Eddie Delahoussaye got spoiled riding in the Kentucky Derby. The second time he competed in the race, Delahoussaye finished second with Woodchopper in 1981, and he won the Derby the next two years with Gato Del Sol and Sunny's Halo, becoming only the fourth jockey to register back-to-back victories.
In the last two years, Delahoussaye has been fourth (disqualified to fifth) with Gate Dancer and sixth with Skywalker in the Derby.
"I don't have much this year, unless Icy Groom turns out to be another Gato Del Sol," Delahoussaye said Wednesday, before Icy Groom posted a 2-length victory in the $60,000 Bradbury Stakes at Santa Anita.
Despite winning the Del Mar Futurity, Gato Del Sol hadn't won a race as a 3-year-old before his shocker at 21-1 in the '82 Derby. Icy Groom, who's from the barn of Eddie Gregson, the same trainer who had Gato Del Sol, is one of few 3-year-olds who's already had a race at Churchill Downs.
In the first race of his career, Icy Groom ran second at Churchill Downs last June. Since then, in California, Icy Groom has been sixth, won a maiden race, finished second in an allowance and won the Bradbury.
"One thing about this horse is that he loves the slop, which means he should love those deeper Eastern tracks," Delahoussaye said. "The race he ran second (a length behind Imperious Spirit on March 2), the time (for 1 1/16 miles) was 1:43, which is real fast for this meeting. Variety Road ran the same time in winning the Santa Catalina."
Imperious Spirit was second to Icy Groom Wednesday. Bugarian was third, while wagering favorite Southern Halo was fifth. Icy Groom paid $7.20, $3.80 and $3.
Despite Wednesday's win, which came on a drying-out track that was listed as fast, Gregson is in the same situation with Icy Groom as he was after Tsunami Slew won the Bradbury in 1984. Icy Groom has earned no money in important races, which is the first criterion in determining the Kentucky Derby field if more than 20 horses try to run.
Tsunami Slew never made it to the Derby. For Icy Groom to go, he may have to improve even more against Snow Chief, Variety Road and Ferdinand in the Santa Anita Derby on April 6, or go elsewhere to pick up some paychecks.