04/04/2010 11:00PM

Wood top three taking different paths


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - The top three finishers from Saturday's are heading in different directions but will ultimately wind up in the same place - Churchill Downs - come May 1.

Eskendereya, whose 9 3/4-length victory in the Wood confirmed his status as the Kentucky Derby favorite, was back in south Florida less than 24 hours after his runaway victory. He will train at Palm Meadows before shipping to Churchill on April 20. Jackson Bend, the Wood runner-up, will be headed to Kentucky by midweek. Awesome Act, who finished third in the Wood, will stay in New York for the next several weeks, before being shipping to Louisville just five days before the race.

Awesome Act, who only arrived in New York three days before his eye-catching victory in the Grade 3 Gotham in March, will do virtually all of his training for the Derby over the Belmont Park training track, his connections confirmed Monday. Awesome Act could have as many as three workouts at Belmont before shipping to Churchill on April 27.

"He's settled in here, and we just think it'll be the best thing to stay here," Wayne Tanner, assistant to trainer Jeremy Noseda, said Monday. "It'll get busy building up to the Derby; it's very quiet where he is, and he's settled in."

:: DERBY 136:



Though Awesome Act finished third in the Wood, there were several things working against him. He stumbled out of the starting gate and lost his left front shoe. The early pace for the Wood was excruciatingly slow. The half-mile was run in 49.21 seconds - more than two seconds slower than the first half of the Gotham. That caused Awesome Act to be closer to the pace than he prefers and had jockey Julien Leparoux in a bit of a wrestling match.

"If things would have gone differently, we could've been second," Tanner said. "There was no pace, which didn't suit us. He was a bit too keen. We'll get pace in the Derby anyway."

Tanner said Awesome Act had no issues with his left front foot, despite racing the majority of the Wood without a left front shoe. The horse, who was reshod Sunday, was scheduled to return to the track Tuesday for a jog and resume a regular training regimen Wednesday.

While Tanner was naturally impressed with Eskendereya, he knows circumstances could be different in the Kentucky Derby.

"The other horse is good, but it's a horse race," Tanner said. Eskendereya "has had three big races now. If he turns up the same horse at Churchill, he's going to be hard to beat for anybody."

Eightyfiveinafifty likely for Derby Trial

Don't call it Derby fever, but the connections of Eightyfiveinafifty have a slight temperature.

Trainer Gary Contessa said Monday that he plans to run winner Eightyfiveinafifty in the Grade 3, $200,000 Derby Trial at Churchill Downs on April 24. Should the horse win that one-turn, one-mile race, he could very well run back one week later in the Kentucky Derby.

"If all goes well, I'm going to the Derby Trial," Contessa said Monday. "He could punch his own ticket to the Derby. I don't have to go to the Derby by any means, but if the Derby Trial is an easy race for him, he comes back a week later in the Derby and that would probably be good for him; it would take the edge off him."

Eightyfiveinafifty, wearing a one-cup blinker outside of his right eye, basically went gate to wire in the Bay Shore, though he had his head cocked to the left in the early stages and appeared to be getting out. He drifted a little bit through the lane down the stretch while winning by 2 1/2 lengths. He ran seven furlongs in 1:21.89 and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 100, his second triple-digit Beyer Speed Figure of the year.

In between those two races, Eightyfiveinafifty bolted entering the first turn of the two-turn Whirlaway Stakes. He unseated his jockey and jumped two rails before being caught on the backside. Contessa said he's not convinced one way or the other about the colt's chances to get two turns.

Meanwhile, Contessa is convinced that Castaneda is a solid New York-bred sprinter. Castaneda won his third consecutive race - a second-level New York-bred allowance race - last Friday. Contessa said Castaneda could make his next start in the $100,000 Blue and Gold Stakes at Charles Town on April 17. Castaneda also is eligible for the $100,000 Mike Lee Stakes for New York-breds on June 20. Both races are at seven furlongs.