Trainer D. Wayne Lukas hasn't given up on his chances of making this year's Kentucky Derby (gr. I), as he sends out Robert and Beverly Lewis' Hasslefree in next Saturday's $1 million Arkansas Derby (gr. II). Lukas also plans on running the Lewises' Race for Glory in the Coolmore Lexington Stakes (gr. II).
Hasslefree, a son of Forestry
, has run twice this year, finishing 10th and last in the San Rafael Stakes (gr. II) after making a brief bid before tiring, and sixth in the Lane's End Stakes (gr. II), beaten 12 lengths. But Lukas feels a bumping incident with Silver Minister at the start cost him the race.
"He got wiped out coming out of the gate, and if it wasn't for that, I believe he would have won the race," Lukas said.
Last year, Hasslefree placed in three stakes, the Flash (gr. III) and Tremont (gr. III) at Belmont Park and the Tyro Stakes at Monmouth. After winning a 5 1/2-furlong allowance race at Saratoga, he finished sixth in the Hopeful Stakes (gr. I), and didn't run again the rest of the year.
Lukas said he likely will use the Lexington Stakes as Race For Glory's first start since having surgery to correct a breathing problem. The son of Cape Town
last ran on Jan. 14, finishing seventh in the Sunshine Millions Dash. His biggest win last year came in the Cavonnier Stakes for Cal-breds, which he won by seven lengths in 1:22 2/5 for the seven furlongs.
Lukas has used the Lexington Stakes before as springboard to a big performance on the first Saturday in May. He won the Lexington and the Derby in 1999 with Charismatic. He won the 2002 running with Proud Citizen, who came back to run second in the Kentucky Derby. He was beaten a nose in the 1996 running with Prince of Thieves, who went on to finish third in the Derby. And he won the race last year with Scrimshaw, who finished 11th in the Derby.
In other Arkansas Derby news, Risen Star (gr. III) runner-up, Mr. Jester, worked a quick five furlongs Friday in :58 4/5 for trainer Steve Wren, who is in search of a rider after losing Kent Desormeaux, who rode the colt to a disappointing sixth-place finish in the Rebel Stakes.
Also, trainer Todd Pletcher has named Rene Douglas to ride Purge, who finished second to Smarty Jones in the Rebel in only his third career start and first around two turns.
Another 3-year-old worker Friday was Read the Footnotes, who breezed six furlongs in 1:14 3/5 at Palm Meadows training center. The Fountain of Youth (gr. II) winner will be trained up to the Kentucky Derby by Rick Violette, who will keep the New York-bred colt at Palm Meadows until Derby week.