Tropical Park Derby: Ridin' into 2005

Newly-turned 3-year-olds get their first shot at graded glory right from the get-go Jan. 1 at Calder Race Course in the $100,000 Tropical Park Derby (gr. IIIT). A full field of 12 that includes four also-eligibles passed the entry box. The ones to beat are Exceptional Ride and Crown Point.

Eliah and Lisa Kahn's Exceptional Ride will make his South Florida debut in the nine-furlong Tropical Park Derby off a six-week break. The son of Chester House is riding a two-race winning streak from the fall Churchill Downs meet that culminated with a 1 1/4-length score in the 1 1/16-miles Grand Canyon Handicap on the turf on Nov. 21.

Trained by Ken McPeek, the Kentucky-bred Exceptional Ride also won an allowance on the turf under the Twin Spires on Oct. 31. He is out of Adorable Slew, a daughter of 2004's leading broodmare sire Dixieland Band. He was bred by Mr. and Mrs. Robert David Randal.

Exceptional Ride should face a stiff challenge from Crown Point, a son of Honor Grades--Runaway Ashleigh, by Runaway Groom who finished fourth behind Exceptional Ride in the Grand Canyon, but prior to that was a three-quarter length winner of nine-furlong Pilgrim Stakes on the turf at Belmont Park. Bred by Albert Coppola and owned by Drumlanrig Farm and trained by David Donk, Crown Point broke his maiden on the turf at Belmont Park Oct. 1, getting a mile in 1:34.65.

Local winner Turk's Ransom should be taken under consideration as well. By Comic Strip, Turk's Ransom broke his maiden over the Calder turf Oct. 2, then rallied to win the Arthur I. Appleton Juvenile Turf Stakes for Florida-bred runners Nov. 13. Out of the Turkoman mare Fannae, Turk's Ransom was bred by Rutica Stables and is trained by David Vivian Jr.

Worthy adversaries in the Tropical Park Derby include Magna Graduate, Elusive Thunder, and European invader Medigating.

Magna Graduate, another son of Honor Grades is slated to make his turf debut for trainer Pat Byrne. A runner-up in the Kentucky Cup Juvenile (gr. III), Magna Graduate was last seen finishing fifth in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (gr. II). Elusive Thunder, by Thunder Gulch--Be Elusive, by With Approval won the one-mile 70 yards World Appeal Stakes on the turf at Meadowlands in October. Medigating, who will be ridden by Kieran Fallon, has a 2-2-1 slate from eight starts in Europe and placed in two minor stakes.

Tropical Park Derby (gr. IIIT), Calder Race Course, $100,000, 3-year-olds, 1 1/8 miles, turf, Saturday, Jan. 1, approx. post 3:58 p.m EST
PP - Horse - Jockey
1 - Running Surprise - Manuel Aguilar
2 - Safely Run - Eddie Castro
3 - Fire Path - Jose Santos
4- Medigating - Jerry Bailey
5 - Crown Point - Jose Espinoza
6 - Exceptional Ride - Brice Blanc
7 - Ginger's Fella - Chris Morales
8 - Magna Graduate - Kieran Fallon
9 - Elusive Thunder - Joe Bravo
10 - Stormy Jim - Javier Castellano
11 - Lord Robyn - Eibar Coa
12 - Turk's Ransom - Cornelio Velasquez
AE - Starship Zim - Javier Castellano
AE - Catch Me - Gary Boulanger
AE - Drum Major - Jose Santos
AE - Skip's Song - Eddie Castro