Sunday, March 14, 2004

Long shot pulls upset in Fla. Derby



The Associated Press

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Another New York bred is taking aim at the Kentucky Derby.

Friends Lake swept past favorites Read the Footnotes and Value Plus with less than 70 yards to go for a surprising victory in the $1 million Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park on Saturday.

Friends Lake, bred in New York just like last year's Kentucky Derby winner Funny Cide, was dismissed at 37-to-1 odds but beat Value Plus by three-quarters of a length in one of the major preps leading to the May 1 Derby at Churchill Downs.

Read the Footnotes, the even-money favorite, was unable to match his gutty stretch run in winning the Fountain of Youth last month and finished fourth, behind a fast-closing The Cliff's Edge.

Minutes later, the road to the Kentucky Derby became more muddled when Wynn Dot Comma, ridden by Edgar Prado (his 5,000th win), edged favorite Eurosilver by a head in the Swale Stakes.

Eurosilver and Read the Footnotes entered as top Derby prospects. Trainer Nick Zito said Eurosilver will race in the Blue Grass at Keeneland April 10, and trainer Rick Violette Jr. hopes Read the Footnotes will make the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct, also April  10.

Add Friends Lake to the list of Derby contenders. A distant third in the Holy Bull Stakes on Jan. 17, Friends Lake overcame a minor gate problem and settled in along the rail, well behind pacesetter Frisky Spider. Jockey Richard Migliore then guided the son of A.P. Indy outside and swung him four wide around the turn for home in the 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds.

But it appeared Read the Footnotes, also a New York bred, and Value Plus would battle down the stretch the same way Read the Footnotes and Second of June did in the Fountain of Youth. It wasn't to be. Friends Lake ran them down for his third win in five career starts.

EL CAMINO REAL: Kilgowan, a 26-to-1 shot, rallied from seventh to post a half-length win in the $200,000 Grade III Kentucky Derby prep at Golden Gate Fields.

SANTA ANITA OAKS: Silent Sighs beat champion and previously undefeated Halfbridled by 1 1/2 lengths in the $300,000 race for 3-year-old fillies. Halfbridled won last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.

Triple Crown trail

Upcoming graded stakes races

Date Race (Grade)
3/14 Tampa Bay Derby (G3)
3/14 San Felipe Stakes (G2)
3/20 Lane's End Stakes (G2)
3/20 Gotham Stakes (G3)
3/27 UAE Derby (G2)
4/3 Santa Anita Derby (G1)
4/3 Illinois Derby (G2)
4/4 Lafayette Stakes (G3)
4/10 Wood Memorial (G1)
4/10 Blue Grass Stakes (G1)
4/10 Arkansas Derby (G2)
4/10 Bay Shore Stakes (G3)
4/17 Coolmore Lexington (G2)
5/1 Kentucky Derby (G1)
5/15 Preakness Stakes (G1)
6/5 Belmont Stakes (G1)




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