Quintons Gold Rush paved his way into the 2004 Kentucky Derby (gr. I), turning in an impressive performance in Saturday's $325,000 Coolmore Lexington (gr. II) for 3-year-olds at Keeneland.
Making his first start for Steve Asmussen and ridden by Jerry Bailey, Quintons Gold Rush earned $201,500 for the second win of his career and moved into 17th place on the list of graded stakes earnings for Kentucky Derby candidates. Owners Padua Stables and Jay Manoogian are expected to start the chestnut son of Wild Rush in the May 1 Derby.
Slight favorite Fire Slam, ridden by Pat Day, edged Song of the Sword and Norberto Arroyo for second with Pomeroy finishing fourth. The final time for the 1 1/16-mile test was 1:43 4/5 before a record sunsplashed Keeneland crowd of more than 31,000.
Quintons Gold Rush was prominent early, prompting the early pace of Dashboard Drummer, who set sensible fractions of :23 1/5 and :47 1/5. Bailey asked Quintons Gold Rush for an early move on the turn as Pomeroy and Song of the Sword maneuvered into position and the colt responded by taking command after six furlongs in 1:12. He pulled away under moderate urging in the stretch.
"The big question mark was who could clear the first turn the best without getting shuffled back," Bailey said. "There's no way to predict with a 14-horse field and this many speed horses. He broke well. He got into the second position with ease and the fractions were moderate. He was running well within himself. He's got a long stride and that really works to his benefit. We were able to open up into the lane and that is a big advantage here."
Bailey wouldn't commit to Quintons Gold Rush for the Derby.
"That's why I pay Ron Anderson twenty-five percent," he said. "We have some other options including Read the Footnotes. We'll probably make up our minds in a couple of days."
Fire Slam rallied late but flattened out in the lane while getting second.
"This horse is more of a seven-furlong type horse," Day said. "He got forced wide. It was not the best of trips and he flattened out in the last sixteenth of a mile."
Arroyo was unhappy with the trip aboard Song of the Sword.
"He broke badly and I think that really cost me," he said. "When we got to the turn we were in good position and I had plenty of horse but the horse in front of me (Pomeroy) stopped and by the time I was able to angle out, it was too late."
Quintons Gold Rush was a close fourth in the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) two weeks ago, dueling for the lead throughout before tiring late to be beaten by three lengths. He was trained by Mike Mitchell in Southern California for the first four races of his career, which also included a fourth-place finish in the San Rafael (gr. II) March 6.
Asmussen said he plans to run in the Derby.
"He ran a great race. He's a tremendously talented horse," he said. "We haven't had him long enough to do much with him. It was our plan to run him here and then evaluate our Derby options."
Toyomi Omiya bred the winner, who is from the Mr. Prospector mare Hollywood Gold, in Kentucky. He was a $60,000 Ocala 2-year-old purchase in March 2003.
Quintons Gold Rush paid $13.40, $6 and $4. Fire Slam, ridden by Pat Day, returned $5.60 and $3.40. Song of the Sword's show was $3.80. The exacta was worth $83.80.
After Pomeroy came Dashboard Drummer, El Prado Rob, Saratoga County, Totally Platinum, Tiger Heart, Gamblin, Bride's Best Boy, Suave, Race for Glory and Boomzeeboom.