04/09/2009 12:00AM

West Side Bernie 'shooting for stars'


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Lost in the amazing effort turned in by I Want Revenge in last Saturday's Wood Memorial was the solid performance put forth by West Side Bernie, whose runner-up finish to I Want Revenge earned him a spot in the Kentucky Derby.

West Side Bernie already had accrued enough graded stakes earnings to run in the Derby, but his connections were leery of going after he ran a dull sixth in the Lane's End Stakes at Turfway Park on March 21. Owners George and Lori Hall and trainer Kelly Breen opted to run the colt back in two weeks in the Wood and he responded with a solid effort.

After racing in fifth for the first five furlongs, West Side Bernie began to move when I Want Revenge made his bid entering the far turn. Jockey Stewart Elliott took West Side Bernie four to five wide turning for home, and though he couldn't stay with I Want Revenge in the final furlong, he was running at the end, losing by 1 1/2 lengths.

"I pretty much said to George Hall that West Side Bernie is back," Breen said. "That's the best way to describe everything. I thought he ran a great race; a little more traffic trouble for I Want Revenge, and we win the race."

Breen said that West Side Bernie came out of the race extremely well. The colt galloped almost two miles Thursday morning at Aqueduct after returning to the track the previous day.

"We're going with a horse that has the credentials of running a big race," Breen said. "He likes the added distance. We're shooting for the stars with a horse that might have the running style to get a mile and a quarter. The pedigree may not say it, but the way he trains, the way he runs, we're going to try and win it."

Breen said West Side Bernie is scheduled to ship to Churchill Downs on Sunday. The horse will likely have two works leading into the Derby. It will be the first Derby for Breen, a former assistant to Ben Perkins Jr.

"I'm excited," Breen said. "So much can happen in the Kentucky Derby, the best horse doesn't always have to win. If it's your day, so be it. Hopefully, it'll be my day. I wish I had a horse of Big Brown's magnitude of last year, but this year's 3-year-old crop, the cream hasn't totally risen to the top. We have a shot."

Elliott, who won the 2004 Kentucky Derby aboard Smarty Jones, will retain the mount on West Side Bernie.

Bold Union wins Lucky Lavender Gal

Breen and Elliott enjoyed success together Thursday as Elliott guided the Breen-trained Bold Union to a one-length victory in the $66,700 Lucky Lavender Gal Stakes for 3-year-old fillies.

In her first start since September, Bold Union raced close to the pace while three wide under Elliott. She struck the front in midstretch and edged clear of One Smokin' Lady. Bold Union, a 3-year-old daughter of Dixie Union, covered the 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:18.86 and returned $4 as the favorite.

As a 2-year-old, Bold Union won the Astoria Stakes at Belmont. She finished fourth in the Grade 2 Adirondack and fourth in the Kentucky Cup Juvenile Fillies before being put away for the year.

Breen had previously said that he is looking to run Bold Union in either the Grade 2 Nassau County at Belmont on May 2 or the Grade 3 Miss Preakness Stakes at Pimlico on May 15.

Trainer Campo hospitalized

John Campo Jr., the main trainer for the troubled Paraneck Stable, is in a Long Island hospital following surgery to repair a ruptured artery in his stomach. He is in stable condition, according to his brother, P.J. Campo, the New York Racing Association racing secretary/handicapper.

P.J. Campo said his brother looked pale and was complaining of chest pains when he was in the racing office making entries Wednesday. On the advice of his brother, John Campo drove himself to the hospital, where it was discovered that he had lost six pints of blood.

He underwent surgery to repair the ruptured artery in his stomach and was to undergo further tests before possibly being released Friday, P.J. Campo said.

Campo, the son of the late trainer John Campo Sr., has been training for Paraneck since last fall and has helped develop True Quality into a top sprinter with victories in the Grade 2 General George and Paumonok Stakes.

Red Rocks to return for Man o' War

Red Rocks, who beat Curlin in the Man o' War Handicap last summer at Belmont Park, will again be pointed to that race, but will run in Europe beforehand, trainer Mark Hennig said Thursday.

Red Rocks finished 12th in the Dubai Sheema Classic on March 28, and was shipped to his previous trainer, Brian Meehan, in England. According to Hennig, Meehan will train the horse for a race in France before shipping back here for the Man o' War.

"The plan is to ship him over to run in the Man o' War and stay after that," Hennig said.

Last year, Red Rocks raced in the Coronation Cup at Epsom before coming here for the Man o' War.

* Cornelio Velasquez has retained Kevin Meyocks, son of former NYRA official Terry Meyocks, to be his new agent. Meyocks replaces Richie DePass, who took Rajiv Maragh's book.