Saturday, March 20, 2004

Silver Minister, Bejarano aim to play spoiler

By George Rorrer
Enquirer contributor

If racehorses wrote e-mails, 3-year-olds Birdstone and Silver Minister could've kept a chat room busy this winter. Birdstone could've told Silver Minister how he ran once and won an allowance race at Gulfstream Park in Florida, where thoroughbreds are prepared in sunshine and gentle breezes for the long summer ahead.

Paraska Valsamis, an employee of Sports Service, places glasses on tables in the VIP tent at Turfway Park in preparation for the $500,000 Lane's End Stakes to be run Saturday.
(Patrick Reddy photo)
Now Birdstone can tell his rival that he, Birdstone, is the even-money favorite for today's 33rd running of the Lane's End Stakes at Turfway Park, and is the early favorite for the Kentucky Derby. That makes him the apple of the eyes of trainer Nick Zito and socialite owner Marylou Whitney.

But Silver Minister could've told Birdstone that all of horse racing is not sunshine and zephyrs. Silver Minister is a co-No. 2 choice in today's race, and he got there the hard way.

He could tell Birdstone that Turfway's winter meet is no place for the faint-hearted. Since Jan. 3, nine race cards have been cancelled, as have six partial cards, because of rain and snow and ice and track conditions.

But Silver Minister and rising young jockey star Rafael Bejarano have dominated every step on the Turfway road to the Lane's End.

Just as stablemate Champali did last year, Silver Minister has won the Turfway Triple - the Turfway Prevue, the WEBN Stakes and the John Battaglia Memorial Stakes.

Greg Foley, Silver Minister's trainer, says his horse is fit despite the climate, and he is eager to see how the Minister will match up with Birdstone. To move into the racing ratings, he said, "I figure we are going to have to win or make that other horse run his eyes out.

"He (Silver Minister) is going to run as hard as he can run. If that horse stubs his toe or whatever, we might be sitting in a good spot. If we're not, we're not. That's what they want to find out - what he is. So they've got one they can measure him up to.

"My horse looks good, his weight is good and he has been winning easily. I think he's going to run a big race," Foley said.

"Thing about it, it's run on a track he sure as heck likes. Maybe the other one won't."

Foley is high on Bejarano, who is running away with the winter meet jockey standings and national rider standings in victories.

"I'm sure he'll do well wherever he rides," Foley said. "Keeneland, Churchill Downs or anywhere."

Zito's entry of El Prado Rob and Pies Prospect are 6-5 favorites in Rushaway Stakes for 3-year-olds on the undercard. In the $50,000 Queen Stakes, Ebony Breeze is a 7-5 choice.

Class Above is a 6-5 first choice in the $150,000 Bourbonette Breeders' Cup, and the $50,000 Hansel Stakes, featuring Danieltown and Gethsemani as 2-1 selections.

First post time for today's 12 races is 12:30 p.m. The Lane's End is scheduled for about 4:15 p.m.

GOTHAM STAKES: Even though Eddington, trained by Ohio native Mark Hennig, will be competing in his first stakes race today at Aqueduct, he's already one of the most talked about Derby prospects.

Lane's End field

What: Today's 33rd running of the Grade II $500,000 race for 3-year-old Thoroughbreds going 1 1/8 miles.

Where: Turfway Park, Florence, Ky.

TV: ESPN2 (3:30-4:30 p.m.)

Gates open: 10:30 a.m.

Post Horse Jockey Odds
1. Birdstone Jerry


2. Tat's an Outrage Robbie


3. Hippocrates David


4. Stolen Time Cornelio


5. Tap Dancing Mauk Eddie


6. Hasslefree Jon


7. Silver Minister Rafael


8. New Element Mark


9. Tricky Taboo Tony


10. Little Matth Man Pablo


11. Sinister G Paul



NCAA TOURNAMENT (Special section)
XU: Musketeers fight back to advance
Patient Sato picks his spots, hits his shots
UC: Bobbitt hits game-winner
Daugherty: Little guy not so little in Tourney
ETSU's Smith plays big
Hicks gets job done as Bearcats' stealth sub
UK: 'Cats pull away in 2nd half to win
Hayes just misses triple-double
Murray St. gets taste of Illini's Big Ten
Cowboys get Sutton's angry halftime message
Wolfpack uses defense to subdue Ragin' Cajuns
Pacific waves goodbye to 5th seed Providence
Maryland sets sights on 'Cuse's sharpshooter
Calhoun could do without matchup
NCAA Tournament at a glance
It's not exactly home, but it's close for the Buckeyes
Tournament chase is all about class
Team by team in the women's field
WNIT: Scoring drought ends MU's season
Victory sends Wilmington to title game

Reds pitcher lost for season
2003 Reds finances may have finished in the black
Inside Reds camp
Lidle in Opening Day hunt
Aching Nixon, Garciaparra out of action for Red Sox

Bengals, Sapp close in on deal
It's official: Keyshawn, Parcells reunited

MND plays nation's top-ranked team for state title
C-J storms into Division I title game
Colonels discover that the 3 is king
Royals win one for the ages
Mason Co. pushed to the 3-OT brink
Prep sports results, schedules

Silver Minister, Bejarano aim to play spoiler

Maruyama moves ahead
Sports digest
Sports this weekend on TV, radio