Originally created 04/09/00

Trippi posts one-length victory



HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. -- The question before Saturday's $250,000 Flamingo Stakes at Gulfstream Park was whether undefeated Trippi could go a distance.

In posting a one-length victory in the 1 1/8 -mile contest, Trippi showed that one distance he will likely go is the 1,064 miles between Gulfstream and Churchill Downs, the site of the May 6 Kentucky Derby.

"It looks like we've got a right to run in it," said Cot Campbell, president of Trippi's owner, Dogwood Stables in Aiken. "Right this minute, it seems to make sense."

Campbell added that it was "conceivable" that Trippi, who will fly to Lexington, Ky., this morning, might make another start before the Derby.

Trippi, purchased by Campbell for $65,000 as a 2-year-old, broke in front and stayed there.

The colt, who had never raced around two turns before, maintained a two- to three-length lead down the backstretch before Kombat Kat challenged on the far turn.

After Kombat Kat closed to a half-length, Trippi pulled away and opened a margin of three lengths in the stretch.

"When I asked him to run, he really took off," said jockey Eibar Coa, who rode Trippi for the first time, replacing Jerry Bailey.

Sent off as the favorite by a crowd of 9,150, Trippi, named for Hall of Fame football player Charlie Trippi, paid $3.60, $3 and $2.80. Kombat Kat returned $15.40 and $6.80 and Skip a Grade was worth $7.80.

The time of the race -- which was contested on a fast dirt track moistened by rain and hail earlier in the day, then dried by sun about 45 minutes before post time -- was 1:50.04. The fractions were 23.27, 46.43, 1:11.27 and 1:36.91.

Kombat Kat made up ground in deep stretch as Coa hand-rode the winner under the wire.

"He had something left at the end," Coa said. "I think he can get the (1 1/4 -mile) distance of the Kentucky Derby."

Trippi, whose breeding suggests that he might best be suited to sprints, went longer than seven furlongs for the first time in four outings.

"People thought a distance wasn't what he would like, but he's got a lot of heart," said Trippi's assistant trainer, George Weaver. "He's got everything a person might want in a racehorse."

Bailey passed up the mount on Trippi to ride War Chant to a second-place finish in Saturday's Santa Anita Derby.

Campbell wasn't sure whether Bailey would have the option to ride Trippi in the Derby.

"That's a difficult question, when a boy like this (Coa) rides him this well," Campbell said. "I told Coa we'll give him every consideration, and we will."

Unraced as a 2-year-old due to a viral infection in his spinal column, Trippi began his career with a victory in a 6-furlong maiden race in January. He then won a 7-furlong allowance race in February and the 7-furlong Swale Stakes in March.

"He's improved every time out and he's still a young horse without any seasoning," Campbell said.

All of Trippi's efforts have been at Gulfstream, a track known to favor speed horses. Trippi has been in front or within two lengths of the lead at every call in each of his races.

It was the 69th running of the Flamingo, and the first since 1926 to be held at a location other than Hialeah Park. The race was a part of the 2000 Hialeah meet, which is being run at Gulfstream.