ESPN Horse Racing

Harlan's Holiday draws a crowd for Derby workout
By Chris Duncan
Associated Press

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Harlan's Holiday drew a huge crowd on Tuesday for his final workout before the Kentucky Derby.

With Edgar Prado aboard Saturday's expected favorite, several hundred fans watched along the rail of the Churchill Downs backstretch as the colt breezed a half-mile in 49 3-5 seconds.

"He doesn't pay any attention to all that," trainer Ken McPeek said of the biggest crowd Harlan's Holiday has been around this week. "Nothing bothers him at all."

McPeek, wearing a walking cast on his broken left foot, followed Harlan's Holiday to the track in his golf cart. Walking on crutches to get a view of the workout, McPeek consulted with owners Jack and Laurie Wolf and stable manager Barry Berkelhammer.

"He was a little aggressive going to the pole and a little hard for Edgar to handle," McPeek said. "I think that toned down his breeze a little bit."

Prado, who replaced Tony D'Amico aboard the Ohio-bred and won the Florida Derby and Blue Grass Stakes, was satisfied with the effort.

"He went pretty easy and did it all by himself," Prado said. "He was full of himself and I tried to slow him down early, and then when I asked him, he responded.

Harlan's Holiday has six wins and four seconds in 10 career races.

"He's deserving of being the favorite," McPeek said.

Bond has contingency plans
H. James Bond joked that he'll make a 007-like escape from Churchill Downs if things don't go well for Buddha in Saturday's Derby.

"I have a helicopter ready to go," said the media-shy Bond, just before his star colt arrived from Belmont Park on Tuesday.

The lightly raced Wood Memorial winner is the first Derby starter for the 44-year-old Bond, who's based in New York.

"I said I would never come here until I had a great shot. I love horses too much to just come here on ego," Bond said. "But horses like this one make you. We know how lucky we are."

Buddha stepped off a trailer just before 10 a.m. EDT after a 14-hour journey from New York. He was led to barn 48, at the far south end of the backside, and settled into stall No. 7.

"My work is done," Bond said. "I'm going to go have some fun. I have a cell phone, so if there's a problem, my assistants can call me."

The Boss to attend Derby
New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner hasn't shown up at the barn of Blue Burner, the Derby entry owned by his Kinsman Stable.

Steinbrenner will "come in for the race," trainer Bill Mott said. "And if he gets tired of me, I'm sure he'll fire me."

Mott is Churchill's all-time winningest trainer and was inducted into racing's Hall of Fame in 1998. But the best finish of his three Derby starters was Favorite Trick's eighth place in 1998.

"All of them were basically sprinters or milers with nothing to indicate they could handle the mile and a quarter," Mott said. "You've got to have the right horse, and timing is everything."

Mayakovski '50-50' for Derby
There is a "50-50" chance Mayakovsky will run in the Kentucky Derby, trainer Patrick Biancone said Tuesday.

The Matty G colt is scheduled to work five furlongs Wednesday, and how he performs will be a factor in the decision. Demi O'Byrne, who manages the racing interests of Mayakovsky's owner, Michael Tabor, will be on hand for the work.

If the colt is entered in the Derby, he will run, said Biancone. He said he wouldn't enter, then scratch, Mayakovsky to keep out Sunday Break, making that colt's scheduled rider, Gary Stevens, available for Johannesburg.

The original plan was to run Mayakovsky in the Derby Trial and then point for the Preakness, but the colt was scratched because of wet weather.

Biancone believes Mayakovsky has the talent to run in the Derby, but he still is trying to assess the colt's readiness.

"I think this horse is the best 3-year-old in the country," Biancone said. "The problem is not physical; the problem is mental. I want him to mature there, and I'm watching him every day to see if he is maturing enough to prove what I am saying."