Johannesburg, winning the 2001 Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

Johannesburg, winning the 2001 Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

Mike Corrado

Johannesburg Rings in New Year Favored for Two Classics

Michael Tabor and Mrs. John Magnier's Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) winner Johannesburg begins 2002 as the future-book favorite for both the Sagitta Two Thousand Guineas (Eng-I) and the Kentucky Derby (gr. I). Both races will be run on May 4.

As Johannesburg has six career victories on grass and with some questioning whether the son of Hennessy will be able to handle the Derby's 1 1/4 miles, the Aidan O'Brien-trained colt is a much lower price for the one-mile Guineas than the Derby. He is also a more clear-cut favorite for that race. His price for the Guineas ranges from 7-4 to 5-2. For the Derby, Johannesburg is the co-favored at Bally's with Siphonic and Repent at 6-1 (odds as of 12/26).

Guineas second-choice Hawk Wing is favored for the Vodafone (Epsom) Derby (Eng-I) at odds ranging from 12- to 16-1. Magnier's Kentucky-bred son of Woodman, out of the Val de l'Orne mare La Lorgnette, has won three of four career races, including the Aga Khan Studs National Stakes (Ire-I) in September. High Chaparral is co-favored with Hawk Wing at some bookmakers. High Chaparral is another Tabor-Magnier production and a group I winning son of Sadler's Wells by a Darshaan mare.

As for interesting Derby prices, Remsen (gr. II) winner Saarland is listed at 10-1, while Nokoma remains available at 30-1. Saarland just got up at the wire to beat Nokoma in the Remsen and ran the 1 1/8 miles nearly a full second slower than filly Smok'n Frolic in the Demoiselle one race earlier.

Like Saarland, Maybry's Boy (40-1) is trained by Claude "Shug" McGaughey. The son of Broad Brush won Thursday's Spectacular Bid Stakes (gr. III) at Gulfstream Park. Maybry's Boy has now won two of six starts and is out of Aly's Conquest, by Alydar. No horse, though, descending from Raise A Native in its broodmare-sire line has yet to win the Derby. Also at Gulfstream Thursday, Bill Mott-trained Blue Burner won a one mile and 70 yards allowance race. The Kinsman Stable's homebred is a son of French Deputy out of an Alydar mare and was available at odds of 125-1 prior to the race.

Godolphin's King Consul, a full brother of Parade Ground, is listed at 30-1. In the only race of his career, King's Consul won a seven furlong race at Belmont Park, in which Maybry's Boy finished fifth.

Bob Baffert-trained China Grind is 35-1 at Bally's.

"The 3-year-old division looks pretty wide open," Baffert said. "There's no Point Givens, you know. But China Grind, if I can keep him together, he could be my (Triple Crown) horse. He's a good one, I gotta take care of him."

R and R King Stable's son of Grindstone, the horse who nipped Baffert-trained Cavonnier at the wire in the 1995 Derby, would provide Baffert with a touch of irony should he win the Derby. So far, though, China Grind has only a maiden win to his credit, that coming in mid-December in his only career start.

Bella Bellucci is Bally's second-lowest priced filly at 80-1 (just behind 75-1 Tempera), but trainer Neil Drysdale said Tuesday that she "just got in yesterday" and is still a month away from serious training.

(Kentucky Derby Odds, Bally's)

(2000 Guineas Odds)

(Epsom Derby Odds)