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Gallant Son to go in Santa Anita Derby

April 2, 2009     E-mail this page to a friend!

By Vince Bruun, Emerald Downs, and TRJ staff

Gallant Son, Emerald Downs' best two-year-old performer of 2008, will run on Saturday in the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby (Gr. I). A top-two finish would give Gallant Son a strong chance to become the first Northwest horse in over 30 years to run in the Kentucky Derby on May 2. Horses with the highest earnings in graded stakes races gain entry into the Kentucky Derby with a maximum field of 20. Second place in the Santa Anita Derby is worth $150,000, which is usually enough to gain entrance into the Kentucky Derby.

Entries were announced Wednesday for the Grade I event. Gallant Son drew the number nine post-position in a field of 10, and Veteran Santa Anita odds maker Jeff Tufts set the Emerald Downs phenom at 15-to-1 on the morning line for the 1-1/8-mile test.

The Pamplemousse, coming off a sharp six-length victory in the Sham Stakes, is the 9-to-5 morning line favorite, followed by Pioneerof the Nile, a triple graded stakes winner for trainer Bob Baffert, at 2-to-1.

Gallant Son is owned by Chris and Dianna Randall of Bellevue and is coming off a victory in the March 15 Pasadena Stakes at Santa Anita. This would be the Kentucky-bred's second appointment with the best of his generation. Last fall he finished seventh in the $2 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile, also run at Santa Anita. Trained by Frank Lucarelli of Enumclaw, Gallant Son won four consecutive races at Emerald Downs last summer including the Gottstein Futurity.

Gallant Son will have some things in his favor on Saturday. Most importantly, he has trained exceptionally well since his turf victory at 8-to-1 odds in the March 15 Pasadena Stakes. And although he hasn't won in three starts on synthetic dirt tracks, Gallant Son ran well in both previous starts on Santa Anita's Pro Ride surface.

Also, Gallant Son will benefit from the riding services of Rafael Bejarano. The 27-year-old native of Peru ranks second to Garrett Gomez in the current standings and has won the last four major riding titles in Southern California. Alex Solis, who rode Gallant Son in the Pasadena, rides The Pamplemousse in the Santa Anita Derby.

A Kentucky-bred by Malabar Gold out of Explicitly (by Exploit), Gallant Son has a pedigree that suggests nine furlongs could be pushing his limit, but the $9,000 yearling has already come a lot farther than anyone might reasonably have expected.

The last time a Washington based horse travelled to the Kentucky Derby was 1978 when Hoist the Silver finished eighth for owners Dr. Jack Dasso of Sunnyside and Elias Solomon of Seattle.

Jumron raced at Portland Meadows in the fall of 1994 as a two year old and later ran fourth in the 1995 Kentucky Derby for owner Charles Dunn of Enumclaw.

The field of the Santa Anita Derby (in post position order):

Post Horse               Jockey
1. Chocolate Candy Joel Rosario
2. Z Day Aaron T. Gryder
3. Unbridled Roman Tyler Baze
4. Pioneerof the Nile Garrett K. Gomez
5. Mr. Hot Stuff Corey S. Nakatani
6. Feisty Suances Victor Espinoza
7. Take the Points Christopher P. DeCarlo
8. Cape Truth Michael C. Baze
9. Gallant Son Rafael Bejarano
10. The Pamplemousse Alex O. Solis