By Steve Byk
The Sanan family’s Padua Stables' Behindatthebar, a late arrival to the spring classics scene with his victory in the Coolmore Lexington Stakes (gr. II) April 19 at Keeneland, will not enter the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) and instead will point for a start in the May 17 Preakness Stakes (gr. I). The decision to demure from the Derby opens the door for Mr. and Mrs. William Warren's Denis of Cork who had been 21st on the graded earnings list.
Denis of Cork had been the subject of extensive debate through March and April when trainer David Carroll's predetermined path to Louisville was countermanded. A schedule from stable advisors Mark Reid and Mike Ryan, formulated for the son of Harlan's Holiday—Unbridled Girl, by Unbridled, citing the Thoro-Graph speed figures, ultimately had left the Southwest (gr. III) winner short on the graded stakes earnings when he ran a dull fifth in the Illinois Derby (gr. II) as the even-money favorite.
"Obviously we're elated," said Carroll at his Churchill Downs barn minutes after receiving the news of the decision for Behindatthebar directly from Satish Sanan. Sanan had become the subject of discussion regarding the two sophomore colts when he offered a 50-50 ownership swap offer to Warren in an attempt to equitably get both runners into the first two jewels of the Triple Crown. Warren declined the offer.
Sanan told Carroll that he wanted to do right by Behindatthebar, a son of Forest Wildcat, and not run him a third time in 30 days. "Mr. Sanan is a great sportsman and gentleman to do this and we're over the moon at the chance to run Denis when he's doing so well."
“We got ourselves into this pickle…there was no one to blame,” Carroll said about the lack of graded earnings. “Mr. Warren is a great man and was trying to do the best by his horse and I'm so happy for him."
Denis of Cork has been a hot topic on the backstretch at Churchill Downs in the days leading up to the Derby where his sharp workouts and aggressive morning gallops marked him as major contender for the 134th Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Gr. I). He worked a half-mile this morning in :48.
"We were thinking that maybe we'd go to the Peter Pan (gr. II), but this is where he's at his best and it's what we've been hoping for since last year,” Carroll said as he shared an embrace with his wife, Kim.
Bred in Florida by Westbury Stables, Denis of Cork has won three of four starts and has earnings of $213,552. He was a $250,000 Barretts March sale of 2-year-olds purchase last March.