Expectations low for Aikenite

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Cot Campbell is taking a realistic view of Aikenite's chances in today's Fountain of Youth Stakes.

Campbell, president of Aiken-based Dogwood Stable, is usually ebullient in his praise of the stable's offerings.

But the colt is coming off a sixth-place showing in the Holy Bull Stakes, and Campbell is hoping for a better performance today.

"Coming off his last race, which was mediocre, I'm slightly lacking in confidence," Campbell said earlier this week from Florida. "I think he could (win), I think he's capable, but I'm a tad nervous."

Aikenite has never been one to show great promise in prerace workouts, Campbell said.

"He's the kind of horse who never volunteers," he said. "Like a good athlete, he's not going to leave his game on the practice field. When the bell rings, he's usually right there."

Campbell said his best work was before the Breeders' Cup Juvenile in November, but Aikenite finished fifth in that race. He then took two months off before the Holy Bull.

After the Holy Bull, Campbell decided to switch jockeys and go back to Alan Garcia, who rode Aikenite in the Breeders' Cup. John Velazquez rode him in the Holy Bull, and Campbell did not like the frantic pace the jockey tried to set.

"The rider engaged in a suicidal pace," Campbell said. "He (Aikenite) wasn't fit, and he wore himself out."

Aikenite will break from the inside post today in the Grade II stakes that covers one and an eighth mile with a field of 10. Campbell envisions Garcia keeping Aikenite off the pace and then making a run.

"At the half-mile pole we'll ask him the question and hopefully get the answer provided," Campbell said.

If Aikenite is going to continue on the Kentucky Derby trail, Campbell expects him to perform well today.

"I think he's got to have a good excuse or hit the board," he said.

The Bluegrass Stakes on the synthetic track at Keeneland on April 10 is a good possibility for his next race. Or he could run a month from today at Gulfstream Park.

"If he runs big in Florida, we'll come back at the Florida Derby," Campbell said.


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