Thursday, April 29, 1999

KENTUCKY DERBY NOTEBOOK


Trainer Keen eager to serve up winner

BY NEIL SCHMIDT
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LOUISVILLE — Valhol can run, and so Dallas Keen can eat again. The trainer had lost weight in the past week, lamenting, “Food just doesn't taste good anymore,” before learning Tuesday night his horse had been cleared for the Kentucky Derby.

        Keen's mood Wednesday?

        “I'm hungry.” In more ways than one.

        “This horse deserves the opportunity to run in the Derby,” Keen said. “People will see what kind of horse he is.”

        Valhol owner James D. Jackson won a court order Tuesday releasing the $300,000 winner's share from the disputed Arkansas Derby. The Arkansas Racing Commission had held up the purse while investigating whether Valhol's jockey, Billy Patin, carried an electric device to spur on the horse.

        “The law was clear, and we felt confident leaving the courtroom that the decision would be favorable,” Keen said.

        Said Jackson: “Vindication is yet to come. I think he'll show the world he earned the right to be here.”

        Jackson decided to replace Patin with Willie Martinez. Patin hadn't worked the gelding since coming under investigation two weeks ago; Martinez has worked it this week.

        ETBAUER BUMPED: When trainer Bob Baffert entered filly Excellent Meeting in the Derby at the 10a.m. deadline Wednesday, Etbauer became the odd horse out. That dropped his $75,000 in graded winnings to 21st on the earnings list, and only the top 20 made the field.

        It denied owner Hays Biggs and trainer Steve Wren their first Derby entrant.

        “If anybody gets in the horse business, they'd better get ready for some disappointment,” Biggs said.

        Said Wren: “You have to have rules for something. But there were other things that contributed to this.”

        Most notably the disputed purse money Valhol acquired Tuesday.

        “I'm not the least bit happy with that business,” Biggs said. “I don't want to comment further.”

        Etbauer won the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park but went unplaced in that track's Arkansas Derby.

        “The Arkansas Derby was the big clincher,” Wren said. “Had he run better, we wouldn't have had this problem.”

        TURFWAY HISTORY: Turfway Park officials hope either Stephen Got Even or K One King can highlight the inaugural Gallery Furniture.com Stakes by winning off that Turfway tuneup.

        Only one of the previous 17 winners of Turfway's signature race, formerly the Jim Beam Stakes, has won the Derby: Lil E. Tee in 1992.

        Stephen Got Even and K One King finished 1-2, respectively, in the Gallery five weeks ago.

Run for Roses needs pruning Tim Sullivan column
Baffert has one 'Excellent' entry
Zito keeps cool about Derby duo
More Derby coverage Associated Press



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