Patrick Valenzuela has been named to ride Lane's End Stakes (gr. II) runner-up Wild Desert in the April 16 Arkansas Derby (gr. II), majority owner Dan Borislow said Monday. If Wild Desert runs well enough at Oaklawn to merit a trip to the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), Valenzuela will remain aboard.
Borislow and trainer Kenny McPeek had been between the Arkansas Derby and Illinois Derby (gr. II) on April 9, and decided on the former after getting Valenzela to ride.
Valenzuela, who has not ridden in the Kentucky Derby since 1993, won aboard Sunday Silence in 1989.
Borislow, who sold 3% of Wild Desert to his friend, former Philadelphia Flyer and popular Philly radio host, Keith Jones, said Jones will announce on his Tuesday morning show that they are offering a challenge to the owners of Rockport Harbor and Afleet Alex, who are also from the Philadelphia area. The challenge is that each owner puts up $50,000, with the winner being the horse who finishes ahead of the other two.
Borislow said if he wins, he will donate the money to charity.
"He makes things interesting, doesn't he?" said Jones, who also is a TV commentator on the Flyers' post-game show. "He's a piece of work. But there is a lot of interest in the three horses in the Philadelphia area, especially with John Servis having trained Smarty Jones last year. Dan doesn't care what the other owners do with their winnings, he's going to donate it to charity. He doesn't want to make this out to be a money thing. It's just a sporting gesture."
Afleet Alex (Northern Afleet
--Maggy Hawk, by Hawkster) is owned by Chuck Zackney's Cash is King Stable. Rockport Harbor (Unbridled's Song
--Regal Miss Copelan, by Copelan) is owned by Richard Porter's Fox Hill Farms.
Dr. Carl Gessler, part-owner of Wild Desert, still has a small interest in the colt.
Wild Desert, a son of Wild Rush out of the Desert Wine mare Desert Radiance, was second in last year's Dover Stakes at Delaware Park and third in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (gr. II).