An opening day crowd of 16,284 looked on under partly cloudy skies and 70-degree weather as the Derby Trial was contested for the first time at the 7 1/2-furlong distance. The race had been run at one mile for most of its previous 82 editions.
Coming off a sixth-place finish in the Arkansas Derby (gr. II) -- nearly 13 lengths behind Curlin -- the D. Wayne Lukas-trained Flying First Class was overlooked at odds of 6-1 in the 11-horse field that was reduced in size by three scratches.
Lukas, who doesn't have a Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) entry this year, said he'll likely enter Flying First Class into the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) at Pimlico on May 19. He said he had no intention of considering next week’s Kentucky Derby for his Derby Trial winner.
“I’ve sung ‘My Old Kentucky Home’ and cried in the post parade,” said Lukas after his third Derby Trial win. “I don’t need that anymore. I’ve done that. We’ll watch these guys maybe beat each other up (in the Derby) Saturday and take a look.”
The California-bred colt by Perfect Mandate--Flying in Style (Flying Sensation) fought for the early lead before taking control after a quarter-mile. He opened up a five-length lead in the stretch and won in a drive as 26-1 shot U D Ghetto closed along the rail for Calvin Borel to gain second by 1 1/4 lengths over 19-10 choice Bold Start, who lacked an apparent excuse for Robby Albarado. the winning time was 1:29 1/5.
“I looked at the splits and didn’t think he was going as fast as he did,” said Guidry, who won the 4,999th race of his career in the Derby Trial. “He’s so big, so deceptive. Down the lane, I didn’t give him an opportunity to pull up on me.”
Barkley Sound, ridden by Corey Lanerie, broke down approaching the end of the backstretch.
After breaking in front, the winner fell back to third as Ceasers March led the opening quarter in :22. Flying First Class was back in front as they completed the half in :44 and hand a substantial advantage after six furlongs were run in 1:08 3/5.
Flying First Class broke his maiden in his second start by eight lengths at Oaklawn Park Feb. 19, but was overmatched in the Rebel (gr. III) when eighth as the 9-5 favorite a month later. The colt had a bothered start and was never a factor in Arkansas Derby. The victory, his second in five starts, was worth $68,656, increasing his earnings to $111,096,
Sent off as the fourth choice, he paid $15.20, $8.80 and $5.20. U D Ghetto returned $19.40 and $9.60. Bold Start, favored off his second-place finish in the Hutcheson (gr. II) and a third in the Illinois Derby (gr. II) April 7, was $2.80 to show.
Prom Shoes finished fourth, followed by Danny Sez, Izzie's Halo, Out of Gwedda, Ceasers March, Wafi City and Carnacks Choice. The scratches were Awesome Hero, Bwana Bull and Teuflesberg.