Sunday, May 02, 1999

Menifee trainer comes up short second straight year




BY GEORGE RORRER
Enquirer contributor

        LOUISVILLE — Trainer Elliott Walden said he had trouble seeing through the crowd as his stretch-running colt, Menifee, finished second to Charismatic in the 125th Kentucky Derby on Saturday at Churchill Downs.

        Walden didn't need to see it. It turned out to be a virtual re-run.

        A year ago, Walden's fast-closing Victory Gallop finished second to Real Quiet by a length and a half. Later, Victory Gallop ended Real Quiet's bid for a Triple Crown by winning the Belmont Stakes.

        Menifee almost overcame one of the biggest traffic jams in Derby history Saturday, coming from 12th place after a mile of the 11/4-mile race and finishing three-fourths of a length behind. Two jumps past the finish, Menifee was in front.

        Walden said Menifee was “the widest horse on the first turn” and jockey Pat Day “kind of had to wait for room.”

        But, Walden said, Menifee “ran a fantastic race. In a 20- horse field (actually 19), anything can happen. I think it was a very competitive group and we were just on the short end of it.”

        Day said he waited in vain for a path through the traffic.

        “It never did spread out,” he said. “I thought it would and we'd have a chance to drop in. But it never happened. I was hoping to be two or three horses wide, but I was nine or 10 horses wide for the longest time. It was a roughly run race, but we expected that. There wasn't any pace.

        “My heart goes out to Elliott Walden. He has had his horses ready to win this race two years in a row, and neither time has he had any luck.

        “He's a wonderful horseman, and his day will come.”

       



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