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Sunday, April 13, 2008

Gayego captures Arkansas Derby

Z Fortune second; Hey Byrn wins Holy Bull
From wire reports
April 13, 2008

Gayego held off hard-charging Z Fortune down the stretch to win the Arkansas Derby by three-quarters of a length yesterday at Oaklawn Park in a race that bolstered both colts' Kentucky Derby prospects.

"I have a lot of faith in this colt," trainer Paulo Lobo said. "He proved today that he could stay right there with a fast pace, then finish fast."

In recent years, the Arkansas Derby has been a proving ground for some of the world's finest 3-year-olds. Smarty Jones, Afleet Alex, Lawyer Ron and Curlin all won it, cementing the race's status as one of the top Kentucky Derby preps.

Gayego's margin of victory was the closest at an Arkansas Derby since Victory Gallop's win in 1998. But make no mistake, Gayego and Z Fortune clearly separated themselves from the rest of the 13-horse field. Both horses now have more than enough graded stakes earnings to run in the Kentucky Derby.

Gayego broke well early and stayed near the lead at a quick pace.

With Mike Smith aboard, Gayego was second at the half-mile mark, a half-length behind long-shot Tres Borrachos.

Gayego eventually took the lead and held off Z Fortune, covering the 1 1/8 miles in 1 minute, 49.63 seconds.

Tres Borrachos was third, 4 3/4 lengths behind the winner.

• Holy Bull Stakes // Hey Byrn won the $150,000 race at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla., beating Dream Maestro by 2 1/4 lengths in the Kentucky Derby prep. Ridden by Charles Lopez, Hey Byrn ran 1 3/16 miles in 1:58.14 and paid $4, $3 and $2.20. Dream Maestro returned $4.80 and $2.80, and Famous Patriot paid $2.20 to show.

• Dahlia Stakes // Lady Digby narrowly beat Mary Louhana to win the $80,000 race for fillies and mares on the turf at Laurel Park. Montecito finished far back in third place. Jeremy Rose was aboard Lady Digby for trainer Graham Motion. The 4-year-old daughter of Grand Slam paid $3.80 and covered the one-mile distance in 1:38.92.

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