DECLAN'S MOON FAVORED EARLY.Byline: KEVIN MODESTI Horse Racing horse racing, trials of speed involving two or more horses. It includes races among harnessed horses with one of two particular gaits, among saddled Thoroughbreds (or, less frequently, quarterhorses) on a flat track, or among saddled horses over a turf course with
ARCADIA - Roon Ellis believes Declan's Moon is the best of the 357 young thoroughbreds nominated for the Kentucky Derby.
And the trainer, a San Fernando Valley San Fernando Valley
Valley, southern California, U.S. Northwest of central Los Angeles, the valley is bounded by the San Gabriel, Santa Susana, and Santa Monica mountains and the Simi Hills. native, is not sorry to hear how many unbiased observers agree with him.
Declan's Moon officially became the early favorite for the Derby when the undefeated champion of last season's 2-year-olds was listed as the 6-1 morning-line choice for this weekend's opening round of ``future'' betting on the May 7 race.
``I'd certainly rather be favored than 20-1,'' said Ellis, mindful that post-time favorites have lost 23 of the past 25 Derbies. ``It's nice to feel you have the best horse. Then you can go on and worry about everything else. (Handicappers) follow the horses around the rest of the country a little more than I do. (Being favored) is a big stamp of approval.''
Declan's Moon worked 6 furlongs in a fastest-of-the-morning 1:12 3/5 Wednesday at Hollywood Park to stay fit for the March 5 Santa Catalina Stakes, which will be the gelding's first start since he won the Hollywood Futurity under Victor Espinoza in December to complete a 4-for-4 season.
Ellis, 44, a graduate of Monroe High in North Hills, plans to race Declan's Moon only one other time - in the April 9 Santa Anita Derby The Santa Anita Derby is an American Grade 1 thoroughbred horse race for three-year-olds run each April at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California and carries a purse of $750,000. - before going to Churchill Downs.
``I'm elated with my position,'' Ellis said Thursday. ``I'm not usually like this, but I think it's just a matter of being lucky and keeping him healthy. He'll do the rest.''
Derby betting opened Thursday and runs to 3 p.m. PST PST Paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia, see there on Sunday at tracks and pari-mutuel outlets nationwide. Further rounds are scheduled March 10-13 and April 7-10. It's ``win'' wagering only, and no refund if a horse misses the race.
Declan's Moon's morning line is the shortest among the 23 individual horses offered for betting. Churchill Downs' Mike Battaglia set shorter odds of 3-1 on the horses grouped as ``all others.''
A look at Declan's Moon's most compelling competition (with future-bet odds in parentheses See parenthesis.
parentheses - See left parenthesis, right parenthesis. ) a dozen weeks before the First Saturday in May:
Rockport Harbor (8-1): Smarty Jones trainer John Servis and jockey Stewart Elliott call the shots for the gray whose 1 1/8-mile Remsen victory in November capped a 4-for-4 year. He'll follow the 2004 Derby and Preakness winner's Arkansas prep schedule beginning with the March 19 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park.
Roman Ruler (12-1): Last year, horses who went into the Derby with multiple graded-stakes victories and more than one 100-plus Beyer speed figure The Beyer Speed Figure is a system for rating the performance of Thoroughbred racehorses in North America designed in the early 1970s by Andrew Beyer, the syndicated horse racing columnist for The Washington Post. finished 1-2-3-4-5-7. Roman Ruler, the Best Pal and Norfolk winner and a neck loser to Declan's Moon in the Del Mar Futurity The Del Mar Futurity is an American Thoroughbred horse race held annually at Del Mar Racetrack in Del Mar, California. Beginning in the racing season of 2007, this race has been upgraded by the American Graded Stakes Committee from a Grade II event to a Grade I. , is the only contender this year who already has achieved both distinctions. Trained by Bob Baffert and ridden by Jerry Bailey, the son of Fusaichi Pegasus needs Sunday's San Vicente to atone for a bad Breeders' Cup.
Afleet Alex (12-1): Perfect in four East Coast sprints, second in the longer Champagne and Breeders' Cup Juvenile The Breeders' Cup Juvenile is a Thoroughbred horse race for 2-year-old colts and geldings raced on dirt. It is held annually at a different racetrack in the United States or Canada as part of the Breeders' Cup. , the Tim Ritchey-trained colt got a vote of confidence when Eclipse winner John Velazquez took the mount for the Rebel.
Harlington (20-1): If you're a pedigree player, Todd Pletcher's $2.8 million colt by Derby winner Unbridled out of Serena's Song is your man as he makes only his third start in Saturday's Risen Star at the New Orleans Fair Grounds.
Proud Accolade (12-1): Another trained by Pletcher, the colt bounced back from Breeders' Cup Juvenile and Hollywood Futurity disasters to win the Hutcheson Stakes last weekend at Gulfstream. The jury is out on his talent for two-turn races. Next: March 5 Fountain of Youth Fountain of Youth
legendary fountain of eternal youth. [World Legend: Brewer Dictionary, 432]
See : Unattainability at Gulfstream or March 12 Louisiana Derby.
Sweet Catomine (20-1): When Julio Canani's 2-year-old fillies champion romped at the Breeders' Cup after a rough trip, she looked tough enough to take on males and seek only the fourth win by a filly in the Derby. Barring a setback in the March 13 Santa Anita Oaks Santa Anita Oaks is an American Grade I Thoroughbred horse race held annually in mid March at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California. Open to three-year-old fillies willing to race 8.5 furlongs (1 1/16 miles) on the dirt, it currently offers a purse of $300,000. , she'll try the boys in the Santa Anita Derby.
Wilko (30-1): It's too soon to write ``fluke'' next to his Breeders' Cup Juvenile win over Afleet Alex. The Craig Dollase-trained colt battled a foot problem before finishing a close third to Declan's Moon and Giacomo in the Hollywood Futurity in his 12th start at age 2. Next is the Santa Catalina, a Declan's Moon rematch.
Lost in the Fog Lost in the Fog (February 4, 2002 - September 17, 2006) was an American thoroughbred race horse. Bred by Susan Seper and born in Florida, the Fog's sire was Lost Soldier (sire so far of 10 stakes winners), a son of Danzig (himself the son of Northern Dancer ranked at #43 by The (30-1): The brilliant sprinter is the best 3-year-old not nominated for the Triple Crown, but if Northern California trainer Greg Gilchrist tests the colt at longer distances and he excels, there's a second eligibility deadline March 26.
Consolidator (20-1): Multiple Derby-winning trainer D. Wayne Lukas Darrell Wayne Lukas (born September 2, 1935 in Antigo, Wisconsin) is a former educator who became one of the most successful horse trainers in American Thoroughbred horse racing history and a U.S. Racing Hall of Fame inductee. and owners Bob and Beverly Lewis - who also have Sham Stakes winner Going Wild - will know more about this $1.25 million son of Storm Cat after Sunday's San Vicente.
Galloping Grocer (30-1): The New York-bred gelding gelding
castrated male horse. - like 2003 Derby winner Funny Cide - fought Rockport Harbor to a neck decision in the Remsen and heads Saturday's Whirlaway Stakes at Aqueduct.
Spanish Chestnut (20-1): His connections to 2004 Derby runner-up Lion Heart make him interesting. His relatively low ratings so far make him an unproven commodity going into the Santa Catalina.
OUT OF THE GATE
BY KEVIN MODESTI