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DELAHOUSSAYE HAS DERBY ON THE BRAIN.

Byline: KEVIN MODESTI Horse Racing

ARCADIA - Eddie Delahoussaye doesn't like the way the California thoroughbred racing industry is going and what it means for a 50-year-old jockey, and he says he would walk away from the sport right now if it wasn't for one thing.

Which is?

``Well, a horse like this,'' Delahoussaye said with a smile on Thursday in the Santa Anita jockeys' room.

What keeps Delahoussaye riding is the same thing that keeps a lot of otherwise disheartened horsemen coming back to the racetrack - a 3-year-old like Perfect Drift and the chance to win a Kentucky Derby.

Delahoussaye won the Kentucky Derby in 1982 with Gato del Sol and in 1983 with Sunny's Halo, making him only the fourth jockey to do it back to back. The Arcadia resident would like to win again before retiring to a life of golf and more golf.

``It's exciting,'' Delahoussaye said of his hopes for May 4, when this year's Derby will be run at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. ``It's a lot of fun, knowing you have a chance.''

Delahoussaye hasn't felt this way about his Derby horse in a decade, since A.P. Indy went to Churchill only to be scratched because of a foot injury on the morning of the race.

``I'm not saying he's going to win it,'' Delahoussaye said of Perfect Drift, ``but I'm saying he has a good chance.''

He certainly has.

Perfect Drift, a gelded son of Dynaformer whose Kentucky-based trainer Murray Johnson is little-known here, jumped into Derby contention March 23 when Delahoussaye rallied him from sixth place to a photo-finish victory over Azillion and Request for Parole in the 1 1/8-mile Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park in northern Kentucky.

Since then, Perfect Drift has taken the unusual approach of sitting on the sidelines while other Derby candidates have been running in major prep races such as the Santa Anita Derby, Blue Grass Stakes and Wood Memorial. Not since Needles in 1956 has a horse won the Derby after not running a race in April.

Delahoussaye and other Perfect Drift fans hope the six-week layoff will make him a fresh horse compared to the rivals who have been knocking themselves in an effort to earn places in the Derby field.

They also hope his come-from-behind style, displayed in an approximately 12-second final eighth of a mile in the Spiral, will be a plus in a 1 1/4-mile Derby populated by horses who plodded home in their preps.

Perfect Drift hasn't been directly tested for class, not having raced against any of the most popular Derby contenders. It's interesting to note, though, that Request for Parole, with whom Perfect Drift has been trading photo finishes at Turfway, twice has run solid seconds to early Derby favorite Harlan's Holiday.

``That kind of gives you an idea where my horse stands,'' Delahoussaye said. ``He's got a legitimate chance in there.''

Delahoussaye rode Perfect Drift for the first time in the Spiral, taking over from Tony D'Amico. Delahoussaye has known Johnson since the Australian-born trainer worked in California as an assistant to John Gosden. For a while in 1991, Delahoussaye was the regular rider of Johnson's Green Alligator, who won the California Derby at Golden Gate Fields and ran fourth in the Kentucky Derby under Corey Nakatani.

In the early 1990s, Delahoussaye was old enough to pile up honors such as membership in the racing Hall of Fame (1993) and milestones like $100 million in career purses (1991), but he was young enough to remain among the Southern California circuit's most active and productive big-race jockeys.

Later in the decade, a sinus problem forced Delahoussaye to cut back on his schedule, in part because it made air travel untenable. His health hasn't been a problem for the past couple of years. Racing's health is his biggest concern these days.

Delahoussaye said that since the start of the year, he has been seriously considering retirement.

``I don't like what I'm seeing in California, with the short fields and shortage of horses,'' Delahoussaye said before riding four horses on Santa Anita's eight-race card Thursday, winning the nightcap aboard Chory Four ($11). ``Hollywood (Park, which opens Wednesday) is going to indicate a lot what's going to happen in the next few months, how we're going to stand. Let's face it, we don't have (a lot of) horses here.

``There's a lot of top riders, and I'm one of the senior riders, and I don't want to ride the cheaper horses, so that's going to hurt my business.''

Delahoussaye said that one day, fans might show up at Hollywood Park, Del Mar or Santa Anita to discover that he has withdrawn from his riding assignments and abruptly retired.

``I didn't have a welcoming tour when I came here (in 1979), so why should I have a farewell tour?'' the Louisiana native said.

What would sustain him is an upsurge in the number of good horses available for him to ride.

Or winning the Kentucky Derby with Perfect Drift.

``Then we'd keep going,'' Delahoussaye said.

