| | Buddy Gill Sizzles Six Furlongs At Churchill In 1:11 4/5
BUDDY GIL - Desperado Stable's Buddy Gil, winner of the Santa Anita Derby (GI), turned in a sharp six-furlong work on Monday at Churchill Downs that cleared the only apparent obstacle to his participation in Kentucky Derby 129. The gelded son of Eastern Echo breezed six furlongs in a swift 1:11.80 under jockey Gary Stevens, who will ride the Buddy Gil in the Derby for trainer Jeff Mullins. The move was the fastest of seven at the distance - a roster of works that included a work by 2002 Kentucky Derby runner-up Proud Citizen, who covered the same distance "handily" in 1:12.30 in a move that was the day's second-best effort. But more important was the internal five-furlong fraction of :59.60, which essentially cleared the way for Buddy Gil to run in the Derby. He had been placed on the bleeders list in California after blood was discovered in his nostrils after the Santa Anita Derby. He remained on that list for 14 days and, under California rules of racing, had to work five furlongs in at least 1:03 without a recurrence of bleeding to be allowed to race in the Derby. Buddy Gil easily achieved the required time for five furlongs and then Dr. Ben Baker, a Kentucky state veterinarian, delivered the news that Stevens and Mullins had hoped to hear. "He ran fast enough," said Baker. "He didn't bleed and he didn't cough." "I wasn't worried about it," said Mullins. "The bleeding wasn't as bad as everybody made it sound. I don't think the horse actually bled in the race. I think he bled when he went into that coughing spell when he took all the dirt and ruptured something, because there was no blood deep - it was all upper respiratory. So I think he ruptured a vessel or something." Buddy Gil was timed by Churchill Downs clockers in :11.80, :23.60, :35.20, :47.40 and :59.60 and galloped out seven furlongs in 1:25.80. "That's what he does," said Stevens. "I had no idea what he worked him in, but I knew he was probably going to go faster than most - that's just him. He just drags me around and I basically sit still on him and let him gallop out a little bit after his work to make sure he gets something out of it." "When I come back and there's a smile on Gary Stevens' face, that's good enough for me," Mullins said. "I don't care how fast he went." Mullins, who participated in his first Kentucky Derby when he saddled Lusty Latin to finish 15th in an 18-horse field, declined an opportunity to discuss the merits of other members of the prospective Derby field. He said Buddy Gil would remain his sole focus. "I'm not going to worry about anybody else but my own, I think," he said. "We've got a horse that really don't make any mistakes. Gary's got an awful lot of confidence in him and when a guy like Gary Stevens has got confidence in you, you've got to feel pretty good."