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Thursday, March 14, 2002
Saratoga Blues takes Derby trail detour

By David Grening
Daily Racing Form

JAMAICA, N.Y. -- Though it is mid-March and he has an undefeated 3-year-old in his barn, trainer Tony Dutrow does not have a case of Derby fever.

Dutrow said on Wednesday that Saratoga Blues will skip Sunday's $200,000 Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct and will not be pointed to the Kentucky Derby on May 4. Instead, Saratoga Blues will make his next start in the $500,000 Lane's End Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park on March 23 and may be pointed to the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico on May 18.

"All of us are in this game for a bit of a dream, but, come on, you have to be realistic," Dutrow said. "Our horse has run only three times and only once this year. If we're that good we can find an ideal way to get to the Preakness. But, I really feel we're playing catch-up trying to get to the Derby."

Dutrow said he and owner Alvin Akman decided to skip the Gotham and point to the Spiral in order to keep Saratoga Blues racing around two turns. All three of Saratoga Blues's starts - including a two-length victory in the Whirlaway Stakes at Aqueduct on Feb. 9 - have been around two turns.

"He's a two-turn horse," Dutrow said. "I don't think you're making progress if you're going one turn."

With Saratoga Blues out of the Gotham, the Grade 2 race run at one mile is likely to attract a field of six when entries are drawn Friday. With jockey assignments, the field figures as follows: Saarland (John Velazquez), Mayakovsky (Edgar Prado), Parade of Music (Richard Migliore), Tank's Expectation (Aaron Gryder), and Two Shakes (Mike Luzzi).

The Gotham will be televised live on ESPN2 (4-5 p.m. Eastern).