Friday, April 30, 2004

Limited sight doesn't limit horse

By Neil Schmidt
The Cincinnati Enquirer

LOUISVILLE - When trainer Todd Pletcher eyed the one-eyed horse at Keeneland's 2-year-olds sale last April, he thought of two positives.

The first was that the handicap dropped the colt into the price range of owner David Moore, for whom he was shopping. The second is that Moore is also blind in one eye.

"We were intrigued," Pletcher said. "With David and his (blind) eye, it was a romantic idea."

They bought the horse, and it has seen clearly enough to reach the Kentucky Derby. Moore's 7-year-old daughter, Charlotte, named the horse Pollard's Vision after Seabiscuit's jockey, Red Pollard, who was blind in his right eye - as is this horse.

It's not unusual for a horse to be blind in one eye. This horse's vision apparently was lost because of the Mare Reproductive Loss Syndrome that hit Kentucky hard in 2001.

Only a few one-eyed horses have succeeded. Cassaleria, who ran 13th in the 1982 Derby, is believed to be the only such horse to have made the race.

Pollard's Vision lost his first race by 22 1/2 lengths but has improved since, including winning the Grade II Illinois Derby.

Fellow Derby starter Imperialism, who has a sunken right eye, can see forward but not to his right.

LONG WAY HERE: Trainer Richard Mandella bucked convention by bringing Minister Eric here off three allowance races this year.

He shrugs off the criticism.

"There's nothing conventional about the Derby," he said. "We're all just guessing. For this horse, I felt I didn't have to beat his brains in (in tough preps)."

Fifteen horses have come into the Derby off allowance races since 1980; none has won.

HALL OAKS TODAY: Unbeaten Madcap Escapade is the 3-1 morning-line favorite for today's Kentucky Oaks, the 1 1/8-mile race for fillies.

The Oaks horses and odds, in order of post position:

1. Ashado, 4-1; 2. Hollywood Story, 20-1; 3. Island Sand, 30-1; 4. Halfbridled, 9-2; 5. House of Fortune, 8-1; 6. Madcap Escapade, 3-1; 7. Silent Sighs, 6-1; 8. Victory U.S.A., 8-1; 9. A.P. Adventure, 8-1; 10. Last Song, 20-1; 11. Class Above, 20-1; 12. Stellar Jayne, 30-1.


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