With favored Ravel out of the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) with an injury, new candidates Black Seventeen and Level Red have surfaced for the 70th running of the the West Coast's major 3-year-old steppingstone on April 7.
Level Red, third behind Cobalt Blue and Air Commander in the San Felipe Stakes (gr. II) on March 17, is pointing to the $750,000 event at 1 1/8 miles, trainer David Hofmans said. So is Black Seventeen, according to trainer Brian Koriner.
Level Red, a son of 2000 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) runner-up Aptitude owned by William K. Warren Jr. of Tulsa, was second to Ravel when that colt broke his maiden at Hollywood Park last Dec. 3.
Black Seventeen, an impressive maiden winner by 8 1/4 lengths at Del Mar in his debut last August, was third in his most recent race on March 7. The Florida-bred son of Is It True was defeated by 2 1/4 lengths after setting the pace into the stretch behind victorious Les Grands Trois in a 6 1/2-furlong allowance race.
“The Santa Anita Derby probably isn’t going to over-fill so we’ll get in for sure,” said Koriner, who owns a share of the chestnut colt with Janet Lyons and Evan and Kathleen Trommer, who race as Wind River Stable. “Also, I won’t have to worry about shipping and trying to get in to another race. The horse is doing well. He’s going to work Saturday at Hollywood Park, either three-quarters or seven-eighths.” Aaron Gryder will be aboard for the move.
Initially, Koriner planned to run Black Seventeen in the Arkansas Derby (gr. II) on April 14 in the hopes of reaching the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) on May 5.
“I wish I had the extra week,” said the 40-year-old Koriner, who began his career at Los Alamitos and has been training for 20 years. “That’s why we were going in the Arkansas Derby. But with Ravel not here, it changes the whole picture.”