LEXINGTON, Ky. - Phone messages tend to pile up for the trainer with two Kentucky Derby hopefuls. A little before 5 a.m. Pacific on Tuesday, John Sadler was still catching up, returning unanswered calls from last weekend from the office at his Santa Anita barn.
"Sorry for the delay," said Sadler. "With all the traveling between here and Arkansas and some other stuff I had going on, things kind of got away from me."
Sadler was back and forth from his Southern California base to see Line of David upset the Arkansas Derby last Saturday at Oaklawn Park, giving the veteran trainer a second starter for the 136th Kentucky Derby and a remarkable fourth victory in a graded prep race toward the 2010 Derby.
Sidney's Candy, the speedy Jenny Craig-owned colt who is widely regarded as one of the top contenders for the May 1 Derby, already had knocked out the San Vicente, San Felipe, and Santa Anita Derby for Sadler.
Sadler might well bag a fifth prep this coming weekend, although any impact figures to be nonexistent in regard to the Derby. Distorted Dave, a romping winner of a March 26 first-level allowance route at Santa Anita in his fourth and most recent start, arrived by plane Monday at Keeneland, where Sadler will send out the colt as one of the favorites Saturday in the Grade 2, $300,000 Coolmore Lexington Stakes.
Distorted Dave "ran really well in that last race, and we just thought the Lexington would be a logical next spot for him," said Sadler. "We haven't really looked past this race for him."
Even if he were to win the Lexington, Distorted Dave surely would fall short of the cutoff point for runners trying to make the Derby because he lacks any graded earnings. That's the case for most of the 3-year-olds expected for the Lexington, a 1 1/16-mile Polytrack race for which entries were to be drawn Wednesday.
Of the 10 or so horses considered likely to run, only a few have been credited with graded earnings, and they are all insignificant sums. So even armed with the $180,000 winner's share, the Lexington winner most likely will be excluded from a Derby that appears to be requiring at least $225,000 to make the field.
Besides Distorted Dave, other top contenders for the Lexington include Game on Dude for Bob Baffert, and Uptowncharlybrown, whose trainer, Alan Seewald, died unexpectedly Monday at age 62. Call Shot, Chief Counsel, Exhi, Kettle River, Krypton, Prince Will I Am, and Workin for Hops also are expected.