Before Saturday it would have been safe to describe WinStar Farm’s Hold Me Back as being well below the radar of those who track the hopes and progress of contenders for the 135th running of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I). But the colt’s days of relative anonymity ended Saturday when he rallied in the stretch under three-time Kentucky Derby-winning jockey Kent Desormeaux to score a 9-1 upset in the $500,000 Lane’s End Stakes (GII) at Turfway Park in Florence, Ky.
The son of Giant’s Causeway rallied from next-to-last in the field of 12 three-year-olds and rolled past 24-1 shot Flying Private in the stretch to win by a comfortable 1 ¾ lengths. It was the first start of the year for the Bill Mott-trained colt, who suffered the only loss of his career in a fifth-place finish behind Old Fashioned in the Remsen (GII) at Aqueduct on Nov. 29. Hold Me Back is unbeaten in three starts over synthetic racing surfaces and covered the 1 1/8 miles on Turfway’s Polytrack surface in 1:49.63.
“The Derby is definitely our plan, but we’ll let the horse and Bill tell us if that is the right place,” Walden said. “Our goal is the Derby every year.”
Hold Me Back picked up a winner’s purse of $282,000 to raise his career earnings in graded stakes races to $288,000. That total should be plenty to get the colt into the starting gate for the Kentucky Derby, which is limited to 20 horses with the highest graded earnings. That number will drop to 19 this year if Mafaaz, winner of the first Kentucky Derby Challenge Stakes at Britain’s Kempton Park, uses the first-ever guaranteed slot in the Kentucky Derby starting gate the colt earned in last Wednesday’s win at Kempton.
Proceed Bee, winner of the John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway, finished third after he had pushed to the lead at the head of the stretch. Co-favorites West Side Bernie and Bittel Road were never a factor and finished sixth and 10th, respectively.
Earlier, Silverton Hill LLC’s Cliffy’s Future rallied from last under Jesus Castanon in a field of eight to score a 2 ½-length victory over Ziegfeld in the $100,000 Rushaway Stakes.
The son of The Cliff’s Edge, purchased privately earlier in the year by Silverton Hill, gave the owner and trainer Darrin Miller their second Rushaway victory in three years. Dominican won the race for that team in 2007 and then upset eventual Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense in the Toyota Blue Grass (GI) at Keeneland. Miller said the next start for Cliffy’s Future could come in either the Blue Grass or Keeneland’s Coolmore Lexington (GII).
WEST/IEAH TRIES TO BUY A SHARE OF I WANT REVENGE
The owner of 2008 Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown wants to get back to Churchill Downs on the first weekend in May and is seeking to purchase an interest in I Want Revenge, the runaway winner of the Gotham (GIII) at Aqueduct and a likely favorite in the Wood Memorial (GI) on April 4.
Daily Racing Form’s Jay Privman reported that owner David Lanzman was working on a deal to sell 50-percent interest in the son of Stephen Got Even, and IEAH Stable’s Michael Iavarone confirmed to DRF that was he was in negotiations with Lanzman.
“It would be premature to say a deal is done,” Iavarone told DRF. “We’re very interested in the horse, as we should be. But nothing’s done yet.”
The Jeff Mullins-trained I Want Revenge turned in a sharp five-furlong work on Sunday over the synthetic track at Hollywood Park. He covered the distance in :58.20.
Also on the Hollywood work tab was Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (GI) runner-up Square Eddie, who breezed three furlongs on Sunday in :37.40 for trainer Doug O’Neill. Square Eddie has not raced since a runner-up finish to The Pamplemousse in the Jan. 17 San Rafael (GII) and had not worked since Feb. 2.
CHOCOLATE CANDY HEADS SOUTH
El Camino Real (GIII) Derby winner Chocolate Candy has moved south from trainer Jerry Hollendorfer’s Northern California base to Santa Anita to continue his preparation for the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby (GI) on April 4.
The 1 1/8-mile race will be the first in six weeks for the homebred son of Candy Ride owned by the Sid and Jenny Craig Trust.
“I didn’t want to dance every dance with this horse,” Hollendorfer said. “He should run very well fresh.”
Chocolate Candy is expected to meet major Southern California-based Kentucky Derby contenders Pioneerof the Nile and The Pamplemousse in the Santa Anita Derby.
SOUTHEAST/LIKELY FLORIDA DERBY FAVORITES WORK AT GULFSTREAM
Fountain of Youth (GII) winner Quality Road and unbeaten Dunkirk, the likely favorites for next Saturday’s $750,000 Florida Derby (GI), tuned up for the race with strong Saturday workouts over a “fast” track at the Palm Meadows training center.
Quality Road breezed seven furlongs in 1:25 for trainer Jimmy Jerkens, while Dunkirk – working in company with highly-regarded stablemate Affirmatif – worked five furlongs in a “bullet” 1:00.15 for trainer Todd Pletcher. The move was the best of 43 at the distance.
Quality Road is not yet nominated to the Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown, but that is expected to change this weekend. The late nomination deadline for Triple Crown nominations is midnight on Saturday, March 28 and owner Edward P. Evans is expected to pay the $6,000 late nomination fee required to make the son of Elusive Quality eligible to compete in the three-race series.
Fountain of Youth runner-up Theregoesjojo breezed six furlongs in 1:15.20 over a “muddy” track at Gulfstream Park on Sunday in preparation for his planned run in the Florida Derby. Trainer Ken McPeek had delayed the work one day because of a sloppy track.
Others expected to compete in the Florida Derby include Kentucky Jockey Club (GII) winner Beethoven, Sincero and Stately Character.
EAST/ODDS-ON FAVORITE NOT FOR SILVER UPSET AT LAUREL
Heavily favored and previously unbeaten Not for Silver briefly grabbed the lead in the stretch, but saw pacesetter St. John’s Gospel battle back to score a narrow upset in the $50,000 Private Terms Stakes at Laurel Park.
St. John’s Gospel, the longest shot in the field, set a modest pace under Hector Ramos and fought back to win after he was briefly headed by Not for Silver, who suffered his first loss after three wins for trainer Mike Trombetta. The winner covered the one-mile distance in 1:37.62.
DUBAI/DESERT PARTY HEADS SATURDAY’S UAE DERBY
Godolphin’s Desert Party, winner of the UAE 2000 Guineas and last year’s Sanford (GII) at Saratoga, heads an expected field of 13 in Saturday’s $2 million UAE Derby (GII) at Nad Al Sheba. Godolphin’s Regal Ransom is also set to compete.