Keagan, ridden by Scott Stevens, collared the 3-5 choice Sky Diving near the sixteenth pole and drove to a one-length victory in the $75,000 Turf Paradise Derby for 3-year-olds Saturday in Phoenix.
Trained by Eric Kruljac, part owner of the Washington-bred son of Basket Weave along with Gary Olson, Randy Bafus, and Gary Stevenson, Keagan went off at odds of 10-1. The bay colt, a $26,000 yearling purchase who is not nominated for the Triple Crown, won in a time of 1:43 4/5 for the 1 1/16-mile distance.
The race was expected to be a prep on the Triple Crown trail for Sky Diving, a $310,000 son of Aptitude
owned by B. Wayne Hughes. Bob Baffert trains the dark bay colt who broke his maiden by 14 lengths at Bay Meadows Jan. 25.
In his first start against winners, Sky Diving forced the pace for jockey Tony Farina, who rode the colt for the first time, before opening up a clear advantage on the final turn. But Keagan wound up his run while wide on the turn and soon headed the favorite. The two battled through the stretch before Keagan drew away late. It was 7 1/2 lengths back to the third-place finisher, 49-1 shot Soft Seventeen.
Keagan, was coming off a fifth-place finish in Turf Paradise's Rattlesnake Jan. 22, his first attempt at a route of ground after seven sprint races. Keagan won the 6 1/2-furlong Arizona Juvenile Dec. 26. Overall, he owns a 3-2-2 record in nine starts with earnings of $110,199.
The winner, bred by Mr. and Mrs. William T. Griffin, paid $23, $6.20, and $4.40. Sky Diving returned $3 and $2.80. Soft Seventeen was $6.40 to show.