04/20/2004 11:00PM

Tricky Taboo hurt, exits Derby trail

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Tricky Taboo, whose connections had hoped to run him in the 130th Kentucky Derby, has been eliminated from contention with a minor injury to his left hind cannon bone, trainer Ed Frederick said Wednesday. Frederick said the colt will be out of training for 60 days.

Tricky Taboo has $100,000 in graded earnings, which had him 24th on the list of Derby contenders before he was ruled out; the top 20 are eligible for the Derby. Tricky Taboo, by Mazel Trick, suddenly emerged as a fringe Derby contender on March 20 when he ran second at 54-1 in the Lane's End Stakes at Turfway Park, but he likely would have been the longest shot in the May 1 Derby after having finished 10th, beaten 28 lengths, in the Arkansas Derby on April 10.

Frederick, based at the Thoroughbred Training Center in Lexington, said he and owner Stephen Baker of Oak Haven Farm would have liked to run in the Derby, but the point became moot following a bone scan conducted on Tricky Taboo earlier this week at the Rood and Riddle equine clinic.

"There's no fracture, but there's an area that's suspect," said Frederick. "It's a minor setback, not the end of the world. When he comes back, we're still going to have a fine 3-year-old with a ton of good places to go."

Frederick said he and Baker already had decided against running the colt Saturday in the Grade 3 Derby Trial at Churchill Downs, but were going to see how the Derby field panned out.

"If we couldn't get in, we were going to run in the Preakness," Frederick said.

Meanwhile, the field for the one-mile, $100,000 Derby Trial shapes up like this: Big City Spender, Bwana Charlie, Capac, Honolua Storm, Rock Hard Ten, Sir Shackleton, and Yankee Mon.

Trainer Jason Orman said Wednesday that although Rock Hard Ten definitely will be entered in the Trial, the colt may not run, depending on developments regarding the Derby's graded earnings list.

As of Wednesday, Rock Hard Ten was 25th on the list. If Rock Hard Ten does not start in the Derby Trial, Bwana Charlie, winner of the Lafayette Stakes at Keeneland in his last start, might be the favorite. Bornwithit, Courageous Act, and Quick Action are also among the Derby Trial prospects.

The Derby Trial is on opening day of the 53-day spring meet at Churchill, where the per-day purse average is expected to approach $450,000.

That 16-year itch

One trainer who thought about the Derby Trial before bypassing it is Bob Holthus, who is still hoping to get Pro Prado in the Derby.

"I started to run in the Trial, but then I said, 'What the heck,' " said Holthus. "We're going to wait it out and see what happens next week."

Heading into the weekend, Pro Prado is 23rd on the graded stakes earnings list, with most of that money coming from his third-place finish in the Arkansas Derby. "We can still get in if Value Plus doesn't run, and if both the California horses [Castledale and St Averil] don't come, or if something else happens," said Holthus.

A start for Pro Prado would give Holthus a rather curious Derby record: one starter every 16 years. His other two Derby starters were Our Trade Winds, 13th in 1972, and Proper Reality, fourth in 1988.

"I'd like to run this colt mostly because of the owners," he said, referring to Mr. and Mrs. James Winn, who are in their upper 70's. "This might be the last chance they have."

Sellers gets Oaks mount

Shane Sellers has been named by trainer Ron McAnally to ride House of Fortune in the 130th Kentucky Oaks on April 30. Sellers got the mount after Gary Stevens, who is under contract to trainer Andre Fabre in France, canceled his travel plans to Kentucky next weekend.

House of Fortune, owned by Arnold Zetcher, ranks among the top Oaks contenders after winning the Fantasy Stakes at Oaklawn by 1 3/4 lengths. Alex Solis rode her in the Fantasy but will ride Halfbridled in the Oaks.

As of Wednesday, the prospective field for the Grade 1 Oaks remained at 11. With jockeys, the other probables are A.P. Adventure, Mike Smith; Ashado, John Velazquez; Class Above, Corey Nakatani; Hollywood Story, Victor Espinoza; Island Sand, Terry Thompson; Last Song, Robby Albarado; Madcap Escapade, Jerry Bailey; Silent Sighs, David Flores; and Victory U. S. A., Pat Day.

Many Oaks candidates were scheduled for final pre-race works over the next few days.

Ten Most Wanted passing through

Just a couple of stalls down from A.P. Adventure in Barn 39 at Churchill is her more famous stablemate Ten Most Wanted, although that colt was scheduled to leave almost as soon as he got here.

"He's flying back to California Friday," said Aimee Dollase, who is overseeing several horses here for her father, trainer Wally Dollase. "It's just the way the travel schedule worked out."

Ten Most Wanted, ninth as the third choice in the Derby last year, easily won the National Jockey Club last weekend at Hawthorne in Chicago, then was vanned here Monday. He is scheduled to run next in the Pimlico Special on May 14.

Sightseek and Azeri back to back

Perhaps the two best older fillies or mares still in training are expected to run here next weekend, although not against each other. Sightseek, a multiple Grade 1 winner, is expected to be the heavy favorite in the Grade 2 Louisville Breeders' Cup on April 30, while Azeri also will be an overwhelming choice the following day in the Grade 1 Humana Distaff on the Derby undercard.

Fields for both races appear to be coming up light. The Louisville BC is run at 1 1/16 miles, while the Humana Distaff is run at seven furlongs.

Grays looking good

Mike Pegram, always eager for a little betting action, said he would like to see this Derby proposition bet offered in Las Vegas or elsewhere: Grays versus non-grays.

Pegram, who owned the 1998 Derby winner, Real Quiet, owns Derby hopeful Preachinatthebar, one of two grays (along with Wimbledon) that trainer Bob Baffert is looking to run in the Derby. "You've also got Tapit and Imperialism in this race," he said of two other grays. "That's a pretty strong group. I wouldn't mind getting down on that."