Atswhatimtalknbout lost the battle but could win the war.That's the consensus on the $900,000 colt's furious second-place finish by a nose to Buddy Gil in last Sunday's exciting San Felipe Stakes (gr. II) at 1 1/16 mile at Santa Anita."Hopefully, that's the way it is," trainer Ron Ellis said Wednesday morning of Atswhatimtalknbout. "We've got to win the war (Santa Anita Derby). We haven't won it yet."Atswhatimtalknbout, who was making his stakes debut in the San Felipe, is the likely favorite in the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) on April 5. "He came out of the race great," Ellis said. "We've just been walking him since the race and he'll go back to the track on Thursday. He'll work on Monday. I've got him scheduled for a three-eighths and a five-eighths between now and the next race, just easy, something like :36 and a minute."He's good enough now, (but) he'll be sharpened up," Ellis said. "He did exactly what I wanted (in the San Felipe). I hate to use the words of my new owners (Hollywood moguls Steven Spielberg, Gary Ross and Frank Marshall), but I couldn't have written a script any better for him. The only thing better would have been if he had gotten that nostril up. But it was great. "It really, really set us up good and he came out of it good. He's happy and very alert. The one thing I'm worried about besides keeping him healthy is wearing him out before all these big races. We're asking a lot of him, five races at this meet going in (to the Santa Derby), but we've been reasonably easy on him."Asked his thoughts on the smashing win of nearly 10 lengths by the Bobby Frankel-trained Empire Maker in the Florida Derby (gr. I), Ellis said: "That horse is awesome. He's the one true horse that I think will benefit from a mile and quarter. And I've always felt the same about my horse, that a mile and a quarter is going to really be to his benefit, compared to most of these horses that really aren't bred to go much over a mile and a sixteenth."
Elsewhere trainer Neil Drysdale confirmed Wednesday that Minister's Wild Cat would run in the Santa Anita Derby. But the Hall of Fame trainer said he did not have a rider for the runner-up in the El Camino Real Derby (gr. III), since Kent Desormeaux is committed to Ocean Terrace, who won the El Camino Real, for trainer Bob Hess Jr.Louisiana Derby runner-up Kafwain worked five furlongs Wednesday in :59.20 for trainer Bob Baffert.Probable for the Santa Anita Derby: Atswhatimtalknbout, David Flores; Buddy Gil, Gary Stevens; Domestic Dispute, no rider; Kafwain, Victor Espinoza; Ministers Wild Cat, no rider; and Ocean Terrace, Kent Desormeaux. San Felipe winner Buddy Gil was a late Santa Anita Derby nominee on March 13 at a cost of $2,500.