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Wimbledon Picks Up Game in Louisiana Derby Win

The Wild Rush colt, who had disappointed early, rallies from well off the pace to win by 21/4 lengths and gain his second consecutive victory.

March 08, 2004|Bob Mieszerski | Times Staff Writer

It took him some time, but Wimbledon's performances are starting to measure up to the hype.

The 3-year-old Wild Rush colt, who lost as the favorite in his first four starts for owner Jim McIngvale and trainer Bob Baffert, made it two victories in a row on Sunday and became a graded stakes winner for the first time.

Giving jockey Javier Santiago his biggest win since he came to the U.S. from Puerto Rico earlier this year, Wimbledon, a 7-1 longshot, rallied from well off the pace to prevail in the $600,000 Louisiana Derby at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans.

Benefiting from a quick pace in front of him, the gray, who had been purchased at auction for $425,000 about 13 months ago, saved ground for most of the trip, angled out for room at the top of the stretch and went on to beat Borrego, another California shipper and 5-1 third choice, by 2 1/4 lengths. The final time for the 1 1/16 miles was 1:42.71, not far off the track record of 1.42.02 set by Pie In Your Eye 10 years ago.

"He's been a little disappointing at times," Baffert said. "He should have broken his maiden a few races back, but I think his last one proved that he was finally getting it together.

"He looks like he's the real deal. As long as we keep him healthy we'll have some fun with him. I've always thought he was a very good horse. He's always been leery about taking off, but today it didn't seem like it was a problem."

Pollard's Vision, a 6-1 shot and one of two horses in the field trained by Todd Pletcher -- the other was Shaniko, who finished ninth -- was a head back of Borrego in third after he opened a 1 1/2-length lead an eighth of a mile from the wire. He finished three-quarters of a length in front of Breakaway, the lesser half of the Neil Howard-trained entry that was the 2-1 favorite. Gradepoint, the preferred part of the duo, finished eighth.

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Triple Crown Ratings

Tribune Co. ratings for 3-year-olds leading up to the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes:

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