Jeff Mullins went through the pre-Kentucky Derby media circus last year with Lusty Latin, who finished 15th. This year, the 40-year-old trainer has a solid Derby contender in Santa Anita Derby winner Buddy Gil, but Mullins is avoiding for as long as he can the hordes of inquisitive paparazzi massing at Churchill Downs for any scrap of Derby news. That's why Mullins was still at Santa Anita Friday morning while Buddy Gil was going through his paces at Churchill Downs. "He's doing good, he's just training light down there," Mullins said of the Eastern Echo gelding, unbeaten in three races since coming under Mullins' care. "My wife (Amy) and the groom are with him. Gary (Stevens) and I are going Sunday. We'll work the horse Monday, then come back (to California) Tuesday. Then I'll go back the following Sunday (April 27) and stay till the Derby."
Asked if he had any doubts about Buddy Gil's chances of winning the Derby, since no gelding has won since Clyde Van Dusen in 1929, Mullins had a ready response. "You can't put 'em back on," he quipped, "and we're not gonna stay home."