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Derby favorite hasn’t made emergence

Mar 20, 2001 6:09 AM

Here’s an analysis of the Kentucky Derby by Wayne Lukas, as quoted in the New York Times: "There’s no buzz horse at this point. Usually at this time of year, there’s a horse or two that captures the public imagination — a favorite, real or imagined."

That about sums up the situation. But the picture will come into focus next month with the running of the Santa Anita Derby, the Arkansas Derby, the Wood Memorial and the Blue Grass Stakes.

Monarchos really blew away his field in the Florida Derby, although his running time of 1:494/5 for 11/8 miles did not evoke memories of Secretariat or Spectacular Bid. But he won easily. If he stages a repeat performance in his next start, the Wood at Aqueduct on April 14, he could become the buzz horse Lukas was talking about.

You can throw out Dollar Bill’s showing in the Louisiana Derby. Sent postward as the favorite, he got caught in heavy traffic in the upper stretch, clipped the heels of another horse and almost went down. The race obviously was not a true measure of the colt’s ability.

A dark horse for the Derby could be Godolphin Racing’s Irish-bred Street Cry. He ran third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last year and was rated fifth in the Experimental Free Handicap. He’s training in Dubai and will run this week in the United Arab Emirates Derby at Nad al Sheba racecourse. Despite virtually unanimous opinion to the contrary, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum continues to believe that if a horse has the requisite ability, it can be trained in the desert, shipped to the United States and win the Kentucky Derby without any other preparation.

Although Godolphin’s blue silks have been carried to victory in practically every important race in England, France and Ireland, the stable has had no luck at all in America’s classic 3-year-old races.

When Tiger Woods went to play in the Dubai Desert Classic, Sheikh Mohammed named a horse after the golfer: Dubai Tiger, a colt by Storm Cat-Toga Toga Toga that had been purchased by Godolphin for $1.8 million.

The Nick Zito-trained, Rick Pitino-owned A.P. Valentine will make his next start April 7 in the Flamingo Stakes at Hialeah Park. The colt, winner last year of the Champagne Stakes and rated third in the Experimental Handicap, has been behind in his training. He was disappointing in his season’s debut at Gulfstream. Consequently, the Flamingo will be a key test for him.

Real Cozy came down the stretch like a tornado to win the Fair Grounds Oaks and remained undefeated in three career starts. She makes her next start April 13 in the Fantasy Stakes at Oaklawn Park. Also headed to Arkansas is Platinum Tiara, who finished second in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies but failed to hit the board in two Gulfstream starts. Her connections hope her bad reaction to a new dietary supplement is out of her system.

Rifle shots

Evander Holyfield should pack it in…

Troy Aikman should pack it in, too. His insistence that he wishes to continue to play may be an indication his brain has already suffered irreparable damage…

NBC should pack in the XFL…

I take exception to the smart aleck columnists, most viciously Jon Saraceno of USA Today, who seem delighted that the playing career of Albert Belle has ended. An athlete’s active career is relatively short. The fact that it is curtailed by a physical condition should not be a cause for merriment, even to someone as seemingly unpopular as Belle. Maybe Saraceno would have really been in ecstasy if Belle had contracted cancer…

Despite his miserable performance in Super Bowl XXXV, the New York Giants gave cornerback Jason Sehorn a contract worth $6 million. Sehorn thus goes from being the most overrated and over-publicized player in the NFL to being the most overpaid. In any event, Sehorn can enjoy the off-season watching the TV series, "Law and Order," in which his fiancé, Angie Harmon, plays the role of an assistant district attorney…

Although she has never won a tournament, Anna Kournikova is the poster girl for women’s tennis. It pays to be good looking…

A number of faculty members at Texas Tech subscribed to a petition urging the powers-that-be not to hire Bobby Knight as basketball coach. Obviously, these people feel there are already enough rattlesnakes in the West Texas desert.