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Horse Racing
William Nack
March 20, 2000
Run for a RoseHal's Hope thrust his 88-year-old owner-trainer into the Derby picture
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March 20, 2000

Horse Racing

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As a son of Lord at War, an Argentine horse who in 1985 won the mile-and-a-quarter Santa Anita Handicap, Mighty is bred to run classic distances at high speeds. Looking ahead to the Derby, Brothers said, "He's a mile-and-a-quarter horse, no doubt about it."

The Best Out West?
War Chant Needs Work

The most talked-about Derby contender at Gulfstream Park last week wasn't even in Florida. War Chant, the undefeated challenger out of California, was the buzz of the backstretch after his impressive victory in the San Rafael Stakes at Santa Anita on March 4.

The rangy bay first stirred the interest of handicappers in his 3-year-old debut, a mile-and-a-16th allowance race at Santa Anita on Jan. 16. On that day War Chant outclassed a weak field by five lengths while putting up a Beyer Speed Figure of 104, the fastest of any Derby candidate this year. In the San Rafael he ran just off a hot pace for less than a half mile before seizing the lead in the backstretch and holding off Archer City Slew to win by a half length. War Chant's only hiccup came right before the wire, when he broke snide after turning his head to look at a sign on the inside rail.

It is that sort of immaturity that tempers some of the enthusiasm about the colt. The Grade II San Rafael was only War Chant's third career start, and none of those tests has come against the sort of company that was racing in Florida and Louisiana last weekend. No horse with fewer than five career starts has won the Derby.

War Chant will go to the gate once more, in the Santa Anita Derby on April 8, before he heads for Churchill Downs. His trainer, Neil Drysdale, believes his charge's first Grade I test can only help. "He needs to get some serious racing under his belt," says Drysdale.
—Mark Beech

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

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