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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Pamplemousse & Pioneerof the Nile To Race In The Santa Anita Derby

Top Kentucky Derby contenders, The Pamplemousse and Pioneerof the Nile, are expected to face off in Saturday’s 72nd running of the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby (G1) April 4 at Santa Anita Park.

The 2009 Santa Anita Derby is one of the major Kentucky Derby 135 prep races where the Santa Anita Derby winner could secure a spot in the Kentucky Derby field.

The Pamplemousse’s forte is speed. He is unbeaten in his last 3 starts since stretching out, numbering the San Rafael Stakes (G3) and the Sham Stakes (G3) among his victories.

The son of Kafwain trained by Julio Canani, The Pamplemousse, has 3 wins and a third in 5 starts, with earnings of $209,280.

Pioneerof the Nile is a stretch runner. The son of Empire Maker trained by Bob Baffert also has won his last 3 starts: the CashCall Futurity (G1), the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G2), and the San Felipe Stakes (G2). He has a 4-0-1 record from seven starts, with earnings of $784,200.

Jockey Alex Solis will be riding The Pamplemousse’s rider is Alex Solis while jockey Garrett Gomez rides Pioneerof the Nile. Neither jockey has ever won the Kentucky Derby, but hope their Santa Anita Derby mounts will give them a chance to add a victory in the Run for the Roses.

While The Pamplemousse and Pioneerof the Nile are the marquee contenders in the 1 1/8-mile Santa Anita Derby, Dan Ward likes the chances of Chocolate Candy. “We’ll be overlooked,” said Ward, 50, the right hand man at Santa Anita for Jerry Hollendorfer, perennial training king in the Bay Area, who conditions Santa Anita Derby contender Chocolate Candy for the Sid and Jenny Craig Trust.

“I can’t worry about the other horses in the race,” the soft-spoken Ward said. “I just worry about us.”

Ward, a native of San Diego, has been with race horse trainer Jerry Hollendorfer for a year and a half. Prior to that, he spent 22 years with Hall of Fame race horse trainer Bobby Frankel. “You can’t do any better than learning from those two,” Ward said. “They’re great. If you’re going to be in this business, it’s really an experience you can’t buy.”

Chocolate Candy, a bay son of Candy Ride, has a 4-1-1 record from eight starts, including victories in the California Derby on Jan. 17 and the El Camino Real Derby (G3) on Feb. 14, both races at Golden Gate Fields. He has earned $382,500.

Probable Santa Anita Derby entries are: Chocolate Candy, jockey Joel Rosario; Feisty Suances, Victor Espinoza; Gallant Son, no rider; Mr. Hot Stuff, Corey Nakatani; The Pamplemousse, Alex Solis; and Pioneerof the Nile, Garrett Gomez.

Horse racing news edited from www.santaanita.com.

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