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HORSE RACING

Repent Is Lost for the Derby and Beyond

April 09, 2002|BILL CHRISTINE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Repent, the Louisiana Derby winner and one of the top contenders for next month's Kentucky Derby, won't run at Churchill Downs or in the other two Triple Crown races, his trainer, Ken McPeek, said Monday.

A distant second, 61/2 lengths behind War Emblem, as the 1-2 favorite in Saturday's Illinois Derby at Sportsman's Park, Repent apparently injured himself in that race. McPeek said that X-rays taken Monday showed that Repent had a small bone chip in the ankle on his left foreleg. The colt will undergo arthroscopic surgery Monday, with the recuperation time estimated at two to three months. The Triple Crown, which starts with the Kentucky Derby on May 4 and includes the Preakness and Belmont Stakes, is a grueling series run over five weeks.

Repent's injury leaves McPeek with one--and possibly two--solid Derby candidates. If Harlan's Holiday adds to his Florida Derby win with a victory Saturday in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland, he will be the Kentucky Derby favorite. McPeek also trains Take Charge Lady, a filly that had been penciled in for the Kentucky Oaks, the day before the Derby, but the door is opening for her to run in the Derby.

Both Repent and Take Charge Lady are owned by Jerry and Feye Bach of Cincinnati. Take Charge Lady, winner of Saturday's Ashland at Keeneland, was a late nominee--at a cost of $6,000 instead of $600 in January--for the Triple Crown. With six wins in eight starts, she would be a heavy favorite in the Oaks, but would be seriously considered if she ran in the Derby.

"Right now, Take Charge Lady is still in the Oaks," McPeek said. "But I'll have to have a lengthy conversation [with the Bachs] and see what their take on it is. She'll be favored in the Oaks, and we've still got Harlan's Holiday for the Derby."

The Bachs, however, do not own Harlan's Holiday. He races for Jack Wolf. McPeek has the luxury of training Take Charge Lady for either race, then not needing to make a decision until the week of the Derby. He could also enter the filly in both races--entry days are April 30 for the Oaks and May 1 for the Derby--and not make a race decision until May 3, the day of the Oaks. The only rub with such an either-or plan is that he would tie up a jockey for both races. Tony D'Amico--fired off Harlan's Holiday and Repent earlier this year in favor of Derby-experienced riders--has continued to ride Take Charge Lady. It is not likely that McPeek would stick with D'Amico if the filly ran in the Derby. Jerry Bailey, who rode Repent in his last two races, might even be available to ride Take Charge Lady in the Derby.

Repent was feared to have a physical problem after his erratic stretch run in the Louisiana Derby, but McPeek said that he was checked thoroughly after that race and the veterinarians found nothing.

"This is a very small chip," McPeek said. "It's very minor. But in the long-term best interests of the horse, it's best to get it out. He should heal 100%."

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