Masters last weekend, will serve as the grand marshal along with his father, Ken, at the annual Pegasus Parade in downtown Louisville on April 30.

- additional reporting by Steve Andersen and David Grening

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