Thu, Mar 04, 2004 - Page 19 News List

Wimbledon ready to serve race fans at Kentucky Derby

AP , NEW YORK

Wimbledon is ready to make a run at the Kentucky Derby.

The promising 3-year-old colt trained by Bob Baffert makes his stakes debut Sunday in the US$600,000 Louisiana Derby, a major step on the road to Churchill Downs on May 1.

"He needs to get some seasoning, and there's nothing like Cajun seasoning," Baffert said after Wimbledon tuned up for the Louisiana Derby with a five-furlong workout Monday at Santa Anita.

Wimbledon, a loser in his first four races, is coming off a smashing eight-length maiden win Feb. 8.

And his tennis-inspired name? The horse is owned by Jim McIngvale, whose Westside Tennis Club in Houston has hosted the US Men's Clay Court Championships and Tennis Masters Cup.

The gray colt will be shipped in from California to challenge a field that features Risen Star winner Gradepoint and stablemate Breakaway. Gradepoint, a winner of three straight races for trainer Neil Howard, is rated seventh in this week's Top 10 Derby Prospects list.

One other top prospect, No. 6 Lion Heart, makes his 3-year-old debut in Saturday's US$200,000 San Rafael Stakes at Santa Anita. Baffert, the three-time Kentucky Derby winning trainer, will send out Consecrate in the San Rafael.

Lion Heart, with regular rider Mike Smith aboard, worked six furlongs in 1:12 4/5 at Santa Anita on Tuesday in his final breeze before the San Rafael. The colt won all three starts at 2, and he hasn't raced since taking the Hollywood Futurity on Dec. 20.

Breakaway and Gradepoint, both owned by William S. Farish, put in final breezes before the 1 1-16th-mile Louisiana Derby. They worked together Tuesday and went six furlongs in 1:14 3/5 at the Fair Grounds.

With many of the other top horses not racing until next weekend, there were no changes in this week's Top 10. Moving into the Keep in Mind category were Silver Minister, winner of the John Battaglia Memorial Stakes, and Smarty Jones, winner of the Southwest Stakes.

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