Swayed by what looks like a speed-packed field, trainer Jerry Hollendorfer announced Saturday that he will enter late-running Cause to Believe in the Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
If Hollendorfer needed any more convincing, he got it Saturday morning when the gray colt worked six furlongs handily in 1:12 2/5 at Golden Gate Fields.
Cause to Believe has won six of 10 starts for earnings of $390,565 and has enough graded stakes money to make the 20-horse Derby field. His victories include the El Camino Real (gr. III) and California Derbys – making the son of Maria's Mon
the first horse to accomplish that Bay Area sweep. Among the horses Cause to Believe beat in those stakes are Sinister Minister, A.P. Warrior, and Wanna Runner. All three have gone on to win stakes impressively. Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) winner Sinister Minister and A.P. Warrior are expected to run in the Derby, too.
Owned by Peter Redekop of Vancouver, B.C., and Peter Abruzzo of Chicago, Cause to Believe finished third in his last start, the Illinois Derby (gr. II), 10-1/4 lengths behind Sweetnorthernsaint.
Hollendorfer decided to throw out that last start and head to Louisville.
"The way the race is shaping up was the deciding factor," he said of the Derby. "We just think there will be a lot of speed in the race. He'll fly to Kentucky Tuesday."
Hall of Fame jockey Russell Baze, his regular rider, will get the Derby assignment. Baze also was aboard for the workout over a cuppy racetrack.
"I tried to make him work a little more the whole way to make sure there was plenty of air in him," Baze said. The fractions were :24 2/5, :48 2/5 and 1:00 2/5.
Baze has had only one Derby start, finishing 14th in 1996 aboard Semoran.
"It's still two weeks away, anything can happen," Baze said. "I've been awful close before and didn't get there. We'll wait and see. But right now, it's a 'go.'"
Hollendorfer has had only one prior Derby starter, Eye of the Tiger, who finished fifth in 2003. Two potential Derby starters – Event of the Year in 1998 and Globalize in 2000 – were injured at Churchill Downs in the final days before the race.