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HORSE RACING

Bird Town Feathers Her Nest

May 03, 2003|Bill Christine | Times Staff Writer

LOUISVILLE, Ky — LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Trainer Nick Zito, a Kentucky Derby regular and winner of the race with Strike The Gold and Go For Gin in the early 1990s, added a Kentucky Oaks victory to his list of accomplishments Friday, saddling the longshot Bird Town for a 3 1/4-length win in the $573,800 race before a crowd of 100,523 at Churchill Downs.

After starting 12 horses in the Derby since 1990, sometimes two in one year, Zito didn't run in the race last year and doesn't have a starter today. But he ran two 3-year-old fillies in the Oaks, also finishing eighth with Holiday Lady in the 12-horse field.

Bird Town, bred and owned by Marylou Whitney and ridden by Edgar Prado, finished 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.64, breaking the stakes record of 1:48.85 set by Flute in 2001.

Bird Town paid $38.40 for $2. The daughter of Cape Town and Dear Birdie, a Storm Bird mare, stumbled badly at the start, almost going down, and instead of being close to the lead was in eighth place, six lengths from the lead, after the first half-mile. Closing on the leaders at the eighth pole, Bird Town made the lead just inside the sixteenth pole under vigorous whipping from Prado.

Santa Catarina finished second, a head in front of Yell, and Elloluv was fourth, another three-quarters of a length back. The rest of the field: My Boston Gal, Lady Tak, Island Fashion, Holiday Lady, Atlantic Ocean, In Case Of Wind, Tempus Fugit and Go For Glamour. In a roughly run race, Lady Tak made the lead with three-sixteenths of a mile to go before landing in close quarters with Elloluv and Santa Catarina in the stretch.

"A couple of horses almost went down, and another clipped heels," said Gary Stevens, who rode Santa Catarina.

Alex Solis, who rode Go For Glamour, said three or four horses veered over toward him at the seven-eighths pole.

"I almost got put over the fence," Solis said.

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In other stakes at Churchill Downs, Senor Swinger, until last week a possible for the Kentucky Derby, ran on grass instead and won the $121,400 Crown Royal American Turf, and You ended a five-race losing streak by winning the $325,500 Louisville Breeders' Cup Handicap.

Senor Swinger, running for the second time for trainer Bob Baffert since Bob and Beverly Lewis bought the horse for an estimated $1 million, came from off the pace to beat favored Remind by 2 1/2 lengths.

You, trained by Bobby Frankel and ridden by Jerry Bailey for owner Ed Gann, won by 7 3/4 lengths over Fly Borboleta. Senor Swinger paid $8.20 and You's win mutuel was $2.60.

Other winners here were Forest Shadows in the Edgewood Stakes and 47-1 shot Fiscally Speaking in the Aegon Turf Sprint.

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In preliminary betting on the Kentucky Derby, which usually changes markedly by post time, Ten Most Wanted is the 9-2 favorite, followed by Buddy Gil, 5-1; Peace Rules and Atswhatimtalknbout, both 6-1; and Empire Maker, the morning-line favorite, 8-1. Other odds: Indian Express and Scrimshaw, both 11-1; Offlee Wild, 12-1; Funny Cide, 18-1; Supah Blitz, 27-1; Ten Cents A Shine, 29-1; Brancusi, 32-1; Lone Star Sky, 35-1; Domestic Dispute, 36-1; Outta Here, 37-1; and Eye Of The Tiger, 38-1. Friday's win pool totaled 228,756. Last year, in all pools, $8.6 million was bet on the Derby.

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