Originally created 04/12/98

Memorial winner not to be in Derby

NEW YORK -- The Wood Memorial has produced 11 Kentucky Derby winners. There won't be a 12th this year.

Coronado's Quest got back on the right track Saturday with a 2 1/2 -length victory over Dice Dancer in the $500,000 Wood at Aqueduct, but a run for the roses on May 2 won't happen.

"The Derby is out of the question," owner Stuart Janney said. "It wouldn't be fair to him."

In his three previous races -- all in Florida -- Coronado's Quest acted so badly before the race that trainer Shug McGaughey wasn't certain what to expect from the tempermental but talented 3-year-old colt.

"He's been an absolutely different horse since we got back from Florida," McGaughey said. "It wasn't like Florida when he wanted to rear up and jump on the pony. Today was definitely a step in the right direction."

The big red 3-year-old behaved like a perfect gentleman before the race, and when the starting gate sprang open, Coronado's Quest took the lead and held off a challenge by Dice Dancer.

"He's a Jekyll and Hyde, this colt," said jockey Robbie Davis, who was forced to dismount Coronado's Quest for the safety of a lead pony prior to a fifth-place finish in the Florida Derby. "He was the good one, whoever that is. He was so relaxed out there."

Coronado's Quest covered 1 1/8 miles in 1:47 2-5, 1-5 of a second off the Wood record set by Private Terms in 1988. Sent off by the crowd of 15,293 as the even-money favorite in the 11-horse field, Coronado's Quest returned $4.20, $3.30 and $2.90.

Dice Dancer, a 9-1 shot ridden by Jean Luc-Samyn, returned $7.20 and $5.50 for second. Parade Ground, trained by Neil Howard, was another five lengths back in third and paid $4.60.

The victory was the first this year for Coronado's Quest after seconds in the Hutcheson and Fountain of Youth before his off-the-board finish in the Florida Derby. However, the colt has won six of 10 career starts. The Wood was worth $300,000, boosting his earnings to $606,240.

Before the race, McGaughey said Coronado's Quest would not run in the Derby because of his pre-race antics. Instead, McGaughey said the Belmont Stakes was a possibility, with a race or two in New York before the final leg of the Triple Crown.

Completing the order of finish was Basic Trainee, Middlesex Drive, Risky Buy, Vergennes, Watch The Bird, Visit The Circle, Prosperous Bid and Daniel My Brother. Overreactshawn was scratched.

At least four colts were Derby contenders entering the race -- Parade Ground, Middlesex Drive, Prosperous Bid and Daniel My Brother. There was no immediate word on plans for those colts, although trainer Bob Baffert said Prosperous Bid was "was nervous in the paddock. He just fell apart. I'll bring him back home and find out more."

In the other Derby prep races Saturday, Halory Hunter won the Blue Grass in an upset over Lil's Lad, while Victory Gallop stunned Favorite Trick in the Arkansas Derby.

Coronado's Quest, who had surgery two weeks ago on his throat, broke smartly from the No. 2 post and took the lead with Risky Buy second. Coronado's Quest controlled the pace and maintained a comfortable advantage over Dice Dancer until the Allen Jerkens-trained colt challenged at the top of the stretch.

Coronado's Quest pulled away and equaled the second-fastest Wood. Bold Forbes also ran 1:47 2-5 in 1976.

It was the fourth straight year the Wood favorite has gone on to win the race. Captain Bodgit did it last year, with Unbridled's Song winning in '96 and Talkin Man in '95.

Jerkens' horses won two earlier stakes on the card. Kelly Kip won the Bold Ruler in a track-record 1:07 3-5 for six furlongs and Limit Out took the Bay Shore.


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