As for Gone West, Woody said, "I can go to the Dwyer [on July 3 at Belmont] or the Derby. I didn't think Leroy could beat me here, but he did. I got nailed. But Gone West ran big. I have to think I have a chance at Churchill Downs."
While the Derby picture was in disarray in the North, the South produced the clear favorite for Louisville when Demons Begone cruised to an effortless 3�-length victory in the 51st running of the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park. Lukas had sent two of his Derby hopefuls, Lookinforthebigone and Fast Forward, to double-team Demons Begone—but to no avail.
The colt, who remains undefeated as a 3-year-old, so frightened the competition that only five horses dared to go against him, including Ile de Jinsky, a maiden, for heaven's sake—the smallest field for the Arkansas Derby since World War II. At post time the odds on Demons Begone were 1-5, as short a price as you're likely to see on an Oaklawn Park horse.
He did not disappoint. On a hot, sunny afternoon Lookinforthebigone sprinted to the front, as expected, and set the pace till the top of the stretch, where jockey Pat Day unleashed the Demon. "I slapped him on the shoulder inside the eighth pole, but I never turned my stick up and hit him," said Day. "I think he had more gas left in the gas tank." Demons Begone's winning time of 1:47[3/5] was the second-fastest in Arkansas Derby history, just [4/5] of a second off Althea's 1984 clocking.
Demons Begone, trained by Phil Hauswald, is a homebred out of owner John Ed Anthony's Loblolly Stable. Anthony, an Arkansas timber baron, has had a number of successful horses—including Temperence Hill, Vanlandingham and Cox's Ridge—all named for places or persons related to his lumber business. But the Demon didn't rate that highly as a foal, so Anthony didn't reserve a special name for him. "When you've got 35 babies, you're attracted to the biggest and prettiest ones," said Anthony. "He wasn't one of them, so he didn't get named for a sawmill."
But last September, as a 2-year-old, the Demon showed he could cut it when he finished second to Gulch in the Belmont Futurity. In his 3-year-old debut, the one-mile Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn in March, he won by a monstrous eight lengths in 1:34[3/5], the second-fastest mile ever run at the track. Three weeks later he won the 1[1/16]-mile Rebel by four widening lengths. Said Anthony of his once-nondescript colt, "They all begin to look pretty after they get to be winners."
Which only goes to show that pretty is as pretty does. Standing in the Oaklawn press box after the race, Anthony said, "If I were Wayne Lukas, I'd say, 'We'll blow the Derby field away and win by 20.' " Then, lowering his voice, he added, "But since I'm not, I'll just say that whoever comes to run against Demons Begone had better be prepared for a good race."
Gulch was looking mighty good to Jolley, too. After the Wood, the big bay colt was sent back to Belmont's Barn 26, Stall 13, the previous quarters of Foolish Pleasure and Genuine Risk, respective winners of the 1975 and 1980 Kentucky Derbies, both trained by Jolley.
"He was set up to run his best race today," said Gulch's trainer, who then looked on down that long road to Louisville. "Now if he can only do it again in two weeks...."