04/14/2008 11:00PM

Tomcito gets last shot at Derby


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Dante Zanelli Jr. and his father are Peruvian trainers with an obscure claim to fame in American racing: They mentored Rafael Bejarano. Now the Zanellis would like to make a far greater impression with a colt named Tomcito, one of the contenders Saturday in the Grade 2, $325,000 Coolmore Lexington Stakes at Keeneland.

In 2002, Dante Zanelli Sr. advised Bejarano to move to the United States from Peru, where Bejarano had grown up and attended the same Lima riding school that produced such stars as Edgar Prado and Jorge Chavez. While Dante Zanelli Sr., who now trains in the United States, was still in Peru that spring, his son had moved his small stable from Florida to River Downs in Ohio, and it was there that Bejarano, with Dante Zanelli Jr. as a benefactor and confidant, began his rise to stardom.

Over the winter, Dante Zanelli Jr. was sent Peru's best 2-year-old of 2007, Tomcito, and in his lone start at 3, the Kentucky-bred colt finished a respectable third at 12-1 behind Big Brown in the March 29 Florida Derby. With his $151,292 in earnings from group races in Peru counting toward the all-important Kentucky Derby cutoff, Tomcito would seem assured a spot in the Derby field by finishing first or second in the Lexington.

Tuesday morning, Tomcito sharpened for the race by working three furlongs from the gate in 34.60 seconds over the Keeneland Polytrack.

"I think I have the horse to beat," Zanelli said. "He is getting better and better, and he is not even blowing" after the work.

At least seven other 3-year-olds were considered likely to be entered when the Lexington was drawn Wednesday. Those horses are Atoned, Behindatthebar, Big Glen, Racecar Rhapsody, Red Sandy, Salute the Sarge, and Samba Rooster.

Red Sandy, owned by the Shortleaf Stable and trained by D. Wayne Lukas, would have to be supplemented for a $16,250 fee. The Florida-bred colt, by Yes It's True, earned a career-high 75 Beyer Speed Figure in winning his last start, an Oaklawn Park maiden race.

The 1 1/16-mile Lexington will be broadcast live on ESPN2 on a one-hour show that begins at 5 p.m. Eastern.

Recapturetheglory at Churchill

At Churchill Downs in Louisville, Illinois Derby winner Recapturetheglory was the latest Kentucky Derby prospect to arrive on the scene. The Louie Roussel-trained colt arrived Monday and was out the next morning as he began his local preparations by galloping two miles.

Also, trainer Dale Romans said he is taking a wait-and-see outlook toward the Derby with Massive Drama and Halo Najib. Both colts are owned by Zayat Stables and are on or near the graded-earnings bubble, with $205,200 and $157,996, respectively.

"Don't take them off the list yet," Romans said. "I want to see how they train and who's going to run."

Massive Drama, formerly based in California with Bob Baffert, finished ninth, beaten 42 lengths, in the March 29 UAE Derby in his first start for Romans. Halo Najib was seventh Saturday in the Blue Grass at Keeneland.

Monba or Adriano for Prado

Prado will ride either Monba or Adriano in the Kentucky Derby, his agent, Bob Frieze, said Tuesday. Monba, trained by Todd Pletcher, won the Blue Grass Stakes on Saturday at Keeneland, and Adriano, trained by Graham Motion, captured the Lane's End Stakes last month at Turfway Park.

Prado also had ridden Tale of Ekati to victory earlier this month in the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct, but Frieze said he has informed Barclay Tagg, the trainer of Tale of Ekati, that Prado would not ride the colt in the Derby.

As for choosing between Adriano and Monba, Frieze said, "It's a very tough decision."

"Edgar has been out of town," Frieze said. "He will be back [Wednesday], and I'm sure we'll have to make a decision by then."

Panty Raid returns in Doubledogdare

Panty Raid, winner of the Grade 1 Overbrook Spinster here last fall, will make her 4-year-old debut in the Friday feature, the Grade 3, $125,000 Doubledogdare Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on Polytrack.

Panty Raid, owned by Glencrest Farm and trained by Pletcher, closed 2007 with a third-place finish as the beaten favorite in the Nov. 22 Falls City Handicap at Churchill. She shows a steady series of works since early March, ending with two five-furlong breezes at Keeneland this month.

From the rail, the Doubledogdare field is Marquee Delivery, Say You Will, Indescribable, Carriage Trail, Meribel, Panty Raid, and I'm in Love.

Arrangements for Guilliams

Visitation for Cliff Guilliams, the longtime Kentucky chart-caller and turf writer who died unexpectedly at 52 on Saturday in Louisville, was scheduled for 1 to 7 p.m. Central on Wednesday at Browning Funeral Home in his hometown of Evansville, Ind. A memorial service will be held at Browning the following day at 10 a.m.

The family has requested that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association scholarship fund, 4079 Iron Works Pike, Lexington, KY, 40511.

- additional reporting by Jay Privman