The Morning After: Buddy Gil in 'Great Shape'

San Felipe Stakes (gr. II) winner Buddy Gil was in "great shape" Monday morning, trainer Jeff Mullins reported, and will begin preparing for his next start in the Apr. 5 Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) after a couple of days off. Whether or not he makes the Triple Crown will depend on the Eastern Echo colt's performance in Santa Anita's final Kentucky Derby (gr. I) prep race.

The Desperado Stables, McFadden and Merrill Stables' colorbearer isn't nominated to the Triple Crown races, but likely will be, Mullins said. The final date to nominate to the Triple Crown for a $6,000 fee is Mar. 29.

"He ate up everything (Sunday night) and is doing very well," Mullins said. "He's nominated to the Santa Anita Derby, but not to the Kentucky Derby. It's really up to the owners, but I think (they'll nominate).

Owner B. Wayne Hughes was at Santa Anita Monday morning checking on Atswhatimtalknbout the day after the colt's nose defeat in the San Felipe. Despite not winning his first stakes attempt, Hughes was thrilled with Atswhatimtalknbout's performance and looking forward to his next start in the Santa Anita Derby.

Trainer Ron Ellis was also very pleased and believes Atswhatimtalknbout learned a lot in Sunday's race, which will only help the son of A.P. Indy as he continues on toward the first Saturday in May.

"He got a lot of dirt in his face, so he learned about that," Ellis said, referring to the colt's position at the back of the pack for the first half-mile of the 1 1/16-mile race. "He also never faced that many horses before so that was a new experience for him. With all that he really ran well. He's not too tired this morning and is in good shape, so now we just go on from here."

Michael Tabor's Brancusi, who was third, beaten three-quarters of a length, in the San Felipe at odds of nearly 49-1, will continue on to his next start in the Apr. 5 Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) as planned, Patrick Biancone said. The son of Deputy Commander sat just off the fast early pace set by Siberland in the early going of the San Felipe and took command at the top of the stretch, but begrudgingly relinquishing the lead a few jumps before the wire to the top-two finishers.

"He ran a little green and Tony (jockey Farina) said he kept looking at something on his outside, but I'm very happy with the race and think he will improve from it," Biancone said. "I thought about (running him back in the Santa Anita Derby), but I am going to stick to my original plan. The San Felipe was four weeks from his maiden win, the Blue Grass is four weeks from the San Felipe and the Kentucky Derby is three weeks from the Blue Grass.

"He's a very professional horse and he learned a lot from this race. What I wanted to know was if he belonged with this class of horses and I think he showed us he did. He stayed calm and relaxed when horses came on both sides of him and finished very well, which is what I wanted."

Biancone was also very happy with the ride given by Farina on Brancusi and that the jockey will keep the mount on the son of Deputy Commander in the Blue Grass and likely beyond, resisting offers from other high-profile riders to offer their services in the big-money events.

"Tony knows the horse very well," Biancone said. "And he rode him very well. The only thing I told him was not to go five-wide into the first turn. He was a little wide, but did you notice he took him right over to the inside? That was a very good ride."

Gary Garber's Domestic Dispute, who finished fifth in the San Felipe as the 2-1 favorite, was also reported well Monday morning. Trainer Bob Baffert offered no excuses or explanations for the colt's off performance, but intends to continue on with the son of Unbridled's Song toward the Run for the Roses.

"He's fine today, everything's good," Baffert said. "I don't know what happened; maybe he was too far back. He's a better horse than that. I don't know where he'll run next, but I haven't given up on him."

Baffert also indicated that Donald Dizney's Apalachian Thunder, who finished fourth in the Feb. 23 Baldwin Stakes (gr. III) may join stablemate Spensive in the gate for the Mar. 30 WinStar Derby at Sunland Park. The son of Wekiva Springs worked six furlongs in a bullet 1:13 1/5, handily, at Santa Anita Monday.

"I ran him on the grass last time and he didn't like that," Baffert said. "So I think he'll go down there to Sunland for the WinStar Derby with Spensive."

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