LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- The media event of Kentucky Derby week happens about 9 a.m. today.
At that time, Arazi is scheduled to work seven furlongs under Pat Valenzuela, his Derby jockey, and the nation's horse-racing press will get its first real look at the France-based horse expected to win this American classic. And after he is done, all of them will have their say concerning the horse's fitness and his chances.
Arazi has limbered up with a pair of easy gallops this week, but for the first time he will run around the track and a stopwatch will be put to his effort. More than double the 300 or so who have watched Arazi gallop are expected for this morning's work.
Hopefully, this effort will be less eventful than the first two.
The first day Arazi went out, there was a loose horse on the track.
And yesterday, a horse dropped dead almost in front of him. And for a few moments, many of the onlookers though the casualty was Arazi because it carried the yellow saddle towel that distinguishes Derby horses.
But it was an older horse named Dr. Bizzare, a 6-year-old, two-time Ohio Horse of the Year. The horse collapsed of a heart attack after a workout.
But Arazi was not affected.
"It bothered me more than the horse," said Francois Boutin, Arazi's trainer.
Shortly after Arazi's workout, 19 horses are expected be officially entered in the Derby and post positions will be drawn.
Boutin said he has sought Derby advice from Lucien Laurin, trainer of Secretariat.
"I have great confidence in him," Boutin said. "But there's always a little bit of worry. This time, he carries the whole race on his back. Last year, people didn't pay much attention to him. There are 19 starters, and 18 starters are going to have their eyes on him."
* Technology, the horse in the Derby with Baltimore connections, couldn't be doing better, said trainer Sonny Hine.
"Both Bud Delp and Carl Nafzger [well-known trainers] have picked him to win," Hine said. "I just have a good feeling about him."
A fifth of the horse, who is third choice in the Derby, is owned by Leslie and Naomi Legum of Baltimore. Hine trained in Maryland for two decades until he moved permanently to a New Jersey-Florida circuit a couple of years ago.
Nafzger said yesterday that when Arazi won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile last fall, "he caught the American 2-year-olds with their britches down. American 2-year-olds aren't used to running two turns or carrying that much weight at that time of year," Nafzger said. "And they are going to run the last quarter of a mile on Saturday a lot faster than they did in the 2-year-old race. Arazi is going to have a lot tougher time."
Hine said: "I'm so wound up and carried away that I almost forgot I have a filly [Miss Legality] in the Kentucky Oaks tomorrow. I almost forgot to enter her."
Hine added that he respects Arazi, "but from looking at him, I'd have never bought him. He just doesn't look like a strong horse."
* Kent Desormeaux has taken off Derby long shot Al Sabin to ride In Excess in the Carter Handicap at Aqueduct on Saturday.
Trainer D. Wayne Lukas has named Corey Nakatani to ride Al Sabin.
"But, for some reason, if Desormeaux doesn't ride In Excess," Lukas said, "he'll get the mount on Al Sabin."