REMARKS: After Laffit Pincay had said Saturday that he would be riding Masterful Advocate in the Santa Anita Derby April 4, the same day Capote is likely to run in the Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct, jockeys started lining up at Wayne Lukas' barn door.
Lukas trains Capote, who with Pincay won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile last year at Santa Anita, clinching the 2-year-old colt championship.
Capote's rider for his first start as a 3-year-old will probably come from a group that includes Chris McCarron, Angel Cordero, Gary Stevens, Pat Day, Jose Santos and Chris Antley.
Cordero, who won the Flamingo at Hialeah with another Lukas runner, Talinum, was scheduled to ride the colt again in Gulfstream Park's Florida Derby, which is also on April 4. But there is a chance that Cordero could wind up riding Capote at Aqueduct instead.
"We've got Cordero for April 4," Lukas said. "We'll have to sort out which horse he rides."
Pat Day, who has led the country in wins four of the last five years, has never won the Kentucky Derby, but he's prominent in the Triple Crown picture this year. Besides the possibilities with either Capote or Talinum, Day rides Demons Begone, considered the best 3-year-old training in Arkansas right now, and he also won Sunday's Louisiana Derby at the Fair Grounds with J.T.'s Pet.
Although unbeaten J.T.'s Pet won by five lengths, extending his streak to four races, his performance wasn't good enough to earn him a spot in this week's ratings. With the Louisiana Derby purse cut in half, to $100,000, this year's field was the weakest in years. Only the 1924 Louisiana Derby winner--Black Gold, who was later buried in the infield at the New Orleans track--ever went on to win the Kentucky Derby.
J.T.'s Pet is headed back to Oaklawn Park, where he has already won twice, for the Arkansas Derby April 18.
Phantom Jet did sneak into the ratings, by virtue of his win in the Tampa Bay Derby Saturday.
Phantom Jet couldn't keep up with the best 2-year-olds in New York last fall and a couple of days before this year's Flamingo, trainer Phil Gleaves gave the best reason possible for not starting the horse in that stake.
"He's not good enough," Gleaves said.
Wisely, Gleaves sent Phantom Jet to Tampa Bay Downs, where he has won two races, padded his bankroll and helped his confidence. Phantom Jet won by just a length Saturday, but he appeared to have something left, and his handlers have in mind the $500,000 Jim Beam Stakes, at Turfway Park on March 29, for his next test.
Gulch, who has remained in the ratings more because of his early 2-year-old form than anything else, hasn't won a race in five months and will return to New York to run Saturday in the seven-furlong Bay Shore. Santos has the mount instead of Cordero, whose ride on Gulch at Hialeah last month was criticized by trainer LeRoy Jolley.
Also running in the Bay Shore is Why Not Try, who has won four in a row but looks like a sprinter.
At Gulfstream Park Sunday, Bet Twice, Cryptoclearance, Leo Castelli and Well Selected are probable starters in the Fountain of Youth Stakes.
A small field is the prospect at Santa Anita Sunday for the San Felipe Handicap, the second of seven major races for 3-year-old colts before the Kentucky Derby. Temperate Sil will be favored, despite his fifth-place finish in the San Rafael March 7.
TRIPLE CROWN RATINGS
Career Horse S 1 2 3 Earnings 1. Masterful Advocate 8 5 1 1 $409,425 2. Capote 4 3 0 0 645,680 3. Talinum 8 3 1 1 365,116 4. Demons Begone 7 4 2 0 186,874 5. Temperate Sil 6 3 0 0 552,125 6. Bet Twice 8 5 0 1 698,565 7. Cryptoclearance 9 4 1 1 220,750 8. Leo Castelli 4 2 1 1 70,840 9. Gulch 8 5 1 0 439,910 10. Phantom Jet 12 6 0 3 250,412
Advisory panel for The Times' Triple Crown Ratings: Lenny Hale, vice president for racing at Aqueduct, Belmont Park and Saratoga; Frank (Jimmy) Kilroe, vice president for racing at Santa Anita; and Tommy Trotter, racing secretary at Gulfstream Park.