Mayakovsky Works Toward Santa Derby; Officer Shows Speed

Michael Tabor's Gotham Stakes (gr. III) winner Mayakovsky, set to start in Saturday's Santa Anita Derby (gr. I), worked a half-mile in :48 1/5, breezing, over a fast Santa Anita main track Tuesday morning immediately after the renovation break. New jockey Patrick Valenzuela was aboard the nearly black son of Matty G., who impressed clockers enough to comment that he "went very well, very impressive."

"Patrick and (Mayakovsky) met to see if they make a good couple and I think they do," trainer Patrick Biancone said. "Patrick has great timing in his head and this horse needs that. He needs a rider like that, who can control the speed. The key was to not go too fast and Patrick accomplished that. And I believe he will in the race as well."

Mayakovsky will race for the first time beyond a mile and around two turns in Saturday's 1 1/8-mile affair, a fact not lost on Biancone.

"He's an exceptional horse anyway," Biancone said, "but exceptional to do what? We have to see how he handles a lot of things in this race. Honestly, I think he's an exceptional miler and I hope – I think – maybe he's good enough and has enough class to get a bit farther. This race is a furlong more and I think he's capable. Beyond that, it's anyone's guess."

Mayakovsky will be making just his fourth career start in Saturday's $750,000 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) prep and only his second of the year. In addition to his win in the March 17 Gotham, Mayakovsky owns a second-place finish in last year's Hopeful S. (gr. I) behind top Santa Anita Derby rival Came Home to go along with his maiden score. Overall, Mayakovsky has banked $184,600.

"He'll actually be making his first start as a three-year-old," Biancone explained. "He just turned three on March 21, the first day of spring. He's still growing up."

Owner Michael Tabor will be in town from Europe for the Santa Anita Derby, according to Biancone.

"I think it's important to have the whole team here," Biancone said. "After all, this is a very important race."

Other sophomores expected for the Santa Anita Derby are Came Home, Danthebluegrassman, Easy Grades, Jack's Silver, Lusty Latin, Tracemark and U S S Tinosa.

Also on the worktab Tuesday was The Thoroughbred Corp.'s grade I winner Officer, who logged a bullet five furlongs in :58, handily. The California-bred son of Bertrando, who hasn't started since a third-place finish in the December 15 Hollywood Futurity (gr. I), is expected to line up and face fellow California-breds in Sunday's $100,000 Zany Tactics Stakes over Santa Anita's main track.