Derby card has other strong races

Posted: May 05, 2007

While just about every viewer in the nation will bet a few bucks on today's Kentucky Derby, more experienced players will try to take advantage of the 10 other races on an outstanding program from Churchill Downs that begins at 11 a.m.

Here are some other races worthy of attention:

Fifth race

1. Ah Day. 2. Istan. 3. Saint Anddan.

Jockey Mario Pino is just two victories shy of racing legend Jerry Bailey in the all-time standings and has an excellent chance to close the gap in the Churchill Downs Stakes (Grade II). Ah Day chased the terrific sprinter Silver Wagon in his last two starts, and two defeats constitute a losing streak. But this stretch runner, a winner of nine of 20 career starts, should benefit from a contested pace and the suitable seven-furlong distance. Moreover, the track could remain wet, as it was the last two days, and Ah Day is undefeated in four starts on "off" surfaces.

Istan looked great crushing Gulfstream rivals in the Artax Handicap and has become as adept racing on dirt in this country as he was on the turf in France. Saint Anddan was speedy and formidable at the Fair Grounds, and trainer Bobby Frankel is always dangerous.

Seventh Race

1. Mostbeautifulstorm. 2. Tessa Blue. 3. Appealing Zophie.

Keeneland is known to favor stretch runners, but Mostbeautifulstorm survived an extremely wide rally with a powerful surge to take a giant step forward in her last start. She could overrun this La Troienne (Grade III) field at a square price with jockey Edgar Prado. Tessa Blue has been excellent since a hiatus and adding Lasix. Appealing Zophie will be the favorite here but exited with a poor showing in the Fair Grounds Oaks. Her previous effort would make her tough to beat.

Ninth Race

1. Einstein. 2. Better Talk Now. 3. Icy Atlantic.

Trainer Helen Pitts is winning at a high percentage this season (21 percent) and was the original trainer for Curlin. She saddles Einstein in this Turf Classic (Grade I). He overcame trouble to win a Grade II stake at the Fair Grounds and holds a fitness advantage over his key rival and the probable favorite, Better Talk Now, who has been sidelined since finishing second in the Breeders' Cup Turf on Nov. 4. He has a great closing kick for jockey Ramon Dominguez but is making another comeback at the ripe old age of 8. Icy Atlantic will seek his third straight victory for Team Pletcher and is improving.

Black is back. Jockey Tony Black showed he was tough following a layoff when he rode three winners Tuesday at Philadelphia Park.

The 55-year-old had not ridden in six months after suffering injuries from a spill. But he had a big day in his return despite having just five mounts.

His winners included Sox It to Me ($12.80) in the fifth race, April Dancer ($3.40) in the sixth, and Peak Maria's Way ($4.20) in the ninth.

Benefit race at Phila. Park. In the "2007 Fillies Race for the Cure," Philadelphia Park horsemen will raise funds on Mother's Day, May 13, in recognition of breast cancer awareness day.

Activities will include a silent auction, a jockeys' race, a donation booth, and a winner's-circle presentation by breast cancer survivors who work on the backstretch. Pink T-shirts and hats will be sold, all the horses in the race will have pink saddlecloths, and the jockeys will don pink helmet covers.


Contact staff writer Craig Donnelly at 215-854-2839 or cdonnelly@phillynews.com.

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