Sunriver waits on the Derby fence.

Sunriver waits on the Derby fence.


Flashy Bull, Sunriver Play the Waiting Game

For the connections of Flashy Bull and Sunriver, there are three things on their mind this week – Showing Up's puncture wound, Seaside Retreat's workout on Thursday, and Mister Triester's performance in Saturday's Derby Trial Stakes. Only after that will they know whether they've made it into the Derby field.

Flashy Bull and Sunriver currently rank No. 21 and 22, respectively, on the graded earnings list, with Sacred Light right behind at No. 23. It's simple: if all three of the aforementioned horses with sufficient earnings pull out, then we will have three new horses popping into the field, which is almost sure to draw a full contingent of 20, barring injuries or illnesses.

Showing Up earned his ticket to Louisville with a victory in last Saturday's Coolmore Lexington Stakes (gr. II), after which he shipped back to trainer Barclay Tagg's barn at Belmont, rather than van the 65 miles to Churchill Downs. Tagg said he wants to run in the Derby, but won't know for another four days because of a puncture wound the colt suffered during the running of the race. So, as of now, Showing Up can be considered iffy.

The colt's owners, Lael Stables, already have one of the favorites in the Derby in Barbaro, trained by Michael Matz. If Showing Up does run, Lael Stables will have two unbeaten horses in the field.

Seaside Retreat, who finished well up the track in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) following a second in the Lane's End Stakes (gr. II), is scheduled to work at Churchill Downs on Thursday. The decision whether or not to run in the Derby will be determined by how well the colt works. The son of King Cugat is owned by William S. Farish Jr. and trained by Mark Casse.

Mister Triester, who finished a well-beaten second to Sweetnorthernsaint in the Illinois Derby (gr. II), will run in Saturday's Derby Trial Stakes. Although owner B. Wayne Hughes is not thinking about the Derby right now, he did run Don't Get Mad in last year's Derby after the colt's impressive victory in the Derby Trial. He and trainer Warren Stute will make their decision after they see how he performs on Saturday.

With so much uncertainty, it looks very promising for Flashy Bull, owned by West Point Stable. The son of Holy Bull was suffering from a case of the thumps, an electrolyte imbalance, in the Florida Derby (gr. I). He currently is at Keeneland, and will van to Churchill Downs Friday or Saturday.

Todd Pletcher loves the way Sunriver has been training up to the Derby and the way the full-brother to champion Ashado has matured mentally and physically. Following his solid third in the Florida Derby (gr. I), he looks to be a live longshot should he make it into the race.

Sacred Light, who lost all chance after stumbling badly at the start of the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I), will be sent to Churchill by trainer Dave Hofmans, who can only wait and hope for three defections before next Wednesday when entries are drawn.