- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 4, 2006

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Laurel-based Sweetnorthernsaint will start Saturday’s Kentucky Derby from the No. 11 post position and was installed as the fourth favorite (10-1) last night during the made-for-TV draw.

Brother Derek (3-1) is the morning-line favorite and will start from post No. 18. One spot inside will be Lawyer Ron (4-1). Barbaro (4-1) will start from the eighth position.

A full field of 20 horses will go to post at 6:04 p.m.

Sweetnorthernsaint is accustomed to the outside post. He started his last two races from the No. 10 position and finished third in the Gotham Stakes and first in the Illinois Derby.

Trainer Mike Trombetta opted to choose an outside post to keep his colt away from the early speed that takes up most of the inside gates.

“You’re going to have a lot of horses and a lot of things will be happening out there — and it’s all going to happen pretty fast,” Trombetta said before the draw.

Trainer Dan Hendricks made a somewhat surprising decision for Brother Derek. The Nos. 1 and 3 posts were available.

“We wanted our horse a little clear, and we felt we would have had to send him quicker if he had started on the inside,” Hendricks said.

From the rail out, the field is: Jazil, Steppenwolfer, Keyed Entry, Sinister Minister, Point Determined, Showing Up, Bob and John, Barbaro, Sharp Humor, A.P. Warrior, Sweetnorthernsaint, Private Vow, Bluegrass Cat, Deputy Glitters, Seaside Retreat, Cause to Believe, Lawyer Ron, Brother Derek, Storm Treasure and Flashy Bull.

Lukas: Experience counts

Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, a four-time Derby winner, said experience counts for something — but not everything. Lukas does not have a horse in this year’s race but has saddled 42 starters in 23 Derbys, winning in 1988 (Winning Colors), 1995 (Thunder Gulch), 1996 (Grindstone) and 1999 (Charismatic).

First-time Derby trainers have won the last three years: John Shirreffs, John Servis and Barclay Tagg. This year’s first-timers include Trombetta, Hendricks and Michael Matz.

“You can get here once, but then [the] experience factor becomes huge and helps you get here several times,” Lukas said. “It’s no accident that Bob [Baffert], Woody [Stevens] and myself have been here a lot and won. You start to play on experience and know-how.”

Breakthrough for rider?

Jockey John McKee, 25, has been riding competitively only since March 2002, but he could be in line for a career-changing Saturday when he rides Lawyer Ron. McKee has finished 13th in the past two Kentucky Derby races.

“This is the calmest I’ve been coming into this race compared to the past two years,” he said. “I’m excited and confident about it. The horse is just thriving right now.”

McKee is one of 16 jockeys in the race looking for their first Derby win.

Around the track

Sunriver was left out of the Derby because of graded stakes earnings. Trainer Todd Pletcher said the colt could run next in the Peter Pan Stakes May 20 at Belmont Park.

“That race should give us a line on whether we can think about him in terms of possibly running in the Belmont Stakes,” Pletcher said. …

Sacred Light, also unable to get in the Derby field, will run Saturday in an allowance race and is a candidate to run in the May 20 Preakness. “We’ll see how we run and what the Preakness field is going to look like,” trainer David Hofmans said. “If it looks like we have a chance, we’ll go.”

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