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.

[img]
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

Bailey

Even
2. Tat's an Outrage Robbie

Albarado

9-1
3. Hippocrates David

Flores

12-1
4. Stolen Time Cornelio

Velasquez

5-1
5. Tap Dancing Mauk Eddie

Zuniga

30-1
6. Hasslefree Jon

Court

15-1
7. Silver Minister Rafael

Bejarano

5-1
8. New Element Mark

Guidry

30-1
9. Tricky Taboo Tony

D'Amico

15-1
10. Little Matth Man Pablo

Fragoso

12-1
11. Sinister G Paul

Tiscano

12-1




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Silver Minister, Bejarano aim to play spoiler

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