Achilles of Troy Likely for Arkansas Derby; First Samurai at Churchill

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Paraneck Stable's Achilles of Troy, the beaten favorite in Saturday's Gotham (gr. III), has come out of the race with muscle spasms in his back. Originally thought to have a leg injury after the colt was vanned off following the race, trainer Frank Amonte Jr. and his staff have now focused on Achilles of Troy's back.

"His upper back was hurting him, so we had one of our vets come out and do some work on him," Amonte said. "He'll be fine."

As for any leg injury, Amonte insists there is none.

"His left foot was a little warm the day after the race, but he's fine now," the trainer said. "We took him out this morning and tack-walked him in the shedrow. He was bouncing all over and feeling great. At least now we know what was bugging him."

Most likely the next target for Achilles of Troy will be the $1 million Arkansas Derby (gr. II) on April 15. The Wood Memorial (gr. I) is not out of the question, but its spot on the calendar may be less desirable for Paraneck Stable since the Arkansas Derby is one week later.

Meanwhile, Bruce Lunsford and Lansdon Robbins III's First Samurai, winner of the Fountain of Youth (gr. II) via disqualification, returned to Churchill Downs on Wednesday to continue his preparations for the 132nd "Run for the Roses."

The Frank Brothers-trained son of Giant's Causeway  , winner of Saratoga's Hopeful (gr. I) and Champagne (gr. I) at age two, arrived at Churchill Downs around 11 a.m. following a flight from Florida.

"Everything's fine," said Brothers. "We'll go from there."

The surroundings at Churchill Downs are familiar to First Samurai, who launched his racing career at the historic track last July with a victory in a six-furlong maiden race. He returns to Churchill Downs with a record of 5-1-1 in seven races and earnings of $892,575.

The colt is expected to make his final pre-Derby start in the $750,000-added Toyota Blue Grass (gr. II) at Keeneland on April 15. Brothers said the colt would likely work over the Churchill Downs surface during the coming weekend, if weather permits.

First Samurai is one of two hopefuls for the May 6 Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) on the grounds at Churchill Downs. The other is Itsallbouthechase, the runner-up in Gulfstream Park's Aventura.

A son of Devil His Due who is owned by Northern Kentucky attorney Burr Travis and trained by Garry Simms, Itsallbouthechase is coming off a ninth-place finish in the Fountain of Youth. He has a career record of 1-1-0 in six races with earnings of $62,205. His lone win came in a 1 1/16-mile maiden race last fall at Churchill Downs.

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