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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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HORSE

ODDS

TRAINER

SKINNY

War Chant

8-1

Neil Drysdale

Undefeated in two starts as a 3-year-old, but whom has he beaten?

Mighty

10-1

Frank Brothers

Experienced router was pulling away from a strong field in the Louisiana Derby

Hal's Hope

10-1

Harold Rose

A gutsy victory in Florida Derby made believers out of many

Fusaichi Pegasus

12-1

Neil Drysdale

Drysdale's other prodigy may be the best of the bunch but needs seasoning too

The Deputy

12-1

Jenine Sahadi

Irish colt is 2 for 2 in stakes this year, with wins over High Yield and Captain Steve

Captain Steve

15-1

Bob Baffert

Ran third at Louisiana Derby, but Baffert says he liked what he saw

Anees

15-1

Alex Hassinger

Training impressively; trying to become first BC Juvenile-Derby winner

High Yield

20-1

D. Wayne Lukas

Impressive in defeat, this solidly consistent performer is getting better

Surfside

30-1

D. Wayne Lukas

Four Grade 1 victories; trying to become fourth filly to win the Derby

Red Bullet

50-1

Joe Orseno

A favorite of many handicappers; no starts as 2-year-old but 2 for 2 in 2000

Run for a Rose
Hal's Hope thrust his 88-year-old owner-trainer into the Derby picture

Harold rose is 88 years young and has been training race horses in South Florida for more than 30 years, with a few classy animals sprinkled in among the hundreds of claimers he has sent to the gate. But the man had never experienced anything like the buzz and tumult that whirled around him late last Saturday afternoon. Leaving the pandemonium that was the winner's circle at Gulfstream Park, his eyes growing moist, Rose was greeted by a gaggle of admirers who were waiting for him on the track apron. Dozens more waved and saluted him from the second-floor balcony overlooking the track.

Just 15 minutes earlier Rose's gritty 3-year-old, Hal's Hope, a nearly black colt whom he bred and owns, repulsed three determined bids from the heavily favored High Yield and won the mile-and-an-eighth Florida Derby by a head. The race is the state's most important prep race leading up to the May 6 Kentucky Derby, and so strenuous were the colt's efforts to win that he almost collapsed as his ebullient jockey, Roger Velez, rode him back to the winner's circle.

If Hal's Hope had proved himself something of a survivor, he was no more so than his owner. Rose suffered a heart attack and underwent quadruple bypass surgery last August, and he says his belief in the colt—who was still a maiden—brought him back to the track only three weeks later. "Knowing I had this horse was probably one of the reasons that I got over the operation so quickly," Rose said last Friday. "I couldn't wait to get to the barn."

Hal's Hope won twice as a 2-year-old, but not until Jan. 15 did he show why Rose was making such a fuss over him. Barreling to the lead in the mile-and-a-16th Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream, he outran a field of 10 others, winning by 5� lengths. In the Fountain of Youth five weeks later, on a track that had a strong rail bias, he chased High Yield all the way around but couldn't close ground. Hal's Hope finished second, beaten by 3� lengths, and bled slightly during the race. In the Florida Derby he raced on Lasix, and he ran hard and true for the full nine furlongs.

Rose bred and owned the colt's dam, a high-class racer named Mia's Hope, and in 1996 he sent her to the stallion Jolie's Halo, a speedy colt during his days on the track. So the son of Mia's Hope was really family, and on Saturday he gave Rose the gift of a lifetime. "I have realized part of a dream—to win the Florida Derby," Rose said. "The ultimate realization of the dream will come in Kentucky in May. I hope."

Louisiana Derby
Mighty Makes A Statement

A day after the Kentucky Derby prospects of several colts had been clarified in Florida, a long-striding bay named Mighty left his flying hoofprints all over the 3-year-old picture when he came charging from dead last to win the sharply contested Louisiana Derby at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans. "This horse showed he's got the stamina to go to the big dance," Shane Sellers said after steering Mighty to victory. "There were questions about this colt, but everything about this race was encouraging."

The race was seen as the most competitive Kentucky Derby prep to be run this year—at least six promising colts entered the mile-and-a-16th test—and Mighty had some explaining to do since finishing second in his last two starts at the Fair Grounds. The colt can be a maddening sort. On Jan. 29, in the Lecomte Stakes, he made the lead deep in the stretch but got cute as the wire loomed and lost by a neck to Noble Ruler. "He didn't run to the wire," recalls Frank Brothers, the colt's trainer. "Just immaturity." Three weeks later, in the Risen Star Stakes, the colt got rank early in the race when Sellers tried to restrain him off a slow pace; when he settled down, it was too late. Exchange Rate beat him by 1� lengths.

On Sunday, Mighty was forgiven all past sins when he relaxed in last place off a livelier pace. He wove through the field around the far turn, and took off when Sellers asked him at the top of the lane. Mighty ran down the front-runners to beat More Than Ready by two lengths, his ears pricking at the wire.

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