HOT SPRINGS, Ark. -- Favorite Trick won't be going to the Kentucky Derby undefeated after losing to Victory Gallop on Saturday in the Arkansas Derby.
It was the first loss in 10 career starts for Favorite Trick, the 2-5 choice in the $500,000 race at Oaklawn. He ran near the front from the start under Pat Day, but wore down in the deep stretch and wound up third behind Hanuman Highway.
Victory Gallop, the son of Cryptoclearance covered the 1 1-16 miles in 1:49 4-5 while winning for the fifth time in seven career starts.
Favorite Trick broke alertly, took the lead in the far turn and opened a clear advantage at the top of the stretch. But he could not hold off Victory Gallop and Hanuman Highway, and wound up a length back.
Victory Gallop, ridden by Alex Solis and trained by Elliott Walden, was a half-length better than Hanuman Highway. The winner paid $17.60, $7.20 and $3.20. Hanuman Highway paid $18.60 and $5.20. Favorite Trick returned $2.20 to show.
It was the second start in 1998 for Favorite Trick -- Horse of the Year in 1997. He was idle from Nov. 1 until March 21, when he took the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn by a head.
Victory Gallop was outrun in the first start of his career. After adding the anti-bleeder medication Lasix, he reeled off three straight victories before ending 1997 with a 1 3/4 -length loss to Fight For M'Lady in the Laurel Futurity.
Favorite Trick was attempting to become the third unbeaten starter in the May 2 Kentucky Derby. Santa Anita Derby winner Indian Charlie and Jim Beam winner Event of the Year are 4-0 heading into the race.
Favorite Trick was named Horse of the Year after winning all eight of his races as a 2-year-old. Patrick Byrne trained Favorite Trick last year, but Bill Mott took over when Byrne went to work for Canadian industrialist Frank Stronach.
Favorite Trick made his 1998 debut in the seven-furlong Swale and won by almost two lengths. Mott chose the Arkansas Derby over the Blue Grass at Keeneland as the final Kentucky Derby prep for Favorite Trick because of some concern that chasing front-running Lil's Lad at Keeneland would take too much out of his colt.
Mott also looked at the Wood Memorial in New York, but was concerned about the possibility of bad weather. Both the Blue Grass and the Wood also were run Saturday.
The Blue Grass went to Halory Hunter, the Wood to Coronado's Quest. He is not nominated for the Kentucky Derby, but already is penciled in for the Preakness, the second leg of racing's Triple Crown.
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