LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Joe Orseno has been in this position before.
Last year in Baltimore, the trainer brought Red Bullet into the Preakness to knock off the seemingly invincible Fusaichi Pegasus. Tomorrow in the Kentucky Derby, Orseno will saddle Thunder Blitz in hopes of upsetting another heavy favorite, Point Given.
"I don't think Point Given is the superstar everybody's making him out to be," Orseno said. "He's beatable. He's been beaten. I just think the racing industry is so hungry for a Triple Crown winner that everyone's anointing him before we run the races."
Orseno said that he believes Thunder Blitz, a late-developing son of Holy Bull who won the Flamingo Stakes, is poised for a sneak attack. Thunder Blitz is 30-1 in the morning line.
"He still has more to prove," Orseno said. "But he's definitely ready for a peak performance. I couldn't have him any better than I've got him going into this race."
That's what Orseno said about Red Bullet.
Edgar Prado, the former Maryland riding star, will pilot Thunder Blitz. He has ridden the horse in his past two races, a second in an allowance race at Gulfstream Park followed by the victory in the Flamingo at Hialeah Park. Prado, who is riding in New York, has not yet arrived here.
Thunder Blitz will break from Post Position 4. The three horses inside him are speed horses.
They will likely sprint from the gate, leaving the rail open for the stalking Thunder Blitz. From there, Prado will have to ride the race of his life to steer his colt through traffic and into the winner's circle.
No Special for Steve
Captain Steve, winner of the $6 million Dubai World Cup, will not compete in the Pimlico Special on May 12, his owner, Mike Pegram, said yesterday at Churchill Downs. Pegram said that he would like to send the horse to Pimlico but trainer Bob Baffert is not comfortable with how Captain Steve is training.
Can't slow 'Express'
The plan for giving Godolphin Racing's Express Tour a late half-mile breeze yesterday may have backfired when the eager chestnut colt blazed 48 seconds. Tom Albertrani, Godolphin's assistant trainer, said he'd been hoping for a slower work.
"You don't want to do too much and take everything out of him," Albertrani said.
Racing's big day
Kentucky Oaks day at Churchill Downs has become one of this country's biggest racing days. Last year, 106,156 people attended the day before the Derby.
Today, another large crowd is expected for the 10 races that include four stakes. The major stakes is the Grade I $500,000 Kentucky Oaks for 3-year-old fillies.
The 5-2 morning-line favorite is Fleet Renee, trained by Michael Dickinson at his Tapeta Farm in Cecil County. A daughter of Seattle Slew, Fleet Renee has won four straight races, including the Grade I Ashland Stakes on April 7 at Keeneland. The race before, Fleet Renee won at Laurel Park.
ESPN2 will televise the Kentucky Oaks; post time is 5:43 p.m.
In races yesterday at Churchill Downs, Caressing won in her first competition since capturing the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. The 8-5 favorite charged from last to win the Grade III $121,000 La Troienne Stakes for 3-year-old fillies by one length.
Favorite Praise The Prince won the Grade I $106,700 Hard Scuffle Hurdle Stakes, the first leg of steeplechasing's Triple Crown.