Hull won the Derby Trial in 2009.

Hull won the Derby Trial in 2009.

Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography

Owner LaPenta to Sponsor Derby Trial

Race will be named after LaPenta's stakes winner The Cliff's Edge.

Robert LaPenta, a leading owner and pinhooker, will sponsor the 2010 Derby Trial (gr. III) at Churchill Downs April 24, the track announced Jan. 8.

The race, run on opening day of the spring meeting and years ago a major prep for the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) a week later, will undergo a name change to The Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial, have its purse doubled to $200,000-added, and return to its original distance of a flat mile. It has been run at 71/2 furlongs the past three years.

LaPenta raced The Cliff's Edge, who won four of 13 races including 2004 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) for trainer Nick Zito. He was the morning-line favorite for the Derby that year but finished fifth behind winner Smarty Jones . As a 2-year-old, he won the Kentucky Jockey Club (gr. II) and Iroquois Stakes (gr. III) at Churchilll.

The Cliff's Edge is now a stallion at Margaux Farm near Midway, Ky.

“Our sponsorship of The Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial is very exciting in that it allows our racing operation to contribute to the success and allure of a race that has a wonderful tradition as a Kentucky Derby prep as we honor one of our more successful horses, The Cliff’s Edge, and provide a boost to his ongoing career as a stallion,” LaPenta said. “Despite an unlucky run in the 2004 Kentucky Derby, The Cliff’s Edge enjoyed the finest moments of his racing career at Churchill Downs and in the state of Kentucky. We look forward to seeing his name and legacy being an important part of the week leading up to the 136th running of the Kentucky Derby and the possibility that a major contender for this year’s Derby could emerge with a big effort in this final important prep.”
“We thank Robert LaPenta for his enthusiastic support of Churchill Downs racing and the Kentucky Derby,” said Kevin Flanery, president of Churchill Downs. “His sponsorship of The Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial will significantly enhance the attractiveness and prestige of this historic final prep for America’s greatest race. Graded earnings are an increasingly important factor as the field for the Kentucky Derby takes shape in the days before the race and we expect that Mr. LaPenta’s efforts, along with the boost in purse and adjustment in distance, will serve to make the 2010 renewal of The Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial one of its most notable in years.”