Haskin's Derby Report April 1-- Part 2: Ommadon Back on Derby Trail With Comeback Score

Haskin's Derby Report April 1-- Part 2: Ommadon Back on Derby Trail With Comeback Score
Photo: Associated Press / NYRA / Adam Coglianese
Ommadon, shown winning the Nashua Stakes as a juvenile, impressed in his 3-year-old at Aqueduct on March 28.
Ommadon made his 11th hour appearance on the Derby trail, and now that he's shown he has developed and matured over the winter into a good-looking 3-year-old, he could be one to keep an eye on come Derby Day. He likes to take off leaving the gate, and throws his head in the air to try to break the rider's hold on him. But Aaron Gryder grabbed him and got him to settle nicely behind the talented Tasty Caberneigh. When he gave him his head turning for home, Ommadon just sailed by the leader without feeling the whip, then drew off to win by 3 1/4 lengths. For a big colt (he stands about 16.3), with such a huge stride, he has a very fluid way of moving. His final time was a sharp 1:35 3/5, and he galloped out strong. After the race, trainer Tom Walsh said Ommadon was only 80-percent fit and will run his 1 1/8 miles in the Wood in 1:47, adding that Monarchos will "have to step it up." You gotta love it.

"I'm not scared of anyone," Walsh said. "This colt could always run from day one. He has class oozing out of him. His gallop-out time had to be 1:49, and Monarchos won the Florida Derby in 1:49 4/5."

The one race that impressed us the most was Ommadon's second career start. After breaking his maiden in a tough 13-horse field at Saratoga going 6 furlongs, he jumped up to a mile and a grade I in the Futurity Stakes. He made big move from eighth on the far to pull within a head of the leader at the top of the stretch before tiring to finish fourth. It was a bold and very confident move by his connections, and for a moment, it looked like he was going to pull it off. Since the addition of blinkers and Lasix and the removal of his front bandages (because of his size), he's been a tiger. But he does everything with class and never gets upset in the paddock or in the barn.

One thing to note, however, if he runs big in the Wood Memorial and heads to Kentucky, he'll be trying to become the first horse in 18 years to win the Derby with only two starts at three. But he's at least in good company, as Point Given will attempt to do the same. Bob Baffert points out that, although Real Quiet had three starts prior to his Derby victory, he virtually loped around the track in his first start, the Golden Gate Derby, finishing last, beaten 22 lengths over a very sloppy track. One thing both Ommadon and Point Given have going for them are solid 2-year-old campaigns behind them, with plenty of distance races, just as Sunny's Halo had when he accomplished the feat back in 1983. Also remember, Victory Gallop raced only twice at three before just getting beat a half-length by Real Quiet in the Derby.

Blue Grass one-shot deal for Bailey

Jerry Bailey's commitment on Hero's Tribute is only for the Blue Grass Stakes, giving him the option to switch mounts for the Derby if he wishes. "I wouldn't want it any other way," trainer John Ward said. "If the colt doesn't run well enough, I wouldn't want to force Jerry to ride him. If, on the other hand, he runs a big race, and Jerry decides he wants to ride him back in the Derby, I'd be tickled to death. Personally, I think it's a marriage made in heaven. But the world is full of divorces every day, and if it comes to that, I'll just have to go look for another rider."

Hero's Tribute and Monarchos are on the same work schedule. Both colts will have two works at Churchill Downs. Monarchos will leave for New York the Tuesday before the Wood Memorial and gallop up to the race, while Hero's Tribute will van over to Keeneland for the Blue Grass.

Hi-yo Silver

If you're looking for a great Derby story, look no further than I Love Silver. His original trainer, Walter Greenman, one of the most well-liked horsemen in Southern California, with a great dry sense of humor, died last August before the son of Silver Ghost developed into a top-class horse. Greenman, whose nickname was the Silver Fox, because of his Baffert-like white moppy hair, brought his first horse to the Derby in 1997. But Pacificbounty, who had stumbled badly at the start of the Arkansas Derby, in which he finished third, came out of the race with a quarter crack, which eventually prevented him from running on the first Saturday in May. Now, the Greenman family is hoping to be represented by Walter's son Dean, who took over his father's horses.

I Love Silver's broodmare sire, Lost Code, a fairy-tale story himself, died earlier this year. The gelding is just coming into his own, and should continue to improve off his fast-closing second behind Point Given in the San Felipe Stakes. It should be noted for all those who love inbreeding to top-class mares, top and bottom, I Love Silver is inbred 5x5 to Wheatley Stable's great foundation mare Grey Flight through Misty Flight on top and What a Pleasure on bottom.

Coral (England) Derby odds

Point Given 7-2; Monarchos 5-1; Express Tour, Millennium Wind 8-1; Street Cry, Dollar Bill, Congaree, Fifty Stars, Hero's Tribute 12-1; Outofthebox, A P Valentine, Palmerio 14-1

ARCHIVED PREVIOUS WEEKLY REPORTS (Most recent first):

Valentine For Zito and Shooting Star at Turfway

Stars Shine as Clouds Lift

Impressive Win By Monarchos

Palmeiro, Newcomers Best of Derby-Bound Horses

Hero's Tribute, Dollar Bill Are Impressive

Tryine to Dodge Baffert, Lukas, Zito

Monarchos, Startac Make Moves

Expect a Big Blue Invasion

Derby Fever Begins

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