--First Saturday in Maybe: Listed by Churchill Downs as Kentucky Derby hopefuls are Blue Burner, Buddha, Came Home, Castle Gandolfo, Easy Grades, Essence of Dubai, Harlan's Holiday, It'sallinthechase, Johannesburg, Lusty Latin, Medaglia d'Oro, Ocean Sound, Perfect Drift, Private Emblem, Request for Parole, Saarland, War Emblem, Wild Horses, USS Tinosa, and two horses who stand to be excluded from a 20-horse field by the graded-stakes earnings qualifier, Sunday Break and Tracemark.

Easyfromthegetgo, Ethan Man, Officer or Tails of the Crypt could earn a Derby bid by winning the 1 1/16-mile Lexington Stakes at Keeneland on Saturday.

--The long goodbye: The Santa Anita season ends Sunday after the 63rd running of the $400,000 San Juan Capistrano Handicap, whose 1 3/4-mile route down the hill and around the turf oval makes it the United States' longest graded handicap race.

Hollywood Park begins a 65-day season Wednesday at 1:15 p.m.

The Capistrano is a rematch among Continental Red (117 pounds), Keemoon (114), Speedy Pick (112) and Ringaskiddy (114), who finished in that order - only half a length apart - in the 1 1/2-mile San Luis Rey. Also expected for the race are Cagney, Staging Post and Chelsea Barracks. A late possibility is Dispersed Reward, a 4-year-old filly.

Keemoon, a 6-year-old mare ridden by Santa Anita leader Alex Solis and trained by Neil Drysdale, defeated males in her native France but is 0 for 4 against males in this country.

In its rich history, the Capistrano has been won by females twice, most recently in 1975 by La Zanzara, ridden by Donald Pierce and trained by Charlie Whittingham.

OUT OF THE GATE

SANTA ANITA STANDINGS

Through Wednesday

Jockeys Wins

Alex Solis 74

Kent Desormeaux 63

Laffit Pincay 63

Victor Espinoza 56

Chris McCarron 46

Pat Valenzuela 36

Trainers Wins

Bob Baffert 43

Bill Spawr 31

Bobby Frankel 27

Bruce Headley 21

Jack Carava 17

Richard Mandella 16

Darrell Vienna 16

ON THE STAKES SCHEDULE

Santa Anita

Today

--$100,000 Valiant Pete Handicap, 4-year-olds and up, California-breds, 6 furlongs

Saturday

--$250,000 Santa Barbara Handicap, 4-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, 1 1/4 miles on turf

Sunday

--$400,000 San Juan Capistrano Handicap, 4-year-olds and up, 1 3/4 miles on turf

--$125,000 San Simeon Handicap, 4-year-olds and up, 6 1/2 furlongs on turf

Bay Meadows

Saturday

--$55,000 San Jose Stakes, 3-year-old fillies, 1 mile

Keeneland

Saturday

--$325,000 Lexington Stakes, 3-year-olds, 1 1/16 miles

A WEEK AT THE RACES

Alex Solis, with an 11-victory lead through Wednesday, seems to have clinched his third Santa Anita jockeys championship even though he'll miss four of the season's last five cards. Solis was at Keeneland on Wednesday to ride Royal Gem to third place in the Forerunner Stakes. He began a three-day suspension Thursday stemming from the disqualification of Go for Greed from second to fourth Saturday. ... Fox Sports Net 2 will carry Television Games Network programming from 3-5 p.m. on most days and 7-9 p.m. on Fridays starting when Hollywood Park opens Wednesday. Viewers will see four races live from Hollywood Park, a potential boon for TVG's telephone and online wagering services. ... Hollywood Park's 10-race program for California-bred horses will be known as Cal Fed Gold Cup Day for the next three years under an agreement between the Inglewood track and the San Francisco-based bank. The event will be held this season on April 28, the first Sunday of the Hollywood Park season. You know what this means: trophy presentations by Elvis Schmiedekamp. ... Los Alamitos jockey Duane Brown, who fractured his skull in a training accident at the Orange County track April 5, continues to recover and has been taken off a ventilator but remained in critical condition Thursday. ... Santa Anita Derby winner Came Home is scheduled to fly to Louisville early this morning to prepare for the Kentucky Derby. ... Irish champion Michael Kinane has received a seven-day suspension for a riding infraction at Newmarket, England, that runs through May 4, Kentucky Derby day. Because suspensions typically are honored across jurisdictional lines, Kinane's plan to ride Johannesburg in the Derby is threatened. Unless Kinane secures a delay, it appears Jerry Bailey will end up with the mount on the Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner. ... Astra and Golden Apples carry a race-high 121 pounds in Saturday's Santa Barbara Handicap. ... Today's pick-six carryover: $117,000-plus.

- Kevin Modesti

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OUT OF THE GATE (see text)
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Statistical Data Included
Date:Apr 19, 2002
Words:1584
Previous Article:AVENGERS UPDATE: REVAMPED AVENGERS HOPE TO STAGE MAJOR OFFENSIVE.
Next Article:UCLA UPDATE: JC STAR TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS.


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