03/30/2010 11:00PM

Yawanna Twist ships to Illinois for shot at Derby


STICKNEY, Ill. - Trainer Rick Dutrow can count among his 1,472 career victories wins in locales as distant as Dubai. Dutrow, though, has never won a race in Illinois, and his first-ever starter at Hawthorne Race Course will be a New York-bred named Yawanna Twist, one of eight horses entered Tuesday in Saturday's Grade 3 Illinois Derby.

Yawanna Twist worked five furlongs in 1:00.80 last Friday at Aqueduct, shipped from New York last Saturday, arrived at Hawthorne on a horse van Sunday, galloped here Tuesday and Wednesday, and will have an easy three-furlong blowout Thursday morning, Dutrow said.

Yawanna Twist was bred and is owned by the Steel Your Face Stable, whose principal is Jeff Bonner. By Yonaguska, the colt was produced by Twist and Go, whom Steel Your Face acquired through the claim box in 2004. Dutrow said Yawanna Twist started off training at Monmouth Park and moved to Aqueduct when he drew closer to his career debut. That came Dec. 26 at Aqueduct, when Yawanna Twist broke alertly from the rail, stalked the leaders, and came out with a strong stretch run to beat 11 rivals, winning by more than five lengths.

Yawanna Twist's New York-bred entry-level allowance win Feb. 7, also at six furlongs, looked much the same: Inside trip, stalking position, good finish. This time, Yawanna Twist scored by more than four, showing enough for his connections to try the March 6 Gotham Stakes. There, Yawanna Twist, making his two-turn debut, raced inside once again, but fell farther off the pace than he had in his two sprint wins. Still along the rail and in the second tier, the colt hesitated slightly around the three-eighths pole, just when eventual winner Awesome Act launched his bid on the outside. By the time Yawanna Twist and Edgar Prado got back in sync, also moving to the outside for running room, it was too late. Yawanna Twist again finished with good energy but wound up second by 1 1/4 lengths.

"He's done everything right so far," Dutrow said. "We can't be happier with him, and he's trained very good since the Gotham. This is a big race for him to get in. If the owners want to look to the [Kentucky] Derby, he'll be qualified for that."

Turf Melody sold, stays with Motion

Illinois Derby starter Turf Melody has changed owners, but not barns, since his most recent start, a fourth-place finish in the Gotham Stakes.

Last week, Earle Mack purchased Turf Melody from Priscilla Graham, who had paid $200,000 for the colt as a yearling at the Keeneland September sale in 2008.

"It's something we've kind of talked about since the Gotham," trainer Graham Motion said of Turf Melody's sale. "I train for Earle anyway, and he'd expressed some interest after the Gotham. The [previous owners] live in Monaco, and they don't get to see him race except on the computer anyway."

Turf Melody has won 3 of 6 starts on dirt and 3 of 9 overall. His best win came in the $200,000 Springboard Mile at Remington Park on Dec. 13. Motion said a slow start and slight traffic trouble into the stretch might have cost Turf Melody a higher placing last out in New York.

"He's been a horse that's always been impressive in the morning," Motion said. "I've always thought quite a lot of him."