Flying Dash romped home in the Transylvania Stakes on Keeneland's opening day card.

Flying Dash romped home in the Transylvania Stakes on Keeneland's opening day card.

Anne M. Eberhardt

Derby Berth Possible For Transy Winner

German-bred Flying Dash balked entering the gate in the $100,000 Transylvania Stakes at Keeneland Friday, but was full steam ahead at the wire. Attendance of 14,879 at the Lexington, Ky. track was the largest for a spring opening day since 1985. Attendance last year on opening day was 11,646.

Immediately after the race, trainer Neil Drysdale said the Transy winner will be shipped to Churchill Downs for a possible berth in the Kentucky Derby. Such a plan would include another race prior to May 4.

Japanese businessman Fusao Sekiguchi and Drysdale teamed to win the 2000 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) with Fusaichi Pegasus.

Flying Dash, a 3-year-old son of Dashing Blade out of Full Board (by Fabulous Dancer) won pulling away in the one-mile, opening day feature on the grass. Five wide coming out of the second turn, jockey Jerry Bailey gave Flying Dash two taps through the stretch and finished the job with a hand ride.

"(Starter) Spec (Alexander) said that I need to come back in the morning and learn how to load," Bailey joked. "I didn't know how much horse I'd have after all that happened at the gate, but he's got a tremendous turn of foot."

The final time was 1:35.69.

Flying Dash is owned by Japanese businessman Fusao Sekiguchi and trained by Neil Drysdale, the same owner-trainer team that won the 2000 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) with Fusaichi Pegasus. The colt was bred by Gestut Etzean and Dr. K. Schulte of Germany. The Transylvania was Flying Dash's first start in the United States. His lifetime record is now three wins and a second in five starts.

"Wasn't he impressive?" said Drysdale. "We schooled him yesterday and he walked right in. I think he was just feeling very fresh. He just needs to get used to everything here."

Longshot Back Packer finished second and Political Attack, who battled with Mr. O'Brien through much of the race, held on for third. 7-5 favorite Stage Call, Ide Be Spencers, Mr. O'Brien, Classic Hero, and Dutch Royalty completed the order of finish.

Keeneland's gate crew struggled to load Flying Dash. Crew members were forced to lead the colt to the front of the starting gate and back him into the number three slot without Bailey aboard.

When the gate opened, Classic Hero claimed a short lead in the first turn then gave it up to Mr. O'Brien. Political Attack moved up to challenge and the two horses battled back and forth, taking the lead then giving it up through much of the race. They ran the first quarter in :23.06 and the half in :46.69.

Flying Dash paid $9.60, $6.60, and $4.40. Back Packer, at 13-1, paid $19.40 and $7.80. Political Attack paid $4.00. The winning exacta combination paid $88.20. (Chart, Equibase)