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Derby Notebook: Real Cozzy for 2 1/2-length victory; favorite finishes fourth

Saturday, May 05, 2001

From local and wire dispatches

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Flute charged into the lead at the top stretch and then held off Real Cozzy to win the $609,200 Grade I Kentucky Oaks.

The 3-year-old bay daughter of Seattle Slew entered the race with only a maiden victory in three career starts but was second to highly regarded Golden Ballet in the Grade I Santa Anita Oaks last month.

A lack of earnings nearly cost her a spot in the crowded Kentucky Oaks field, but she got in at the last minute when Scoop was not entered.

"Can you imagine if I hadn't gotten in this race?" said trainer Bobby Frankel, who won the 1998 Kentucky Oaks with Keeper Hill. "Then nobody would have known just how good this filly is."

Flute, ridden by Jerry Bailey, covered 11/8 miles in 1:48 4/5 and paid $8.60, $5.80 and $5 in the Kentucky Derby Eve race dubbed the "Derby for Fillies." She quadrupled her career earnings, winning $377,704 for Khalid Abdullah's Juddmonte Farms.

"I really thought the Churchill stretch, the track and the distance would suit her well," Frankel said. "Jerry moved her like three different times and she responded every time. He asked her to go and she went. I was impressed."

Real Cozzy, with Larry Melancon aboard, finished 23/4 lengths back, and Collect Call, a 40-1 shot ridden by Alex Solis, was another 2 1/2 lengths back and paid $18.80 to show.

Fleet Renee, the 8-5 favorite and winner of the Grade I Ashland Stakes at Keeneland last month, never challenged and finished a disappointing fourth in front of 102,904 fans, the second-largest crowd in the race's 127-year history.

"She didn't kick in at all," trainer Michael Dickinson said. "I never thought (during the race) she was going to win. She was in beautiful position at the head of the stretch but she didn't fire."

The rest of the field, in order of finish, was Tap Dance, Latour, Mystic Lady, Morning Sun, Mysia Jo, Platinum Tiara, Quick Tip, Dancethruthedawn and Nasty Storm.

Nasty Storm and Mystic Lady set the early pace, battling neck-and-neck onto the backstretch. Tap Dance joined the two on the backside and poked in front by a head entering the final turn.

It was there Flute took command, coming from the far outside to maneuver around the pack and pull in front at the top of the stretch. Real Cozzy also came hard from the outside but could not catch a driving Flute.

"When [Jerry finally] asked her, she shot up in there like the other horses were standing still," Frankel said. "She finally got clear and whipped around them like they were tied to the quarter pole."

Sheik likes stable

Dubai Sheik Mohammed al Maktoom had a big decision to make: Should he travel to England to see Tobougg race in the 2,000 Guineas or make the journey to the United States to watch Express Tour in the Kentucky Derby?

Sheik Mohammed, under the stable name Godolphin Racing, and trainer Saeed bin Suroor decided to attend today's Derby.

"We wanted to come to the big race," bin Suroor said.

Sheik Mohammed talked about his determination and desire to win the Derby.

"This is our third attempt," he said. "Watch out for us. We're coming -- if not this year, next year."

In 1999, Sheik Mohammed's Worldy Manner finished seventh. Last year, Godolphin Racing was sixth and seventh with China Rule and Curule.

First-time trainers

There are eight trainers making their Kentucky Derby debut today: Steve Asmussen (Fifty Stars), Simon Bray (Startac), James Cassidy (Jamaican Rum), John Dowd (Songandaprayer), Joe Orseno (Thunder Blitz), Tony Richey (Arctic Boy), John Scanlan (Talk is Money) and David Hofmans (Millennium Wind).

The most recent first-timer to win the Derby was Cam Gambolati with Spend a Buck in 1985.

Two rookies

Two jockeys will be in the Kentucky Derby for the first time. They are Donnie Meche on Fifty Stars and Victor Espinoza on Congaree.

Thirty-eight riders have won the Derby their first try. The last was Ronnie Franklin in 1979. Eddie Arcaro and Bill Hartack lead all jockeys with five Derby victories each. Second is Bill Shoemaker with four -- a mark Gary Stevens can tie today with favorite Point Given.

Shoemaker has had the most Derby mounts in history with 26. Laffit Pincay has the most among still-active riders with 19. Today will be his 20th ride in the Derby.

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