Inesperado is perfect in three races in the United States, and trainer Bobby Frankel and jockey Corey Nakatani attempt to keep that record intact in Sunday's $150,000 Oak Tree Derby (gr. IIT) at 1 1/8 miles on the Santa Anita turf.
Nakatani picked up the mount on the French bred in the Del Mar Derby (gr. IIT), after Eddie Delahoussaye had ridden the son of Zayyani to victory in his first two U.S. races, the Cinema Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IIIT) and the La Jolla Handicap (gr. IIIT).
"He's a good horse," Nakatani said. "I was fortunate to get on him because Eddie D. got hurt."
Inesperado, who carries the co-high weight of 120 pounds in the field of nine, has come from well off the pace in his three American triumphs. that could play to the advantage of a front-runner such as Rock Opera, ridden by Laffit Pincay Jr..
"Rock Opera has the speed, but Mountain Rage likes this track, too (three wins and a second in four starts)," Nakatani said.
Mananan McLir, with Patrick Valenzuela aboard, also carries 120 pounds. $150,000 Oak Tree Derby (gr. IIT), 1 1/8 mile on turf, 3-year-olds
PP. Horse, Rider, Wgt.
1. Rock Opera, Laffit Pincay Jr., 118
2. Mananan McLir, Pat Valenzuela, 120
3. World Light, Kent Desormeaux, 118
4. Dream Machine, Garrett Gomez, 118
5. Mountain Rage, Mike Smith, 118
6. Johar, Alex Solis, 118
7. Royal Gem, Victor Espinoza, 118
8. Inesperado, Nakatani, 120
9. Sunkosi, David Flores, 118.