Bill Shoemaker and Chris McCarron will both be riding in the English Derby Wednesday, Shoemaker having the chance to become the first American jockey to win the Kentucky Derby and the Epsom Downs race in the same year.
Shoemaker, who became a four-time winner of the Kentucky Derby when he rode Ferdinand to victory at Churchill Downs May 3, will ride either Mashkour or Faraway Dancer in the English Derby. Both horses are trained by Henry Cecil, and Steve Cauthen, the expatriate American, has his choice, with Shoemaker getting the mount on the other horse.
Cauthen won the Kentucky Derby with Affirmed in 1978 and won the English Derby last year aboard Slip Anchor.
McCarron, who is leading the United States in purses with more than $4.7 million, will be riding Bold Arrangement in the English Derby, the same colt he rode to a second-place finish behind Ferdinand in the Kentucky Derby.
Pat Eddery, unable to ride Bold Arrangement in the Kentucky Derby because he was serving a suspension for a riding infraction in England, was trainer Clive Brittain's first choice to ride in the English Derby. But Eddery is a contract rider for owner Robert Sangster and trainer Vincent O'Brien and is obligated to ride their Wise Counsellor in the English Derby.
The English Derby will be just part of a busy week for McCarron. After he rides favored Precisionist in today's Californian Stakes at Hollywood Park, McCarron will head for New York to ride Meadowlake Monday in an allowance race at Belmont Park.
McCarron arrives in London Tuesday, and after the English Derby, he'll return to New York to ride Danzig Connection in Saturday's Belmont Stakes. Then it's back to California for a mount in Sunday's Gamely Handicap at Hollywood Park.
Meadowlake was one of the top 2-year-olds in the country last year, winning his only two starts by a combined margin of 30 3/4 lengths. McCarron, who has never won a Triple Crown race, hoped that Meadowlake would give him one of those elusive wins this year, but the colt suffered shin and hoof problems, wasn't ready to run in either the Kentucky Derby or the Preakness and hasn't had enough seasoning to be ready for next Saturday's Belmont.
Shoemaker is shooting for a record-tying sixth win in the Belmont with Ferdinand. The record is shared by Eddie Arcaro, who won his six Belmonts in the 1940s and 1950s, and James McLaughlin, a six-timer during a seven-year stretch in the 1880s.
Danzig Connection, winner of the Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont Park a week ago today, is trainer Woody Stephens' hope for a fifth straight winner in the 1 1/2-mile Belmont. Laffit Pincay rode Stephens' first three Belmont winners--Conquistador Cielo, Caveat and Swale--but next Saturday Pincay will be aboard Johns Treasure, a lightly raced colt who has never run farther than a mile but who scored an impressive eight-length win in New York last weekend.
The mount on Danzig Connection became available for McCarron because Pat Day, who rode for Stephens in the Peter Pan, is committed to ride Rampage in the Belmont. Rampage, the Arkansas Derby winner who was a troubled fourth in the Kentucky Derby, is considered by Shoemaker to be the horse to beat in the Belmont.
Shoemaker, who has ridden in the English Derby four times, came closest to winning when Hawaiian Sound was nipped at the wire by Shirley Heights in 1978.
Neither of the American riders will be aboard a horse who figures to win Wednesday at Epsom. Bold Arrangement's latest odds are 11-1. Shoemaker's possible mounts are also outsiders, Mashkour at 16-1 and Faraway Dancer at 20-1. The favorite in the English Derby is the Aga Khan's Shahrastani, who is listed at 7-2.
Horse Racing Notes
Dontstop Themusic, who finished second to Life's Magic in the Eclipse Awards voting for best older filly or mare last year, won her first race this year by taking Saturday's $80,700 Hawthorne Handicap at Hollywood Park. Ridden by Laffit Pincay, the jockey's third winner of the day, Dontstop Themusic beat Till You by 1 lengths. It was three-fourths of a length farther back to favored Fran's Valentine.