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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, April 12, 2010

Horses: Eskendereya, Lookin At Lucky still 1-2 Derby picks


By RICHARD ROSENBLATT
AP Sports Writer

NEW YORK The Arkansas Derby and Blue Grass Stakes produced big upsets, although neither had much effect on The Associated Press' Top 10 list of Kentucky Derby contenders.

The Blue Grass was won by 40-1 Stately Victor on Saturday. In the other Derby prep, 17-1 shot Line of David took the Arkansas Derby.

Line of David moves into the select group at No. 9, but the top 5 remain the same, led by Eskendereya. The 3-year-old colt is one of three on the list trained by Todd Pletcher: No. 5 Mission Impazible and No. 7 Super Saver, beaten a neck by Line of David, are the others.

Rebel Stakes winner Lookin At Lucky is No. 2 and Florida Derby winner Ice Box is No. 3, followed by Sidney's Candy. The colt is trained by John Sadler, who also trains Line of David.

The biggest question in the final weeks before the May 1 Derby is which horses will be left out since the field is limited to 20 starters. If more are entered, the field is determined by graded stakes earnings.

In this week's AP ranking, only No. 10 Jackson Bend is not among the Derby's top 20 graded-stakes earners. The colt is No. 22, but defections could get him into the field.

There was quite a bit of shuffling in the money list after the latest preps. Homeboykris is No. 20 on the list with $250,500, with Line of David zooming to No. 6 with $600,000.

"We'll show up," the colt's owner Ike Thrash said, "now that he's in."

Wood Memorial winner Eskendereya is on top for the second week in a row, and Derby oddsmaker Mike Battaglia said he'll likely make the colt the 2-1 morning-line favorite. He said Lookin At Lucky, trained by three-time Derby winner Bob Baffert, would be the second choice at about 4-1.

Super Saver and Line of David are the new entries in the AP ranking, with Noble's Promise and Dublin dropping out.

Arkansas Derby favorite Noble's Promise finished fifth, but sustained cuts on both front legs and his Derby status is questionable; Dublin finished third in the race and is 0 for 5 since winning the Hopeful at Saratoga last September.

Also to be determined is how many horses Pletcher will have on Derby day. A record six is possible for the trainer, who is 0 for 24 in America's greatest race.

The Lexington Stakes at Keeneland on Saturday serves as a final major prep race. Among an expected field of 10 trying to earn their way into the Derby are Uptowncharlybrown (third in the Sam Davis, fifth in the Tampa Bay Derby), Distorted Dave (trained by Sadler) and Kettle River.

Some new names among the Derby's top 20 graded stakes earners include Line of David, Stately Victor (No. 9) and Blue Grass runner-up Paddy O'Prado (No. 19).

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1. Eskendereya (Todd Pletcher, trainer; John Velazquez, jockey): Wood winner goes into Derby 3 for 3 this year by a combined 19 lengths ... Next start: Kentucky Derby (May 1, Churchill Downs, dirt) ... Derby future wager odds: 5-1.

2. Lookin At Lucky (Bob Baffert, Garrett Gomez): Despite tough trips in last two starts, do not overlook 2-year-old champion. He won Rebel in only start on dirt ... Next start: Kentucky Derby ... Odds: 9-2.

3. Ice Box (Nick Zito, Jose Lezcano): Florida Derby winner already at Churchill Downs after three wins in four races. He finished fifth to Eskendereya in Fountain of Youth ... Next start: Kentucky Derby ... Odds: 19-1.

4. Sidney's Candy (John Sadler, Joe Talamo): Colt is 3 for 3 this year, winning San Vicente, San Felipe and Santa Anita Derby. The Derby will be first start on dirt ... Next start: Kentucky Derby ... Odds: 22-1.

5. Mission Impazible (Pletcher, Rajiv Maragh): Louisiana Derby winner worked 4 furlongs at Palm Meadows over weekend ... Next start: Kentucky Derby ... Odds: 9-2 (mutuel field).

6. Awesome Act (Jeremy Noseda, Julien Leparoux): Third in Wood after his Gotham win hasn't discouraged trainer ... Next start: Kentucky Derby ... Odds: 13-1.

7. Super Saver (Pletcher, Calvin Borel): Steps into Derby fray after neck defeat in Arkansas Derby, giving Pletcher another strong shot ... Next start: Kentucky Derby ... Odds: 35-1.

8. American Lion (Eoin Harty, David Flores): Illinois Derby winner is one of several front-running colts set for Derby .... Next start: Kentucky Derby ... Odds: 9-2 (mutuel field)

9. Line of David (Sadler, Jon Court): Won Arkansas Derby at 17-1 odds to zoom into Derby picture. He's 3 for 3 since adding blinkers ... Next start: Kentucky Derby. ... Odds: 9-2 (mutuel field).

10. Jackson Bend (Zito, Borel): Might not make field due to lack of graded stakes earnings. He was second in last three starts, twice beaten by Eskendereya ... Next start: Kentucky Derby ... Odds: 46-1.

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Keep and eye on: Conveyance, Dean's Kitten, Dublin, Stately Victor, Uptowncharlybrown.